The geographical pivot of history

Halford John Mackinder’s famous lecture in 1094 aimed to “show human history as a part of the world organism.” In that sense, its author said that “I ask you, therefore, for a moment to look at Europe and European history as subordinate to Asia and Asian history, because European civilization is, in a very real sense, the product of the secular fight against the Asian invasion. Here is the origin of the geopolitical notion Eurasia.

Conceptually, there are four great contributions that “The Geographic Pivot of History” makes: the heartland, the inner crescent, the outer crescent and the balance of power.

Let’s start with the first and most important of them. the heartland or heart of Eurasia “is dotted with desert areas, and is overall a steppe that provides large areas of pasture, although often insufficient, and in which there are many areas irrigated by rivers, although no one crosses it. “watercourse that reaches the ocean”; However, this has a marginal character, because the oceanic gulfs and rivers put it within the reach of maritime power and allow this power to be exercised, as Mackinder points out. Thus, we find strategic rivers such as the Danube, the Volga or the Dinieper, so relevant today in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

According to its physical conformation, the four great religions settled there: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Islam and Christianity. And it can also be divided into four regions. The first two comprise the monsoon countries, one of them facing the Pacific and the other towards the Indian Ocean; the third would be what is conventionally known as Europe. And the last region, the Near East or Middle East, “which coincides with the land of the five seas and which is deprived of humidity to the highest degree, because of its proximity to Africa.”

Mackinder’s reading of the Isthmus of Suez, which “divided maritime power into eastern and western power, and the arid deserts of Persia, which advanced from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, constantly offering the nomadic power the opportunity to reach the edge of the ocean that separated India and China on the one hand, and the Mediterranean world on the other.” In this, railroads came to act as tributary instruments of interoceanic trade and as geographic connectors for the realization of manifest destinations. The reader could well review what is currently known as the “Necklace of Pearls.”

Mackinder then asks: Isn’t the “pivot area” of world politics that extensive area of ​​Eurasia that is inaccessible to the sea and is about to be covered by a railway network? To answer this question he states that “the conditions of a far-reaching and yet limited mobility of military and economic power have existed and exist in that area. Russia replaces the Mongol Empire. Its pressure on Finland, Scandinavia, Poland, Turkey, Persia, India and China replaces the centrifugal attacks of the men of the steppe. It occupies the same central strategic position in the world that Germany occupies in Europe. She can attack from all sides, and can also be attacked from all sides, except from the north. The full development of its modern rail mobility is simply a matter of time. Nor is it likely that a possible social revolution will alter its essential relations with the great geographical limits of its existence. Correctly recognizing the fundamental limits of their power, their leaders have gotten rid of Alaska; This is because not possessing anything over the sea is as fundamental a law for Russian policy as maintaining dominion over the ocean is for England.”

As we see, since 1904 Russia has been read as that Pivot State that has partly decided the fate of world politics and whose geopolitical decoding has forced the design of long-range geostrategies that have guaranteed world peace within the framework exclusively of the balance of can.

The other two key concepts are found in the marginal regions; that is, in the east, south and west of the “continental heart” that align in a wide “belt” accessible to the sea. Indeed, outside the pivot region, in a large ““inner crescent” Today there are states such as Germany, Austria, Türkiye, India and China. All key actors in the present time and with a decisive geopolitical projection. Let’s look at the case of Turkey, which has played a decisive role in the balance of the Caucasus and in Putin’s war against Zelensky. Mackinder would say that this is precisely due to the broken bridge of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.