Bob Kaplan reasserts the importance of geography with regard to foreign policy:

The wisdom of geographical determinism endures across the chasm of a century because it recognizes that the most profound struggles of humanity are not about ideas but about control over territory, specifically the heartland and rimlands of Eurasia. Of course, ideas matter, and they span geography. And yet there is a certain geographic logic to where certain ideas take hold. Communist Eastern Europe, Mongolia, China, and North Korea were all contiguous to the great land power of the Soviet Union. Classic fascism was a predominantly European affair. And liberalism nurtured its deepest roots in the United States and Great Britain, essentially island nations and sea powers both. Such determinism is easy to hate but hard to dismiss.

I'm not sure how the U.S. is "essentially" an island nation, but the overall point is worth considering. I remember being struck by how many classic texts of political philosophy discuss climate and geography - and theology, for that matter. And yet we gloss over those parts. We shouldn't. The Greeks were wiser than many of us moderns. Montesquieu was no fool either.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to