How an obscure academic and a marginalized philosopher captured the minds of the Kremlin and helped forge the new Russian nationalism. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Foreign Policy: The Unlikely Origins of Russia’s Manifest Destiny
It would be extremely unpleasant for Sir Halford Mackinder, a bespectacled and slightly aloof Edwardian academic, to witness the use to which his life’s work has been put in post-communist Russia.
Best-known for a lecture entitled “The Geographical Pivot of History,” which he delivered to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, Mackinder argued that Russia, not Germany, was Britain’s main strategic opponent. This he illustrated with a colorful theory that came to be known as “geopolitics.” The timing of his prediction, prior to two world wars against Germany, subsequently did not do his theory any favors. However, Mackinder was finally vindicated in the last year of his life by the start of the Cold War, the epitome of his teachings. He saw the world arrayed in pretty much the shape he had foreseen in 1904: Britain and America, whose navies ruled the world’s oceans, against the Soviet Union, the world’s predominant land power, whose vast steppe and harsh winters had defeated Napoleon and Hitler — all but impregnable behind a land fortress, the “Heartland” of Eurasia.
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WNU Editor: The concept of empire holds little sway in today's Russia .... but the dream of all Russian communities being together in one large federation/country does. Hence the worries in places like the Baltics and Ukraine.