Category Archives: UNL / Scope & Methods

Redefining the Gap 4, First Geopolitical Theories

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Political Geography (geographie politique) was defined in 1751 (Kristof 1985:1178), but it’s modern study was invented by Friedrich Ratzel in his description of political geography (politische Geographie) in 1897 in terms of space and position (Kiss 1942:634). Rudolf Kjellen invented the term “geopolitics” (Agnew 1995:1; Tuathail 1994:259) shortly thereafter. Kjellen was primarily interested in how geography effects the power relations of states (Osterud 1998:191) – specifically, their land and people (Tunander 2005:548).


Alfred Mahan took a nautical view of geographical power. Essentially dividing the world in a global ocean and the lands it connects, he strongly pushed an ocean-centered view of history (Shulman 1998:407). He argued for a technologically and economically adaptive view of geopolitics (Israel 1978:371; Russell 1956:227) to account for a dynamic world. Mahan’s theories became extremely influential and were publicly praised by President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and others (Karsten 1971:589; LaFeber 1962:674).

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The “1904” line defines Mackinder’s “Pivot” (Parker 1998:104)

Mackinder reversed Mahan’s view, focusing on lands and in particular one land: the “pivot of history” (Dodds and Sidaway 2004). This area, comprising east-central Europe, central Asia, and Russia, was thought to have a potential resource and population base to dominate the world. The pivot was surrounded like an onion by an inner crescent of the warm-water Eurasian coast and the outer crescent of the rest of the world. A geopolitical model that was contemporary to world politics when it was original presented more than a century ago (Venier 2004:330), key elements of Mackinder’s philosophy were policy throughout much of the world into the 1970s (Mayell 2004:372). Even today, “Eurasianists” inspired by Mackinder are a powerful force inside Russia (G. Smith 1999:483), despite being officially discouraged under Communism (Guins 1964:342).

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Spykman’s “Rimland” in dashed lines (Parker 1998:125)

Spykman synthesized the views of Mahan and Mackinder. The focus was now on the “Rimland,” a renamed version of Mackinder’s “marginal crescent” (Fisher 1971:205). The Rimland hypothesis argued that a natural hegemon would form from the Rimland states (Britain, India, China, etc.). Thus, Spykman’s arguments implied that America had more in common with these states than her hemispheric neighbors to the South (Fox 1948:72). Spkyman’s theories carried an influential following well into the 1980s (Cohen 1991:552), if not beyond.


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 3, Introduction to Geopolitics

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Geopolitics helped make geography a science by focusing on the political (Unstead 1949:47) and human (Dawson 1987:28) dimensions of geography. Halford Mackinder, an influential geopolitician, described his goal as not “to predict a great future for this or that country, but to make a geographical formula into which you could fit any political balance.” (Hall 1955:109). Thus, geography is a “conditioning factor” in many parts of politics (Spkyman 1938:29). The internal (Williams 1927:142) and external (Enterline 1998:804) nature of states and how they go to war (Midlarsky 1995:224) are effected by their geopolitical position. Geopolitical analysis has survived changing constellations of great powers and technologies (Hooson 1962:20). Stable geopolitical concepts have emerged, even as academic debates on the specifics of geopolitics continue (Harkavy 2001:38).


Normative accusations have dogged geopolitics. Charges of imperialism abound (Semmel 1958:554, Kearns 1999:450), as do accusations of ethnocentricism (Gilbert and Parker 1969:229). The critics of geopolitics sometimes associate it with racism , eugenics (Tyner 1999), and even encouraging war (Griswold 1940:2).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 2, Summary

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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“The Pentagon’s New Map” is a proposed grand strategy for the United States. Originally developed for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the wake of September 11th, it is leading to changes in America’s military. It proposes the use of preemption as a normal tool of statecraft, and thus has implications for what wars we fight, what weapon systems we buy, and where we die.


