CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVEPOLITICAL CULTURE and the EVOLVING STATE
POLITICAL CULTURE and the EVOLVING STATEPolitical geography is the study of political activity in spatial context. All of us are affected bypolitical geography, from the composition of school boards to the conduct of war. Even a briefexamination of the world map provides valuable insights. For example, the inequality of countries interms of territory and relative location, where being landlocked creates disadvantages.
Political geographers study the spatial manifestations of political processes at variouslevels. Areas of study include how countries/governments are organized ….
….how they overcome (or fail to overcome) divisive forces,….
…. and how their boundaries function. Recent times have experienced dramatic politicalevents (can you name any?).
A 20TH CENTURY CASE STUDY OfGERMAN DIVISION & REUNIFICATION
Following Hitler’s defeat, the Allies divided Germany into four zones of occupation as apractical military move and to satisfy a strong desire to punish & humiliate the vanquished(France & USSR). The German capital, Berlin, was also divided into four zones.Disagreements over post-war German policy would represent the first battles of the ColdWar.
In selecting their zones of occupation, the French and the Soviets utilized geo-politicsfrom past and present.
In 1948, the U.S., Britain, and a wary France sought to re-unite a “reformed” Germany foreconomic and political reasons. Stalin refused to reunite because of a fear of a resurgentGermany. Confronting unending gridlock, the U.S., British and France proceed to unitetheir three zones, forming the future West Germany. The Soviets retaliate by sealingthe borders of their zone and establishing the future East Germany (GDR). Berlin is also divided along a geo- political east and west boundary. The divided Germany and Berlin would become the symbols of the geo- political events known as the Cold War.
With Germany now split, there remained theproblem of Berlin, lying deep within theSoviet zone.In an attempt to drive the three westernAllies out of Berlin, Stalin abruptly chokedoff all rail and highway access to Berlin.Electricity was also cut to the city. TheSoviets were evidently attempting to starve-out the Allies.At stake was the fate of the city and theCold War test of wills between Moscow &Washington.Washington responded with a gigantic airliftin the midst of hair-trigger tension. Fornearly a year Berlin was supplied by air.The Soviets, their bluff called, finally liftedthe blockade in May 1949. That same year,both rival German governments were formallyestablished.
How dangerous was the airlift for the pilots? And how did the American pilots win-over German children?
The Cold War in Europe soon crystallized with the formation of rival military alliances,NATO and the Warsaw Pact. A tense peace would ensue until the Cold War ends in 1990-91.
The once-unified Germany eventually evolved into a democratic and prosperous WestGermany/Berlin and a poor and authoritarian East Germany/Berlin. As the contrastsbetween the two new political entities became greater, East Berliners began flooding intoWest Berlin as a gateway to West Germany. Faced with this humiliating and economicallydraining flood of people out of East Berlin, the East German govt. constructed the BerlinWall in 1961. This wall would become the greatest symbol of the Cold War.
As the Cold War enters its fifth decade in 1985, a leadership change occurs in the SovietUnion that will turn out representing the beginning of the end of the dangerous geo-political rivalry. Mikhail Gorbachev, the new Soviet leader, implements twounprecedented programs, glasnost & perestroika, that hasten the collapse of communism,allow for German reunification, and culminate in the collapse of communism and the end ofthe Cold War in Europe.
The beginning of German reunification is markedby the dramatic tearing-down of the Berlin Wallin November, 1989. With Berlin reunited, itbecomes a question of “when,” not “if,” the twoGermanys will unify.
After nearly a year of negotiations, historic German reunification occurs in October,1990. This will set-off a dramatic series of political changes in Europe, including thedemise of a superpower.Political geographers continue to closely monitor the reunification process, which is morethan a decade old and has proven to be more time consuming and expensive than originallythought. The lessons learned in Germany may be valuable in the future if the Cold War-divided Korean peninsula ever unifies.
POLITICAL CULTUREFrom congressional district boundaries to international borders the maps we createreflect political culture. And political cultures vary. People adhere to political ideasjust as they profess a religion and speak a native language.
Today, many political systems aredesigned to keep religion and politicsseparate, but other states aretheocracies – describe this politicalphenomenon.
It is widely believed that the effort to control pieces of the Earth’s surface for political& social ends is a fundamental dynamic in human affairs and must be a key component ofgeographical research. Robert Sack used the term human territoriality to describe thiseffort. Robert Ardrey agrees with the concept of human territoriality, but disagreeswith Sack on application. Explain their differences. Territoriality attracts so much attention because it is key element of political culture. The rise of the modern nation state carries with it a distinctive view of territory as a fixed, exclusive element of political identification and group survival. As a result, few issues can agitate a people the way a perceived violation of territory can. The current contest over the Golan Heights is a good example – explain the dynamics for each combatant.
