Put the ‘geo’ back into geopolitics

in EN · Europe 2018 · Nation 2018 · Politics 2018 · Skepticism 2018 · YOUTUBE 2018 125 views / 7 comments
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GEOMETR.IT  PolicyExchangeUK

* National identity has emerged as a powerful driver of the political insurgencies spreading across Western Europe and the US.

At a time of structural change in international political alignments driven by great power shifts, seemingly-insoluble conflict dynamics and spiralling domestic political turmoil across Western democracies, it is worth taking a step back to look at three key factors underlying these developments: geography; national identity; and national interest. Geography’s influence on international politics (geopolitics) is often noted – think popular references to “Island Britain” – but seldom properly linked to a country’s foreign policy outlook.

All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to follow world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements – but if you don’t know geography, you’ll never have the full picture.

If you’ve ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Crimea, why the USA was destined to become a global superpower, or why China’s power base continues to expand ever outwards, the answers are all here.

In ten chapters (covering Russia; China; the USA; Latin America; the Middle East; Africa; India and Pakistan; Europe; Japan and Korea; and the Arctic), using maps, essays and occasionally the personal experiences of the widely travelled author, Prisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential insight into one of the major factors that determines world history.

It’s time to put the ‘geo’ back into geopolitics.

‘A fresh and original insight into the geopolitics behind today’s foreign policy challenges’ — Andrew Neil

How does it differ from 1930s-type nationalism, if at all? Finally, the return to power politics and the pressures on the “globalist ethos” that defined world affairs in the post-Cold War unipolar era is now prompting re-examination of the concept of “national interest” as a guide to better strategy-making.

Discussing these themes at Policy Exchange will be Tim Marshall, whose last two books, Prisoners of Geography and Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags, deal directly with these issues. Tim will also draw on his extensive experience in analysing, reporting and witnessing in person all major geopolitical events since the Cold War.

Tim Marshall was Diplomatic Editor and foreign correspondent for Sky News. His thirty years’ experience in news reporting and presenting includes reporting in the field from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990’s, and from Kosovo in 1999. In recent years he covered the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

He has written for many of the national newspapers including the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times. His books include  Shadowplay: The Overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic (a bestseller in former Yugoslavia), Dirty Northern B*st*rds!” and Other Tales from the Terraces: The Story of Britain’s Football Chants (published to widespread acclaim in 2014), Prisoners of Geography (published in UK, US, Germany, Japan, Turkey and Taiwan), and Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags.

(This is a low definition video, awaiting upload of a higher definition version.)

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  PolicyExchangeUK



  1. Think these guys need to do a bit more reading on Critical Geopolitics! Too many holes in these arguments to even bother picking apart, and this is coming from the Policy Exchange! Ugh!

  2. To understand the different meanings of the word, we must first grasp the rationale behind the two leading schools in the realm of geopolitics, which are the classical geopolitics and the more academically-based critical geopolitics schools.

  3. In Europe, if you are a farmer in the north European plain or in the lowlands of the British Isles, well, most likely you will not have much to worry about planting and harvesting cash crops, since the temperate climate provides similar climatic features to that of United States, thus providing a stable and moderate temperature that is perfect for farming

  4. Now to the formula of geopolitical analysis, please add culture, religious beliefs, political concepts of governance, ethnic affiliation, and production means – all the elements of what make a geographic entity ‘unique.’

  5. These disciplines are extraordinarily opaque and difficult for an undergraduate to comprehend. This writer has performed an outstanding contribution. Keep it coming.

  6. ‘ve been critical of previous Geopolitical monitor essay’s/Op-Ed’s, this is by far the best one yet. The field of international relations, foreign affairs, international political economy is very difficult to comprehend synoptically. I’ve found an identical problem with geography even earth science or economics

  7. As initially mentioned, physiographic conditions do not determine our destiny as humans, but it would be fallacy not to think that some nations are simply more favored than others in terms of physical geography. Would it be helpful to break the taboo on the importance of analyzing the climatic and topographic characteristics of a particular territory for a particular population?

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