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Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904): -German geographer and ethnographer; first using the term Lebensraum (1901);

introduced the modern study of Political Geography

the expansion on the biological conception of geography, without a static conception of borders
States are instead organic and growing, with borders representing only a temporary stop in their movement. It is
not the state proper that is the organism, but the land in its spiritual bond with the people who draw sustenance from
The expanse of a states borders is a reflection of the health of the nation.
Ratzels idea of Raum (space) would grow out of his organic state conception.
This early concept of lebensraum was not political or economic, but spiritual and racial nationalist expansion.
The Raum-motiv is a historically driving force, pushing peoples with great Kultur to naturally expand. Space, for
Ratzel, was a vague concept, theoretically unbounded. Raum was defined by where German peoples live, where
other weaker states could serve to support German peoples economically, and where German culture could fertilize
other cultures.
Ratzel's concept of raum was not overtly aggressive, but theorized simply as the natural expansion of strong states
into areas controlled by weaker states. became the basis for Nazi expansion
Johan Rudolf Kjelln (1864-1922): Swedish political scientist and politician; Ratzels student; further elaborated on
organic state theory, coining the term "geopolitics" in the process; primarily interested in how geography effects the
power relations of states , especially their land & people
Kjellns five key concepts that would shape German geopolitik:
1. Reich was a territorial concept consisting of Raum (Lebensraum- a racist ideology that proposed the aggressive,
territorial expansion of Germany, especially into Eastern Europe. ), and strategic military shape;
2. Volk was a racial conception of the state; means people in the ethnic sense or a nation
3. Haushalt (government budget) was a call for autarky based on land, formulated in reaction to the vicissitudes of
international markets; Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the
term is applied to political states or their economic systems.
4. Gesellschaft (generally translated as "community and society) was the social aspect of a nations organization
and cultural appeal, Kjelln anthropomorphizing inter-state
relations more than Ratzel had;
5. Regierung was the form of government whose bureaucracy and army would contribute to the peoples pacification
and coordination.
Autarky, for Kjelln, was a solution to a political problem, not an economic policy in itself. Dependence on imports
would mean that a country would never be independent. Territory would provide for internal production; for
Germany, Central and Southeastern Europe were key, along with the Near East and Africa.
The state did have a responsibility for law and order, but also for social welfare/progress, and economic
Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840 - 1914) book, The Influence of Sea Power on History, 1660-1783 - nautical view of
geographical power; technologically and economically adaptive view of geopolitics to account for a dynamic world;
became extremely influential and were publicly praised by President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge
dividing the world in a global ocean and the lands it connects, he strongly pushed an ocean-centered view of
strategic locations (such as chokepoints, canals, and coaling stations), as well as quantifiable levels of fighting
power in a fleet, were conducive to control over the sea
In military strategy, a choke point (or chokepoint) is a geographical feature on land such as a valley, defile or a
bridge, or at sea such as a strait which an armed force is forced to pass, sometimes on a substantially narrower front,
and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, in order to reach its objective. A choke point can allow a
numerically inferior defending force to successfully thwart a larger opponent if the attacker cannot bring superior
numbers to bear.

position; 2. Serviceable coastlines, abundant natural resources, and favorable climate; 3. Extent of territory; 4.
Population large enough to defend its territory; 5. Society with an aptitude for the sea and commercial enterprise;
and 6. Government with the influence and inclination to dominate the sea
Mahans key region of the world in the Eurasian context: the Central Zone of Asia lying between 30 and 40 north
and stretching from Asia Minor to Japan = independent countries still survived Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, China,
and Japan.
two monsters Russia and Britain
Russia was considered more threatening to the fate of Central Asia- Russias transcontinental size and strategically
favorable position for southward expansion. Therefore, .necessary for the Anglo-Saxon sea power to
resist Russia
Sir Halford John Mackinder, Privy Council of the U. K. (15 February 1861 6 March 1947)
English geographer, academic, politician, the first Principal of University Extension College, Reading (which
became the University of Reading) and Director of the London School of Economics
regarded as one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy
Earth's land surface was divisible into: 1. The World-Island (comprising the interlinked continents of Europe, Asia,
and Africa) -- the largest, most populous, and richest of all possible land combinations 2. The offshore islands (the
British Isles and the islands of Japan) 3. The outlying islands (the continents of North America, South America, and
The Heartland lay at the centre of the world island, stretching from the Volga to the Yangtze and from the
Himalayas to the Arctic. Mackinder's Heartland was the area then ruled by the Russian Empire and after that by the
Soviet Union, minus the Kamchatka Peninsula region.
whoever controlled the World-Island would control over 50% of the world's resources. The Heartland's size and
central position made it the key to controlling the World-Island.
WORLD HISTORICAL PROCESSES : Based on the idea that the world is divided into inherently isolated areas,
each of which, perform a special function..European civilization = product of external pressure
(invasions from Asia pushed Europe to develop advances leading to territorial expansion). . . . Stimulus for Europes
rise came from pressures from the center of Asia (heartland) ..and the Heartland was the pivot of all impt.
Historical events
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland: Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island: Who
rules the World-Island commands the World
HOW TO SECURE CONTROL FOR THE HEARTLAND: Given Conditions = 1. Russian Empire was huge but
socially, politically and technologically backwardi.e., inferior in "virility, equipment and organization" 2..
effective political domination of the Heartland by a single power had been unattainable in the past. . . why? The
Heartland was protected from sea power by ice to the north and mountains and deserts to the south. Previous land
invasions from east to west and vice versa were unsuccessful because lack of efficient transportation made it
impossible to assure a continual stream of men and supplies.
Heartland might become a springboard for global domination in the twentieth century (Sempa, 2000): Successful
invasion of Russia by a West European nation (most probably Germany) -the introduction of the railroad had
removed the Heartland's invulnerability to land invasion. As Eurasia began to be covered by an extensive network of
railroads, there was an excellent chance that a powerful continental nation could extend its political control over the
Eastern European gateway to the Eurasian landmass.
BUT: GEOPOLITICAL NIGHTMARE if Germany or Russia were allowed to control East Europe = the
domination of the Eurasian land mass by one of these two powers as a prelude to mastery of the world
"The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman
Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the
Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French
Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the
main powers so they could balance each other off and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use
for republicanism or revolution. " ...................... Austria was represented by Prince Metternich, the Foreign Minister,
and by his deputy, Baron Johann von Wessenberg; Great Britain first by Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh;
then by the Duke of Wellington; Tsar Alexander I represented the Russian delegation; Prussia by Prince Karl August
von Hardenberg, Wilhelm von Humboldt

