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Geopolitics (from Greek γῆ "earth, land" and πολιτική politikḗ "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations.[1][2] While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation or a quasi-federal system.

At the level of international relations, geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography, demography, natural resources, and applied science of the region being evaluated.[3]

Geopolitics focuses on political power linked to geographic space. In particular, territorial waters and land territory in correlation with diplomatic history. Topics of geopolitics include relations between the interests of international political actors focused within an area, a space, or a geographical element, relations which create a geopolitical system.[4] Critical geopolitics deconstructs classical geopolitical theories, by showing their political/ideological functions for great powers.[5] There are some works that discuss the geopolitics of renewable energy.[6][7]

According to Christopher Gogwilt and other researchers, the term is currently being used to describe a broad spectrum of concepts, in a general sense used as "a synonym for international political relations", but more specifically "to imply the global structure of such relations"; this usage builds on an "early-twentieth-century term for a pseudoscience of political geography" and other pseudoscientific theories of historical and geographic determinism.[8][9][10][2]

Nicholas J. Spykman was both a follower and critic of geostrategists Alfred Mahan, and Halford Mackinder. His work was based on assumptions similar to Mackinder's,<

Nicholas J. Spykman was both a follower and critic of geostrategists Alfred Mahan, and Halford Mackinder. His work was based on assumptions similar to Mackinder's,[5] including the unity of world politics and the world sea. He extends this to include the unity of the air. Spykman adopts Mackinder's divisions of the world, renaming some:

  1. The <

    Under Spykman's theory, a Rimland separates the Heartland from ports that are usable throughout the year (that is, not frozen up during winter). Spykman suggested this required that attempts by Heartland nations (particularly Russia) to conquer ports in the Rimland must be prevented. Spykman modified Mackinder's formula on the relationship between the Heartland and the Rimland (or the inner crescent), claiming that "Who controls the rimland rules Eurasia. Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world." This theory can be traced in the origins of containment, a U.S. policy on preventing the spread of Soviet influence after World War II (see also Truman Doctrine).

    Another famous follower of Mackinder was Karl Haushofer who called Mackinder's Geographical Pivot of History a "genius' scientific tractate."[28] He commented on it: "Never have I seen anything greater than those few pages of geopolitical masterwork."Another famous follower of Mackinder was Karl Haushofer who called Mackinder's Geographical Pivot of History a "genius' scientific tractate."[28] He commented on it: "Never have I seen anything greater than those few pages of geopolitical masterwork."[29] Mackinder located his Pivot, in the words of Haushofer, on "one of the first solid, geopolitically and geographically irreproachable maps, presented to one of the earliest scientific forums of the planet – the Royal Geographic Society in London"[28] Haushofer adopted both Mackinder's Heartland thesis and his view of the Russian-German alliance – powers that Mackinder saw as the major contenders for control of Eurasia in the twentieth century. Following Mackinder he suggested an alliance with the Soviet Union and, advancing a step beyond Mackinder, added Japan to his design of the Eurasian Bloc.[30]

    In 2004, at the centenary of The Geographical Pivot of History, famous Historian Paul Kennedy wrote: "Right now with hundreds of thousands of US troops in the Eurasian rimlands and with administration constantly explaining why it has to stay the course, it looks as if Washington is taking seriously Mackinder's injunction to ensure control of the geographical pivot of history."[31]

    Friedrich Ratzel (1844–1904), influenced by thinkers such as Darwin and zoologist Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, contributed to 'Geopolitik' by the expansion on the biological conception of geography, without a static conception of borders. Positing that states are organic and growing, with borders representing only a temporary stop in their movement, he held that the expanse of a state's borders is a reflection of the health of the nation—meaning that static countries are in decline. Ratzel published several papers, among which was the essay "Lebensraum" (1901) concerning biogeography. Ratzel created a foundation for the German variant of geopolitics, geopolitik. Influenced by the American geostrategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, Ratzel wrote of aspirations for German naval reach, agreeing that sea power was self-sustaining, as the profit from trade would pay for the merchant marine, unlike land power.

