Chapter 6 - Nicholas Spikman "Mackinder Revision, rimland centrality"

6.1 In the service of America

Dutch-born Nicholas Speakman (1893 1943) is a direct continuation of Admiral Mahan's line. Speaker was a professor of international relations, and later director of the Institute of International Relations at Yale University. For him, unlike the first geopoliticians, geography itself was not of great interest, and even less worried about his problems are the connection of the people with the soil, the influence of the relief on the national character, etc. Speakman considered geopolitics as the most important instrument of a specific international policy, as an analytical method and a system of formulas allowing to develop the most effective strategy. In this sense, he harshly criticized the German geopolitical school (especially in the book "Geography of the World" (29)), considering the notion of "fair or unfair borders as metaphysical nonsense."

Like Mahan, Speakman is characterized by a utilitarian approach, a clear desire to give out the most effective geopolitical formula with which the US can quickly achieve "world domination." This pragmatism determines the structure of all his studies.

6.2 Mackinder Correction

Speakman, who carefully studied the work of Mackinder, proposed his own version of the basic geopolitical scheme, slightly different from the Mackinder model. Speakman's main idea was that Mackinder supposedly overestimated the geopolitical significance of heartland. This reassessment affected not only the current position of forces on the world map, in particular, the power of the USSR, but also the original historical scheme. Speakman believed that the geographical history of the "inner crescent", rimland, "coastal zones", was carried out on its own, and not under the pressure of the "land nomads," as Mackinder believed. From his point of view, heartland is only a potential space that receives all cultural impulses from coastal zones and does not carry in itself any independent geopolitical mission or historical impulse. Rimlandand not heartland, in his opinion, is the key to world domination.

Mackinder’s geopolitical formula “He who controls Eastern Europe dominates the heartland; he who dominates the heartland dominates the World Island; he who dominates the World Island dominates the world” . Speakman proposed replacing his “He who dominates rimland dominates Eurasia; he who dominates Eurasia holds the fate of the world in his hands. "(30)

In principle, Speakman said nothing new. And for Mackinder himself, the “coastal zone”, “outer crescent” or rimland were a key strategic position in control of the continent. But Mackinder understood this zone not as an independent and self-sufficient accurate geopolitical formation, but as a space in opposition to two impulses of the "sea" and the "land". However, he never understood the control of heartland in the sense of power over Russia and the continental masses adjacent to it. Eastern Europe is an intermediate space between the "geographical axis of history" and rimland, therefore, it is in the balance of power on the periphery of heartland that the key to the problem of world domination is found.But Speakman presented a shift in emphasis in his geopolitical doctrine regarding Mackinder's views as something radically new. In fact, it was only about a certain nuance of concepts.

6.3 Power Scale

In his books “American Strategy in World Politics” (31) and “Geography of the World” (32), Speakman identifies 10 criteria based on which the geopolitical power of the state should be determined. This is a development of the criteria first proposed by Mahan. They are as follows:

  1. The surface of the territory

  2. The nature of borders

  3. Population

  4. The presence or absence of minerals

  5. Economic and technological development

  6. Financial power

  7. Ethnic homogeneity

  8. The level of social integration

  9. Political stability

  10. National spirit

If the total result of assessing the state’s geopolitical capabilities by these criteria turns out to be relatively low, this almost automatically means that the state is forced to enter into a more general strategic alliance, surrendering part of its sovereignty for the sake of global strategic geopolitical protection.

6.4 Mid Ocean

In addition to reassessing the significance of rimland, Speakman made another important addition to the geopolitical picture of the world, seen from the perspective of "sea power." He introduced the extremely important concept of the "Middle Ocean" Midland Ocean. This geopolitical view is based on an emphasized analogy between the Mediterranean Sea in the history of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in antiquity, and the Atlantic Ocean in the recent history of Western civilization. Since Speakman considered it to be the "coastal zone", rimland, the main historical territory of civilization, the Mediterranean area of ​​antiquity seemed to him an example of culture that subsequently spread into the continent (cultivating the land barbarians) and to remote areas that are reachable only by sea routes (cultivating the barbarians of the Sea). on a planetary scale the same thing happens with the Atlantic Ocean,both shores of which the American and European are the ranges of the most developed in the technological and economic senses of Western civilization.

The “Midland Ocean” becomes, in this perspective, not a disconnecting, but unifying factor, the “inland sea ” (mare internum). Thus, Speakman outlines a special geopolitical reality, which can be called the “Atlantic continent”, in the center of which, like a lake in the land region, is the Atlantic Ocean. This theoretical “continent”, “new Atlantis” is connected by a common culture of West European origin, the ideology of liberal capitalism and democracy, and the unity of political, ethical, and technological fate.

Speakman especially insisted on the role of the intellectual factor in this “Atlantic continent ”. Western Europe and the East Coast of North America (especially New York) are becoming the brains of the new “Atlantic community ”. The United States and its trade and military-industrial complex are the nerve center and power mechanism. Europe turns out to be a mental appendage of the United States, whose geopolitical interests and strategic line become the only and dominant for all Western powers. Political sovereignty of European states should gradually be reduced, and power should be transferred to a special authority uniting representatives of all "Atlantic" spaces and subordinated to the priority leadership of the United States.

Speakman anticipated the most important political processes of creating the "North Atlantic Union" (NATO), reducing the sovereignty of European powers in the post-war world, the planetary hegemony of the United States, etc.

6.5 American Victory Architect

Speakman made the basis of his doctrine not so much a geopolitical understanding of the place of the United States as the "Sea Power" in the whole world (like Mahan), perhaps because it has already become a fact, how much the need to control the coastal territories of Eurasia: Europe, Arab countries, India, China, etc. .d. for the final victory in a duel of the continental and naval forces. Whereas in Mackinder’s picture, planetary duality was seen as something “eternal”, “indeterminable,” but Speakman believed that perfect control of rimland by the “sea powers” ​​would lead to a final and irrevocable victory over the land powers, which would now be wholly controlled.

In fact, this was the ultimate development of the “anaconda tactics," which Mahan had already substantiated. Speakman gave the whole concept a complete form.

The victory of the United States as a “Sea Force” in the Cold War demonstrated Speakman’s absolute geopolitical right, who can be called the “architect of the world victory of the liberal democracies” over Eurasia.

At the moment, it seems that Speakman's theses regarding the strategic supremacy of rimland and the importance of the “Middle Ocean” have been proven by history itself. But it is too early to completely discard the theory of Mackinder about the permanent aspiration of the center of Eurasia for political revival and for continental expansion.

On the other hand, some ideas of Speakman (especially his follower Kirk, who developed the rimland theory even more in detail) were supported by some European geopoliticians who saw in his high strategic assessment of the “coastal territories” an opportunity to re-make Europe one of those countries that decide the fate of the world. But for this, the concept of the "Middle Ocean" had to be discarded.

Despite this theoretical course of some European geopolitics (which, however, remains very ambiguous), Speakman belongs, without any doubt, to the most vivid and consistent “Atlantists”. Moreover, he, together with Admiral Mahan, can be called the "father of Atlantism" and the "ideological inspirer of NATO."

Last updated