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GEOGRAPHY, GEOPOLITICS AND
LORD PALMERSTON FAMOUSLY REMARKED:
NATIONS HAVE NO PERMANENT FRIENDS AND
NO PERMANENT ENEMIES, ONLY PERMANENT
GEOPOLITICS HELPS STATESPERSONS DETERMINE
THEIR COUNTRY’S INTERESTS, AND HELPS THEM
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ENDURING AND TRANSIENT
is made between 25 degrees and 60
degrees north latitude.
come and go, even dictators die but
mountain ranges stand unperturbed…. The nature of
the territory has influenced (politicians) in the past
and will continue to do so in the future.
state or coalition of states controlling
central Eurasia possesses an advantage for
Heartland Theory of Halford Mackinder
GEOPOLITICS: THE STUDY OF THE IMPACT
OR INFLUENCE OF GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES,
LOCATION, DISTANCE, DEMOGRAPHY AND
RESOURCES UPON THE FOREIGN POLICY
RELEVANCE OF GEOGRAPHY TO POWER
can be considered as an
extension of realism in international relations.
is a fixation upon power to acquire security.
state’s immediate environment conditions its
Kennan and the Soviet Union
Cold War Strategy was partly based on
policy of confronting the Soviet Union and
international communism. It introduced such political
strategies as containment, domino theory, balance of
power linkages and linchpin states into the lexicon of
cold war geopolitics.
1000-1600, the republic extended its sea
power to controlling west-west communications of
trade in the Mediterranean and it greatly increased its
power and wealth. When trade routes changed to
ocean routes beyond the control of Venice, the
republic waned in power and therefore in wealth.
Ottoman Empire: 1300-1699, It aimed to capture
Vienna where it could control European trade
communications. Unable to annex the city after many
attempts, the empire gradually declined.
China: 1364-1644, Ming rulers were prevented
from developing sea power in the China Sea and the
Indian Ocean. The dynasty failed to protect its frontier
threats from Mongol and Manchu tribes.
of states developed by Friedrich
Ratzel (1844-1904), a professor of geography
in Germany. He influenced a younger Swedish
scholar Rudolf Kjellen (1864-1922) who in 1899
coined the term Geopolitik.
key element in his approach was to state
competition in which the territorialization of
space was presented as an expression of
conflicting political drives.
IF A STATE OCCUPIES A CERTAIN POSITION, THAT
LOCATION MAY LEND CERTAIN ADVANTAGES AND
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC?
was engaged in German maritime and
colonial expansion supporting the
development of a large fleet and the
establishment of overseas bases as the means
to secure Germany’s place in the sun, a
reference to the tropical location of many
colonies in Africa and Oceana.
THE CONCEPT OF FINLANDIZATION
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTERESTS OF NATIONS TEND
TO REMAIN RELATIVELY FIXED AND STABLE OVER
EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME AND REFLECT REAL
OR PERCEIVED ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES,
OPPORTUNITIES AND/OR CONSTRAINTS OF A
Mackinder (1861-1947): He focused on
the largest landmass on Earth and called it the
geographical pivot of history, meaning that
this landmass is inaccessible by ships whoever
controlled it, could dominate global politics.
Mahan (1840-1914): a US naval
commander and lecturer, called on the United
States to develop its naval strength as a
strategic tool, a recommendation dubbed as
such as Russia and Germany had
large armies in contrast to the UK and the US.
National defense according to Mahan
required powerful navies to deter enemy
THE PERIPHERY DOCTRINE OF ISRAEL IN
THE 1960S AND THE 1970S BASED ON
ETHIOPIA, TURKEY AND IRAN AS
STRATEGIC, NON-ARAB POTENTIAL
ALLIES OF ISRAEL.
A GERMAN GEOPOLITICAL STRATEGY TO KEEP
CLOSE TO RUSSIA TO AVOID BEING DOMINATED
BY OTHERS IN EUROPE.
Strausz-Hupe (1903-2002), an
Austrian born US political scientist
argued for a geopolitical approach
directed against the USSR which he saw
as combining the expansionism of
Imperial Russia and the revolutionary
threat of Marxism. He promoted the idea
of Western civilization led by the United
States as the geopolitical equation to
limit communism. He advocated a
robust NATO to counterbalance Soviet
military power and bloc in the
international balance of power.
Kissinger, a classical realist, sought to
limit chaos in international relations and
promoted the idea of Sino-American
cooperation to deter Moscow, regulate its
behavior and place limits on its expansionism.
This was due to Chinese-Russian ideological
rivalries in the 1960s. This was a manifestation
of a balance of power theory. Richard Nixon,
a realist had the opportunity to apply this
theory during his presidency which led to the
negotiations between China and the United
States, culminating in the Shanghai
Communique of 1978. For both, stability in
international relations reflected a balance of
power between China, the USSR and the US.
Containment: geographic, military and
political encirclement and imposition of
limitations on the Soviet Union’s expansion.
States: countries bordering or in
proximity of the Soviet Union with Western
leanings: Germany, South Korea and Iran.
