Geopolitics and Determinism
In response to a twitter thread, I wanted to contribute my own two cents as to how people should think about geopolitics as a discipline, and whether geopolitical analysis has any weight to it.
Geopolitics in the stricter sense (or Geopolitik) is not just a general overview of international relations or war and peace questions. As Rudolf Kjellén puts it in his The State as Organism:
“Geopolitics is the discipline of the state as a geographical organism or phenomenon in space; that is the state as land, territory, domain or, most concisely, reich. As a political science it is steadily focused on the state as unit and seeks to contribute to the understanding of the state’s essence; while political geography examines earth as a home for human groups, in its relation to earth’s other qualities.”
Geopolitics in the strict sense looks at states as organisms – and how these organisms relate to physical space. It’s not a very normative discipline and it’s hard to predict outcomes using geopolitical thinking. Geopolitics is best when used as a compliment to more rigorous analysis. There are sets of tools you can use to identify geographical strengths and weaknesses, from natural resources & borders to how areas are positioned in relation to each other. Realists and Marxists frequently make use of geopolitics when analyzing war. There are some clear geographical factors, both absolute (the Himalayas, Middle Eastern oil reserves) and relative (the distance between America and Europe, the distance between Africa and Asia) that obviously have to factor into war & economic planning at some level, but it’s a mistake to think of geography as the sole cause for war. Neither the US nor the UK were forced to enter into WW2 by their geography. Geography should be thought of more as presenting series of opportunities and limitations on political action. It’s up to individuals in power to decide how their country acts. Under different leadership the tragedy of allied involvement could have been avoided. 

Structural realism, geopolitics, constructivism etc. all have limited explanatory power. If you lean too far into them you end up with retarded ideas as to the reasoning behind historical decisions that run counter to even the unbiased testimony of people who made those decisions.
They're not direct causes, but, being "fundamentals," shape peoples that live on the soil, and therefore the states, policies they have.

For example, you'll notice, if you look at this website: that most of the great powers of the world today wholly control a whole "realm" almost in their entirety. This grants them the ability to maximize the usage of their land, and fulfill their potential - and this effect scales down to the simple bioregions, the secondary major powers similarly controlling a whole bioregion almost in it's entirety.
Very true observations. Bioregions play a big role in national development, perhaps most notably in the case of Russian colonization of Siberia. I think I over-emphasized the part about limited explanatory power because I was being polemical. Geopolitics should be taken seriously and the spatial element of politics sometimes gets sidelines in favor of legal and demographic elements. 
My big pet peeve is when people act like waging a suicidal war against Germany was the result of some stroke of geographical genius on Churchill's part. Unlike what some hard materialists claim, politicians sometimes act out of bizarre ideological convictions or pure self interest.
Geolpolitics is a coping mechanism by those who can't fathom the fact that international relations are much more complex of an issues than anyhting geography or resources could tell you. Rationalizations of the complexities of the world should be avoided.

Geopolitics is about fundamentals, but it is also how you define those fundamentals. These things change through the years, new needs arise and other are dismissed. Whale oil and whaling in general was a key point of contention among many Atlantic and Pacific nations 200 years ago, now nobody cares but the japanese and green peace.
Akhenaten retreating the troops from his forts in the Levant in order to launch the Storm on his own nation proves geopolitics as ultimately insuficient.

Quick Reply
Type your reply to this message here.

Human Verification
Please tick the checkbox that you see below. This process is used to prevent automated spam bots.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)