The Revenge of Geography

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Robert D. Kaplan examines global upheavals, past and present, through the lens of geography and looks at what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world. In The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate  he traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other conflicts. Kaplan then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East.


Robert D. Kaplan

Comments [9]

Jim B

Empire is such a great thing.

Oct. 16 2012 02:00 PM
Victoria Roberts from New York city

What Mexico has turned into has a lot to do with the market for drugs that is the US and on the supply of arms that have gone into Mexico from the US. The US has been a terrible neighbor to Mexico.

Oct. 16 2012 01:50 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Actually, correction, this is rehash of a portion of Jared Diamond's thesis. Still, great segment.

Oct. 16 2012 01:47 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Poland, like modern Israel, is a country whose neighbors, GErmany and Russia, believed had no right to exist. But the Poles always knew who they were and where they homeland is,same as Jews regarding Israel.

Indeed Pilsudsky, the Great Hero of Polish independence after WWI, was a close friend of Polish Jewry and under him Polish Jews had a very brief flurry of freedom and fresh air in those 20 years before the country was again invaded by both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army.

Oct. 16 2012 01:42 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Great segment. Expanding on Jared Diamond's thesis.

Oct. 16 2012 01:38 PM
Richard from Brooklyn

This is a completely fascinating topic. Thank you. I'm delighted to hear Robert D Kaplan on the air, he's an excellent contributor, one who could bring this lens to more topics more often. This is an area that I think should be folded into more general content more often, not just sectioned off as special interest.

My Geography teacher in Scotland in the '80s used to say that "geography dictates history." This went from the more obvious (still evident in the terms we use) like battleFIELD (it was hard for armies to encounter each other anywhere else), to things like nuclear accidents have to happen near cities and large rivers or bodies of water because power stations have to be near a demand for power and a source of cold water, to more esoteric cultural observations about the types of terrain and the differing religions/philosophies/word views that produce them. Geography classes also covered things like orbits (we had to understand seasons), tropical diseases, the way wedding dress shops tend to be clustered but supermarkets are more evenly dispersed, human immigration and migration patterns, the effects of tenant farming vs landowner farming, glaciation, rain forests, deserts, cloud formations, and soil studies. It was an incredibly deep and wide subject, and almost never boring. Outside of the "3Rs", geography is the only high school subject I routinely, and consciously, use on a daily basis.

Now that I live in Brooklyn, I'm often amazed by the things that my, often smarter and better qualified, contemporaries here don't know because they didn't have a similar component to their educations. It makes me sad that I have friends with masters degrees who are unable to recognize a raised beach, hanging valley, truncated spur, or drumlin, or who don't understand how bilharzia or malaria work. I recently met a man with a PhD in the geography of money who was bemoaning the fact that so many American universities are junking (or have already dispensed with) their geography departments. According to him, there's only one ivy league school that still has one. My anxiety is that The Revenge of Geography will be upon a citizenry whose educators have turned their backs upon its importance.

Oct. 16 2012 01:36 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Internationalists, communists, and other leftists have always UNDERESTIMATED the power of tribalism, ethnicity and religion. But every tribe knows where its homeland is. For example, most Jews "know" that the Land of Israel is their ancient homeland. Every tribe and ethnicity seeks its "roots." But not leftists and "internationalists," and "cosmopolitans." They continuously and doggedly refuse to accept reality. They relentlessly want to turn the entire human species into one "melting pot," believing that if only we could rid our species of these regional, ethnic, and religious differences, that their Utopian World_To_Come would emerge. They remain, as always, befuddled and frustrated by reality.

Oct. 16 2012 01:27 PM
Laura from UWS

Please say something about:

Border Lands

and also:

New York City!
Thanks. I'm loving this segment.

Oct. 16 2012 01:12 PM
Laura from UWS

Is national character determined by geography?

Oct. 16 2012 01:11 PM

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