Spykman, the "godfather of containment," : 1. the U.S. should keep Germany strong after World War II in order to
be able to counter Russia's power. (keep the 2 countries busy with each other to keep a balance of power that is
favorable to the U.S.)
2. predicted that Japan would lose the war in the Pacific, while China and Russia would struggle over boundaries 3.
made a forecast on the rise of China as the dominant power in Asia, which would force the U.S. to take
responsibility for Japan's defense.
4. opposed to European integration and argued that U.S. interests favored balanced power in Europe rather than
integrated power. The U.S. was fighting a war against Germany to prevent Europe's conquest under one power

"The domino theory, which governed much of U.S. foreign policy beginning in the early 1950s, held that a
communist victory in one nation would quickly lead to a chain reaction of communist takeovers in neighboring
In September 1945, the Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed Vietnams independence from
France, beginning a war that pitted Hos communist-led Viet Minh regime in Hanoi (North Vietnam) against a
French-backed regime in Saigon (South Vietnam). Under President Harry S. Truman, the U.S. government provided
covert military and financial aid to the French; the rationale was that a communist victory in Indochina would
precipitate the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia. Using this same logic, Truman would also give aid
to Greece and Turkey during the late 1940s to help contain communism in Europe and the Middle East.
Did You Know?
In an interview with the press in September 1963, President John F. Kennedy expressed his belief in the domino
theory, stating that "We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw [from
By early 1950, makers of U.S. foreign policy had firmly embraced the idea that the fall of Indochina to communism
would lead rapidly to the collapse of other nations in Southeast Asia. The National Security Council included the
theory in a 1952 report on Indochina, and in April 1954, during the decisive battle between Viet Minh and French
forces at Dien Bien Phu, President Dwight D. Eisenhowerarticulated it as the falling domino principle. In
Eisenhowers view, the loss of Vietnam to communist control would lead to similar communist victories in
neighboring countries in Southeast Asia (including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand) and elsewhere (India, Japan, the
Philippines, Indonesia, and even Australia and New Zealand). The possible consequences of the loss [of
Indochina], Eisenhower said, are just incalculable to the free world.
After Eisenhowers speech, the phrase domino theory began to be used as a shorthand expression of the strategic
importance of South Vietnam to the United States, as well as the need to contain the spread of communism
throughout the world. After the Geneva Conference ended the French-Viet Minh war and split Vietnam along the
latitude known as the 17th parallel, the United States spearheaded the organization of the Southeast Asia Treaty
Organization (SEATO), a loose alliance of nations committed to taking action against security threats in the
John F. Kennedy, Eisenhowers successor in the White House, would increase the commitment of U.S. resources in
support of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in South Vietnam and of non-communist forces fighting a civil war in Laos in
1961-62. In the fall of 1963, after serious domestic opposition to Diem arose, Kennedy backed away from support of
Diem himself but publicly reaffirmed belief in the domino theory and the importance of containing communism in
Southeast Asia. Three weeks after Diem was murdered in a military coup in early November 1963, Kennedy was
assassinated in Dallas; his successor Lyndon B. Johnson would continue to use the domino theory to justify the
escalation of the U.S. military presence in Vietnam from a few thousand soldiers to more than 500,000 over the next
five years.
In hindsight, the domino theory failed to take into account the character of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong
struggle in the Vietnam War. By assuming Ho Chi Minh was a pawn of the communist giants Russia and China,
American policymakers failed to see that the goal of Ho and his supporters was limited to Vietnamese independence,
rather than the spread of global communism.

In the end, even though the American effort to block a communist takeover failed, and North Vietnamese forces
marched into Saigon in 1975, communism did not spread throughout the rest of Southeast Asia. With the exception
of Laos and Cambodia, the nations of the region remained out of communist control.