Geopolitics of the World System

Monday, July 26, 2010

Author: Saul Bernard Cohen
Translator: Abbas Kardan

Active Image“Geopolitics” is a term which is frequently used to explain or analyze foreign policy issues of various countries. It is also a way of analyzing international relations with its own history, theories, and distinct aspects.

Distribution of power is more extensive in the context of a complicated geopolitical world which has been influenced by globalization while hierarchy is losing importance, so that, no single country will be able to dominate others. The 21st century will be a “global century,” not an “American” or “Pacific” century. Due to this complexity, all regional powers should be steered in such a way as to create a balance among various challenges.

At present world-system theory has two branches. One emphasizes the distinctly economic, the political economy of the world-system tradition associated with Wallerstein. The other emphasizes global culture, the world polity, or world society, tradition associated with John W. Meyer and his Stanford students. A third perspective on world system is introduced here: what could be called the geopolitical world-system, predicated upon classic ideas of geopolitics. To flesh out some of the principles of this third theorization of world system dynamics, examples are chosen from the dynamics of ancient world-systems, such as the conflictual world of 5th century Greek city states.

Written by one of the world’s leading political geographers, this textbook examines the dramatic changes wrought by ideological and economic forces unleashed by the end of the Cold War. Saul Cohen considers these forces in the context of their human and physical settings and explores their geographical influence on foreign policy and international relations. Presenting a global spatial scope, the book considers the entire hierarchy of geopolitical units—subnational, national states, and quasi-states; geopolitical regions; and geostrategic realms. By emphasizing the interaction between geographical settings and changing ideological and economic forces, Cohen has succeeded in creating a new global geopolitical map.

The book is characterized by:

- Putting theory into action in an understandable and attractive way;

- Presenting an illustrated account of geopolitical patterns and elements;

- Taking advantage of geopolitical analysis to predict future trends and draw a new map of the world; and

- Discussing evolution of this area of political science from the beginning up to the present time.

The book is, thus, an ideal source for such academic disciplines as “political geography” and “international relations.”

The United States as the “first among equals” is offered with a valuable opportunity to apply its power in a rational, steadfast and coordinated manner while being aware of its limitations and responsibilities when applying that power.

Active ImageTable of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Survey of Geopolitics
3. Geopolitical Structure and Theory
4. The Cold War and Geopolitical Restructuring
5. North and Middle America
6. Maritime Europe and the Maghreb
7. Russia and the Heartlandic Periphery
8. The East Asia Geostrategic Realm
9. The Asia-Pacific Rim
10. The Arc of Geostrategic Instability, Part I: South Asia
11. The Arc of Geostrategic Instability, Part II: The Middle East Shatterbelt
12. The Southern Continents: The Quarter-Sphere of Marginality
13. Epilogue.

Saul Bernard Cohen is a political geographer and Professor Emeritus of Geography at Hunter College.

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