Ismail Lagardien’s essay correctly points out the maritime dangers of the developing Middle East conflict (“Middle East conflict reaffirms that whoever rules the waves rules the world”, November 14). However, the Ukrainian conflict is the eruption of another geopolitical theory, one first expounded by Halford MacKinder in 1904.
In his view, “he who rules Eastern Europe, commands the heartland”, “who rules the heartland commands the world island”, and “who rules the world island rules the world”.
Some would argue that it is the move away from Lagardien’s “waves” to MacKinder’s heartland theory that is causing the current global angst. If the Ukrainian conflict is seen as a Nato and EU land-grab for Eastern Europe and a gateway to the “stans”, including controlling the flow of oil and gas from the Caspian basin, the Russo-Chinese rapprochement is an effective counter.
China’s Belt & Road initiative’s primary aim is to open fast and economic rail routes across the heartland to Western Europe and Africa, thus rendering sea routes secondary. If Suez and Hormuz are slammed shut, oil and gas will still flow eastward from Russia across the “heartland” to China.
It is the soon-to-be-secondary powers that still rely on sea transport. If MacKinder is correct, those of a liberal democratic bent who thought they had won and ended history may not enjoy such a wonderful future.
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