What is geopolitics ? Towards a definition of geopolitics.
Geopolitics is the study of the interactions between the different actors on a territory and trying to see how these actors participate in the shaping (formation) of this territory: the civil society, the state (through its policies), multi/transnational companies or supranational institutions suchas the United Nations. Geopolitics encompasses (comprend) a lot of different spheres - political, economical, demographic, military or even cultural – and applies to different geographical scales – regional, national, and international.
When talking about U.S geopolitics, one cannot but mention the notion of « hyperpower ». It is a fairly recent term that was first used by an Americanpolitical commentator, Peregrine Worsthorne, in 1991 and popularized by the French Foreign Minister between 1997 and 2002 in the late 90s, Hubert Védrine. It was felt at the time that a new expression was needed to describe the new position of the US, that of the sole superpower, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The United States seems today to dominate the rest of the world, establishing some kindof unbalanced world dynamics between a core / center and the other territories being merely peripheries.
1/ The Formation of the National Territory
A/ Colonial Territories
It must be remembered that before being a national territory, the area we are looking at was the place of clashes between different European powers and Indigenous people (Native Americans) who had been living therefor centuries. The different colonial powers considered the place as extensions of their own national spaces, territories where they could expand their influence: Europe was then the core; colonies were peripheries that worked for the benefits of the core. The present territory of the United States was mainly under the domination of the French and the British, but the Spanish and the Russianswere also present. (map). It turned out that the French mainly sought to expand their economical influence, establishing alliances with different Native American tribes to get their hands on fur trade for instance. The French colonization developed through forts and trading posts spreading across a vast territory (map) ; it was mainly an exploitation colonization. VS The British, on the other hand,established a settler colonization: started early on to populate lands they perceived as « virgin » since they were « misused » (explain) by Native Americans. These lands served as an outlet for groups of Protestants who fled persecution and appeared as an opportunity for thousands of people seeking a better life (indentured servants). The British quickly outnumbered the French in the 13 colonies:. late 17th C. : a few hundred thousand
. a century later : about 4 million
The French and Indian War (1756-1763) – Guerre des 7 ans- confirms the British domination (map).
B/ Independence: National Expansion can start
« Territory » and « land » played a great part in the growing tensions between the 13 colonies and the British Crown: the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (explain) was seen asan infringement of the settlers’ freedom. The colonies started to question their dependent status, in other words they refused to be a « periphery » anymore. When the United States gained their independence in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain lost all the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. The United States were a nation now: the national territorialconstruction could start. Whether through negotiations or wars, the westward expansion was on the move.
- Negotiations: Louisiana Purchase from France (1803), Florida from Spain (1819), Oregon: partition along the 49th parallel with Britain (1846), and Alaska from Russia (1867).
- Wars: New Mexico and California (war with Mexico) in 1848.
- Texas (secedes from...