Essays & Reviews

Of Geography and Politics

CSD Editorial Note: This essay was originally published in Christopher C. Harmon and David Tucker, eds., Statecraft and Power: Essays in Honor of Harold W. Rood (Lanham, MD: University Press of America and the National Institute for Public Policy, 1994). Copyright, Christopher C. Harmon and David Tucker. This essay should not be reproduced or cited without permission of the editors.



I’ll attempt to persuade first the rulers and the soldiers, then the rest of the city, that the rearing and education we gave them were like dreams; they only thought they were undergoing all that was happening to them, while, in truth, at that time they were under the earth within, being fashioned and reared themselves, and their arms and other tools being crafted. When the job had been completely finished, then the earth, which is their mother, sent them up. And now, as though the land they are in were a mother and nurse, they must plan for and defend it, if anyone attacks, and they must think of the other citizens as brothers and born of the earth. [1]

“God,” as John Locke says, “gave the World to Men in Common.” [2] But every political community begins by acquiring and establishing dominion over a particular part of the world. Men must acquire property for the sake of life and of a good life, for which reason Aristotle says that “the art of acquiring property is a part of managing the household,” or what we call economics. [3] This sounds tranquil and domestic enough. But the art of acquiring property is a species of the art of war. The art of war, from this point of view, is “a natural art of acquisition,” acquisition of the natural necessities and utilities of life. [4] The statesman must be concerned with acquisition of territory for the sake of the existence and the self sufficiency of his political community. The primary concern of politics with geography lies here: in the necessity of acquiring and securing territory for the sake of political existence. To paraphrase the Federalist, the first act of politics is the exercise of the different and unequal faculties of acquiring territory. [5]

In seeking to understand the nature of politics, ancient Greek political philosophers thought it necessary to contemplate the idea of the best regime. [6] This idea is abstract and universal and is not subject to the coercive material necessities of any actual and particular place or time. It is a utopia, a no-place. Every actual political community, however, must claim and occupy a particular, more or less defined, portion of the earth’s surface as its own, with its own peculiar topography, climate, wealth or dearth of natural resources, and location with respect to neighboring nations, to land and sea routes of trade and travel, and to the rest of the world’s powers. Next to the people themselves, the land they live on is the most fundamental and necessary material condition of political life. The rest of political life depends upon the acquisition and defense of this particular territory, and the need to preserve this territory is never absent from political life. This particular necessity is then an ineradicable part of all actual politics and can be seen as “the ultimate determinant of the nature of political society.” [7]

Because politics must always be concerned with acquiring and preserving the material necessities of political life (in the first instance, territory) the art or science of acquisition is often equated with the art or science of politics itself. As Aristotle writes, most people think that statesmanship or the political art is the ability to establish and maintain dominion (over territory and people) and, in most states, if the laws aim at any one thing, they aim at domination. [8] From this point of view, the soul of politics is conquest and war. [9] And the paramount concern of politics with geography is a concern with the application of physical power or force.

This is a harsh and repugnant view of politics. It means nothing less than that “for everyone there always exists by nature an undeclared [or declared] war among all cities.” [10] Common decency averts the eyes from such a prospect. Nonetheless, as a hardened student of these matters writes, if this is the nature of politics, then “[t]his is the way in which the matter must be viewed, and it is to no purpose, it is even against one’s own interest, to turn away from the consideration of the real nature of the affair because the horror of its elements excites repugnance.” [11] One who did not turn away from consideration of “the real nature of the affair” of politics but faced the horror with relish was Niccolo Machiavelli.

“[T]ruly,” wrote Machiavelli, “it is a very natural and ordinary thing to desire to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed.” [12] The unlimited “desire to acquire” is the natural disposition of men. The ability to satisfy that unlimited desire—the art of acquisition or the art of war—is the essence of the art or science of politics. And this art or science of acquisition contains within itself no intrinsic limiting principle. It involves, as Clausewitz wrote, “the use of physical power to the utmost extent,” the use of force “unsparingly, without reference to the bloodshed involved.… [T]o introduce into the philosophy of War [or politics] itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.” [13] Machiavelli’s Prince is advice on how to “acquire” on the grandest scale, how to acquire “principalities” or states. Because this is the nature of the affair of politics, “a prince should have no other object, nor any other thought, nor take anything else as his art but the art of war and its orders and discipline; for that is the only art which is of concern to one who commands.” What “enables you to acquire [states] is to be a professional in this art.… Therefore, [a prince] should never lift his thoughts from the exercise of war, and in peace he should exercise it more than in war.” [14] Such an understanding of politics is found in our time, among other places, in the thinking of what has come to be called the “realist” school of international politics, according to which politics is “rooted in the lust for power which is common to all men.” [15]

