Halford Mackinder created the following dictum based on his Heartland theory:
“Who controls Eastern Europe rules the Heartland; Who controls the Heartland rules the World Island; and Who rules the World Island rules the World.”
Similarly Nicholas Spykman provides an alternate view on world domination known as the Rimland theory:
“Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia; Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the World.”
Really? The above views, in one form or another appear to have become political dogma and have been the premise for so much of the geopolitical manoeuvring between the great powers, epitomised by the old and the new cold wars between the United States and Russia.
So leaving aside the question of morality, that a desire to subjugate people is surely one of the most lowly of human endeavours, just how accurate are the above ‘maxims’.
The central tenets of both the Heartland and Rimland theories are that by controlling particularly regions of the world, which are rich in natural resources, it facilitates supremacy.
If we consider the changes that have been taking place in the world since the time when Mackinder first expounded his Heartland thesis in 1904, there are ample clues that the above geocentric ideas are just not relevant.
The graphs below show the value of the largest 50 American firms during 1917 and 2017 respectively (graphs created with data sourced from Forbes).
What is striking is that there has been a shift in economic value moving from traditional physical resource companies trading in steel, oil, gas, mined resources and food to knowledge driven companies epitomised by the technology industry. In addition, with the emerging supremacy of renewable energy, natural resources such as oil and gas are expected to diminish further in value.
So surely it is better to invest in people and education for countries to successfully compete in the 21st century rather than try to monopolise physical resources through the barrel of guns and proxy war gaming?