Yves here. Earlier this week, we features a post from TomDispatch, The Geopolitics of American Global Decline: Washington Versus China in the Twenty-First Century, which elicited a lot of thoughtful reader comments.
I’m hoisting a particularly insightful, broad ranging response from Tony Wikrent, who has sometimes posted on Corrente. Wikrent took aim at the post’s reliance on the geographical theory of dominance of Sir Halford Mackinder:
By turning the globe away from America to place central Asia at the planet’s epicenter, and then tilting the Earth’s axis northward just a bit beyond Mercator’s equatorial projection, Mackinder redrew and thus reconceptualized the world map.
His new map showed Africa, Asia, and Europe not as three separate continents, but as a unitary land mass, a veritable “world island.” Its broad, deep “heartland” — 4,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Siberian Sea — was so enormous that it could only be controlled from its “rimlands” in Eastern Europe or what he called its maritime “marginal” in the surrounding seas….the “heartland” of this vast landmass, a “pivot area” stretching from the Persian Gulf to China’s Yangtze River, remained nothing less than the Archimedean fulcrum for future world power. “Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island,” went Mackinder’s later summary of the situation. “Who rules the World-Island commands the world.”
The post then seeks to frame British imperialism, 20th century geopolitics, and China’s Silk road as confirmation of the proof of Mackinder’s thesis of the importance of control of key geographies in large-scale political dominance.