GEOG 128
Geography of International Affairs

Pros and Cons of Modelski’s Model


Modelski’s model allows us to put contemporary geopolitics within a framework that understands it as a continuation of historical processes and trends rather than isolated or unrelated events. The Modelski model offers greater understanding of an event, its significance and implications as it relates to world politics / global geopolitics. It is a model where current events can be used as data points to be plugged in to the model to investigate whether or not they counter or support trends we would expect from the Modelski model.

Of course, there will be deviations, but, nonetheless, it is a good teaching tool and certainly useful for looking at global geopolitics over a longer period of time.

Nonetheless, we should be aware of the critiques of the model—many of which are similar critiques of Wallerstein’s world-systems analysis. The first critique is that of historical determinism. Observing cyclical patterns in the past does not allow us to predict that the demise of the US’s world leadership role is inevitable or determined. This is connected to the critique of structural determinism: the US is a geopolitical agent and thus has some degree of freedom to choose actions that may or may not lead to a “drift towards global war”. Of course, the US is constrained by various other global structures and state agents. Nonetheless, our path has not been predetermined on a track towards global war.

Another set of criticisms relate to some points I mentioned above. 1) The state is the unit of analysis—geopolitical agents are all state actors; 2) the focus is on rich, powerful countries and not inclusive of poorer countries in the “global south”. Furthermore, Modelski’s measure of power was predicated on the historical importance of sea-power. With the advent of remote weapons and surveillance systems (i.e., unmanned drones), we may reconsider how we evaluate Modelski’s power index.

Geopolitical Analysis Discussion 1B

Please visit the Lesson 7 Module in Canvas for a detailed description of the assignment, including due dates and submission instructions.