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  A geopolitical concept first coined by the British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder in 1904, and later used in Cold War discourse to denote an area of Eurasia roughly synonymous with the boundaries of the Russian Empire/USSR. Mackinder suggested that the Columbian era of sea power, which had given Europe its pivotal role for the past four centuries, was coming to a close and was being eclipsed by the ascendancy of land-based powers and in particular with a new \'geopolitical pivot of history\', namely the \'heartland\' of \'Eurasia\' (Mackinder, 1904, pp. 430-1). For Mackinder, whichever state could gain control of this world island would be in an almost unstoppable position to dominate global affairs. The key control of the heartland, Mackinder later argued, lay in eastern Europe, reflecting powerful strains of pre- and post-Versailles geopolitical thinking concerning the need to separate the two land powers of Russia and Germany through the creation of a series of buffer states. Despite the environmental determinism inherent in much of Mackinder\'s geopolitical writings, the simplicity of the heartland concept was to play an influential part in western geopolitical thinking concerning the image of an expansionist USSR. The term also continues to be used by practitioners of classical geopolitics (e.g. Brezhinski, 1997), recast and applied to a post-Cold War Eurasia to describe the purported tensions concerning the struggle for hegemony over the post-Soviet heartland. (GES)

References and Suggested Reading Brezezinski, Z. 1997: The grand chessboard: American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives. New York: HarperCollins. Hauner, M. 1990: What is Asia to us? Russia Asian heartland yesterday and today. London: Unwin Hyman. Mackinder, H.J. 1904: The geographical pivot of history. Geographical Journal 23: 421-37. Mackinder, H.J. 1919: Democratic ideals and reality: a study of the politics of reconstruction. London: Constable.



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