If statesmanship or the political art is synonymous with the art of war or the art of acquisition on the grandest scale, then mastery of geography becomes “the first part” of the statesman’s arsenal. “[H]e should learn the nature of sites, and recognize how mountains rise, how valleys open up, how plains lie, and understand the nature of rivers and marshes—and in this invest the greatest care.… And the prince who lacks this skill lacks the first part of what a captain must have.” [16] If the “desire to acquire” or the “lust for power” is inherently unlimited and is the governing principle of politics, then the primary concern of politics with geography, the concern with acquisition of territory, in principle knows no bounds.

The concern of politics with geography, at a certain point in history, expanded its scope, not just in principle but in fact, to encompass the world. The British geographer, Sir Halford J. Mackinder, in his famous paper delivered to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, identified this moment as the close of the “Columbian epoch” at the turn of the twentieth century. In the four centuries since the first voyages of Columbus and the other European explorers, Mackinder wrote, the world had become virtually completely discovered; these same 400 years had also witnessed the world’s “virtually complete political appropriation.” [17] Henceforward, “in the post-Columbian age, we shall … have to deal with a closed political system, and none the less that it will be one of world-wide scope. Every explosion of social forces, instead of being dissipated in a surrounding curcuit of unknown space and barbaric chaos, will be sharply re-echoed from the far side of the globe.” [18] Nicholas J. Spykman, an American student and critic of Mackinder, restates Mackinder’s point in a lecture delivered in the midst of the Second World War: “[T]he total earth’s surface has, today, become a single field for the play of political forces. The whole world is now known geographically and changes in the arrangement of forces in one region must affect the alignment of forces in others.… The conditions of power on one continent are inevitably reflected in the distribution of power on another and the foreign policy of any state may be affected by events taking place throughout the world.” [19]

The fundamentally new, global dimensions of the relations between geography and politics created the need for a new branch of study, a new political discipline capable of understanding these relations in their most comprehensive scope. Under the new conditions, “military strategy,” for example, “must consider the whole world as a unit and must think of all fronts in their relations to one another.” [20] The discovery and political appropriation of virtually the whole world made such a new discipline not only necessary but, for the first time, possible. Because of our unprecedented vantage point, Mackinder thought, “we are for the first time in a position to attempt, with some degree of completeness, a correlation between the larger geographical and the larger historical [or, for our purposes, political and strategic] generalizations.” [21] According to Spykman, it was Alfred Thayer Mahan who “first comprehensively recognized and analyzed” the fundamental new condition of global politics. But it was Sir Halford Mackinder “who first studied in detail the relations between land and sea power on a truly global scale.” [22] The political and strategic aspect of this study came to be called geopolitics.

By the close of the Columbian era, according to Mackinder, it had for the first time become possible to see that Europe, Asia, and Africa constituted a “joint continent,” which Mackinder called the “World-Island.” This World-Island is “incomparably the largest geographical unit on our globe,” and is “possessed potentially of the advantages both of insularity and of incomparably great resources.” In this new view, one could see that there is “one ocean covering nine-twelfths of the globe; there is one continent—the World-Island—covering two-twelfths of the globe; and there are many smaller islands, whereof North America and South America are, for effective purposes, two, which together cover the remaining one twelfth.” Mackinder estimated that, in his time, “[m]ore than fourteen-sixteenths of all humanity live on the Great Continent, and nearly one-sixteenth more on the closely offset islands of Britain and Japan.… [O]nly about one-sixteenth live in the lesser continents.” Anticipating that the foreseeable future would not materially alter these proportions, and assuming that “given its climate and history, the interior of Asia … [might] nourish a population as virile as that of Europe, North America, or Japan,” he raised the question: “What if the Great Continent, the whole World-Island or a large part of it, were at some future time to become a single and united base of sea-power?” Might not this power be “invincible”? [23]