    The geopolitical theory of Ratzel has been criticized as being too sweeping, and his interpretation of human history and geography being too simple and mechanistic. Critically, he also underestimated the importance of social organization in the development of power.[32]

    The association of German Geopolitik with Nazism

    After World War I, the thoughts of Rudolf Kjellén and Ratzel were picked up and extended by a number of German authors such as Karl Haushofer (1869–1946), Erich Obst, Hermann Lautensach and Otto Maull. In 1923, Karl Haushofer founded the Zeitschrift für Geopolitik (Journal for Geopolitics), which was later used in the propaganda of Nazi Germany. The key concepts of Haushofer's Geopolitik were Lebensraum, autarky, pan-regions, and organic borders. States have, Haushofer argued, an undeniable right to seek natural borders which would guarantee autarky.

    Haushofer's influence within the Nazi Party has been challenged, given that Haushofer failed to incorporate the Nazis' racial ideology into his work.[32] Popular views of the role of geopolitics in the Nazi Third Reich suggest a fundamental significance on the part of the geo-politicians in the ideological orientation of the Nazi state. Bassin (1987) reveals that these popular views are in important ways misleading

    The geopolitical theory of Ratzel has been criticized as being too sweeping, and his interpretation of human history and geography being too simple and mechanistic. Critically, he also underestimated the importance of social organization in the development of power.[32]

    After World War I, the thoughts of Rudolf Kjellén and Ratzel were picked up and extended by a number of German authors such as Karl Haushofer (1869–1946), Erich Obst, Hermann Lautensach and Otto Maull. In 1923, Karl Haushofer founded the Zeitschrift für Geopolitik (Journal for Geopolitics), which was later used in the propaganda of Nazi Germany. The key concepts of Haushofer's Geopolitik were Lebensraum, autarky, pan-regions, and organic borders. States have, Haushofer argued, an undeniable right to seek natural borders which would guarantee autarky.

    Haushofer's influence within the Nazi Party has been challenged, given that Haushofer failed to incorporate the Nazis' racial ideology into his work.[32] Popular views of the role of geopolitics in the Nazi Third Reich suggest a fundamental significance on the part of the geo-pol

    Haushofer's influence within the Nazi Party has been challenged, given that Haushofer failed to incorporate the Nazis' racial ideology into his work.[32] Popular views of the role of geopolitics in the Nazi Third Reich suggest a fundamental significance on the part of the geo-politicians in the ideological orientation of the Nazi state. Bassin (1987) reveals that these popular views are in important ways misleading and incorrect.

    Despite the numerous similarities and affinities between the two doctrines, geopolitics was always held suspect by the National Socialist ideologists. This was understandable, for the underlying philosophical orientation of geopolitics did not comply with that of National Socialism. Geopolitics shared Ratzel's scientific materialism and geographic determinism, and held that human society was determined by external influences—in the face of which qualities held innately by individuals or groups were of reduced or no significance. National Socialism rejected in principle both materialism and determinism and also elevated innate human qualities, in the form of a hypothesized 'racial character,' to the factor of greatest significance in the constitution of human society. These differences led after 1933 to friction and ultimately to open denunciation of geopolitics by Nazi ideologues.[33] Nevertheless, German Geopolitik was discredited by its (mis)use in Nazi expansionist policy of World War II and has never achieved standing comparable to the pre-war period.

    The resultant negative association, particularly in U.S. academic circles, between classical geopolitics and Nazi or imperialist ideology, is based on loose justifications. This has been observed in particular by critics of contemporary academic geography, and proponents of a "neo"-classical geopolitics in particular. These include Haverluk et al., who argue that the stigmatization of geopolitics in academia is unhelpful as geopolitics as a field of positivist inquiry maintains potential in researching and resolving topical, often politicized issues such as conflict resolution and prevention, and mitigating climate change.[34]

