Sometimes, yours truly stumbles upon an article that changes one's view on reality, in this case, the nexus of power and how it impacts the Great Game, something eloquently articulated in Alfred W. McCoy's piece titled The Geopolitics of American Global Decline /Washington Versus China in the Twenty-First Century.
On a cold London evening in January 1904, Sir Halford Mackinder, the director of the London School of Economics, “entranced” an audience at the Royal Geographical Society on Savile Row with a paper boldly titled “The Geographical Pivot of History.” This presentation evinced, said the society’s president, “a brilliancy of description... we have seldom had equaled in this room.”
Mackinder argued that the future of global power lay not, as most British then imagined, in controlling the global sea lanes, but in controlling a vast land mass he called “Euro-Asia.” By turning the globe away from America to place central Asia at the planet’s epicenter, and then tilting the Earth’s axis northward just a bit beyond Mercator’s equatorial projection, Mackinder redrew and thus reconceptualized the world map.
His new map showed Africa, Asia, and Europe not as three separate continents, but as a unitary land mass, a veritable “world island.” Its broad, deep “heartland” -- 4,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Siberian Sea -- was so enormous that it could only be controlled from its “rimlands” in Eastern Europe or what he called its maritime “marginal” in the surrounding seas.
Click here for larger version of Mackinder's map.
The “discovery of the Cape road to the Indies” in the sixteenth century, Mackinder wrote, “endowed Christendom with the widest possible mobility of power... wrapping her influence round the Euro-Asiatic land-power which had hitherto threatened her very existence.” This greater mobility, he later explained, gave Europe’s seamen “superiority for some four centuries over the landsmen of Africa and Asia.”
Yet the “heartland” of this vast landmass, a “pivot area” stretching from the Persian Gulf to China’s Yangtze River, remained nothing less than the Archimedean fulcrum for future world power. “Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island,” went Mackinder’s later summary of the situation. “Who rules the World-Island commands the world.” Beyond the vast mass of that world island, which made up nearly 60% of the Earth’s land area, lay a less consequential hemisphere covered with broad oceans and a few outlying “smaller islands.” He meant, of course, Australia and the Americas.
When this notion is combined with the catastrophic neocon approach to foreign policy, one begins to see the wheels falling off the American empire at speeds that truly boggle the mind.
To see how the world island is coming together under the aegis of China and Russia, check out Rethink's excellent article titled The New Silk Road Initiatives in Central Asia. You won't be disappointed.