The Pentagon’s New Map (PNM) also includes a geopolitics, a world divided into an “Old Functioning Core,” a “New Functioning Core,” and a “Non-Integrating Gap.” Different strategies are advocated for these different realms, extending to everything from economics to warfare. However, while quantitative support for this geopolitics is hinted at, Barnett never discusses whether or not the measures he uses actually correlated with his categorization. Nor does he compare the validity of his cartographic schema to other systems.

This study will rectify that.

The literature review on this paper is organized like a funnel, or a pyramid. First, a brief introduction to geopolitics in given. Then, the work of the field’s founders – Kjellen, Mahan, Mackinder, Ratzel, and Spkyman – is discussed. A modern school, the study of the Global North and Global South, is next presented. After that, a continuation of that school known as critical geopolitics is addressed. Last, a form of critical geopolitics – the “New Map” theory itself – is described and then tested.

Also including are a research design, a bibliography, and an appendix. Following the literature review a research design is presented, which described the proposes tests, the independent variables, and the dependent variables. The research design repeatedly references an appendix which contains the computer code that shall convert raw data into meaningful numbers. Another appendix will also be attached, listing the final values for all the states surveyed. The bibliography shall contain all works cited in this text.


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 1, Prologue

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

tdaxps_new_map_md

Attempts to find empirical proof for Barnett’s Core-Gap hypothesis have increases since I first attempted operationalizing the gap. Coming Anarchy has looked at Euro-Canadian troop deployments and FP‘s failed state index, ZenPundit ponders metrics, Curtis looks at ways to skin the Gap, and Sean Meade, Tom Barnett’s blogger-in-chief, is paying attention.

Now I am prepared to release my own results:

We are at War with Africa and Islam


Actually, that may have been a bit alarmist. This is a little less so:

We are at War for Africa and Islam

Using methods that will be discussed in future posts, I compared Tom Barnett’s Core-Gap dichotomy, and Old-Core-New-Core-Gap trichotomy, with other measures of ares both settled and frontier. Specifically, I looked at every state’s Brutality of Life, Isolation of Life, Nastiness of Life, Poverty of Life, Shortness of Life

The two best divisions were Barnett’s three-way Old Core-New Core-Gap division, and a simplistic definition of the Gap to include only African and Muslim nations. The Old-New-Gap view of the world meshed well with Poverty and Solitude. For everything else, Afro-Islam is a better definition of the “Gap.”

Intrigued? Stay tuned — or comment!


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Quality 4, Inlets, Lakes, and Streams

Quality, a tdaxp series.

quality
Photo Courtesy Despair.com

I haven’t been that pleased with my scopes & methods reaction papers — however, I thought this was was great. It builds on some posts from both tdaxp and ZenPundit, namely

I use my extra energy for blog writing, as I learn more here, I enjoy more here, and I interact with more people here. So it’s notable that there this turned-in paper is blog-worthy.

Enjoy! It’s good! (I promise)

The readings this week say that truth only exists when two people can talk about the same thing. It is therefore unfortunate that the authors have chosen such technical language to present themselves. Our class is full of smart, well-read students, but our professor had to warn us over the difficulty of the assignments.
Fortunately, a friend and I covered this same ground last year, in more understandable language. So in this week’s paper I will summarize the readings using the easier vocabulary I previously encountered.

The world is not just made of things — there are more to life than just entities. Just as a computer’s database is based on entities and relations — things and how they relate to each other — the world is composed both of “brute data” (Taylor) and relationships that give meaning to the data. Without relations, the world would be meaningless. All that would exist would be an infinite stream of facts with no semantics (“language,” in Taylor’s analogy) to guide the observer. We would exist in a sort of “conceptual anatopianism,” to misquote Farr. Happily, we do not live in that world.

Instead of the cold isolated entities, we are warmed by the friction caused the dynamic intersubjective relationship between ourselves and everything else. The heat from his friction warms our hearts, but acts just like physical friction. It can be so hot we melt, changing our nature (A good school is like this, because students leave different than when they entered. The friction of relations changed their relationship to things, ideas, places, etc.)

