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American Geography As A Political Reality

This article is more than 6 years old.

Big geopolitical thinker Robert Kaplan on rooting American policy in the reality of American geography.

In this file photo, the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains and a golden light illuminates the clouds late in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)
In this file photo, the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains and a golden light illuminates the clouds late in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Sometimes-controversial author Robert Kaplan has been writing for years about global geography and strategy. He’s waded into the Balkans, the Middle East, South Asia and more. Been read by presidents and generals. Now he’s turning his attention home, to the USA and America’s role in the world. In Donald Trump he sees “extreme isolationism.” It won’t last, he says. But it could crumble the world America has made. This hour in our 100-Day On Point Spotlight, Robert Kaplan on America and the world. — Tom Ashbrook


Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New America Security and senior advsior at the Eurasia Group. Author of the new book of "Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World," along with many others. Contributing editor for the Atlantic.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Geography Made America Great. Has Globalization Undone Its Influence? — "With only 180 uncrowded pages of text, this is a book that can be read on a coast-to-coast flight, but fully digesting it will take much longer. Every page brings a fresh insight, a telling aperçu, a bracing reality check. If you do read the book at 30,000 feet, it will make you yearn to be down below."

Real Clear World: America Is a Maritime Nation — "The United States, bordered by two oceans, is a maritime nation. Not only is its Navy the largest in the world by far, but its coast guard would qualify as the 12th largest fleet in the world. The U.S. Navy is America's foremost strategic instrument — much more so than its nuclear arsenal, which in all probability can never be used. The U.S. Navy is on the high seas around the world in peacetime as well as in wartime, guarding the sea lines of communication and the main maritime choke points. This, in turn, allows for a free global trading regime and guarantees access to hydrocarbons for America's allies."

National Interest: Donald Trump and the Foreign Policy Pendulum — "Looking at the bigger picture, the new administration must realize that the regimes in Moscow and Beijing, beset with economic and social problems, may not be as stable as they seem. Internal instability is, at root, the cause of their external aggression. The weaker these regimes become, the more dangerous they will be—at least in the short term. While the instinct of the new administration may be to act boldly (against China, that is), ironically, never before has restraint been so required."

Read An Excerpt Of "Earning The Rockies" By Robert Kaplan

See A Map Of Robert Kaplan's Cross-Country Journey


This program aired on January 26, 2017.


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