geopolitical choke points of the Suez Canal, the Dardanelles, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Danish Straits. Mahan also drew two lines at the 30th and 40th parallels which delineated the control of the landed north and naval south. In between, Mahan believed, would be the battle ground for control of Asia. Although the years and decades following Mahan's writing proved him incorrect in terms of national alliances, the geographical areas Mahan highlighted witnessed a great geopolitical tug-of-war which Mahan foresaw. As we shall see with our other two thinkers, his ideas were especially important during the Cold War as the Soviet Union sought fresh water ports on the Arabian and Indian oceans, and access to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic via the Dardanelles and Gibraltar.
THE GEOSTRATEGIC MAP OF ALFRED THAYER MAHAN
|Alfred Thayer Mahan, the greatest American strategic thinker of the 19th century, divided Asia into a land-dominated north (red) and a sea-dominated south (blue), with a competitive buffer zone in between (gray).|
Mackinder first outlined his theory in a paper entitled The Geographical Pivot of History (1904), but later expanded his work into the book Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919) which was aimed at convincing the powers at Versailles of the importance of eastern Europe. As he wrote in his book: "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World." For Mackinder, it was imperative that eastern European nations remain independent of both Russian and German dominance so that neither land power could go on to fully control the Heartland and thus the World Island. Ultimately Mackinder's theory would place Eurasia at the center of future geostrategic thinking, from the time of the Cold War to the modern day.
THE GEOSTRATEGIC MAP OF HALFORD JOHN MACKINDER
|Mackinder: "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World."|
Spykman's second work, The Geography of the Peace (1944), was released shortly after his death from cancer in 1943. In it he questioned some of the assumptions of Mackinder and presented his own theory that in many ways synthesized the thought of Mackinder and Mahan. The first aspect of Mackinder's theory Spykman questioned was the importance of the Heartland. Spyman rejected the the belief that the Heartland possessed enough natural resources to compete with the outlying Rimland territories of Europe, the Middle East, India, and China which surround the Heartland. He further argued that a power in control of the Rimland would have the capacity to overpower the Heartland, prevent any Heartland land power from building a navy on an open water port, and could besiege and economically starve a Heartland power into submission. Following the strategic outlook of Mahan, control of the Rimland would be maintained by strong naval powers like Britain and America. In his emphasis on the Rimland over the Heartland, Spykman rewrote Mackinder's famous dictum as: "Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia; who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world." Spykman's Rimland theory was soon used as the basis for America's containment policy during the Cold War - but his realist, balance-of-power strategy would also be taken up by future geostrategists to resist any potential regional hegemon from arising in any Rimland territory.
THE GEOSTRATEGIC MAP OF NICHOLAS J. SPYKMAN
|Spykman: "Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia; who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world."|
The geopolitical maps of Mahan, Mackinder, and Spykman shaped history, our understanding of geopolitics, and the outlook of many modern geostrategists. Understanding their theories and looking at their maps helps us form our own idea of geopolitics in what we call Christian Realism. For more on Christian Realism, we suggest you read our Thursday posts dedicated to this topic on Anthropology of Accord.