If the World-Island is the dominant geopolitical fact within the world ocean, what Mackinder called the “Heartland” is the dominant geopolitical fact within the World-Island. “[T]he World-Island and the Heartland are the final geographical realities in regard to sea-power and land-power.” [24] He defines the heartland somewhat differently at different times and considers it historically and strategically as well as geographically. Geographically, we may understand the heartland as “the northern part and the interior of Euro-Asia. It extends from the Arctic coast down to the central deserts, and has as its western limits the broad isthmus between the Baltic and Black Seas.” In the heartland lies the “widest lowland plain on the face of the globe.” [25] It consists of “steppes spread[ing] continuously for 4000 miles from the Pusstas of Hungary to the Little Gobi of Manchuria.” The rivers of these interior steppelands of Eurasia drain either into the frozen Arctic Ocean or into the inland Caspian and Aral seas, so that the entire expanse is “wholly unpenetrated by waterways from the ocean.” [26] The heartland is bounded on the north by the bulwark of the Arctic Coast; on the east by over three million square miles of “rugged country of mountains, plateaux, and valleys, covered almost from end to end with coniferous forests” through which flows the Lena river; and on the south by the “mighty barriers” of the Tianshan mountains, Pamirs, Karakoram mountains, Hindu Kush, Himalayas, the Tibetan plateau, and the Tibetan, Gobi, and Iranian deserts. [27] These features make the heartland “the greatest natural fortress on earth.” [28]

“To east, south, and west of this heart-land are marginal regions, ranged in a vast crescent, accessible to shipmen. According to physical conformation, these regions are four in number.… The first two are the monsoon lands, turned the one towards the Pacific, and the other towards the Indian ocean. The fourth is Europe, watered by the Atlantic rains from the west.” These three regions, when Mackinder delivered his famous lecture, contained “two-thirds of the world population.” The remaining region Mackinder called “the land of the Five Seas” and we would call the Middle East. [29] These regions, taken together, are called by Mackinder the “inner crescent” or the “marginal crescent.” Spykman calls them “the rimland.” Whereas the heartland is a “wholly continental” or land power, the lands of the inner crescent or rimland are “partly continental, partly oceanic”; or as Spykman puts it, they are “amphibious.” “The rimland … [is] an intermediate region, situated … between the heartland and the marginal seas” that surround the Eurasian land mass. “It functions as a vast buffer zone of conflict between sea power and land power.” [30]

Beyond the rimland or inner crescent “lie the islands and off-shore continents of the outer crescent.” [31] England and Japan hem Eurasia on west and east respectively. Southwest, beyond the Mediterranean Sea and the great barrier of the Sahara desert stretches sub-Saharan Africa; southeast, beyond the “Asiatic Mediterranean Sea” lies Australia. On the “fringes of the oceans,” when one is looking at a global map centered on Eurasia, lie the “overseas continents of the Western Hemisphere.” [32]

Looking back over the centuries at such a map, Mackinder was convinced that the heartland must be viewed as “the pivot region of the world’s politics” or the “Geographical Pivot of History.” This vast steppe land in the heart of the Eurasian continent, while inaccessible to ships, had “all the conditions for the maintenance of a sparse, but in the aggregate considerable, population of horse-riding and camel-riding nomads.” “For some recurrent reason … these Tartar mobile hordes have from time to time in the course of history gathered their whole strength together and fallen like a devastating avalanche upon the settled agricultural peoples” to their east, south and west, so that “all the settled margins of the Old World sooner or later felt the expansive force of mobile power originating in the steppe.” To the east and south, access from the heartland to the settled margins is impeded by a “system of mighty barriers” through which there are only a few narrow and difficult “natural ways.” For this reason, although “both China and India have been repeatedly invaded from the Heartland, … the empires thus founded have usually soon become detached from the rule of the steppemen.” “There was no [such] impediment to prevent the horsemen from riding westward.” There is an “open passage from the Heartland into Europe.” Because of this, “[f]or a thousand years [from the fifth to the sixteenth century] a series of horse-riding peoples emerged from Asia through the broad interval between the Ural mountains and the Caspian sea, rode through the open spaces of southern Russia, and struck home into Hungary in the very heart of the European peninsula, shaping by the necessity of opposing them the history of each of the great peoples around—the Russians, the Germans, the French, the Italians, and the Byzantine Greeks.” Thus Mackinder, at the outset of the twentieth century, came in a sense to look upon world history in what has become at the close of this century a “politically correct” manner. He came “to look upon Europe and European history as subordinate to Asia and Asiatic history.” His reasons, however, are of a flavor somewhat different from current fashionable opinion, his point being that European civilization was, “in a very real sense, the outcome of the secular struggle against Asiatic invasion.” [33]

It is from this point of view that Mackinder sees the historic significance of “[t]he revolution commenced by the great mariners of the Columbian generation.”

