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India and Geopolitics

India and Geopolitics

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Published by satishq
Geopolitics of India
Geopolitics of India

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Published by: satishq on Aug 17, 2008
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 INDIA AND GEOPOLITICS - PART I Praker BandimuttIntroductionGeopolitics is a method of political analysis, popular in Central Europeduring the first half of the 20th cent. that emphasized the role played bygeography in international relations. Geopolitical theorists stress that naturalpolitical boundaries and access to important waterways are vital to a nation'ssurvival. The term was first used (1916) by Rudolf Kjeflen, a Swedish politicalscientist, and was later borrowed by Karl Haushofer, a German geographer andfollower of Friedrich Ratzel. Haushofer founded (1922) the Institute ofGeopolitics in Munich, from which he proceeded to publicize geopolitical ideas,including Sir Walford J. Mackinder's theory of a European heartland central to
 world domination. Haushofer's writings found favor with the Nazi leadership, andhis ideas were used to justify German expansion during the Nazi era. Manyexpansionist justifications, including the American manifest destiny as well as
 the German Lebensraum, are based on geopolitical considerations. Geopolitics isdifferent from political geography, a branch of geography concerned with therelationship between politics and the environment.One just has to look at what South Asia comprises of and where it issituated in the world, it becomes apparent why this area has acquired a vitalposition in the world at the end of the 20th century. The eight countries
 Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives- that constitute South Asia are a zone of fire. China is situated in the north ofthis zone, Russia is on the North and West, the Middle East, Balkans and Europeare on the West, and the Indian Ocean on the South. The Indian Ocean connects the
 Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.
Classical GeopoliticsGeopolitics is concerned with how geographical factors, includingterritory, population, strategic location, and natural resource endowments, asmodified by economics and technology, affect the relations between states and thestruggle for world domination. Classical geopolitics was a manifestation ofinterimperialist rivalry and emerged around the time of the SpanishAmerican War
 and the Boer War. It constituted the core ideology of U.S. overseas expansionarticulated in Alfred Thayer Mahans Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890),
 Frederick Jackson Turners The Frontier in American History (1893), and Brooks
 Adamss The New Empire (1902)as well as in Theodore Roosevelts Rough-Rider
 policies. The term geopolitics itself was coined in 1899 by the Swedish
 political scientist Rudolf Kjelln, after which it quickly emerged as a systematic
 area of study. The three foremost geopolitical theorists in the key period fromthe Treaty of Versailles through the Second World War, were Halford Mackinder inBritain, Karl Haushofer in Germany, and Nicholas John Spykman in the UnitedStates. Geopolitics is concerned with how geographical factors, includingterritory, population, strategic location, and natural resource endowments, asmodified by economics and technology, affect the relations between states and thestruggle for world domination. Classical geopolitics was a manifestation ofinterimperialist rivalry and emerged around the time of the SpanishAmerican War
 and the Boer War. It constituted the core ideology of U.S. overseas expansionarticulated in Alfred Thayer Mahans Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890),
 Frederick Jackson Turners The Frontier in American History (1893), and Brooks
 Adamss The New Empire (1902)as well as in Theodore Roosevelts Rough-Rider
 policies. The term geopolitics itself was coined in 1899 by the Swedish
 political scientist Rudolf Kjelln, after which it quickly emerged as a systematic
 
