GEOG 882
Geographic Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence

2.10 Twenty-First Century Geopolitics


The previous sections were historical or very conceptual and perhaps a little foreign to our experience. This section, however, is about what we are living today. The author's perspective is apparent and some of you may find his approach "biased" and offensive. But be calm as you read and pay close attention to the arguments presented. As you read Toal's Introduction to Part Three on "Twenty First Century Geopolitics" do some critical thinking and ask yourself:

  • What is the author's political orientation and how does this color his wording, use of examples, and the facts he includes or excludes? What other Twenty First Century geopolitical discourses that are influential might he also have included? (How about Osama bin Ladin's manifesto of Al Qaeda's vision?)
  • Samuel Huntington was a distinguished professor at Princeton and a world famous political scientist. Some of his work such as The Soldier and the State is considered classic and is still widely read (required reading in Army War College coursework). Besides neo-conservative beliefs (whether he has them or not), what world events might have motivated Huntington to develop his hypothesis? Is it as foolish and simplistic as Toal contends?
  • Toal is not a fan of George Bush and the Global War on Terrorism, and he notes that the discursive response to the September 11 attacks could have taken other forms than a declaration of war against terrorism. What are other possible discursive responses, and what might have been their effects?
  • In reference to the Invasion of Iraq, what role did intelligence and especially geospatial intelligence play in the justification for the war? Was the US intelligence community a victim or an accomplice on the road to war?
  • Toal's basic criticism of the cited geopolitical narratives is that they oversimplify complex geographical, political, cultural, social, and economic entities and relationships into simplistic blocks on a map. Why is this insight important to the intelligence professional? Is it important to the geospatial intelligence practitioner?

Required Reading

Read Toal's Introduction to Part Three on "Twenty First Century Geopolitics" in The Geopolitics Reader 2nd edition. (Pages 119-135)

Mini Quiz 2.5

After reading Toal's Introduction to Part Three on "Twenty First Century Geopolitics" you will need to take the "Twenty First Century Geopolitics" mini quiz before proceeding. Return to Lesson 02 in Canvas and click on the 2.5 "Twenty First Century Geopolitics" Mini Quiz link.


  • The mini quiz will not count toward your grade.
  • You must correctly answer all five questions on the mini quiz to gain access to the Lesson 2 Graded Quiz
  • You may take the mini quiz as many times as you would like.