Theory: The extension of
communism onto other countries and
particularly the third world. Such
developments brought Western
engagements in Vietnam and Nicaragua.
cold war strategy instigated
intervening in Eurasia with bases, troops
and alliances within the rimlands,
specifically in Western Europe, the
Persian Gulf and Korea-Japan.
purpose was to limit or stop the
Soviet expansion outward from the
heartland core onto Asia and Europe.
THE GEOPOLITICAL CHOKE POINTS OF THE
Checkerboards: My neighbor my enemy but the
neighbor of my neighbor my friend.
rival states in a region experience
tensions among themselves and then
external actors become involved on two
sides of the rivalry and form alignments
with local contestants.
towards multipolarity by allowing the
rise of new global players and intensive
expansion of the Navy to contain the
expansionist drives of rivals.
In its intel configuration between Brazil and
Argentina, Paraguay balances the two
neighbors by its traditional strategy as a
brace or barrier to protect against its own
absorption. It creates a regional stability in
which Paraguay’s independence is solidified
because neither Brazil nor Argentina could
absorb the lintel republic without its rival’s
opposition, giving some amount of
permanence and balance in the region.
Decline of Geopolitics after the Cold War
1. Francis Fukuyama: The End of History and the Last
The end of ideology and the universality of Western
2. Samuel Huntington: The Clash of Civilization and
the Remaking of World Order, 1996
Conflict over ideas and ideology
3. War on Terror: The Bush Presidency and the
conflict over ideology after the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001
economic development and
Economic expansion in the coastal and littoral
regions of the world, growth of cities
Shanghai not Beijing
Mumbai not Delhi
90% of trade is carried out by shipping,
signifying the coastal areas of countries
Relevance of national security to geopolitics?
Are Singapore and Switzerland any examples?
Economic benefits of Russian domination of the
The fourth industrial revolution and geopolitics:
Theories of Foreign
its nature, foreign policy behavior is
the outcome of small group choices,
analysis and implementation.
small group context
policy and the individual
processes are crucial:
The information processing
Substantive knowledge of the cause-effect relationships
The way to apply the values and interests engaged in the problem
The mind is viewed as an information-processing
Every person acquires a set of beliefs and personal
constructs about the physical and social environment.
These beliefs and constructs necessarily simplify and
structure the external world.
An individual’s behavior is shaped by the particular
ways in which he/she perceives, evaluates and
interprets incoming information.
Information processing is selective and subject to bias.
There is considerable variation among individuals in
their beliefs and constructs.
Most peoples’ belief systems tend to be stable.
Dealing with uncertainty:
Calculated procrastination: leaders find it hard to act
because they do not have enough information.
Defensive procrastination: leaders seize upon the fact
that there is no immediate necessity to act in order to
escape the decisional conflict that uncertainty creates.
Satisficing instead of optimizing: reaching a decision
with highest yield may not be practical, so leaders
settle with ‘good enough’ solutions.
Use of historical analogies: forcing the present into
constructs of the past.
Understanding the opponent’s perspective
Placing yourself in the other side’s shoes.
Viewing yourself from the other side’s perspective.
Misinterpreting the other side’s intentions and planning.
Assuming the opponent to be a single actor.
Attaching too much ‘rationality’ to the opponent’s
Foreign policy and the small group context
The Groupthink dilemma:
Conformity within the group leads to the erosion of intellectual
capacity of the members of the group
Avoiding analysis due to time pressures
Feelings of insecurity or anxiety about risks of error
Conflicts between humanitarian ideals and utilitarian courses of
Distortion of policy appraisals
The illusion of unanimity
Possible malfunctions of the advisory group: Alexander George
1. When the president and his advisors agree too readily on the
nature of the problem facing them and the response to it;
2. When advisors and advocates take different positions and
debate them before the president but their disagreements do not
cover the full range of relevant hypotheses and alternative options;
3. When there is no advocate for an unpopular policy option;
4. When advisors of the president thrash out their own
disagreements over policy without the president’s knowledge and
confront him/her with a unanimous recommendation;
5. When advisors agree privately among themselves that the
president should face to a difficult decision but no one is willing to
alert him to the need for doing so;
6. When the key assumptions and premises of a plan have
been evaluated only by the advocates of that option;
7. When the president asks advisors for their opinions on a
preferred course of action but does not request a
qualified group to examine more carefully the negative
judgement offered by one or more advisors;
8. When the president is impressed by the consensus
among his advisors on behalf of a particular policy but
fails to ascertain how firm the consensus is, how it was
achieved and whether it is justified.
Presidential management styles; Alexander George
policy and the organizational
Essence of Decision by Graham Allison
Three models of decision making:
The rational actor model
The bureaucratic model
The organizational model
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL
• Initially, international law was referred to as “the law of
nations.” Then, it evolved into ’the law regulating the
relationships between subjects of international law.”
