Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics

Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics

Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics

Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics

Synopsis

Despite challenges to its domination, the way modern-world politics is conducted is structured by a set of understandings dating back to the rise of the European powers. Here, John Agnew systematically explores how Europeans in a position of global power imposed their ways and views on others through visualiZing the world as a whole, defining world regions as modern or backward, seeing the nation statehood as the highest and best form of political organization, and viewing world politics as the outcome of the pursuit of primacy by competing states.Exploring the elements of geographical imagination and how they have come together in different historical and modern epochs, this updated new edition examines:- the implications of recent world events such as September 11th- continued expansion of the EU and NATO- the near bankruptcy and failure of various states- the re-ignition of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.Providing a lucid analysis of how world politics has come to be practised in its present form, Agnew identifies and argues for an alternative, given the costs visited on the world in twentieth century by the practice of the modern geographical imagination.

Excerpt

In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon (US Defense Department) outside Washington, DC, on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush declared war on 'terrorism'. This, it has become clear, involves much more than simply going after those who perpetrated the attacks-the so-called al-Qaeda network of Islamic terrorists led by the Saudi Arabian millionaire Osama bin Laden. The result has been nothing less than a total reorganization of world politics, with the US government claiming the right to intervene militarily wherever and whenever it wants, initially in Iraq but without precisely defined geographical limits. Rooting out terrorism all over the world has now replaced older themes in the US foreign policy lexicon, working backwards from most to least recent, of 'containing Communism' (in the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence), creating 'collective security' after the First World War, or helping to maintain the balance of power between the European Great Powers in the late nineteenth century. The US government is now able to do more or less as it pleases (at least militarily) because it has become the single superpower. Of course, it also sustained the attacks on its soil because of its global geopolitical centrality and support for governments-particularly those of Israel and Saudi Arabia-that excite much hostility from Muslim extremists.

What is new after 11 September 2001 is that the world has never before had just one major power combined with a violent opposition from a shadowy network without a single state to its name (although it came close to having one in Taliban-dominated Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001). What is more familiar, however, is that the US government and its new adversaries are participants in a global 'game' for political control and influence that has dire consequences for the world as a whole. The game goes back to the creation of modern world politics beginning in the sixteenth century but getting into full swing only in the nineteenth century. It is the fruit of a modern geopolitical imagination that encompasses and directs the theories and practices of world politics. This geopolitical imagination has long framed world politics in terms of an overarching global context in which states vie for power outside their boundaries, gain control (formally and informally) over less modern regions (and their resources) and overtake other major states in a worldwide pursuit of global primacy. It is the combination of all these features that makes the geopolitical imagination a peculiarly modern one.

The period since the ending of the Cold War in 1989-91 has seen a number of other dramatic changes that, along with worldwide terrorist networks, might seem to challenge the continuing utility of the modern geopolitical imagination as a singular guide to practice in world politics. These would include the deepening of the European Union with the creation of the new currency, the euro, thus giving rise to a new form of polity that is

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.