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Geopolitics Role in International Relations Essay


Different geopolitical issues can be discussed as the most usual cause for developing a lot of military conflicts. In spite of the fact the period of determining the territories and boundaries of the world states can be considered as finished, the reality accentuates the question that there are many unsolved geopolitical issues. These issues are connected with the future of the territories which do not belong to any state formally or they are challenged by the claims of many states. From this point, every day the unsolved geopolitical problems can become the trigger for breaking the peace and starting a new military conflict (Klare 2003; Starr 2006). To achieve the definite goal while solving the geopolitical issue, the leaders of states can follow various strategies which can be analysed from the point of certain theoretical approaches to geopolitics.

If the question is directly associated with the problem of controlling new territories and determining boundaries, Karl Haushofer’s theory can be discussed as the most relevant theory for analysing aspects of the question. Although the territories of the Asian states are determined several decades ago, the problem of sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys in the South China Sea remains to be current and constantly developing, and it should be discussed in the context of Haushofer’s theory.

The goals of the states who continue to compete in determining their rights according to this or that territories can be different and they include such points as the economic benefits, the increase of the world status, the meeting of the territorial needs, and the control of definite trade routes (Huntington 1993). Karl Haushofer’s point of view on the nature of geopolitical issues is significant for the states in their attempts to justify the claims in relation to this or that territory. Karl Haushofer is the German theorist of geopolitics whose ideas are discussed as the classical approach to discussing the geopolitical issues. Haushofer oriented to geodeterminism with accentuating the fact that all the politicians’ actions in relation to the definite territories or natural objects can be explained and justified with references to the peculiarities of the geographical positions of these territories or objects (Flint 2006). According to Haushofer, the states are organisms, and all the conflicts between them can be discussed as the results of the natural processes (Flint 2006). The location of the definite mountains, seas, and natural resources determines the right of states on their possessing. From this point, the responsibility of the states’ leaders in their discussing geopolitical issues is based on certain geographic peculiarities of the countries. Moreover, Haushofer concentrated on the idea of pan-regions, defining the status and powerfulness of states and regions according to geographic locations and political situations (Dodds 2007).

The natural resources and strategically important trade routes are the main points for developing the controversial question of the control over the chains of islands in the South China Sea which are the Paracels and the Spratlys. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia are actively involved in the dispute which was started in the middle of the 20th century (Saleem 2000). The problem is still unsolved, and each year it acquires new details. The discussion of the question is realised not only in the form of disputes at the political arena but also with involving the military troops, and this fact contributes to complicating the situation considerably. China focuses on the right to control the territories with references to the features of the historic process and the location of the islands, and Vietnam’s arguments are also based on the peculiarities of the islands’ location.

The claims of the Philippines and Malaysia are not so significant that is why only China and Vietnam are actively involved in the opposition with using the military powers in order to state the sovereignty over the territories (Saleem 2000). These chains of small islands are interesting for the states because of the possibility to find the natural gas resources there. The attempts to regulate the controversy with the help of bilateral agreements are ineffective in the situation, and they usually end in provoking and developing new conflicts (Black 2009).

Thus, the peculiarities of the islands’ location do not allow any country’s leading in the dispute. China’s position and political intentions can be explained with the fact of growing its significance in the region during the recent years (Chapman 2011; Tuathaill 2006). Having increased its potential in the economic and military spheres, China intends to gain the dominant position in the region, and the control over the Paracels and the Spratlys in the South China Sea can be discussed as the opportunity to realise the definite strategic plans and contribute to the state’s development. According to Haushofer’s theory, the territorial intentions of the states should be determined with references to the specifics of their location to meet the principles of geodeterminism. Concentrating on the examination of the geographical map of the region, it is possible to conclude that the territories of the Paracels can be discussed as controversial both for Vietnam and China because of their location. However, the high position of China in the region can play the influential role in solving this geopolitical issue (Cohen 2008).

Thus, Haushofer’s theory can be successfully used for analysing the claims of China in relation to the Paracels because of the islands’ neighbouring position to the state, but it is rather difficult to explain the validity of China’s claims according to the Spratlys. The Spratlys are located near the territory of Vietnam, and following the ideas of Haushofer’s theory, it is possible to solve the conflict according to Vietnam’s interests. Nevertheless, the modern geopolitical issues reflect a lot of problems in the world current situation in relation to determining the spheres of the states’ impact. That is why, the dispute on the problem of the Paracels and the Spratlys cannot be solved with references to Karl Haushofer’s theory.

The principles of the modern geopolitics are based on definite approaches to their discussing. Karl Haushofer’s theory is usually considered as reflecting the ideas of the classical approach, and it can be used to explain a lot of geopolitical conflicts. This theory is also relevant for analysing the controversial question of the Paracels and the Spratlys in the South China Sea, but the proposed variants for the possible solution of the conflict cannot be discussed as addressing the interests of all the sides. That is why, the issue of controlling the territories of the Paracels and the Spratlys remains to be current and significant for determining the strategies in geopolitics of such states as China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Reference List

Black, J 2009, Geopolitics, Social Affairs Unit, USA.

Chapman, B 2011, Geopolitics: a guide to the issues, Praeger, USA.

Cohen, SB 2008, Geopolitics: the geography of international relations, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, USA.

Dodds, K 2007, Geopolitics: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Flint, C 2006, Introduction to geopolitics, Routledge, Oxford.

Huntington, SP 1993, ‘The clash of civilizations’, Foreign Affairs, vol. 72 no. 3, pp. 20-28.

Klare, M 2003, ‘The new geopolitics’, Monthly Review, vol. 55 no. 3, pp. 51-56.

Saleem, O 2000, ‘The Spratly Islands dispute: China defines the new millennium’, American University International Law Review, vol. 15 no. 3, pp. 527-582.

Starr, H 2006, ‘International borders: what they are, what they mean, and why we should care, SAIS Review, vol. XXVI no. 1, pp. 3-10.

Tuathaill, GO 2006, The geopolitics reader, Routledge, Oxford.

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