In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Geopolitics and Geostrategy

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Geohistorical Approaches
  • Geostrategy as the Art of War
  • Geostrategy as Diplomacy
  • Cold War Geopolitical Perspectives
  • Post–Cold War American Geostrategy
  • Geopolitics of Europe and Eurasia
  • Reconceptualizing Geopolitics after the Cold War
  • Re-Reconceptualizing Geopolitics after September 11

International Relations Geopolitics and Geostrategy
Hall Gardner
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0056


Concepts of geopolitics and geostrategy are moving in new directions in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse in 1991 and the antistate “terrorist” attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. A reconceptualization has proved necessary in the effort to better analyze the global ramifications of the collapse of the amphibious Soviet empire, if not predict the future geopolitical contours of the global system. At present, the essentially insular United States continues to sustain global military predominance, but appears to be losing its overseas political and economic influence in a number of regions due to the rise of emerging powers. Questions remain as to whether a new form of polycentrism is truly in the making, how long the United States can sustain its global predominance, and whether the advent of globalization and rise of new regional powers will result in wider regional, if not global conflict, or else in new systems of global governance that could help mediate more traditional territorial state rivalry. This article examines works that deal with geopolitics and geostrategy and that generally seek to examine multiple systemic factors that affect global decision-making processes, not to overlook the forces of globalization as they have impacted upon more traditional geopolitical analysis. It consequently looks at those studies that seek to formulate or discuss the multidimensional aspects of global strategy, including military strategy and diplomacy, particularly when the latter is used as the art of statecraft to reach settlements over territory or other vital issues of geostrategic, military-technological or political-economic concerns.

General Overviews

This section provides a list of general introductory texts in the field of geopolitics that explain the relationship between geography and politics. Agnew 2002 discusses the history of geopolitical thinking while seeking to analyze issues such as environmentalism, drug trafficking, and international terrorism. Braden 1999 seeks to show how geography, demography, and economics impact politics and international relations. Ó Tuathail 2006 provides critical perspectives on a wide range of geopolitical issues. Flint 2006 creates a process-and-feedback model for understanding the dynamics of geopolitics. Gray 2007 explains the nature of strategic thinking from the French Revolution to the war on “terrorism.” Lacoste 2006 analyzes the geopolitical interests of the major powers—the United States, Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. Morgenthau and Thompson 1985 develops the theory and practice of geopolitics as a struggle for power. Taylor 2007 examines the shifting nature of contemporary politics by means of a comprehensive examination of the geopolitical landscape.

  • Agnew, John. Making Political Geography. London: Hodder Arnold, 2002.

    An introductory text that explains how changing geopolitical contexts have been critical to the making of political geography. Discusses the history of geopolitical thinking while seeking to analyze issues of environmentalism, drug trafficking, and international terrorism. Identifies three “waves” of political geography during the last three decades: the spatial-analytical approach, the political-economic critiques, and the postmodern approaches.

  • Braden, Kathleen, and F. M. Shelley. Engaging Geopolitics. London: Longman, 1999.

    An introduction into the ways in which geography, demography, and economics impact on politics and international relations. Develops classic and contemporary geopolitical concepts and applies them to key global issues.

  • Flint, Colin. Introduction to Geopolitics. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

    Provides an introduction to and brief history of geopolitics. Creates a framework for understanding geopolitics that involves a process-and-feedback model. The latter helps to explain how geopolitical tension can result in conflict and whether such conflicts can result in just and long-lasting resolutions. Includes a discussion of the geography of terrorism.

  • Gray, Colin. War, Peace, and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History. Strategy and History. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

    Explains the nature of strategic thinking from the French Revolution through the 19th century, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the “war on terrorism.”

  • Lacoste, Yves. Géopolitique, la longue histoire d’aujourd’hui. Paris: Larousse, 2006.

    Analyzes the major geopolitical issues confronted by the American “ hyperpower” as well as those of Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. Discusses conflicts in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Balkans, involving demography, energy, water, and food.

  • Morgenthau, Hans, and Kenneth Thompson. Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. 6th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1985.

    First published in 1948, this classic work develops the theory and practice of geopolitics as a struggle for power and evaluates national power by showing the interrelationships between geostrategic positioning, the relative economic and technological capabilities of states, international public opinion, international law and morality, international government and diplomacy, and the regional and global balance of power.

  • Ó Tuathail, Gearóid, Simon Dalby, and Paul Routledge, eds. The Geopolitics Reader. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

    Introductory text that provides critical perspectives on a wide range of texts that examine imperialism, Cold War geopolitics, and post–Cold War geopolitical dangers, in addition to anti-geopolitical movements.

  • Taylor, Peter J. Political Geography: World-Economy, Nation-State, and Locality. 5th ed. Harlow, UK: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007.

    This introductory text examines the shifting nature of the contemporary geopolitical landscape.

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