I don't understand what "geopolitics" means and I am asking help about that. From googling, I found some definitions below:

Blackwill (2009) documents that

"Geopolitics in this context is understood to mean the art and practice of the application of power by nations in the international domain, a term originated by Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish political scientist at the beginning of the 20th century."

Kelly (2006) documents that

"Impact upon foreign and strategic policies of certain geographical features – location, position, resources, topography, and the like. It is called ‘geographical-impact-on- policy’"

Then I try to find out some practice examples to understand it more, I found one here:

They commented that:

"Geopolitical examples may include trade agreements, war treaties, border or territorial acknowledgements, climate agreements, and more. Two recent examples are NAFTA and the Kyoto protocol. The US restrictions on Iran and EU support of Greece, are both recent examples of geo-politics. The fates of nations are now closely bound together. It is impossible for China to ignore all of Africa or for France to ignore all of Asia or any other combination of countries and continents. All politics is some aspect of geopolitics, now."

It seems to me that geopolitics is the decision of a government that affects other countries around it, I am not sure if my understanding is correct.

Apart from that, from such a definition, can you please explain to me about these examples, why they are geopolitics because the US is not close to Iran in geography.

The US restrictions on Iran and EU support of Greece, are both recent examples of geopolitics

  • What is the question? I cannot find one. It might be easier if you would explicitly formulate one. Do you want to ask what how geopolitics is defined or have some more specific question? Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 7:54
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    @Trilarion , sorry if it is not clear. I have two questions actually (1) whether my definition is correct (2) can you explain the last example for me. Thanks Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 8:02
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    I find it odd that you've accepted an answer that is even less referenced than your question, in terms of terminology. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:59
  • @Fizz sorry I thought that you already agree with this idea, my confusion and misinterpretation Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


This seems to be one of those words which everybody uses and few define, but as I understand it geopolitics are politics with a global intention and impact.

  • Your Kelly quote is not about global politics, it is about politics driven by geography, and hence not necessarily about geopolitics.
    The Bosporus is a geographical feature with global impact, so talking about it is geopolitics.
    The Strait of Kerch has critical importance for Russia and Ukraine, but globally it matters because it is a flashpoint between Russia and Ukraine, not because of the geography.
  • The part of your last quote concerning Iran is a good example for global politics. The US is a North American country (except for a couple of islands). Iran is in the Middle East. Yet the US tries to influence events around Iran.
  • Think back to the Rwandan genocide in 1994. More deaths than in Ukraine in 2022, but the world community, as a whole, was not concerned enough to seriously try and stop it. In terms of geopolitics, Central Africa was not important enough.
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    The thing is that according to Wikipedia geopolitics "is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations." So 1st bullet is not wrong according to that def. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 11:46
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    @Fizz, Wikipedia is great for many purposes, but sometimes crowd wisdom isn't the best wisdom.
    – o.m.
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 14:57
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    Does it require global intention/influence or just international significance? Something like NAFTA, Black Sea access, US policy on Iran, etc, doesn't really have global impact if that means impact on the entire world. Would that not be geopolitics?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 18:47
  • Well, it does cite (inline) a couple of books for that def (e.g. An introduction to international relations. Devetak & Percy, (Third ed.). Cambridge, p. 816.) , but I haven't checked them to see what they actually say. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:06
  • It does look like the authors of that book really love this term, as it appears dozens of times in the book based on the Google Books search inside it. It's also defined in the glossary of terms in the end of the book: "Geopolitics – The study of the effects of geography (human and physical) on international politics. It is often closely related to the balance of power." I honestly cannot tell you if this the common way others use this term or not. I personally avoid it. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 19:14

Geography is not only about places on Earth. It is also about trade between people.

How geography and trade impact each other belongs to geopolitics, in particular all trade routes either natural like the Bosporus or Hormuz straits, or artificial like Erie Canal at local level or Panama Canal at global level.

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