However, just as in a complex database there is not “one true semantic,” there is not just one true meaning in the real world. Fay gives the example of a killer, and observes how the meaning of the actions changes depending on the scope. Again the analogy of friction is a good one, because friction is caused by resistance.

Think of a swimmer in a small inlet. His hands and feat resist the watery body, changing his position (his relation with the entities of the water). The ripples from his strokes propagate through the inlet, leading to a certain meaning in that inlet (even if to the swimmer the heady surface is full of “contradiction and confusion” of overlapping ripples). But if we expand our view from beyond the inlet to the estuary the inlet is part of, the nature of the estuary is changed in a different way. And expand beyond that to the bay, to the gulf, to the sea, and to the ocean where that water flows, and the ripples (the alterations of the semantic meanings) work in different ways. The border between the inlet and the estuary represents “boundary conditions” (Farr), just as validly as the boundary between Medievalism and Modernism, or the Qing and the Republic [pun]. And just as a swimmer’s intent is only part of the story of his ripples, a killer’s intent is just part of the story of a murder/prevented assassination/protection of a regime.

Again, keeping in the analogy, imagine a scientist attempting to understand the nature of the inlet. He observes the moss, fishes, and swimmers, and the ecosystem they form. He devises causal laws (“If more moss, then less swimmers”) and correlative observations (“inlet-bed surface light and swimmers rise and fall together”). Proud of himself, he submits his work on ecological turns in inlets to the American Inlet Science Review…

… only to be told his work is not scientific, because it does not hold for all forms of dihydrogen-monoxide! Reviewers castigate him: “These ecological turns are not true for glaciers! Or steam! Or even culverts in Sikkim!” Unaware their demands would turn Inlet Science into something completely different, the editors of AISR reject the paper, robbing the world of insight, all because the concepts in the paper existed within the “framework” (Fay) of inlets. Such a rejection would prohibit the inlet scientist from “elucidat[ing] the meanings which inform specific [inlet] practices, and thereby reveal the structures of intelligibility which accounts for the behavior of [inlet flora and fauna].”

This is similar to the Farr’s discussion on the nature of revolution. By trying to avoid specific, meaningful scopes, and looking only at an ahistorical view of “revolution, some threaten to turn political science into something none of us would recognize. Even though he later confuses himself during a discussion of “temporally related entities,” Farr warns us not to put aside the practices of real science; for example, when even there laws are not ahistorical (the laws of physics were apparently quite different immediately after the Big Bang than now). Further, the attempt to de-contextualize and de-semanticize “revolution” is like trying to take the inlets out of Inlet Science. As Fay says, “an action is an action .. only in the context of a certain set of social rules” (my emphasis).

Just as inlet science studies the nature of specific types of bodies of water, political science studies the power relationships of certain frictional seas of men. Political science is not the study of “power” generally (if it was we would measure things in watts), nor is it the study of men generally (that’s psychology) nor of society generally (that’s sociology) — it is the study of power and men in a “semantic field” (to use Taylor’s words). It is the study of power in meaningful, semantic, rational, frictional contexts.

Bibliography

Brian Fay. 1975. Social Theory and Political Practice. London: Allen and Unwin. Ch. 4 (pp. 70-91).

Charles Taylor. 1979. “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man.” In Paul Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, eds., Interpretive Social Science. Berkeley: University of California Press (pp. 25-71).

James Farr. 1982. “Historical Concepts in Political Science: The Case of ‘Revolution,’” American Journal of Political Science 26: 688-708, http://www.jstor.org/view/00925853/di975157/97p0200p/0?currentResult=00925853%2bdi975157%2b97p0200p%2b0%2cFFFF3F&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FBasicResults%3Fhp%3D25%26si%3D1%26Query%3DHistorical%2BConcepts%2Bin%2BPolitical%2BScience%253A%2BThe%2BCase%2Bof.


Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts:
The First Part, Beauty
The Second Part, Friction
The Third Part, Seas
The Fourth Part, Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
The Fifth Part, The Magic Cloud

Truth Extends Beyond the Borderlands of Science

The Structure of Science,” by Earnest Nagel, 1961.

Conjectures and Refutations,” by Karl Popper, 1963.

Social Theory and Political Practice,” by Brian Fay, 1975.

The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory,” by Richard Bernstein, 1976.

This is my first “reaction paper” for Scopes & Methods. The first third of this class has focused on how to write a research design. The rest focuses on the epistemology of political science.

The debating topic this week is ‘Just look at all of the advances made by science and you’ll know that the only way to understand human behavior is to study it scientifically. We are limited to two double-spaced pages. I have been assigned to the contrary team.

Those interested in Karl Popper, by the way, may wish to check out the Popper-themed blog, Conjectures and Refutations.


The answer: “Wrong. Just wrong.”

The question: “What are plagiarism, vandalism, and the proposition, ‘Just look at all of the advances made by science and you’ll know that the only way to understand human behavior is to study it scientifically’”?

As the readings show, that statement is wrong on five counts. First, it assumes that inductive thought is valid by itself. Second, it assumes the ability to ascertain absolutely knowledge. Third, it simplistically uses the word ‘scientifically.’ Fourth, even allowing all this, the statement does not provide for normative context. Fifth, the statement’s nonsensical gibberish.

First, as Hume said of intuition “even after the observation of the frequent or constant conjunction of objects, we have no reason to draw any inference concerning any object beyond those of which we have had experience.” There are two ways out of this mess, both of which are proscribed by the statement. The first would be to presupposed that inference — “just [looking]” — is a valid method, but then we are just looking and assuming. Or we may, as Popper does, add in trial-and-error, but then we are looking, trying, and erring!

Second, it is doubtful one can truly “know”. For example, in his defense of social sciences, Nagel qualifies the reach of all science. He acknowledges that objectivity seems to be the same as “relational objectivity” because all objective science appears to rely on perspective. One may trade perspective for another one, but perspectiveleess scientific knowledge appears to be impossible.

Third, as Popper said of science, science and truth are not the same thing. While there is considerable overlap, there is also a lot of difference. What is false can still be scientifically useful, as as Popper says “false theories often serve well enough: most formulae used in engineering or navigation are known to be false, although that may be excellent approximations and easy to handle, and they are used with confidence by people who know them to be false.” Also, recall Nagel’s remarks on the methodological limits of science. He writes that even radical exponents of behaviorism, a scientific form of psychology, “do not deny the existence of conscious mental states; and their rejection of introspection, in favor of the study of overt behavior, was controlled primarily by a methodological concern to base psychology upon publicly observable data.” The truth of conscious mental states do not make them scientifically valid, but their scientific invalidity does not make them untrue. Likewise, Bernstein writes that “few social scientists are willing to suggest that the study of [non-scientific] political and social philosophy has no value whatsoever.”

Fourth, even if all previous criticisms are ignored, the statement remains wrong because it assumes that what we see is beneficial. As Fay writes, “science deprives men of the old faith by which they lived and thus helps destroy the old social order…” and later “the emergence of a core of policy scientists would also support the rise of an active and centralized government.” The issue is not the normative value of the mental health of old people and local governments, to name just these two issues. Rather, normative context requires something outside of “just looking,” and the statement does not provide for any such thing.

Fifth, the statement itself makes no sense. It is clear that the original statement is not scientific, because there it does not make a falsifiable prediction. It is as self-serving as Freudianism or Individual Psychology. However, the statement claimed that the only way to know was scientifically. Therefore, if the statement is true, it is worthless (because of there is only the scientific avenue to knowledge, unscientific statements aren’t reliable guides). But if the statement is false, it may be true (because then non-scientific statements may be valid after all).

When it comes to positivist science-only extremism, “just say no!”