    Negative associations with the term "geopolitics" and its practical application stemming from its association with World War II and pre-World War II German scholars and students of Geopolitics are largely specific to the field of academic Geography, and especially sub-disciplines of human geography such as political geography. However, this negative association is not as strong in disciplines such as history or political science, which make use of geopolitical concepts. Classical Geopolitics forms an important element of analysis for military history as well as for sub-disciplines of political science such as international relations and security studies. This difference in disciplinary perspectives is addressed by Bert Chapman in Geopolitics: A Guide To the Issues, in which Chapman makes note that academic and professional International Relations journals are more amenable to the study and analysis of Geopolitics, and in particular Classical Geopolitics, than contemporary academic journals in the field of political geography.[35]

    In disciplines outside Geography, Geopolitics is not negatively viewed (as it often is among academic geographers such as Carolyn Gallaher or Klaus Dodds) as a tool of imperialism or associated with Nazism, but rather viewed as a valid and consistent manner of assessing major inter

    In disciplines outside Geography, Geopolitics is not negatively viewed (as it often is among academic geographers such as Carolyn Gallaher or Klaus Dodds) as a tool of imperialism or associated with Nazism, but rather viewed as a valid and consistent manner of assessing major international geopolitical circumstances and events, not necessarily related to armed conflict or military operations.

    French geopolitical doctrines broadly opposed to German Geopolitik and reject the idea of a fixed geography. French geography is focused on the evolution of polymorphic territories being the result of mankind's actions. It also relies on the consideration of long time periods through a refusal to take specific events into account. This method has been theorized by Professor Lacoste according to three principles: Representation; Diachronie; and Diatopie.

    In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu outlined the view that man and societies are influenced by climate. He believed that hotter climates create hot-tempered people and colder climates aloof people, whereas the mild climate of France is ideal for political systems. Considered as one of the founders of French geopolitics, Élisée Reclus, is the author of a book considered as a reference in modern geography (Nouvelle Géographie universelle). Alike Ratzel, he considers geography through a global vision. However, in complete opposition to Ratzel's vision, Reclus considers geography not to be unchanging; it is supposed to evolve commensurately to the development of human society. His marginal political views resulted in his rejection by academia.

    French geographer and geopolitician Jacques Ancel is considered to be the first theoretician of geopolitics in France, and gave a notable series of lectures at the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Paris and published Géopolitique in 1936. Like Reclus, Ancel rejects German determinist views on geopolitics (including Haushofer's doctrines).

    Braudel's broad view used insights from other social sciences, employed the concept of the longue durée, and downplayed the importance of specific

    In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu outlined the view that man and societies are influenced by climate. He believed that hotter climates create hot-tempered people and colder climates aloof people, whereas the mild climate of France is ideal for political systems. Considered as one of the founders of French geopolitics, Élisée Reclus, is the author of a book considered as a reference in modern geography (Nouvelle Géographie universelle). Alike Ratzel, he considers geography through a global vision. However, in complete opposition to Ratzel's vision, Reclus considers geography not to be unchanging; it is supposed to evolve commensurately to the development of human society. His marginal political views resulted in his rejection by academia.

    French geographer and geopolitician Jacques Ancel is considered to be the first theoretician of geopolitics in France, and gave a notable series of lectures at the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Paris and published Géopolitique in 1936. Like Reclus, Ancel rejects German determinist views on geopolitics (including Haushofer's doctrines).

    Braudel's broad view used insights from other social sciences, employed the concept of the longue durée, and downplayed the importance of specific events. This method was inspired by the French geographer Paul Vidal de la Blache (who in turn was influenced by German thought, particularly that of Friedrich Ratzel whom he had met in Germany). Braudel's method was to analyse the interdependence between individuals and their environment.[36] Vidalian geopolitics is based on varied forms of cartography and on possibilism (founded on a societal approach of geography—i.e. on the principle of spaces polymorphic faces depending from many factors among them mankind, culture, and ideas) as opposed to determinism.

