GEOPOLITICS: USING THE MAP TO UNDERSTAND CURRENT AFFAIRS

Stratfor.com has introduced a new book from the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, Robert D. Kaplan,…a revelatory new prism through which to view the latest global upheavals. In The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (2012), Kaplan argues that in order to understand today’s current events—religious conflict, war, political instability—one need look no further than a map. Kaplan states that when the political ground shifts rapidly under one’s feet, it is the map that provides the first step towards discerning an historical logic about what might come next. Excerpts below:

In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan uses the map as the beginning of wisdom and explains current affairs as varied as:

Why Tehran has influence from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan and how the current Iranian regime will fall because it is out of sync with Iranian history

How geography helps explain the European debt crisis

Why Russia and Vladimir Putin are so cynical and paranoid

Why Chinese power is inexorable, why it may become Asia’s superpower, and why it faces internal upheaval at the same time

Why India is bedeviled by its immediate neighbors

A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, in The Revenge of Geography Kaplan brings to life the great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near and distant past: [Sir Halford Mackinder, Micholas Spykman, Alfred Thayer Mahan and others]. He lucidly outlines their theories, and then brilliantly applies their ideas to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East.

By engaging with such tools as relief maps and population studies, Kaplan puts forth a straightforward argument—the more one knows about the history and geography of any particular Middle Eastern country, the less surprised one will be about events there.

Indeed, forces of culture and geography are more likely to prevail when a man-made border does not match a vulnerable natural frontier zone.

The Revenge of Geography is an indispensable work that shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century’s looming cataclysms. In the midst of a turbulent world’s increasing unmanageability, Kaplan argues that geography offers a way to make some sense of it all – even while he never gives in to fate.

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