Week 5: Geopolitics
In „Geopolitics and Discourse: Practical Geopolitical Reasoning in American Foreign Policy“ Tuathail and Agnew are discussing the influence of constructed pictures of places on international discourses and policies. They argue that Geopolitics can never been seen as completely seperated from social, political and ideological dimensions, but as a form of power as a discourse. These thoughts get explained on the basis of the cold war out of an U.S American perspective. During the cold war period a lot of pictures where constructed around the participants, namely the Unitet States, the USSR and also Europe. Responsible for this are usually intellectuals of core powers, especially if they are hegemonic powers, by people who are in power within the institutions of these states. From the very beginning the cold war was constructed as a struggle between a democratic, free and peaceful west and an awful, despotic, expansionist and aggresive east. Drawing this strong line has helped to create strong identities in the world which forced the most states to take clear sites in this conflict and which made it more difficult to rely on diplomatic approaches.
The United States have always been described as a „New World“ of freedom, free of the despotism and totalitarianism of the „Old world“. So the term America was not just used to describe a geographical place, but to transport an mythological idea that has an universal entitlement. Even the Declaration of Independence was not reduced to the United States, but included “the whole world“ and all „mankind“. After a long period of isolationism, The U.S.A. started to define themselve first as world power with pinciples and then as „the“ world power.
In despite to that, the USSR was defined as evil something on the other side of the border. To support this ideas, orientalistic terms and metaphers were used, describing russia as something completely different from the occident. Also sexual pictures were constructed talking about the USSR as a potential rapist, which wants to penetrate the innocent Europe, while the United States must function as a muskilin guard, that protects the vulnerable Europe. Metaphors of soviet communism as a „red flood“ were used aswell to suppport the idea of the necessity of containment.
The text tries to explain the influence of discourse on geopolitics. Doing that it stays very abstract, explaining just words, pictures and metaphors that were used to describe certain geographical places during the cold war period, but doesn´t explain at all the concrete impact these words had on the political world order. The actual impact of words and constructed pictures on humans behaviour and political actions is controversial. By explaining constructed pictures in a geopolitical context of t he cold war, it should be required to explain the impact the pictures may had aswell.