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America's Strategy in World Politics: Nicholas Spykman

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  1. Theoretical Framework
  2. The United States in decline?
  3. Challenging traditional stances
  4. Structural challenge: overcoming the hegemony
  5. The situation in China
  6. Tracks of thought
    1. Conflict
    2. Collapse of China
    3. Comparative Advantage

Nicholas Spykman (1893-1943) was an American journalist and academic who taught international relations at the Yale University. He is regarded with Alfred Mahan as the father of the American geopolitical school. His thinking is based on concepts developed by Halford Mackinder, although, as it will be seen, it detaches singularly. Spykman's personality is also marked by the times in which he lived: he lived in the period of two great wars and displayed to be a penchant pacifist in his work, evidenced by the title of his book 'The Geography of the Peace'. The text presented here is from the same book: The Geography of the Peace, published in 1942, and from the book 'America's Strategy in World Politics'.

Spkyman's approach in this extract is to present initially and then to criticize the model proposed by Mackinder, based on the existence of a 'world-island' or heartland,representing the Supreme geostrategic stakes (the notion of the 'pivot of the world'). The main thesis advanced is that by Spykman's 'rimland' (peripheral region of the heartland) which prevails over the heartland as a geostrategic issue, and this is where it separates from the thought of Mackinder. His theory of rimland is considered as the origin of the doctrine of containment of the United States during the Cold War. This document will study in the first part the model and terminology established by Mackinder, and it will see why Spykman gave too much importance to the heartland. Then it will show in the second part, that to Spykman, it was more appropriate to base his model on the rimland.

Tags: Nicholas Spykman; America's strategy in world politics; author of ?The Geography of the Peace?

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