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Question:

Describe about the Essay for the theory of Geopolitics.

 

Answer:

The essay focuses on the theory of Geopolitics, which refers to the influence of geographical elements upon politics. It is a study of power relationships between politics and geography. Additionally it is related with the foreign policy of a nation. The ‘territorial waters’ and ‘land territory’ are the main component of this theory. It is mainly concerned with the geographical factors such as, population, natural resource endowments, and strategic location. Many scholars have presented the classical theory of Geopolitics. They have emphasised the relationship between territory and power. However, the theorists like Mackinder, Mahan, and Haushofer were more interested in the specific special factors[1].

Compare and contrast the theories of Mackinder and Mahan. Which of the two sources of national power and prosperity proposed by these authors is the most important in the modern era?

According to various scholars and policymakers, the geographical factors have recognised, which are important to make strategic decisions and determine the security and the survival of countries[2]. The most important theorists in this context are Alfred Thayer Mahan and H.J. Mackinder[3]. However, their views differ from each other as they recognized two different components as the sources of power and prosperity for the state. Mahan has identified the sea power as the most influencing national power towards success while Mackinder has emphasized the heartland as the main source of power and prosperity[4].

Mahan has presented his idea in his book The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-178, where he stated his beliefs about the sea power. According to him, the sea power is the main source of national power and prosperity upon which the future of the country is depending. The countries that controlled the sea and sea-lanes are bound to be most successful and prosperous. He also pointed out that the countries, which can exert over the world’s oceans, are likely to be the most successful in commerce as well as continental power[5]. Being a US Naval Officer Mahan has easily analyzed the conditions to achieve the maritime superiority. He has recognized six primary conditions such as, physical conformation, geographical position, number of population, extent of territory, national character and policy of governments. On the other hand, Mackinder has focused on the heartland and its control as the primary source to analyze the national power of a country. He presented his idea in the article The Geographical Pivot of History which was initially received a very less attention from the policy makers but later accepted by most of the scholars. The doctrine of Geopolitics of Mackinder is completely opposed the theory of Mahan’s[6]. Mahan has emphasized on the navies or sea power, which was applicable in the political situation of 19th century. Mahan explained the achievements of Great Britain with his theory of geopolitics. It was proved right in that time when he recognized the emergence of United States as the predominant power of the world after Britain. On the other hand, the 20th century was dominated by the power of land. Mackinder stated that the geography of earth is divided into two parts: one is the World island of Core consists of Eurasia and Africa, and the other one is the Peripheral Islands consisting of America, Japan, Australia, the British Isles and Oceania[7]. The country that can rule the Heartland is likely to be most powerful state in the world. However, in the modern era both the sea power and land power has become the less important source to judge the national power, the air power and space has replaced those.

 

In what way(s), if at all, has the advent of Space and Air power changed geopolitical theory and practice? Has the advent of air and space power made land and sea power obsolete, or is it merely a complementary source of national power?

In 19th century, the power is determined by the sea and then it transferred to the land in next century. The geopolitical theories stated by Mahan and Mackinder has obsolete when the new power of air and space was introduced. According to General Giulio Douhet, the air power was become the most important national power during the time of World War I, when the opponent countries have used the air power to defeat each other[8]. He also stated that the countries having strong air power could bring their enemies to their knees. The elements that will be required for this are bombing infrastructure, workforces and factories, and centres of populations[9]. Additionally, it has the power of shortening and protecting the lines of communication and along with that, the power of British imperial can be extended at low investment.

It was proved in the World War II, when both the countries America and Britain has acquired the bombing strategy to defeat the opponent. As per this vision, the countries were using the air power for establish their own power against its opponent. However, Robert Paper argued it in his book Bombing to Win that the strategic airpower itself cannot become the only way to get success. In the Gulf War, it was seen very clearly that how much impact air power could have on the battlefield[10]. As it is armed with various advanced detection technologies and sensors, then it can easily express the power. In the war, US and its allies have gained the victory with this air power strategy against Iraqi ground forces. This power has become the only source of national power and prosperity nowadays instead of the sea and land power.

