Classical Geopolitics


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Table of Contents

Contents and Abstracts1Introduction chapter abstract

Several motivations of the author prompted the writing of the book, a mission primarily to elevate the visibility and legitimacy of the classical geopolitical approach as an accepted IR model. A major aim is to separate geopolitics from realism, where many have wrongly placed it. Also, this intend offers a description of "critical geopolitics" as distinct from the classical. Assumptions, concepts, and theories find depiction as parts of a model, these adhering to the classical definition. Additional topics include: political geography as separate from geopolitics, the "scientific" approach, and a methodology suggested for theory selection.

2Model and Theory chapter abstract

Models are containers for theories; they are passive and lend only to bundling of theories. Theories come as simple sentences of probability. No "geopolitical theories" exist; only theories under their own labels but fitting the classical geopolitical definition. The test for probability focuses upon the common-sense appropriateness of theories showing good insights into international events. The leading IR models in addition to geopolitics are described: realism, systems, dependency, hegemonic cycles, and functionalism. A further description of Cohen and Grygiel concludes the chapter.

3Several Geopolitical Approaches of the Recent Past chapter abstract

As a way to show distortions of past ideologies that have weakened the classical version of geopolitics, three depictions of these distortions are made in this chapter – the geopolitik of General Karl Haushofer and his Munich colleagues; the Cold-War power-politics containment geopolitics of post-World War Two; and the more recent critical geopolitics or post-modern stances of critical political geography. The chapter concludes with further descriptions of classical geopolitics.

4Classical Geopolitical Assumptions chapter abstract

First outlined is the query: Why assumptions would be important to constructing a geopolitical model, this followed by separating assumptions from theories. Eleven examples of assumptions are offered to show how such precepts provide a vital part of a geopolitical model.

5Classical Geopolitical Theories chapter abstract

This chapter begins with providing reasons why concepts and theories should be combined and not kept separate within chapter designations. Next, five categories of description are formed where sixty-odd theories receive assortment. The remaining pages define and provide short applications of each theory for testing for insights awarded by the selected generalizations.

6Applications of the Model chapter abstract

Several suggestions for applying theories to international events happen first, followed by eight case-studies that exhibit the application of theories toward gaining deeper insights into these events. The eight studies include: the Peloponnesian war compared to South American diplomacy; the Ukraine shatterbelt; shatterbelts affecting the early United States; new shatterbelts possibly emerging; the geopolitics of the three American sectors; United States and Paraguayan geopolitics; and the geopolitics of ancient Rome.

7Setting the Course for a Rejuvenated Geopolitics chapter abstract

Eleven suggestions are raised for a "call to action" for setting out a reinvigorated geopolitics: legitimize the study of geopolitics; emphasize the classical over the critical; separate geopolitics from realism; clarify and agree upon an appropriate definition; agree to the model's parts – assumptions, concepts, and theories; collect geopolitical assumptions and concepts-theories; also collect applications of theories to events; and organize a support group of geopolitical enthusiasts.

About the Author

Phil Kelly is the Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Emporia State University.


"This book makes an important contribution to the current literature on geopolitics. The theoretical approach it takes is both innovative and stimulating, and it displays an impressive synthesis of existing theoretical ideas. A milestone reinterpretation of geopolitical theory."
*University of Reading*

"This is an important work. Many teachers of IR tend to dismiss geopolitics as having been overtaken by technology, but Phil Kelly's analysis shows how mistaken they are. He makes a strong case for the applicability of geopolitical analysis to the study of IR, foreign policy, and strategic analysis. A very worthy contribution to the study of IR and security affairs in general."
*Institute of World Politics*

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