Geopolitics

In the article Just War and Extraterritoriality: The popular geopolitics of the  United States’ War on  Iraq as reflected in newspapers of the Arab world, the topic of how perspective affects the perception of war being just or unjust. Falah, Flint, and Mamadouh point out that the status of the United States as hegemon allowed the States to apply extraterritorial pressure in Iraq. From the perspective of the American state, the war was just based on the hegemonic prerogative of spreading the State’s particular brand of normality. From the Iraqi perspective, the war was an unjust overreach by a foreign aggressor. This article reminded me of the chapters and articles we covered on the the topics of sovereignty and the concept of a monopoly of power held by States. The article also coveres the concept of prime modernity. Prime modernity is the idea that the current world hegemon defines what it means to be modern, and through extraterritorial pressures, be they force or persuasion, pushes this framework on to non-hegemonic states.

In Chapter 9, the somewhat rocky history of geopolitics is explored. It began as an explanation of the benefit that states received from the natural resources within their borders by Rudolf Kjellen. Next, Halford Mackinder worked to institutionalize the field of geography. Mackinder came up with what is called the heartland thesis. He postulated that the world could be divided into the heartland, the inner crescent, and the outer crescent. The heartland, also known as the pivot area, consisted of Eastern Europe and Russia. Mackinder believed that the heartland posed the greatest threat to the continuation of British preeminence. Mackinder didn’t call his work geopolitics, but it shared many aspects with Kjellen’s earlier work.

Karl Haushofer’s involvement in the field likely altered the course of its developlment. Haushofer used geopolitics to consider the threats facing Germany after World War I. Haushofer used Friedrich Ratzel’s concept of lebensraum as a justification for German expansion. A student of Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, was a deputy to Hitler, and Haushofer’s idea were incorporated into the Nazi Party. Geopolitics association with the Nazis caused a shift from normative to scientific approaches after World War II. 

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