The all-important result of the discovery of the Cape road to the Indies was to connect the western and eastern coastal navigations of Euro-Asia, even though by a circuitous route, and thus in some measure to neutralize the strategical advantage of the central position of the steppe-nomads by pressing upon them in rear. … The one and continuous ocean enveloping the divided and insular lands is, of course, the geographical condition of ultimate unity in the command of the sea, and of the whole theory of modern naval strategy.… The broad political effect was to reverse the relations of Europe and Asia.… [Europe] now emerged upon the world, multiplying more than thirty-fold the sea surface and coastal lands to which she had access, and wrapping her influence round the Euro-Asiatic land-power which had hitherto threatened her very existence. New Europes were created in the vacant lands discovered in the midst of the waters.… Britain, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Australia, and Japan are now a ring of outer and insular bases for sea-power and commerce, inaccessible to the land-power of Euro-Asia. [34]

“[T]he development of ocean navigation and the discovery of sea routes to India and America” fundamentally altered the geopolitical relationships among the powers of the world island. [35] Sea power, owing to its greater mobility on a global scale, had gained the ascendant over continental land power; in doing so, it made it possible for the first time “to conceive of the Eurasian continent as a unit” and introduced the “age of world politics.” [36]

For some four centuries, the European oceanic empires maintained their strategic advantage against the great land empires of Eurasia. [37] The establishment of European dominion over such a vast expanse of the globe from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries had been made possible largely by “advances in naval shipbuilding, navigation, and weaponry.” [38] This global dominion was extended and entrenched in the latter part of the nineteenth century by means of “two technological innovations that revolutionized the way in which people and materials are moved across” land and sea (notably the application of steam power to sea and land transportation); and by additional inventions (the telegraph and later the radio) making possible “the rapid transmission of the human voice across the airwaves above.” [39] Even as he first began to reflect on these global relationships between land and sea power, however, Mackinder thought he saw the potential for another historic reversal. The latest technologies of transport, production, and communications, which had made possible the extension and entrenchment of global maritime empire in the nineteenth century, might also make possible the establishment of a continental land power in Eurasia of unprecedented potency.

Mackinder draws a “most interesting parallel” between “the advance of the sailors over the ocean from Western Europe and the contemporary advance of the Russian Cossacks across the steppes of the Heartland.” While western Europe was expanding over the sea to establish dominion across the “oceanic margins of Asia,” the land power of Russia was reversing the centuries old movement in the interior of Eurasia and expanding eastward across the heartland “from Moscow through Siberia.” During the nineteenth century, the Russian empire was practically coterminous with the heartland and “seemed to threaten all the marginal lands of Asia and Europe.” During the same century in which Great Britain had come to dominate the world ocean and was bringing pressure to bear on the rimland of Eurasia from the sea, Russia was exerting an opposing pressure outward from the heartland. The era of world politics came to light in the confrontation between a global sea power and a continental land power across the whole expanse of the Eurasian rimland. Unlike the storied horsemen from the steppe, however, the Russian was able to establish the conditions to sustain “the necessary man-power upon which to found a lasting empire.” This man-power—located in the geographic pivot of world power, sustained by modern production and industry, harnessed by superior organization, armed with modern weapons, and made mobile by the new modes of overland transport—threatened to reverse the centuries old relation of sea power to land power on a global scale. Such man-power under such conditions could be “sufficient to begin to threaten the liberty of the world from within [the] citadel of the World-Island.” [40]

To understand the strategic significance of modern Russian domination of the heartland Mackinder thought it necessary to understand the geopolitical source of that domination. Only then could one accurately conceive of the necessary strategic response for a global sea power such as Great Britain. The source of Russian power was not spread across the whole vast and vacant breadth of the Eurasian steppeland; it was concentrated in “the real Russia” which “lies wholly in Europe,… between the Volga and the Carpathians and between the Baltic and Black Seas.” More precisely, “Russian rule in the Heartland was based … in East Europe.” Looking back over the hundred years following the French revolution, Mackinder saw that “East Europe was in command of the Heartland.” It was the man-power, organization, production, and industry concentrated here in modern times that could enable a heartland empire, for the first time, to make of most or all of the World-Island a single, united, and invincible base of global sea-power. It is this analysis that led Mackinder to his famous formula:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland:
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island:
Who rules the World-Island commands the World.

