• Geo-politics is the study of the influence ofgeographical factors on state behavior– How location, climate, natural resources,population, and physical terrain determine astate’s foreign policy options and its position inthe hierarchy of states (M.Griffith & T. O’Callaghan, InternationalRelations: The Key Concepts (Routledge, 2002:120)Geo-politics:Geographic Factor as the Context
Geopolitics as Possibilism• Geography does not have a distinctivesubject matter; it is a perspective on howcontext affects behavior.• Mode of thinking:– micro-phenomena within macro-context
Environmental Possibilism• Human (or decision makers) is capable of making choices,because:• “. . . the initiatives lie with man, not with the milieu whichencompasses him. Possibilism rejects the idea of controls, orinfluences, pressing man along a road set by Nature or anyother environing conditions. The milieu, in the possibilistdoctrine, does not compel or direct man to do anything. Themilieu is simply there . . . In the possibilist doctrine, the milieuis conceived as a set of opportunities and limitations.”– (Sprout & Sprout, 1965:83)
Sprout: Ecological Perspective• The triad:– An Entity– Its Environment– Entity-Environment Relationship• Argument:– Whether the focus is on a single decision-maker, asmall group of decision-makers, a foreign policyorganization, a government as a whole, or the state asan international actor,– we need to look at the on-going policy/choice processeswithin that entity, its context or environment, and thenthe interaction between the entity and the environment
Environmental Probabilism• Environment limits human opportunities; constrains thetypes of action that can be taken and the consequencesof that action.• Assumption: the limitations are discoverable.• Once these limitations are known → “environmentalprobabilism.”– As the decision-makers view their environment, thecharacteristics of that environment provide cues to theprobability of certain outcomes. The environment not onlypresents the entity with what is possible, but with whatchoices would be more or less likely under those particularcircumstances
Cognitive Behaviorism• The principle is– “that a person reacts to his milieu as he perceivesand interprets it in light of past experience” (Sprout,1969:45)• Thus, perception of the entity is veryimportant:– How humans see the environment is the centralmatter of importance in choice.– The “real” world has an impact only after choicesare made and an implementation attempt is sentout into that real world
Entity-Environment:Opportunity-Willingness Framework• Both opportunity (possibilism) and willingness(probabilism & cognitive behaviorism) arenecessary for understanding behavior:– The environment must be permissive and the acting unit mustchoose (according to some incentive structure or calculus)• The geographical & geopolitical components of theenvironment of any international actor are essential tounderstanding choice in foreign policy and internationalrelations.
The Structure ofOpportunities and Willingness• Geopolitical factors provides a structure of opportunitiesand constraints.• Geopolitical (geographical) structure is “enabling andconstraining”.• Structure is more than simply opportunity, or possibilism.• Opportunity consists both of– The possibility that exist in the international system (e.g.,technology, ideology, religion, social inventions such as newforms of government), AND– How these possibilities are distributed in the system (e.g.,distribution of resources, people or behavior)