Bạn đang xem: Prisoners of geography: ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics by tim marshall
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.
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An understanding of how crucial the physical landscape was in reporting news in the Balkans stood me in good stead in the years that followed. For example, in 2001, a few weeks after 9/11, I saw a demonstration of how, even with today’s modern giải pháp công nghệ, climate still dictates the military possibilities of even the world’s most powerful armies. I was in northern Afghanischảy, having crossed the border river from Tajikistung on a raft, in order lớn links up with the Northern Alliance (NA) troops who were fighting the Taliban. The American fighter jets and bombers were already overhead, pounding Taliban and al-Qaeda positions on the cold, dusty plains và hills east of Mazar-e-Sharif in order khổng lồ pave the way for the advance on Kabul. After a few weeks it was obvious that the NA were gearing up to lớn move sầu south. And then the world changed color. The most intense sandstorm I have sầu ever experienced blew in, turning everything a mustard-yellow color. At the height of the storm you couldn’t see more than a few yards ahead of you, and the only thing clear was that the Americans’ satellite technology, at the cutting edge of science, was helpless, blind in the face of the climate of this wild land. Everyone, from President Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff khổng lồ the NA troops on the ground, just had to lớn wait. Then it rained và the s& that had settled on everything turned into mud. The rain came down so hard that the baked-mud huts we were living in looked as if they were melting. Again it was clear that the move sầu south was on hold until geography finished having its say. The rules of geography, which Hannibal, Sun Tzu, và Alexander the Great all knew, still apply to lớn today’s leaders. More recently, in 2012, I was given another lesson in geostrategy: As Syria descended inlớn full-blown civil war, I was standing on a Syrian hilltop overlooking a valley south of the thành phố of Hama & saw a hamlet burning in the distance. Syrian friends pointed out a much larger village about a mile away, from where they said the attaông xã had come. They then explained that if one side could push enough people from the other faction out of the valley, then the valley could be joined onkhổng lồ other lvà that led to the country’s only motorway, and as such would be useful in carving out a piece of contiguous, viable territory that one day could be used lớn create a mini-statelet if Syria could not be put bachồng together again. Where before I saw only a burning hamlet, I could now see its strategic importance & underst& how political realities are shaped by the most basic physical realities. Geopolitics affects every country, whether at war, as in the examples above sầu, or at peace. There will be instances in every region you can name. In these pages I cannot explore each one: Canada, Australia, and Indonesia, among others, get no more than a brief mention, although a whole book could be devoted to lớn Australia alone và the ways in which its geography has shaped its connections with other parts of the world, both physically and culturally. Instead I have focused on the powers and regions that best illustrate the key points of the book, covering the legacy of geopolitics from the past (nation-forming); the most pressing situations we face today (the troubles in Ukraine, the expanding influence of China); và looking khổng lồ the future (growing competition in the Arctic). In Russia we see the influence of the Arctic, & how it limits Russia’s ability to lớn be a truly global power. In Đài Loan Trung Quốc we see the limitations of power without a global navy and how in năm nhâm thìn it became obvious the speed at which Đài Loan Trung Quốc is seeking to lớn change this. The chapter on the United States illustrates how shrewd decisions khổng lồ exp& its territory in key regions allowed it lớn achieve sầu its modern destiny as a two-ocean superpower. Europe shows us the value of flatland & navigable rivers in connecting regions and producing a culture able to lớn kick-start the modern world, while Africa is a prime example of the effects of isolation. The chapter on the Middle East demonstrates why drawing lines on maps while disregarding the topography và, equally important, the geographical cultures in a given area is a recipe for trouble. We will continue to lớn witness that trouble this century. The same theme surfaces in the chapters on Africa and India/Pakistan. The colonial powers used ink to lớn draw lines that bore no relation lớn the physical realities of the region, and created some of the most artificial borders the world has seen. In the Middle East, an attempt is now being made lớn redraw them in blood. Very different from the examples of Kosovo or Syria are Japan and Korea, in that they are mostly ethnically homogenous. But they have sầu other problems: nhật bản is an island nation devoid of natural resources, while the division of the Koreas is a problem still waiting khổng lồ be solved. Meanwhile, Latin America is an anomaly. In its far south it is so cut off from the outside world that global trading is difficult, và its internal geography is a barrier khổng lồ creating a trading bloc as successful as the EU. Finally, we come to lớn one of the most uninhabitable places on earth—the Arctic. For most of history, humans have sầu ignored it, but in the twentieth century we found energy there, và twenty-first-century diplomacy will determine who owns—và sells—that resource. Seeing geography as a decisive factor in the course of human history can be construed as a bleak view of the world, which is why it is disliked in some intellectual circles. It suggests that nature is more powerful than man and that we can go only so far in determining our own fate. However, other factors clearly have sầu an influence on events, too. Any sensible person can see that giải pháp công nghệ is now bending the iron rules of geography. It has found ways over, under, or through some of the barriers. The Americans can now fly a plane all the way from Missouri lớn Mosul on a bombing mission without needing to land to refuel. That, along with their great aircraft carrier battle groups, means they no longer absolutely have sầu khổng lồ have sầu an ally or a colony in order to lớn extkết thúc their global reach around the world. Of course, if they bởi vì have sầu an air base on the islvà of Diego Garcia, or permanent access to the port in Bahrain, then they have more options; but it is less essential. So airpower has changed the rules, as, in a different way, has the Internet. But geography, và the history of how nations have established themselves within that geography, remains crucial to our understanding of the world today and khổng lồ our future. The conflict in Iraq & Syria is rooted in colonial powers ignoring the rules of geography, whereas the Chinese occupation of Tibet is rooted in obeying them. America’s global foreign policy is dictated by them, and even the power projection of the last superpower standing can only mitigate the rules that nature, or God, handed down. What are those rules? The place khổng lồ begin is in the land where power is hard to lớn defkết thúc, và so for centuries its leaders have sầu compensated by pushing outward. It is the land without mountains lớn its west: Russia.