Rimland Theory

In 3rd century BC, Greek philosopher Herodotus said, ’All geography should be read historically and all history should be read geographically’.

Spykman published Rimland Theory in his book ‘The Geography of Peace’ in 1944, at the time when WW II was going on.

Spykman’s Rimland theory was an alternative to Mackinder’s Heartland theory because it reinterpreted the importance of Heartland vis-à-vis the inner crescent.

Reference book for this topic: Models in Geography by Majid Husain

While Mackinder considers the inner crescent as a temporary rise in power with the power eventually destined to shift towards Heartland because of strategic advantage of Heartland, Spykman is of the opinion that Heartland is actually a disadvantaged region because of lack of sea routes access.

Spykman suggested the fortress location of Heartland is actually it’s weakness and if inner crescent, which he called Rimland, consolidate itself, it can force the Heartland to be confined within it’s boundaries. Unified Rimland can be a menace for both Russia and USA.

So geopolitics is not simply a struggle between the land and the sea powers rather it includes the struggle & conflicts between members of Rimland who will compete against one another to assert their influence on the Rimland.

Related Article: Heartland Theory of Mackinder

He coined a counter slogan to that of Mackinder:
Who controls the Rimland, rules Eurasia.
Who rules Eurasia control the destinies of the world.

Spykman’s theory and the importance of Rimland countries became a key feature of America’s foreign policy under Harry Truman & J F Kennedy. Both tried containment of communism with the aim of locking Russia within it’s political boundaries and not allowing any single country of Rimland to fall to Soviet to avoid Domino’s effect. As a part of containment of communism policy, Russia and USA have fought covert wars in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea during the cold war.

The conflicts between the Rimland countries and rising importance of Rimland regions can also be seen in present day development such as Gulf war, Afghan war, rise of Indian Ocean rim countries, ASEAN. South Asia and S-E Asia are emerging as major political & power centers of the world.

The Rimland theory has been criticized on the ground of advancement of war technology and nuclear deterrent. It has also been criticized on the ground that Spykman underestimated the role of world community and UNO.

Moreover, at present, world is like a global village and the international law does not permit any territorial expansion. In fact, state is no longer a living organism in the sense of Ratzel’s Lebrensraum. It is time of economic imperialism and not that of political colonization.

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  Posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2018 at 1:31 PM under   Geography