STATE & NATIONAs political geographers, distinguish between the commonly used terms, country,state, and nation. Provide an example for each.
Recently a new geo-political term, nation-building, has become a controversialinternational issue, with the U.S. at the center of the controversy. As the world’s lonesuperpower, the U.S. government increasingly uses a combination of economic, military,and political power to unify states that are not nations under an “umbrella of democracy.”The most recent example is U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Iraq.
International reaction to American nation-building has been generally negative, led by theaccusation that U.S. action is simply self-serving. Consider: Is nation-building culturalimperialism?
STATELESS NATIONSStill another complication is that some nations are stateless – explain how a nation canbe stateless. Presently, the two most prominent examples of this phenomenon are thePalestinians, who are locked in a deadly struggle with Israel to secure a state ….
…. and the Kurds, who are currently battling the governments of Turkey, Iraq, and Iranfor territory to create a state. The U.S. is caught in the middle of both territorialdisputes.
GEOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS of STATESA map reveals that states are not all alike. There may be a “European model” of thenation-state, but even in Europe states differ in as many ways as they are similar. Statesvary in territorial size & morphology, demography, organizational structures, resources,development power, etc. Some microstates do not even have 1000 sq. km or more than250,000 people.
TERRITORYThe territorial character of states has long interested geographers, who have focusedon matters of territorial size, shape, and relative location, together referred to as theirterritorial morphology. Different territorial characteristics can present opportunities and challenges, depending on the historical and political- economic context. Distance and shape are the two primary characteristics to consider. Identify the potential problem(s) associated with the different territorial morphologies.
EXCLAVES & ENCLAVESA particularly interesting type of territorial irregularity occurs where historical circumstances haveled to the existence of small outliers of territory that are separated from the state by the territoryof another state. Exclaves and enclaves are special cases that can create political problems.
LAND BOUNDARIESThe territories of individual states are separated by international boundaries. Aboundary is more than a line, far more than a fence or wall on the ground. Explain how apolitical boundary is established.
When boundaries wereestablished, the resources belowthe surface were much less well-known than they are today. As aresult, coal seams extend fromone country to another, oilreserves are split betweenstates, and gas reserves areshared as well.With the scarcity of valuableresources, these situations canspark both political and militaryconfrontations. Explain thepotential serious implications ofboundaries “above the ground.”Boundaries evolve through 3stages (definition; delimitation;demarcation). Describe each ofthese three stages.
TYPES of BOUNDARIESEven the most casual glance at the world’s boundary framework reveals that boundariesdiffer in morphological terms. Some countries are separated by geometric boundaries(explain) ….
… and some countries are separated by physical-political boundaries (explain) …. What could be a potential problem with using a physical feature to mark a political boundary?
… and still some boundaries are known as cultural-political boundaries (explain & providesome examples).
Currently, the Israeli government’scontroversial imposed barrier around theWest Bank (a cultural-political barrier)separating Palestinians from Israelexasperates the ongoing Israeli/Palestinianconflict.
ORIGIN-BASED CLASSIFICATIONAnother way to view boundaries has to do with their evolution or genesis. This geneticboundary classification was pioneered by Richard Hawthorne – he reasoned that certainboundaries were defined & delimited before the present-day human landscapedeveloped. Identify and describe the four types genetic-political boundaries.
FRONTIERS The term frontier is misused almost as often as nation. “Boundary” and “frontier” are used interchangeably, as though they were synonyms, but they are not. Describe the geographic meaning of a frontier. How often were they used in the past, versus the present?
FUNCTIONS of BOUNDARIES There was a time when states and empires built walls to fortify their borders, to keep out adversaries, and sometimes, to keep inhabitants from wandering too far from the seat of authority. China’s Great Wall is an excellent example of such intentions. The notion that boundaries could serve as fortifications endured through WWII. Technology would change this strategy.
In more recent times, the Berlin Wall was built to keep East Germans from crossing intothe Western enclave of West Berlin and seeking asylum from communist rule.
Today, boundaries mark the limits of state jurisdiction. They serve as symbols of statesovereignty. Governments often prominently display their national maps, whichcontributes to the building of a national consciousness, a sense of inclusion that fostersnationalism. Nationalism is a potent force.
INTERNAL BOUNDARIESFor administrative purposes, and sometimes to mark off cultural regions within the state,it is necessary to divide countries internally. Political geographers have identifiedanother kind of internal boundary, a kind rarely shown on a map. The “boundaries”marking cultural divisions within a country.
BOUNDARY DISPUTES Nations, like families and individuals can become very territorial when they feel that their space has been violated. These disputes range from legal disputes between suburban families to warfare between states over a boundary. In short, states often argue about their boundaries. These boundary disputes take four principal forms: Definitional Boundary Disputes; Locational Boundary Disputes; Operational Boundary Disputes; Allocational Boundary Disputes. Describe each of these.