Throughout most of the nineteenth century it was Russian land-power emanating from East Europe that “was opposed by the sea-power of Britain round more than three-quarters of the margin of the Heartland, from China through India to Constantinople.” There was nothing inevitable, however, in this land-power being Russian. Already at the end of the nineteenth century “Berlin had supplanted Petrograd as the center of danger in East Europe” and aimed at domination of the heartland. [42] For the reasons given, Mackinder’s analysis required that “West Europe, both insular and peninsular, must necessarily be opposed to whatever Power attempts to organize the resources of East Europe and the Heartland.” [43]

Mackinder would add, more generally, that “it is the plain duty of the insular peoples” to protect the Eurasian rimlands “from Heartland conquest.” [44] From this broader view, what Britain had long been to Europe, America had become to a considerable extent with respect to Eurasia as a whole. Spykman emphasizes that the insular peoples must also (as Spykman argues Great Britain historically had done) prevent “a dominating rimland power” from gaining command of the heartland. [45] From this perspective, the survival and independence of all the insular peoples of the world “depended on the preservation of a power equilibrium between the maritime and continental states of the world island.” [46] The focus of this strategic concern is not so much on the heartland as on the rimland of Eurasia. Thus Spykman would replace the Mackinder dictum with his own:

Who controls the rimland rules Eurasia;
Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.

The broad outlines of the two world wars in the first half of this century and the “cold war” that dominated the second half of the century are illuminated by this geopolitical analysis. Germany’s intention in the first World War, as Mackinder says, was to establish in continental Europe and the Asiatic heartland “the naval base from which she would have fought Britain and America in the next war.” [48] Spykman reminds us that Japan, while allied with Great Britain and the United States in that war, was nonetheless “engaged in trying to achieve complete control over the Far East.” [49] These efforts by Germany and Japan, in league for a time with the Soviet Union, were continued in the 1930s and led to the second World War. The global strategic significance of both wars was the prospect “that the rimland regions of the Eurasian land mass would be dominated by a single power” or coalition of powers with the vast resources of the world island at their disposal. [50] Writing in the midst of World War II, Spykman tentatively anticipated the essential source of global conflict for the following half century: “[I]t may be,” he wrote, “that the pressure of Russia outward toward the rimland will constitute one important aspect of the post-war settlement.” [51] The American policy of containment was the global strategy of an insular power to defend the Eurasian rimland against this most recent and formidable outward pressure from the heartland. The strategic logic of that policy was indebted to the geopolitical logic of Mackinder and Spykman. [52] The dissolution of the Soviet Union is a result—certainly of chance and of the inherent infirmity of the Soviet system—but just as certainly of the remarkably tenacious application by the insular powers and their allies of a strategy grounded in the realities of geopolitics. This restructuring of a great heartland power may reflect a historic reordering of the power constellation within the eastern hemisphere. It does not, however, alter the fundamental facts of geography. It remains in the permanent interest of all the “insular peoples,” indeed in the interest of the “liberty of the world,” to maintain an equilibrium between the maritime and continental powers of Eurasia and to prevent the dominion of any one power or coalition over the world island. [53]

The two world wars and the “cold war” illustrate the strategic conditions that must obtain if the insular powers are to prevent an overwhelming power from being developed in Eurasia. First is needed a secure base with resources, reserves of man-power, and organization capable of opposing the military force that can be accumulated by a great Eurasian land power. This base should be distant or as inaccessible as possible to offer the advantages of defense in depth. In the twentieth century only the United States has possessed these attributes in sufficient measure. Next this base must be able to project its power onto the Eurasian continent. This requires naval mastery over the world ocean. [54] To translate its sea power into amphibious power on the littoral of Eurasia, the United States requires one or more “moated forward stronghold[s]” such as Great Britain provided for the purposes of the Normandy landings of 1944. Finally, a “defensible bridgehead” is required, “a continental ally who can provide a base from which land power can be exercised.” [55] Spykman thought that, following the second world war, Russia might be the “most effective base” for such purposes, provided “she does not herself seek to establish a hegemony over the … rimland.” [56] Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, this could conceivably be the case again, depending on the capacity and inclination of the successor regime to dominate the rimland.