 
area of study. The three foremost geopolitical theorists in the key period fromthe Treaty of Versailles through the Second World War, were Halford Mackinder inBritain, Karl Haushofer in Germany, and Nicholas John Spykman in the UnitedStates.States pursue different grand strategies at different times with differentdegrees of success. Why? Why select one grand strategy (an integrated,multidimensional approach to security) and not another? Why not deal with allthreats in the same manner? And why, once selected, do some strategies succeed andprovide security (i.e., territorial integrity, political independence, economicviability, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion) while others fail?The Geographical Pivot of History is a book published in the Geographical Journaland written by Sir Halford Mackinder, who is the founder of the school ofgeopolitics.Geopolitics may be defined, crudely, as the influence of geography upon
 politics: how distance and terrain and climate affect the affairs of states andmen. Because of geography, for example, Athens was a thalassocracy - a sea empire- whereas Sparta was a land power.
Mackinder summarised his theory in Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919) thus:Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; (Eurasia)Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; (Eurasia and Africa)Who rules the World Island commands the World. Eighteenth-century Britain, as an island, enjoyed the freedom of the seas;eighteenth-century Prussia was ringed by foes on all sides. One of the US'scurrent great advantages is that, in contrast to Prussia then or Russia today, ithas no great powers on its borders.Here's how the Heartland Theory would apply to Iraq: Get a globe and putyour finger on Iraq. Notice how your finger is resting right in the middle, the"heartland," of the Middle East, halfway between Egypt and Pakistan. In 1904,British geographer Mackinder placed his finger on Eastern Europe and declared thatto be the "pivot area" or "heartland" of Europe. He declared: "Who commandsEastern Europe commands the heartland; who rules the heartland commands the worldisland; and who rules the world-island commands the world." (By world-island, hemeant the Euro-Asian-African landmass.)Did anyone buy the Heartland Theory? Yes. Napoleon understood it evenbefore Mackinder was born. That is why he attacked czarist Russia. Moreover,Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and three generations of theworld's foremost military strategists embraced it as gospel and acted upon it.Even now, the United States is steering NATO's drive into Mackinder's Heartlandwith the addition to its ranks of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The essential elementin the Heartland Theory is simply "being there." There have been two great shiftsin the international balance of power over the past 500 years. The first was therise of Western Europe, which by the late 17th century had become the richest,most dynamic and expansionist part of the globe. The second was the rise of theUnited States of America, which between the Civil War and World War I became thesingle most important country in the world. Right now a trend of equal magnitudeis taking placesthe rise of Asia, led by China, which will fundamentally reshape
 the international landscape in the next few decades. For America, whether it ispreserving jobs or security, recognizing and adapting to this new world order iskey.Today in the beginning of the 21st century; the question might berephrased: "What is the purpose of international affairs?" and the answer: "Tokeep the Americans in, the Americans out, and the Americans down." The UnitedStates, as the worlds only superpower, provides the only game in town. How a
 nation plays this new game depends on what it needs most and wants most."I confess that countries are pieces on a chessboard," said Lord Curzon,
 
viceroy of India in 1898, "upon which is being played out a great game for thedomination of the world." Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents anda guru admired by the Bush team, has written virtually those same words. In hisbook The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, hewrites that the key to dominating the world is central Asia, with its strategicposition between competing powers and immense oil and gas wealth. "To put it interminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires," hewrites, one of "the grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy" is "to keep thebarbarians from coming together".GeographyThe first person to mention "the Middle East" in print seems to have beenGeneral Sir Thomas Gordon, a British intelligence officer and director of theImperial Bank of Persia. In an article published in 1900, Gordon, who wasconcerned with protecting British-ruled India from Russian threats, located it inPersia, or present-day Iran, and Afghanistan. Two years later, an US navalhistorian, Captain Alfred Mahan, also referred to the Middle East in an articleentitled The Persian Gulf and International Relations. Despite Gordon's earlierarticle, Mahan is usually credited with coining the term, and as an enthusiasticadvocate of sea power, he centered his Middle East on the Gulf and its coasts.The term was brought into popular usage by a series of 20 articles thatappeared in the Times in 1902 and 1903 under the heading The Middle EasternQuestion. Written by Valentine Chirol, head of paper's foreign department, thearticles expanded Mahan's concept of the Middle East to include all land and seaapproaches to India - Persia, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, the east coast of Arabia,Afghanistan, and Tibet. Wherever the Middle East may actually be, the commonthread in all these early debates was how to control it in order to safeguardIndia, the jewel in Britain's imperial crown. This set a pattern that continueseven today: there is nothing within the Middle East, as generally conceived, thatbinds it together. Yes, it has oil, Islam and the Arabic language, but there aremajor sources of oil and important centers of Islam outside it too. It is not aregion in its own right but a concept devised to suit the policies of outsiders,and it changes shape according to their strategic interests.The word "middle" was used initially to distinguish the region from the"far" east - India and beyond - and the "near" east - the lands of the easternMediterranean sometimes also known as the Levant. By the end of the first worldwar, however, the distinction between "near" and "middle" was becoming blurred, atleast in the minds of British policy-makers. The war had brought the collapse ofthe Ottoman empire and the rise of Arab nationalism. Britain had gained controlover Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and its strategic interestswere changing. Protecting the route to India was still a vital concern, but therewas also a growing awareness of the importance of oil.The analysis of Asian security dynamics is a growth field of late. Manyobservers characterize schools of thought on the regions future in terms of a
 debate between the optimists and the pessimists (as with the dialogue on
 nuclear proliferation). Optimists point to economic growth and interdependence,and the spread of democracy as reasons to believe that 21st century Asia will bemore peaceful than was 20th century Asia. Pessimists, however, envisage rampantanarchy and conflict, sometimes characterized as a move back to the future. It
 is likely, however, that if the future holds in store calm and prosperity thetraditional tools of military force projection will be of minimal utility. On theother hand, if we do see the emergence of rife instability, these tools may wellplay a major role in bringing about such a circumstance, and perhaps even inmaking it worse.It would seem that the post-post colonialist era for Asia entails a more
 autonomous system than during the cold war, with security dynamics being drivenmore by indigenous actors and a somewhat reduced US role. In many ways the

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