Heartland Theory

In the early twenty-first century, the geopolitical situation gave the world a new impetus to study the fundamental principles of the regional structuralization for the Eurasian geoeconomic and political space (Tsygankov, 2001). It has helped to revive the concept formulated by the English geographer Halford Mackinder in the 20th century. The modern world is not similar to the one that the academic explored. In distant 1904, the scholar first discussed the advantages that Eurasian land mass had because of its central location. Throughout the decades, Mackinder’s theory greatly affected formation and development of America’s containment during the period of the Cold War. After appearance of the Heartland theory many years ago, great interest and concerns towards the key region of the global dominance are renewed. The Eurasia’s Heartland will undoubtedly play a significant role in the future, as well as today’s policy of powerful and influential nations towards the region will greatly affect relations between countries within the entire international system.

Mackinder gave his interpretation of the historical processes in the world emphasizing the notion that the world was originally divided into isolated areas having special functions to perform. The academic claimed the outside pressure generated the European civilization. His reports about the European history and Europe itself as the result of the age-old struggle against Asian invasion were based on the same ideas (Mackinder, 2004). The geographer believed that the necessity to respond to the considerable pressure that came from Asia’s center stimulated the European expansion and progress. The continental Eurasian masses were concentrated in the Heartland serving as the central point of thorough geopolitical transformations within the World Island. Moreover, Mackinder (2004) noticed that Heartland’s geopolitical location was one of the most favorable and advantageous. Since the geographer recognized the nature of the region’s central position, he also pointed to the outcomes of the geopolitical processes worldwide, in particular within the Eurasian continent in the heart of the world. The academic’s theory underscored that the geopolitical subject dominating the Heartland possessed a significant geoeconomic and political potential for controlling the planet, and, in particular, the World Island.

An analysis of the past social, military, economic and political processes in the Heartland reflected its apparent objective unity of geopolitical and geoeconomic aspects (Mackinder, 1943). The respectable academic also discussed Eurasia’s pivotal nature. Moreover, he was convinced of the stable conditions for the development of industrial and military powers in the Eurasian region. Eurasia, as the World Island to Halford Mackinder, is still pivotal to the U.S. foreign policy, and it will continue to be central over time. It is often argued that only the power which possesses and dominates the Eurasian resources could have a great potential to threaten America’s interests. Moreover, many assumptions concerning the national policies have not been properly subjected to adequate examination and consideration of the constantly changing international environment. Even today’s geopolitical truth seldom gets appropriate reappraisal to determine its relevancy to the changing system’s nature.

The geographer asserted that the world evolved into the so-called “closed system.” Colonialism brought the whole world under Europe’s influence. Mackinder assumed that the future power politics would not be marked by the search for new territories, but by a strong competition over the old ones. According to Blouet (2005), the Heartland’s conception gained recognition of the 18th-century strategists regarding the key position in the battlefield that was crucial to gain a victory. Following the viewpoints of military strategists, a decisive point to win the battle was to ensure control of the major position. Since Mackinder recognized the surrounding world as one giant battlefield, control and identification of the key positions remained the main aspects leading to the global supremacy. One of the basic reasons that Mackinder’s theory has been revived again is policy makers, who continue to search for a way to conceptualize the Caspian Sea as well as Heartland-Central Asia, a region with a huge potential for becoming the main source of great power in the next decades.

Goldstein (1993) has estimated that in the coming years, the fossil fuels of the region, vast oil deposits, large exports, intense exploration and discovery of new resources would transform it into a new Saudi Arabia. Lack of power in the region for many years has become an important subject of superiority and rivalry from the outside. A great game will be still unfolding among such powerful leaders as China, the USA, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. The desire for huge wealth and competition for considerable fossil fuels that generate wealth have the potential to harm the relationship between the regional and global powers in case diplomacy is managed ineffectively.

Russia’s policy towards the Central Asian states and other countries of the former Soviet Union is often considered a bellwether with the new nature. Most of the observers and strategists point to Russia’s intervention in the affairs of its neighbors on the outskirts as an unchanged sign of neo-imperialism that characterizes Russia’s national character. In order to impede the return to the huge totalitarian empire, many people think that the West should resolute in preventing the growth of Russia’s influence on the new nation-states. The U.S. demonstrates its willingness to project power in Central Asia. The country believes that filling the vacuum of power in the region will prevent the Russian Federation from realizing its great neo-imperialistic wishes (Bugajski, 2009). Nowadays, China and Russia are deemed as the regional powers seeking their littoral influence while the USA continues to project power almost everywhere. The interests of each of these three nations overlap in the Central Asian region. The trilateral diplomacy during the Cold War will soon become unavoidable if geopolitical concerns of the present day continue to dominate in the world. The Cold War reinforced people’s need to reconsider the historical, cultural, and ethical vision of the global policies. In addition, everyone should be increasingly aware of various normative influences in the international arena in the subsequent years.