Below is the introduction for my research paper that studies the affect of geopolitical theories on US foreign policy in Central Asia. This is a rough draft and the first entry of my sememster long project. This blog was always meant as an academic excercise but not as a platform for my own work. I decided that if I actually wanted to put up content on this blog during the semester then my own work will have to be integrated, if not the focal point. Please be gentle in your comments and reviews as this is a work in progress.  

Since the early 20th century the study of geopolitics has had a profound effect on international relations as well as regional or spatial strategies of foreign policy. Central Asia is one such region that is considered, if not explicitly stated, as a “pivot” area, or area of conflict by many authors of geopolitical theories. This landlocked area has been a theater of global rivalries for centuries and currently involves the world’s superpower, the US, and the two great regional powers, China and Russia. The goal here will be to examine the literature of geopolitics and geopolitical theory in order to help explain the foreign policy decisions of the powerful states that concern themselves with this region.

The ideas of Halford Mackinder in The Geographical Pivot of History and his other works effectively conceived geography as a definitive school of social science in Britain and is the reason that he is now referred to as one of the fathers of geopolitics and geostrategy. His ideas have been considered, built upon and reintroduced over the last century by such scholars as the Dutch-born Harvard geostrategist Nicholas J. Spykman, Greek historian Dimitri Kitsikis and American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, among others. Mackinder considered Central Asia as a pivot due to the 19th century struggle between Britain and Russia over this territory in what is referred to as “The Great Game” or “Tournament of Shadows”. An examination of Mackinder’s work and the theories of his successors can help to explain some of the foreign policy decisions made by states concerning Central Asia and why state actors currently seem to be putting a greater emphasis on this region of the world.

This paper seeks to explain the role of the US in Central Asia for the 21st century. It will provide a geopolitical perspective and seek answers to the questions: Do geopolitical theories help explain the US foreign policy decisions concerning Central Asia and if so, what do these theories tell us to expect from the future of US policy after the withdrawal of military forces in 2014?

Advertisements