In an era of high technology and instant communication, the role of geography in the formation of strategy and politics in international relations can be undervalued. But the mountains of Afghanistan and the scorching sand storms of Iraq have provided stark reminders that geographical rea lities continue to have a profound impact on the success of military campaigns. Here, political scientist Jakub J. Grygiel brings to light the importance of incorporating geography into grand strategy. He argues that states can increase and maintain their position of power by pursuing a geostrategy that focuses on control of resources and lines of communication. Grygiel examines case studies of Venice, the Ottoman Empire, and China in the global fifteenth century-all great powers that faced a dramatic change in geopolitics when new routes and continents were discovered. The location of resources, the layout of trade networks, and the stability of state boundaries played a large role in the success or failure of these three powers.
Grygiel asserts that, though many other aspects of foreign policy have changed throughout history, strategic response to geographical features remains one of the most salient factors in establishing and maintaining power in the international arena.
Jakub J. Grygiel is an associate professor and the George H. W. Bush Chair of International Affairs at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
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