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Framework of Critical Geopolitics

Geopolitics was born in
time of period where imperialistic rivalry between competing empires was
intensive, the lines of the borders had been changing by clashes and wars
between empires and reflecting it’s meaning in history and on the world
political map.1
After changing the world in the end of the Cold War, there was a need to start
understanding of the geopolitical problem in a new way. This led scholars to
start thinking critically and analytically. To understand critical geopolitics
despite from classical geopolitics, development of geopolitical approaches
should be paid attention to see differences.

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1.1. Evolution of Geopolitics: From Classical
to Critical Geopolitics

The term Geopolitics,
which was coined by the Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellen in the end
of the 19th century,2 is combination of
geographical and political factors that relates to the state and has an
impaction on state’s foreign policy.3 Geopolitics has been
defined with a lot of definitions but all the meanings that have in common is
that geopolitics is nothing but interrelationship of space and power.4 During the Cold War,
geopolitics was perceived as a simple cartographic capture of the world where
different political states were competing with each other for obtaining power
of leadership. The main concept of geopolitics in the Cold War was about
dominoes: If one domino falls, rest of the dominoes follow, in other words, if spreading
of communism starts in one area, it threatens other adjacent territories.5 This geopolitical
consideration of the Cold War, having superpower of the world, goes to the
classical geopolitical approach.

At the beginning of the
20th century, Halford Mackinder, British geographer, who can be
counted as a one the founding fathers of geopolitics, gave some specific
approaches about the important role of the geography. Mackinder’s strategical
formulations were important for political leaders and their policies. He gave meaningful
definitions to the geographical regions of the world in which control of
Eastern Europe was significant for controlling the world. Those formulations
became known as Heartland Theory:

Who rules Eastern Europe
commands the Heartland;

Who rules the Heartland
commands the World Island;

Who rules the World
Island commands the world.6

After Mackinder’s initial
formulations, his theory started to be developed by other new ideas of other
geopolitical thinkers. German political geographer, Karl Haushofer, who was
former military commander too, was sharing Mackinder’s ideas that political
leaders of the states should have geographical education and international
political space was a struggle for survival between rivalry competing states. He
was considering that geopolitics could make predictions in certain ways: “It
will help our statesmen…see political situations as they really are. Only the geopolitician
can see what is”.7

1 Gearóid Ó
Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge, The
Geopolitics Reader, Routledge, London, 1998, pg.15.

2 Daniel H. Deudney,
Encyclopedia Britannica, Geopolitics,

3 Merriam-Webster

4 Simon Dalby, Creating the Second Cold War, Pinter
Publisher, London, 1990, pg.33

5 Ibid, pg.34

6  Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul
Routledge, The Geopolitics Reader,
Routledge, London, 1998, pg.17-18.

7 Ibid, pg.20.

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