Geopolitics is properly concerned with the material necessities of political life, specifically with the “physical features of the world” that are “most coercive of human action” on the largest scale. [57] It is concerned with the location, topography, climate, resources, manpower, and organization that affect the ability of a people to exert physical power over the land and sea. Such concerns are part of the unending concern of politics with geography, part of the political necessity of acquiring and defending a particular parcel of the earth’s surface for the sake of political life. Geopolitics adds something new only in its scope, though this is no small thing. When the concern of politics with geography expanded to encompass the world, the real prospect of world empire was placed before men for the first time. Those who understood the art of politics to be synonymous with the art of acquisition or the art of war had no reason not to apply this art on a global scale. Because this, in fact, occurred, geopolitics came to have a bad odor among decent people. [58]

Geopolitics, however, is a part of politics. And politics, though it must always be concerned with war and other coercive necessities, is in the final analysis not reducible to such concerns. Even Sun Tzu, that great teacher of the art of war, insisted that “[t]hose who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity and justice and maintain their laws and institutions.” [59] States devoted to war and conquest necessarily breed citizens equally driven to seek domination over their fellow citizens; among such citizens there can be no justice or common good, and political life comes to an end. Aristotle thought this to be evident no less from reason than from experience, and therefore says that both arguments and events testify that war is conducted ultimately for the sake of peace. [60] The “real nature of the affair” of politics, then, is revealed not in the horrors of war but in the domestic tranquility of peace. And the political art, though it may often find the art of war indispensable, is essentially an art of peace.

If political life characteristically begins with an act of war in the acquisition of territory, it does not end here. Indeed, even in such beginnings statesmen have found it necessary to contemplate the “ends” for which political life is instituted. When the American founders were still struggling to establish physical control over their newly acquired territory, they were deeply concerned with a more lofty aspect of the relation of geography to politics: whether republican liberty could thrive in such an extensive sphere. [61]

If the art of applying physical power over territory is the “first part” of the statesman’s art, it is first only with respect to urgency or necessity. The greater part of the statesman’s concern with the relations of politics and geography lies on higher ground. He must consider how a nation may so conduct itself that the encroachment of another power upon its territory could never in truth be said to be a blessing to the people of that land; so that whatever territories and people should fall within its dominions may truly be said to be better off because of that fact. He must seek to arrange the political affairs of his land so that the citizens can never with justice wish for the displacement of their country’s rule by that of an enemy. Such a nation will be neither self-aggrandizing nor self-sacrificing. It will defend such dominions as its “interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.” [62]

Christopher Flannery is a professor in the Department of History and Political Science and the director of the Humanities Program at Azusa Pacific University. He has been a member of the board of directors of the The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy since 1981 and is currently the senior editor of The Claremont Review of Books.

This essay was originally published in Christopher C. Harmon and David Tucker, eds., Statecraft and Power: Essays in Honor of Harold W. Rood (Lanham, MD: University Press of America and the National Institute for Public Policy, 1994). Copyright, Christopher C. Harmon and David Tucker. This essay should not be reproduced or cited without permission of the editors.


[1]Plato, The Republic, in The Republic of Plato, trans. Allan Bloom (New York, Basic Books, Inc., 1968), 414d-e.Return to text.

[2]John Locke, An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government, in Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (New York, The New American Library, Inc., 1963), 333.Return to text.

[3]Aristotle, Politics, in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York, Random House, 1971), 1253b23-25. Return to text.

[4]Ibid., 1255b35-40, 1256b20-25. Return to text

[5]Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist, ed. Jacob E. Cooke (New York, The World Publishing Company, 1961), 58. Return to text.

[6]Plato, ibid., 592a-b. Return to text.

[7]Richard H. Cox, Locke on War and Peace (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1960), 135. Return to text.

[8]Aristotle, ibid., 1324b33, 1324b7. Return to text.

[9]Ibid., 1333a31-b15. Return to text.

[10]Plato, The Laws, in The Laws of Plato, trans. Thomas L. Pangle (New York, Basic Books, Inc., 1980), 626a3-5. Return to text.

