Geopolitics

Geopolitics refers to a strategy for national identity and development based on a country's geographical characteristics and natural resources.

Geopolitics

Geopolitics refers to a strategy for national identity and development based on a country's geographical characteristics and natural resources. From the development of a geopolitical strategy can flow industrial strategies, defence policies and a formula for permanent control over local branch plants of externally owned multinational corporations.

The study of the influence of geography on national and international politics began in the early 20th century. In 1919 an influential British geographer, Sir Halford J. Mackinder, theorized that the domination of the Euro-Asian "heartland" by one country, eg, Germany, would upset the world's balance of power. German geographers used Mackinder's theories to provide a justification for Nazi territorial expansion. Geopolitics has also been used to explain the idea of "Manifest Destiny" espoused by the US in the 19th century.

Canada is an outstanding example of a "geo-strategic region," identified by American political geographer Saul B. Cohen as a region "large enough to possess certain globe-influencing characteristics and functions." Nevertheless, geopolitical thinking has been absent in Canadian governmental and industrial planning, chiefly because policy planners have viewed it as deterministic and authoritarian. Such federal government programs as the 1961 National Oil Policy and the 1980 National Energy Policy could be defined as "geopolitical": both policies represented efforts towards the "Canadianization" of our strategically situated but largely foreign-owned oil and natural gas industries.

The long search for a national industrial strategy has failed partly because Canadians have not developed a prior and overall geopolitical view of Canada and planning for the development of the arctic regions remains piecemeal.

By comparison, other large nations, including the US, Russia and Brazil, with great potential in their natural resources and dominant geographical positions in their regions, have already defined themselves geopolitically. Their well-developed geopolitical positions have resulted in the growth and use of their military and commercial sea power, the control of their natural resources, and the direction of management and labour toward national goals.