Product DetailsTim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign affairs with more than 30 years of reporting experience. He was diplomatic editor at Sky News, và before that was working for the Đài truyền hình BBC và LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from 40 countries và covered conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistung, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria & Israel. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestsellers Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need lớn Know About Global Politics and Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls; Worth Dying For: The Power nguồn and Politics of Flags; và Shadowplay: Behind the Lines & Under Fire. He is founder & editor of the current affairs site TheWhatandtheWhy.com.
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Prisoners of Geography Vladimir Putin says he is a religious man, a great supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church. If so, he may well go to lớn bed each night, say his prayers, và ask God: “Why didn’t you put some mountains in Ukraine?” If God had built mountains in Ukraine, then the great expanse of flatland that is the North European Plain would not be such encouraging territory from which to attaông chồng Russia repeatedly. As it is, Putin has no choice: he must at least attempt to lớn control the flatlands to the west. So it is with all nations, big or small. The landscape imprisons their leaders, giving them fewer choices và less room to maneuver than you might think. This was true of the Athenian Empire, the Persians, the Babylonians, and before; it was true of every leader seeking high ground from which to protect their tribe. The l& on which we live sầu has always shaped us. It has shaped the wars, the power, politics, & social development of the peoples that now inhabit nearly every part of the earth. Technology may seem lớn overcome the distances between us in both mental & physical space, but it is easy lớn forget that the l& where we live, work, & raise our children is hugely important & that the choices of those who lead the seven billion inhabitants of this planet will lớn some degree always be shaped by the rivers, mountains, deserts, lakes, & seas that constrain us all—as they always have. Overall there is no one geographical factor that is more important than any other. Mountains are no more important than deserts, nor rivers than jungles. In different parts of the planet different geographical features are among mỏi the dominant factors in determining what people can và cannot bởi vì. Broadly speaking, geopolitics looks at the ways in which international affairs can be understood through geographical factors: not just the physical landscape—the natural barriers of mountains or connections of river networks, for example—but also climate, demographics, cultural regions, & access lớn natural resources. Factors such as these can have sầu an important impact on many different aspects of our civilization, from political & military strategy to lớn human social development, including language, trade, và religion. The physical realities that underpin national and international politics are too often disregarded in both writing about history and in contemporary reporting of world affairs. Geography is clearly a fundamental part of the “why” as well as the “what.” Take, for example, China and India: two massive sầu countries with huge populations that share a very long border but are not politically or culturally aligned. It wouldn’t be surprising if these two giants had fought each other in several wars, but in fact, apart from one monthlong battle in 1962, they never have. Why? Because between them is the highest mountain range in the world, and it is practically impossible khổng lồ advance large military columns through or over the Himalayas. As technology becomes more sophisticated, of course, ways are emerging of overcoming this obstacle, but the physical barrier remains a deterrent, & so both countries focus their foreign policy on other regions, while keeping a wary eye on each other. Individual leaders, ideas, giải pháp công nghệ, & other factors all play a role in shaping events, but they are temporary. Each new generation will still face the physical obstructions created by the Hindu Kush và the Himalayas, the challenges created by the rainy season, and the disadvantages of limited access to lớn natural minerals or food sources. I first became interested in this subject when covering the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s. I watched cthua at hand as the leaders of various peoples, be they Serbian, Croat, or Bosniak, deliberately reminded their “tribes” of the ancient divisions &, yes, ancient suspicions in a region crowded with diversity. Once they had pulled the peoples apart, it didn’t take much lớn then push them against each other. The River Ibar in Kosovo is a prime example. Ottoman rule over Serbia was cemented by the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389, fought near where the Ibar flows through the thành phố of Mitrovica. Over the following centuries the Serb population began lớn withdraw behind the Ibar as Muslim Albanians gradually descended from the mountainous Malesija region inkhổng lồ Kosovo, where they became a majority by the mid-eighteenth century. Fast-forward khổng lồ the twentieth century & there was still a clear ethnic-religious division roughly marked by the river. Then in 1999, battered by NATO from the air và the Kosovo Liberation Army on the ground, the Yugoslav (Serbian) military retreated across the Ibar, quickly followed by most of the remaining Serb population. The river became the de faclớn border of what some countries now recognize as the independent state of Kosovo. Mitrovica was also where the advancing NATO ground forces came to lớn a halt. During the three-month war, there had been veiled threats that NATO intended lớn invade all of Serbia. In truth, the restraints of both geography và politics meant the NATO leaders never really had that option. Hungary had made it clear that it would not allow an invasion from its territory, as it feared reprisals against the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians in northern Serbia. The alternative sầu was an invasion from the south, which would have gotten them to the Ibar in double-quiông chồng time; but NATO would then have sầu faced the mountains above them. I was working with a team of Serbs in Belgrade at the time and asked what would happen if NATO came: “We will put our cameras down, Tim, and piông xã up guns” was the response. They were liberal Serbs, good friends of mine và opposed to lớn their government, but they still pulled out the maps & showed me where the Serbs would defover their territory in the mountains, và where NATO would grind khổng lồ a halternative text. It was some relief lớn be given a geography lesson in why NATO’s choices were more limited than the Brussels truyền bá machine made public.