    Due to the influence of German Geopolitik on French geopolitics, the latter were for a long time banished from academic works. In the mid-1970s, Yves Lacoste—a French geographer who was directly inspired by Ancel, Braudel and Vidal de la Blache—wrote La géographie, ça sert d'abord à faire la guerre (Geography first use is war) in 1976. This book—which is very famous in France—symbolizes the birth of this new school of geopolitics (if not so far the first French school of geopolitics as Ancel was very isolated in the 1930s–40s). Initially linked with communist party evolved to a less liberal approach. At the end of the 1980s he founded the Institut Français de Géopolitique (French Institute for Geopolitics) that publishes the Hérodote revue. While rejecting the generalizations and broad abstractions employed by the German and Anglo-American traditions (and the new geographers), this school does focus on spatial dimension of geopolitics affairs on different levels of analysis. This approach emphasizes the importance of multi-level (or multi-scales) analysis and maps at the opposite of critical geopolitics which avoid such tools. Lacoste proposed that every conflict (both local or global) can be considered from a perspective grounded in three assumptions:

    Connected with this stream, and former member of Hérodote editorial board, the French geographer Michel Foucher developed a long term analysis of international borders. He coined various neologism among them: Horogenesis: Neologism that describes the concept of studying the birth of borders, Dyade: border shared by two neighbouring states (for instance US territory has two terrestrial dyades : one with Canada and one with Mexico). The main book of this searcher "Fronts et frontières" (Fronts and borders) first published in 1991, without equivalent remains untranslated in English. Michel Foucher is an expert of the African Union for borders affairs.

    More or less connected with this school, Stéphane Rosière can be quoted as the editor in Chief of the online journal L'Espace politique, this journal created in 2007 became the most prominent French journal of political geography and Geopolitics with Hérodote.[37]

    A much more conservative stream is personified by François Thual. Thual was a French expert in geopolitics, and a former official of the Ministry of Civil Defence. Thual taught geopolitics of the religions at the French War College, and has written thirty books devoted mainly to geopolitical method and its application to various parts of the world. He is particularly interested in the Orthodox, Shiite, and Buddhist religions, and in t

    More or less connected with this school, Stéphane Rosière can be quoted as the editor in Chief of the online journal L'Espace politique, this journal created in 2007 became the most prominent French journal of political geography and Geopolitics with Hérodote.[37]

    A much more conservative stream is personified by François Thual. Thual was a French expert in geopolitics, and a former official of the Ministry of Civil Defence. Thual taught geopolitics of the religions at the French War College, and has written thirty books devoted mainly to geopolitical method and its application to various parts of the world. He is particularly interested in the Orthodox, Shiite, and Buddhist religions, and in troubled regions like the Caucasus. Connected with F. Thual, Aymeric Chauprade, former professor of geopolitics at the French War College and now member of the extreme-right party "Front national", subscribes to a supposed "new" French school of geopolitics which advocates above all a return to realpolitik and "clash of civilization" (Huntington). The thought of this school is expressed through the French Review of Geopolitics (headed by Chauprade) and the International Academy of Geopolitics. Chauprade is a supporter of a Europe of nations, he advocates a European Union excluding Turkey, and a policy of compromise with Russia (in the frame of a Eurasian alliance which is en vogue among European extreme-right populists) and supports the idea of a multi-polar world—including a balanced relationship between China and the U.S.

    French philosopher Michel Foucault's dispositif introduced for the purpose of biopolitical research was also adopted in the field of geopolitical thought where it now plays a role.[38]

    In the 1990s a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vadim Tsymbursky  [ ru ] (1957-2009), coined the term "island-Russia" and developed the "Great Limitrophe" concept.

    Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov (retired), a Russian geopolitics specialist of the early 21st century, headed the Leonid Ivashov (retired), a Russian geopolitics specialist of the early 21st century, headed the Academy of Geopolitical Problems (Russian: Академия геополитических проблем), which analyzes the international and domestic situations and develops geopolitical doctrine. Earlier, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov headed the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

    Vladimir Karyakin, leading researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, has proposed the term "geopolitics of the third wave".[39][clarification needed]

    Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political analyst who has developed a close relationship with Russia's Academy of the General Staff wrote "The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia" in 1997, which has had a large influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites [40] and it has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.[41][40] Its publication in 1997 was well received in Russia and powerful Russian political figures subsequently took an interest in Dugin.[42]