POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY QUARTERLY, Vol. 6, No.3, July 1987, 283-284 Book reviews Western Geopolitical Thought in the Twentieth Century by Geoffrey Parker...

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POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY QUARTERLY, Vol. 6, No.3, July 1987, 283-284

Book reviews Western Geopolitical Thought in the Twentieth Century by Geoffrey Parker, Croom Helm,

political phenomena. These considerations influenced Ritter, Ratzel, Vidal de la Blache, Semple and other geographers, whose ideas, in London, 1985, 199 pp. tum, influenced various strains of geopolitical Geopolitics by Patrick O'Sullivan, Croom Helm, thought. London, 1986, 144 pp. Parker illustrates that geopoliticalthinking in During the past four decades, the subdisciplineof many countries was associated with the national political geography has gradually shaken off the ambitions of the competing European colonial legacy of the Geopolitik tradition of Nazi powers. Chapters on geopolitical thought in Germany. Those who undertook the revival of a Britain, France, Germany and North America previously dormant political geography during illustrate the close relationships between geothe 1960s and 1970s took great pains to distance political theory and the geopolitical ambitions of their work from any taint of association with the political leaders in each country. The extreme older geopolitical traditions, and the term 'geo- example, of course, is the Geopolitik of Nazi politics' was shunned. Today, use of the term Germany. Later chapters trace the development 'geopolitics' has begun to regain acceptance, as of geopolitical thinking during the Cold War indicated by these two volumes which focus period and up to the 1980s. Of particular imporexplicitly on geopolitics in historical and tance is the discussion of the role of new techcontemporary perspective. Parker's book is con- nologies, including airplanes, rockets, satellites cerned with the history of geopolitical thought; and nuclear weapons, on geopoliticalthought. In O'Sullivan's examines the foundations of con- the current nuclear age, when 'Star Wars' and temporary geopolitical thinking. The two 'nuclear winter' are household words, Parker's complement each other effectively, providing historical summaries remind us that, too often, historical perspective and contemporary inter- geopolitical thought attempts to incorporate the pretation of geopolitical issues in counterpoint. most modem, most sophisticated and most Together they provide a useful, effective intro- deadly technology of the future, but fails to break duction to the rapidly revitalizing field of geo- free from the mindsets of the past. O'Sullivan's book is based on the philopolitical thought in political geography. The early chapters of Parker's book are sophical premise that geography is a crucial devoted to European and American geopolitical influence on the relationships between states: thought prior to World War II. Systematic geo- 'The strength of sympathetic and influential ties political thinking began to emerge at the end of between the governments of nations is as much a the Victorian era-a period in which the matter of geographic distance as of political and European powers had completed their explora- cultural distance' (p. 1). To O'Sullivan, geotion and colonizaton of the world. By 1900, political science traces the geographical aspects Africa, Asia and the rest of the Third World had and correlates of 'the persistent desire of some been divided into colonies or spheres of influence people to lord it over others' (p. 16) through the by the European capitalist powers, and the domination and control of territory. The chapters European-dominated world economy had are organized by various themes which underlie expanded to encompass the entire earth. Not the struggle for territorial control and the study coincidentally, geopolitical thinking arose as of this struggle: motivations, views of the world, geographers were completing their inventory of linkages and flows, distance. O'Sullivan illusthe world's land and population resources. At the trates the range of motives underlying competisame time, the intellectual influences of Darwin, tion for territory; these range from allegedly Marx and other major intellectual figures of the idealistic motives, such as religious conversion 19th century were reverberating throughout and improvement in the moral and material Western social and natural science, carrying with standards of the dominated population, to more them an emphasis on a dynamic and teleological blatantly materialistic motives such as those assoview of human societal progress and a predilec- ciated with much European colonization.Motives tion for applying scientific and especially bio- and world views play large roles in shaping the logical explanations to social, economic and nature of geopolitical conflicts. Both Parker and