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Seriously Awesome Article Series, Continued

posted Sep 8, 2012, 2:33 PM by Anthony Severin
After a long sabbitical, the Seriously Awesome Article Series marches on. This time, we're back with a Wall Street Journal article from Robert Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor:

"Technology has collapsed distance, but it has hardly negated geography. Rather, it has increased the preciousness of disputed territory. As the Yale scholar Paul Bracken observes, the "finite size of the earth" is now itself a force for instability: The Eurasian land mass has become a string of overlapping missile ranges, with crowds in megacities inflamed by mass media about patches of ground in Palestine and Kashmir. Counterintuitive though it may seem, the way to grasp what is happening in this world of instantaneous news is to rediscover something basic: the spatial representation of humanity's divisions, possibilities and—most important—constraints. The map leads us to the right sorts of questions."

The field of international relations as a whole seems to have transitioned into a study of human nature and psychology. But Kaplan makes a compelling case that systemic factors (e.g. geography) have a significant (perhaps even a primary) effect on international actors.