A Bird’s-eye View of Geopolitics

By Vicken G. Tossounian, Beirut, Lebanon, 11 April 2024

History is a chain of events and belongs to the branch of science with documents and evidence. Strong are those nations that know how to learn from their history and will not make the same mistake again. And weak are those who will fall into the same trap again. With this article, we shall start a series of scientific analysis to examine international geopolitical directions, Armenia’s geopolitical situation and directions in the South Caucasus. We should adopt purely scientific data without adding or subtracting anything. We will not be able to understand the course of changes taking place in the world if we do not study the politics of the states. Let’s look for the truth by analyzing the geopolitics and not be deceived by the image on the surface, which deceives us many times.

Since the second half of the 19th century, the world has witnessed the close-knit politics of powerful states. Geopolitical analysis helped to give credibility to their policy. The economy was and still is the most important factor for the state. The state policy is aimed at developing the economy. Powerful states of Europe did everything to develop their economy. Great Britain, France, Germany, USA and Russia had their own policies. The main goal of that policy was to capture countries in order to use their market and raw material reserves. Geopolitical analysis should have helped that policy. So that they could confirm the “legality” of their work. Therefore, university lecturers, geography specialists and strategists were engaged in work to fulfill the order of their state.

Each expert took into account the geopolitics to establish the position and capabilities of his country and the work to be done to protect his country and the occupied colonies. The state should have considered the country’s geographical position, economic and human resources before developing any policy.

Charles Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution was used in the British anthropology branch to conquer countries. According to Darwin, man and animals evolved. A more developed being dominated his surroundings and a lower level of development had to obey this law. In other words, the strong developed should rule over the weak underdeveloped. This theory was used by Great Britain and many other colonial countries to subjugate countries in Africa and Asia and their peoples as underdeveloped natives.

Technology was to be used to connect the mother country to the colonies. Communication, the means of fast travel served this purpose, to connect the colonies to the mother country, the conqueror.

Nationalism was used as a way to establish belonging among people to a country with a flag, an anthem, to serve in the army of the country in the future to realize the lofty goals of the nation.

Sir Halford Mackinder is considered the founder of Great Britain’s geopolitical direction. He was an admiral, a university lecturer and a political scientist. From 1887 he taught at “Oxford” and “London School of Economics” universities. In 1910, he was elected a member of the Parliament. According to him, geography was the science that should combine natural sciences and human sciences. In other words, a person was attached to his country, to its natural resources, and placed in him/her the pride of being the owner of colonies.

To understand the importance of geography in politics, countries were divided into classes. The first type included island-states, such as Great Britain, USA, Australia. These states are islands and must have a powerful navy to protect their borders. The second category includes internal states, such as Germany and Russia. These states are land giants and have a powerful land army, because they have long field borders and need a large land force to protect them. Third-class states are coastal states such as France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Italy, Lebanon, Syria. These states have an access to the inner part of the land and any penetration in them can endanger the borders of the neighboring countries, because the attacking enemy can enter the neighboring country by passing through them. This was the reason why Russia intervened in Syria in 2015, because the capture of Syria by a foreign power would give it the opportunity to enter Iran and Afghanistan and to besiege Russia from the south, closing its port in Tartus and enabling the passing of gaz pipelines from the Gulf area towards Europe, endangering the trade between Russia and Europe. And finally, fourth-class states are internal and link states. Austria and Switzerland are such states in Europe. They are considered a link between two giants, Germany and Italy. Armenia has such a role in Eurasia. It is considered a link between Russia and Iran, on the one hand, and Turkey and its Turkish relatives on the other hand. This is the real reason for Armenia’s anxiety, because every neighbor wants to have a zone of influence in that state, departing from their own interests.

According to Mackinder, Great Britain, being an island-state, had to keep a powerful navy to protect its colonies, the sea channels leading to it and trade. Also, the opportunity should always be kept to find new countries and colonize them. Following this doctrine, Great Britain always remained a powerful naval power that even the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Hitler could not break through the blockade imposed by that fleet and it maintained the zones of influence. The Falkland Islands war against Argentina in the 1980s also confirmed this theory.

Mackinder also confirmed an old theory. The one who ruled over the large land area of Eurasia, ruled over the world. According to him, a German-Russian alliance would establish a powerful state that possessed craftsmanship and agricultural production and a large stock of natural wealth. This alliance would put an end to the superiority of Great Britain. Great Britain should have prevented the establishment of this alliance. This is the reason why the British state put aside its centuries-old hostility to Russia and established an alliance with France and Russia in 1904. According to Mackinder, the “heart” of Eurasia was the huge land area to the east of the frontier formed by the Baltic Sea – Adriatic Sea border. It included Russia and the republics of Central Asia. This endless land is rich in its natural resources and great agricultural possibilities. He who owns this plot of land owns the World, according to Mackinder. The only weakness of this plot is that its sea access routes are few. To be able to influence this region, you need to keep all the sea access in hand. This is what Great Britain did, keeping its leverage in the Ottoman state, in order to limit the passage of the Russian fleet from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The Baltic Sea is currently under the influence of NATO or the countries of the anti-Russian alliance. The port of Vladivostok in the Far East and the port of Murmansk on the Arctic Ocean are the only ports for Russia, the latter of which remains frozen for about six months of the year. The policy of the Russian Empire during the 19th century should be understood with this reality in mind. Under the slogan of liberating the Slavic brotherly peoples, Russia tried to enter the Balkan Peninsula and Greece in order to bypass the naval blockade imposed by Great Britain. On the other hand, it entered Georgia, tried to enter Western Armenia to reach  Cilicia on the Mediterranean Sea, to bypass the British siege ring. This is the main reason why Great Britain and Germany did not support the autonomy of Armenia, fearing that it would become an ally of Russia and thus Russia would reach the Mediterranean Sea. According to Mackinder, the one who ruled Eastern Europe could rule the “heart” of the World. If the Hitler Germany-Soviet Union alliance concluded in 1939 were to be implemented, the two countries together could dominate the central part of the world with all its technical and natural resource wealth.

During the Cold War, the United States, a naval power, faced off against a land giant, the Soviet Union. In a way, the US succeeded Great Britain as the controlling power of the seas. In his book, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the advisor of US President Jimmy Carter, stated that having leverage in Eurasia is important for the US as a source of balance.

Reference: «La Geopolitique», Alexandre Defay, Point Delta, 2013

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