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According to Flint (2011, p.

33), Geopolitics is more than the


competition over territory and the means of justifying such
actions: geopolitics is a way of seeing the world. Do you agree
with this statement? Why/why not?
To a large extent, geopolitics is more than the competition over territory
and the means of justifying such actions; it is a way of seeing the world
(Flint, 2011, p.33). Geopolitics can be defined as the intersection between
human geography and the politics of countries. This is because geopolitics
is not solely concerned with the interactions between states, but also
politics on a global scale. It explores the ways in which political units
interact but also the way geopolitical theories impact on ones perception
of the world and its importance. Thereby providing us with an insight into
the workings and relationships between states, allowing for interpretations
of surroundings, as well as an understanding of actions between
interacting borders.
The division of the world by geopolitical theorists has given us insights
into the workings and relationships of states. For example, Halford
Mackinders Heartland and the conflicts which have arisen between it
and the Rimland (Gray, 1977, p.1). The Heartland encompasses the
majority of Eastern Europe, whilst the Rimland consists predominantly of
the Heartlands surrounding countries and America. The division between
these two territories is a representation of the contest for supremacy
between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, seen through their standoff during
the Cold War. This geographical divide is also a representation of the
clashing nature of the relationship between these two great superpowers,
as seen through repeated incidents throughout history, from World War 1
to the Cold War, where both have been opponents in global crises. We can
further explore conflicting relationships by examining the conflicts within
the Heartland itself, such as the political crisis between the Ukraine and
Russia. As Mackinder said, whoever possess the Heartland, will forever
seek to dominate the Eurasian landmass and ultimately the world
(Halford Mackinder, as cited by, Clover, 1999, p.9). The crisis in the
Ukraine is an example of Russias attempts to regain its former glory as
the Soviet Union after its collapse in 1991. Russias attempts to remain as
one of the contemporary worlds superpowers has resulted in the
disenchantment of many countries from leaving the European Union to
return to their native shores (Vladimir Putin, as cited by, Oliphant &
Partiff, 2015, p.1) of the Soviet Union. Therefore the geographical divisions
between the Heartland and the Rimland, as well as internal divisions
within the former Soviet Union, gives us an insight into the workings and
relationships of neighbouring states, as well as enabling us to also
consider the politics of the world rather than just the interactions between
states.
Different geopolitical theories, such as realism and liberalism, allow for
different interpretations of ones surroundings, including a states border.
As Professor Stephen M. Walt said, no single approach can capture all the

complexity of contemporary world politics (Walt, 1998, p.30), for


example, in regards to the NATO expansion towards Eastern Europe. As
NATO expands further into Eastern Europe, encompassing countries in
close proximity to Russia's borders, realist and liberalist geopolitical
theorists have different theories as to what may occur as a result. Realism
and Liberalism can be defined as the emphasis on the enduring
propensity for conflict between states; Liberalism identifies several ways
to mitigate these conflictive tendencies (Walt, 1998, p.30). Consequently,
both theories provide different perspectives on the potential
consequences of NATO expansion. Under a realist perspective, the
expansion of NATO can be seen as the extension of western influence in a
period of weakness in the east which could potentially result in a violent
reaction from Russia. This has somewhat come to fruition as seen with the
military conflict occurring between Georgia, a country under consideration
for NATO membership, and Russia, and furthermore the conflict between
Russia and the Ukraine, another country under consideration for NATO
membership. However, a liberalist perspective would suggest that by
increasing NATOs influence in a tumultuous area, such as Eastern Europe,
could potentially increase the rise of democracy in this area and thus
bring peace. However there are criticisms for both theories, ranging from
realism being too pessimistic in nature, and liberalism believing in the
high influence of institutions on state behaviour. As a result, the contest
between these theories help reveal their strengths and weaknesses and
spurs subsequent refinement (Walt, 1998, p.30) which could allow for
more appropriate responses and deeper understandings of a states
borders.
Political units, such as the European Union, provide a deeper
understanding of actions between interacting borders, both within the
European Union itself and surrounding states. During the post-Cold War
era, a high level of disintegration was occurring within Europe as there
was no longer a threat from the USSR. However, independent states
within Western Europe, influenced by George Kennans theory of
containment towards the USSR, confronted with dangerous hostility
anywhere in the world, we should do everything possible to contain it and
not let it expand any further (George Kennan, as cited by PBS NewsHour,
1996), sought to limit the possibility of a Third World War through
integration. 1952 saw the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the
establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which
sought to prevent German rearmament and resurgence through the
regulation of those resources, and reinforce the community's
international position (EUROPA, 2010). But to do so there needed to be
reforms, which introduced the enlargement of the European Union in
1973, which sought to protect the independence of smaller states in
Europe from larger, more threatening powers. But there was also the need
to have economic independence within this unique political dynamic. The
Maastricht treaty of 1992 sought to abolish the EUs economic
dependence on the US by creating an economic and monetary union
(EUROPA, 2010) through the introduction of the Euro in most member

states. Therefore we are able to gain a deeper understanding of actions


both within the European Union itself and its surrounding borders, as we
observe its development of new mechanisms to create a functional and
prosperous political unit, but also it attempts to pacify potential threats to
said unit and others, thus not only focusing on its own politics, but also
the politics and safety of the world.
Therefore, geopolitics is not solely concerned with the interactions
between states, but also politics on a global scale. Geopolitics, through
theoretical divisions of the world, contesting geopolitical theories and
dynamic political units, provides us with an insight into the workings and
relationships of states, different interpretations of ones surroundings, and
an understanding of actions between interacting states. Therefore
opening our eyes to different perspectives and theories about the
workings of our world and its importance, and thus emphasising that
geopolitics is more than the competition over territory and the means to
justifying such actions, it is a way of seeing the world (Flint, 2011, p.33).

References List
1. Clover, C. 1999. Dreams of the Eurasian Heartland: The Reemergence of Geopolitics, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 2, p.9
2. EUROPA 2010, Summaries of EU Legislation, viewed 24th March
2015,
http://www.europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/trea
ties/treaties_maastricht_en.htm
3. Flint, C. 2011. Introduction to Geopolitics. Oxford: Routledge. 2nd
Edition. Ch.1, p.33
4. Gray, C.S. 1977. Geopolitics of the nuclear era: Heartland, rimlands,
and the technological revolution. Crane, Russak and Company Inc.
New York, NY, p.1
5. Oliphant, R. & Parfitt, T. 2015. Vladimir Putin praises Russian
Patriotism and claims: Ukrainians and Russians are one, The
Telegraph, 18th March 2015, viewed 26th March 2015,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/110808
64/Vladimir-Putin-praises-Russian-Patriotism-and-claims-Ukrainiansand-Russians-are-one.htm
6. Online NewsHour: David Gergen Interview with George Kennan,
PBS News Hour, April 18 1996, retrieved 26th March 2015
7. Walt, S.M. 1998. International Relations: One World, Many
Theories, Foreign Policy, No. 110, Special Edition: Frontiers of
Knowledge. p.30