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PostMackinder's "Heartland" Theory Today (Hall Gardner, -France, 11/12/12 3:22 pm)
In response to Tom Hashimoto's post of 12 November and JE's question, this is how I see MacKinder's views in today's circumstances. The topic is one of the themes of my next book, Surmounting the Global Crisis, which I am presently trying to finish:
During the Cold War, US global strategy dictated that the Soviet Union/Russia needed to be contained in order to prevent it from controlling the Eurasian "heartland"; it was argued that control over the heartland would permit Moscow to dominate the "world island"--in accord with Halford MacKinder's theory. Yet, in the new geopolitical, geoeconomic, and geo-sociological context of the post-Cold War era, Soviet disaggregation has opened up the Eurasian "heartland" region itself to heated rivalry among the competing interests of Russia, China, India, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and the Arab Gulf states, in addition to the USA. In effect, the geostrategic situation with respect to the so-called Eurasian heartland is very different: While Tsarist Russia may have presented the key pivot state in Mackinder's 1905 analysis, in that Tsarist Russia could then either align with Imperial Germany or with the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale, hence radically altering the global equilibrium of force relations, it is now the People's Republic of China that plays the key pivot state in the post-Cold War era--in that China can threaten to align with either Russia or with the US and/or Europe. In effect, this situation gives Chinese geostrategy the upper hand, as Beijing can play the financial and commercial interests of the US, Japan, the Europeans as well as Russia against each another in a general fear that China might forge an alliance with either side. But this new "Great Game of Go" can only succeed as long as the US, Japan and Europeans are not able to find a way to forge a closer gestrategic and political economic relationship with the Russian Federation.
JE comments: Very happy to hear from Hall Gardner of American University, Paris. Hall hasn't written WAIS since the summer, and winter is now knockin' on my Great Northern door, but Hall has been very busy with his (most WAISly) book.
It's interesting how Mackinder's "Heartland" theory defined the Cold War, and the "pivot state" concept still holds water--it's just moved one country to the East.
I hope we can discuss this topic further. My thanks to Tom Hashimoto for bringing Sir Halford's theory to the floor.
On Halford Mackinder and the Oxford Geography program, Tom (as well as Hall and others) may enjoy this vintage post from Prof. Hilton (25 November 1999):