On Geopolitics

Building a More Efficient World

Rebecca Keller
Senior Science and Technology Analyst, Stratfor
Nov 22, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
Geographic features can hinder or empower a country in pursuing its imperatives. Cutting from the top of Minnesota to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the Mississippi River is central to the United States and its enduring influence in the world.
Geographic features can hinder or empower a country in pursuing its imperatives. Cutting from the top of Minnesota to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the Mississippi River is central to the United States and its enduring influence in the world.
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

At its heart, geopolitics is a study of relative advantages. Geographic features can hinder or empower a country in pursuing its imperatives such that, as Halford MacKinder put it, there is "no such thing as equality of opportunity for the nations." Nevertheless, geography is not deterministic; advances in technology can even the playing field or turn the tides for even the most geographically disadvantaged nation. Infrastructure offers a prime example of this phenomenon. Throughout history, infrastructure has been central to a nation's cohesion and economic growth, connecting countries to themselves and to one another. In fact, despite their many bitter differences, the two major-party candidates for the U.S. presidency found a semblance of common ground in the need to update the country's aging infrastructure. But though the need for interconnection has been a constant, it has manifested in different ways over time. As the global economy changes with the advent of...

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