Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Recognizing the North American Heartland: A More Suitable Fit for Mackinder's Thesis

Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Recognizing the North American Heartland: A More Suitable Fit for Mackinder's Thesis

Article excerpt

1.Methodology: Outlining Classical Geopolitics and Realism

Two separate but intertwining international-relations models, geopolitics and realism, compose the interpretive structures for this essay. Models are repositories of theories; they do nothing other than hold those theories that fit the specific definitions of the model, again in our case, the models of geopolitics and of realism. Theories possess their own labels, different from the models they enter, and they serve as neutral and timeless tools for delving more deeply into understanding events and ideas. They come as simple sentences of probability (Kelly, 2017); if "A" happens, then "B" holds some likelihood of reacting as a result of "A." For instance, Mackinder's Eurasian pivot, reflective of a continental heartland, holds an advantage for eventual expansion to world empire. This assumes that pivotal location foretells an outward impact and occupation. This and a variety of other theories will be enlisted in the pages that follow to assist the reader in the exploring of strategic heartlands and also of rimlands, the marginal lands that encircle the Eurasian lever.

Classical geopolitics emphasizes placement of a state, region, or resource impacting upon a country's foreign affairs. It draws upon geography or territorial/maritime space for its inspiration, specifically upon relative locations and positions of countries. Theories abound, perhaps more than for any other international-relations model. Central and peripheral placement may affect a nation's diplomatic and security policies. Or, the more borders a country possesses, the more warfare that country will suffer. Or, increasing distance to an event might diminish a state's influence. Much of this essay's portrayal will derive from such spatial premises that will accord to classical geopolitics (Kelly, 2016: 83-135, 173-186), among these, age of the Pacific, balanceof-power, checkerboards, center/periphery, Charcas heartland, contagion, containment, demography, dependency, distance, divide-and-conquer, encircling, frontiers and hinterlands, geostrategic, Great Game, heartlands, imperial thesis, influence spheres, land-power/sea-power, Monroe Doctrine, moreborders-more-wars, offshore balancing, pan-regions, pivot/leverage, rimlands and World Island, shape of country and region, shatterbelts, space mastery, and westward march of empire.

The descriptor "classical" opines to the version of geopolitics enlisted in this essay, its variation being "critical geopolitics." The critics see inherent to traditional geopolitics an elites' subjugating and exploiting of peoples and nations, with "geopolitics" performing as a compliant tool for this violence (Kelly, 2006). They gain evidence to this conspiracy via "de-constructing" or exposing the greed-laden "scripts" and "metanarratives" of states-leaders. In contrast, the classical version provides students and states-persons a neutral and ubiquitous tool for understanding international relationships and for offering prescriptions for policy questions. Here, one should rely upon theory where the critics reject theory as biased. Once more, the classical, and not the critical, pertains to the discussions raised in the pages that follow.

Realism studies the relative power a state may possess and the management of that power for bringing it security. Within a dangerous and anarchic world, states alone are destined to defend themselves since a strong world government does not serve sufficient to protect. Stronger countries can be guaranteed against weaker nations, but when one state among other states of equal power attempts to expand its defenses, a reactive arms race may ensue, this action/reaction called a "security dilemma." Building my castle walls higher may force my neighbor to build his walls higher, too, causing a contagion of construction but with all suffering less security, nonetheless. Hence, realists recommend that moderate countries should seek a consensus of trust among them with a collective-security design in order to secure their common protection, made longer-lasting by isolating or destroying revolutionary and reckless states that may jeopardize such collectivity. …

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