Another power that was emerged in the contemporary time was space-based capabilities. The Geopolitical theory was changed after the advent of air power, which got a new dimension with the use of GPS systems. According to the previous researches, it was stated that the GPS system has made the power more accurate and the countries that were using this was exploiting their enemies easily[11]. Therefore, though the power of air and space has emerged as the main source of national prosperity in the modern era, some critics are still arguing over the fact. As per their opinion, the power that is helping to reduce the geographical constraints also encourages to develop the decisive weapons for establishing the power.

The purpose of the study was to analyse the changing practice of Geopolitical theory with the time. Various scholars have presented different sources as the vital power for national prosperity. In the first question, the doctrines of Mahan and Mackinder were explained to analyse the importance of sea power and heartland in the context of modern era. These were the most important sources of national power in the 19th and 20th century but in modern era, it is replaced by the power of air and space. Additionally, the second part of the study has discussed the changing practice of Geopolitical theory after the advent of air and space power.

 

Reference List

Agnew, John. "The new global economy: time-space compression, geopolitics, and global uneven development." journal of world-systems research 7, no. 2 (2015): 133-154.

Agnew, John. "Understandings of the changing nature of space and the future of global governance." In Geography Research Forum, vol. 20, pp. 1-13. 2016.

Fettweis, Christopher J. 2000. "Sir Halford MacKinder, Geopolitics and Policymaking in the 21st Century." Parameters, 30.2: 58-71.

Klauser, F., and S. Pedrozo. "Power and space in the drone age: a literature review and politico-geographical research agenda." Geogr. Helv 70 (2015): 285-293.

 Mackinder, H.J. 1904. “The Geographical Pivot of History.” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4: 421-437.

Pelizza, Simone. "The Geopolitics of International Reconstruction: Halford Mackinder and Eastern Europe, 1919–20." The International History Review38, no. 1 (2016): 174-195.

Rech, Matthew F. "A critical geopolitics of observant practice at British military airshows." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 40, no. 4 (2015): 536-548.

Singh, Pankaj. "Conceptual understanding of geopolitics with special reference to Indian Ocean." IJAR 1, no. 6 (2015): 282-284.

[1] Singh, Pankaj. "Conceptual understanding of geopolitics with special reference to Indian Ocean." IJAR 1, no. 6 (2015): 282-284.

[2] Pelizza, Simone. "The Geopolitics of International Reconstruction: Halford Mackinder and Eastern Europe, 1919–20." The International History Review38, no. 1 (2016): 174-195.

[3] Mackinder, H.J. 1904. “The Geographical Pivot of History.” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4: 421-437.

[4] Singh, Pankaj. "Conceptual understanding of geopolitics with special reference to Indian Ocean." IJAR 1, no. 6 (2015): 282-284.

[5] Pelizza, Simone. "The Geopolitics of International Reconstruction: Halford Mackinder and Eastern Europe, 1919–20." The International History Review38, no. 1 (2016): 174-195.

[6] Mackinder, H.J. 1904. “The Geographical Pivot of History.” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4: 421-437.

[7] Fettweis, Christopher J. 2000. "Sir Halford MacKinder, Geopolitics and Policymaking in the 21st Century." Parameters, 30.2: 58-71.

[8] Rech, Matthew F. "A critical geopolitics of observant practice at British military airshows." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 40, no. 4 (2015): 536-548.

[9] Agnew, John. "Understandings of the changing nature of space and the future of global governance." In Geography Research Forum, vol. 20, pp. 1-13. 2016.

[10] Klauser, F., and S. Pedrozo. "Power and space in the drone age: a literature review and politico-geographical research agenda." Geogr. Helv 70 (2015): 285-293.

[11] Agnew, John. "The new global economy: time-space compression, geopolitics, and global uneven development." journal of world-systems research 7, no. 2 (2015): 133-154.

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