Month: January 2016

The Logic of American Geopolitics

The Dutch born geopolitical thinker and founder of the Institute for International Affairs at Yale, Nicholas J. Spykman, offers a clear description of American geopolitical imperatives.

If the United States had stayed out of the Second World War and allowed events to play out on their own – and if, as some thinkers speculate, Germany had ended up conquering Europe, and Japan had consolidated huge swathes of East Asia into its “Greater East Asian Coprosperity Sphere” then at a geopolitical level the United States,

“would then be surrounded by two gigantic empires controlling huge war potentials….the balance of power across the ocean [would be] destroyed, and the relative power potential of the two great land masses would then turn the geographic embrace of the Western Hemisphere by the Old World into political strangulation.”

The logic of American geopolitics is dictated by the necessity of maintaining a favourable “balance of power in the transatlantic and transpacific zones”. In other words, the United States needs to make sure that the great states of Europe and Asia do not grow unchecked, but are influenced by American diplomacy and security initiatives designed to prevent them from ever seeing the United States as a primary enemy.

Europe and Asia are two main regions of the globe with the power potential to challenge American power, or at least pose a potential threat to its security. Both regions rival or outclass the U.S. in population, and both have economy’s that are larger, both have a history of great power ambitions, and both regions have enormous armament industries. Luckily for the United States, these are politically disunited states – they lack the efficient accumulation of power found in large federations and end up directing their political grievances towards each other at the expense of their potential for global power projection.

While Europe – the region which was powerful enough to create the United States in the first place – is placated via its integration into NATO, it is now the trans-Pacific zone that is experiencing enormous economic growth with a corresponding naval build-up. Asia (in the process of weakening America through deindustrialisation) presents itself as the new challenge to world order.

Spykman wrote that a favorable balance “is an absolute prerequisite for the independence of the New World and the preservation of the power position of the United States.”


Above image:Map of the Rimland by Nicholas Spykman

Header image: Crew of M24 along Naktong River front Korean war 17 Aug 1950