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Jibek Jibek

on 24 January 2013

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Is 'classical' geopolitics still actual
in today's politics? Kyzzhibek Nurbekova Colin Gray & Zbigniew Brzezinski Conclusion Conclusion Conclusion Biblioography Geopolitical approach Gray's 4 arguments The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives The primacy of geography Context Colin Gray vs. Zbigniew Brzezinski Early Precursors Whether 'classical' geopolitics still has sufficient explanatory power to help characterize and navigate the major structural changes occurring in the international environment

Theories of Colin Gray and Zbigniew Brzezinski Halford Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History” originated ‘heartland thesis.’

Alfred Thayer Mahan, the importance of naval power in history

Nicholas Spykman, American foreign policy during and after WWII “from isolationism to ‘interventionist globalism.’” Colin Gray, the British-American strategy analyst, and former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski

Gray’s essay, “The Continued Primacy of Geography” and Chapter 2 of Brzezinski’s classic, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives

Haushofer: ‘. . . geopolitics takes the place of political passion … and reshapes the work of the arbitrary transgression of human will. The natural world, beaten back with sword or pitchfork, irrepressibly reasserts itself in the face of the earth. This is geopolitics!’

Geographical factors not deterministic, “are pervasive in world politics.”

Geography “conditions, shapes and influences the course of a polity’s historical choices”

Statesmen may seem to be free to pursue the foreign policies of their choice, but different geographical settings actually impose distinctive constraints and opportunities on them. 1) advances in transportation and communications technology have ‘conquered geography,’ rendering traditional concerns of distance, terrain and climate irrelevant; (control of population,the heavy artillery, armor and large quantities of ammunition)

2) a converging ‘global culture’ is eroding the territorial basis of political communities;(“hearts do not beat faster at the sight of the UN or EU flags” )
“Ever since the continents began interacting politically some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.”

Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world’s population, 75% of its known energy resources, and 60 percent of its GDP.

Historically no power has ever been able to dominate Eurasia completely; “too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states”

From an American perspective, this quest puts “a premium on geostrategic skill and on the careful, selective, and very deliberate deployment of America’s resources”.

For Brzezinski, playing “chess” in this arena will be critical for America’s long-term national security, and therefore should be the fundamental, overriding concern of American foreign policy. Physical territoriality is still all-important, but Mackinder for example focused on determining what part of Eurasia should be considered the point of departure for continental domination

Preventing the emergence of a hegemon is imperative, not only for the U.S. but also for the world.

The focus should not be on controlling one pivotal area but on positively engaging with geostrategically dynamic states that can affect the distribution of power in Eurasia as a whole.

Key states: Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and South Korea.

It is the fundamentals that matter, which here means the centrality of what once was called “the world island” to the West’s foreign policy. Classical geopolitics continues to have its adherents

The basic insights provided by the geopolitical thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries do not require fundamental revision or adaptation for today’s context.

Geography may not be destiny, but it remains pervasive in world politics, particularly in the Eurasian landmass Colin Gray focuses on the continuity between the classical approaches and geopolitics today, Brzezinski admits a modest departure.

For him, a hundred years of political and technological developments may demand some nips and tucks to Mackinder’s famous formula, “He who rules Eurasia rules the world.”

According to Brzezinski, the key now is to engage positively with a handful of states that deserve our attention and resources. When it comes to the fundamentals, it appears he continues to be right. http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Digital-Library/Articles/Special-Feature/Detail/?lng=en&id=134447&contextid774=134447&contextid775=134439&tabid=134439


Zbigniew Brzezinski, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives" Gray's 4 arguments 3) conflict is becoming far more economic than military-political; ( “polities that elect to devote little of their wealth to military defense tend, ultimately, to lose the basis of that wealth.”)

4) changes in the nature of warfare, such as the importance of air power, make the dichotomy between maritime and naval powers obsolete (“aircraft can bombard, they can execute missions rapidly,” but they “cannot transport goods in bulk or goods of great weight” or “exercise control of the ground continuously or reliably.”) Structural changes are at the margins Introduction
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