[11]Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. Anatol Rapoport (New York, Penguin Books, Ltd., 1968), 102. In this passage, Clausewitz is writing specifically about war. Return to text.

[12]Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1985), 14. Return to text.

[13]Clausewitz, ibid. Return to text.

[14]Machiavelli, ibid., 58-59. Return to text.

[15]See Matthew C. Spalding’s essay in this volume. Also see Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, ed. John H. Finley, Jr. (New York, The Modern Library, 1951), throughout, and at 334, where the Athenians tell the Melians, “Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can.” Return to text.

[16]Ibid., 59. See also Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffin (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1971), 63, 104. Return to text.

[17]Halford J. Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality (New York, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1962), 241. Return to text.

[18]Ibid., 242, 29-30. Return to text.

[19]Nicholas John Spykman, The Geography of the Peace (New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1944), 35. Return to text.

[20]Ibid., 6. Return to text.

[21]Mackinder, ibid., 242. Return to text.

[22]Spykman, ibid., 35. See A.T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783 (New York, Dover Publications, Inc, 1987). Return to text.

[23]Mackinder, ibid., 62-70. Return to text.

[24]Ibid., 139. Return to text.

[25]Ibid., 268. Return to text.

[26]Ibid., 73-74, 94-97, 111, 252; “For the purposes of strategical thinking,” the heartland includes the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, which can be closed by a land power (Ibid., 109); Spykman, ibid., 24, 35-36. Return to text.

[27]Mackinder, ibid., 100, 269-270. Return to text.

[28]Ibid., 273. Return to text.

[29]Ibid., 255; compare 83. Spykman takes exception to Mackinder’s conception of the “monsoon lands” as a single region. Spykman, ibid., 40. Return to text.

[30]Mackinder, ibid., 261; Spykman, ibid., 35-36, 40-41. Return to text.

[31]Mackinder and Spykman, ibid. Return to text.

[32]Spykman, 36. Return to text.

[33]Mackinder, ibid., 97, 100-104, 249-260. Return to text.

[34]Ibid., 257-258. Return to text.

[35]Spykman, ibid., 35. Return to text.

[36]Ibid. Return to text.

[37]Mackinder, ibid., 52. Return to text.

[38]Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (London, The Ashfield Press, 1983), 14. Return to text.

[39]William R. Keylor, The Twentieth Century World (New York, Oxford University Press, 1992), 27-28. Return to text.

[40]Mackinder, ibid., 66, 110-111, 139-140, 258. Return to text.

[41]Ibid., 116, 134, 137, 150. Return to text.

[42]Ibid., 137-139. Return to text.

[43]Ibid.. Emphasis added. Return to text.

[44]Ibid.,175. Return to text.

[45]Spykman, ibid., 43. Return to text.

[46]Mackinder, ibid., 258; Spykman, ibid., 36-37. Return to text.

[47]Spykman, ibid., 43. Return to text.

[48]Mackinder, ibid., 120. See Fritz Fischer, Germany’s Aims in the First World War (London, 1967), for a detailed confirmation of Mackinder’s view. Return to text.

[49]Spykman, ibid., 44. Return to text.

[50]Ibid., 43-44. Return to text.

[51]Ibid., 53. Return to text.

[52]John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (New York, Oxford University Press, 1982) 57. Return to text.

[53]Liberty, for Mackinder, thrives in what might be called “Aristotelian” localities, large enough “to give the fullest scope to the activity of [the] mind,” where among “men who shook hands in the streets, … every principal category of supreme human activity [is] represented in one intimate circle.” A world empire would thus inherently threaten liberty. Mackinder, ibid., 189. Return to text.

[54]The development of air power, and even intercontinental nuclear missiles, does not put an end to the need for transporting troops and materials over the oceans to secure victory on the ground. Return to text.

[55]Mackinder, ibid., 139-140; 273-274; Spykman, ibid., 57. Return to text.

[56]Spykman, ibid. Return to text.

[57]Mackinder, ibid., 242. Return to text.

[58]Spykman, ibid., 7. Return to text.

[59]Sun Tzu, ibid., 88. Return to text.

[60]Aristotle, ibid., 1333a31-1334a10. Return to text.

[61]See The Federalist, Nos. 9 & 10. Return to text.

[62]George Washington, Farewell Address, in Documents of American History, ed. Henry Steele Commager (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1973), 174. Return to text.