• International law is the law that regulates international
•Functions of international law:
• A: international law exists in delimiting the jurisdiction
of the subjects of international law:
• Ratione territoriae: the jurisdiction of one State ends
where that of another State begins, i.e, at the
internationally recognized border or where the
international domain starts like in the high seas or
• Ratione temporis: international law governs issues that
may arise regarding the emergence of new States, State
Succession or the extinction of States;
• Ratione materiae: related to international organizations
where specific competences are attributed by founding
• B: The second function of international law is the
regulation of the coexistence of subjects of
international law, like dispute settlement, conflict
prevention, the use of force, the usage of territory,
diplomatic and consular relations and international
• C: The third function of international law is to regulate
international cooperation between subjects of
international law, like the establishment of
international organizations like ILO, WTO, WHO.
• Characteristics of international law:
• International law is a universal, secular medium for
bargaining in which sovereignty is the criterion for
• International law has been continually expanding in both
quantitative and qualitative terms;
• There have been significant inroads into the lawful rights of
• States are increasingly held accountable for their actions in
respect of international law, including before the growing
number of international courts, tribunals and quasi-judicial
• Non-state actors are important to the creation,
implementation and effectiveness of
international law although generally without
formal responsibility for either;
• Treaty law is the most important source of
international law and the multilateral treaty is
• International law is widely portrayed as
something positive and rhetorically associated
with human rights and justice.
• Features of international law:
• 1. No Central Legislator: international law is traditionally
assumed to be based on the free will of sovereign States.
International legal rules generally only bind States if they
have accepted to be bound;
• 2. No Central Judiciary: international law does not know a
central judicial body with compulsory jurisdiction. The ICJ in
The Hague can only take cases if the States or Parties to the
dispute have recognized its jurisdiction. BY contrast,
national legal systems are built on courts with compulsory
• 3. No Central Enforcement: There is no world police
force. The only global body is UNSC under Chapter VII,
where the actual exercise of these powers are subject to
important legal and political limitations. Its
effectiveness is subject to collective enforcement
• 4. Dependence on Municipal Legal Orders: International
law is heavily dependent on States for its
implementation and enforcement. National law is
expected to give effect to international law obligations;
• 5. Differentiation and Fragmentation: international law has a
wide domain, encompassing human rights, Convention on the
Rights of the Child, The Right to Develop, International Criminal
Law, International Environmental Law.
• International Law and the 19th century:
• 1. International law has often been regarded by global
south as merely representing the law of the northern
• 2. The industrial revolution gave rise to tremendous
increase to production and trade that necessitated the
rise of international treaties and organizations;
• 3. Increased intensity and frequency of international
transactions increased the risk of conflict, therefore
creating the need for greater cooperation;
• 4. A growing need for common norms and standards on
patent intervention, classifying goods for the purposes
of customs, fixing exchange rates between currencies
(International Telegram Union of 1865);
• 5. The rigid conception of what sovereignty entailed
became a barrier for international trade. So, the
creation of common rules became necessary;
• 6. The growing interdependence of major economies
led to the initiation to establish an institutional
framework commonly referred to as international
THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW:
• A: Natural Law Theories: Natural law thinkers view law
as a natural given of human condition. All norms must
be practically reasonable to be valid or binding and they
can be binding if they are consistent with a set of moral
constraints. It stipulates the binding character of
promises and hence rules based on consent and
therefore providing the basis for the binding character
of international law;
• B: Positivism: Positivism considers only positive law as actual
law which implies a clear limitation of what law is in
comparison to natural law theories. Positivism maintains that
law is what the State as the representation of the moral ideal,
mandates and imposes. So, international law is founded on willbased theories;
• C: Objectivism: Founded in the 20th century, it states that
international law can be empirically found in the social
environment of which it is a part. The social environment
contains objective norms, the formation of which does not
depend on the subjective will of States. It focuses on the social
context as the source of international law;
• D: Realism: Advocates believe that States and in particular
powerful States will only obey international law when it is in
their real or perceived interest to do so. Law can only be
ascertained according to power relations and analyses. Because
States are motivated by self interest, compliance with
international law is optional;
• E: New Haven School of International Law: It is a policy oriented
approach to international law which aimed to substitute
pragmatic interdisciplinary and social scientific reasoning for
the traditional legalism. Decision makers and lawyers, need to
treat each case in its individual context with a specific problem
• G: Global Administrative Law: Much of global governance can
be understood as regulation and administration and that we are
witnessing a global administrative space. It focuses on treatybased intergovernmental regulatory bodies like FAO, WB and
• H: Cosmopolitanism: IL is built on the core ideas from Kantian
philosophy. Liberal cosmopolitans regard the individual as the
only unit of normative value with respect to international legal
system. Jurgen Habermas has argued in favor of preserving the
State as the primary source and expression of democratic
legitimacy while subordinating its authority to an institution
akin to a reformed UN with supranational capacity vested in a
reformed UNSC and UNGA into a World Parliament.
WHAT ARE PROBLEMS IN BUILDING
• Treaty Law: Treaties represent the main source of international
law and treaty law remains as a key pillar of public international
law. Some 158,000 treaties have been registered at the UN.
Treaties are the voluntary or consensual legal instrument par
excellence. State are bound to them insofar as they have
expressed their consent to do so. It was codified in 1 …
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