Heartland and Rimland Theory are the theories in Geopolitics.
Heart land / Mackinder theory
It is the first theory in Geopolitics published in 1904-05.
It was in the 3rd Century BC that Herodotus remarked that all history should be studied Geographically and all geography be studied historically.
In the late 1800s, Alfred Mahan gave a Political Theory about the Rise and dominance of sea power.
Mackinder wrote his theory as a critique and alternative to Mahan's theory. Mackinder explained why land power is more important. Even if the 17th to 19 century has witnessed the strengthening of sea power the land Power Will ultimately prevail. He wrote his ideas in his book Geographical pivot of history.
Mackinder's theory was modified repeatedly in 1919 in his book democratic ideals of history and then again in 1943 very gave the concept of Midland basin where he acknowledged the rise of Anglo America and the USA in particular.
Mackinder considered that the most important part of the world was Eurasia and Africa which is also referred to as world Island. Because it accounts for around three fourth of world land and 7/8th of the world population and almost all the ancient civilizations of the world. He divided the world Island and the world into three tiers
- Inner tier
- Marginal Cresent /The second tier
- The outer Crescent /The third tier
Inner tier / Pivot Area
Inner Crescend / Marginal Cresent /The second tier
The outer Crescent /The third tier
According to Mackinder for some time the pivot area as a land area had lost its political predominance to the naval powers of the inner and Outer crescent. But he was predicting that the pivot area would again wrest control. But he did not see the possibility of czars reviving their political fortunes.
MacKinder was witnessing the German consolidation and Meiji Restoration in Japan. He was trying to alert the English that the pivot area after the fall of czars would be a political vacuum. Either Germany from the west or Japan from the east was capable of occupying the pivot area will emerge as Undisputed world power. In reality, it was neither Germany nor Japan. but Russia under revolutionaries and Communist-led by Lenin succeeded in overthrowing the czars and occupying the pivot area and have emerged as a dominant power since.
The 1919 modification in the 'Democratic ideals of reality.'
Expansion of pivot area - in this modification, Mackinder witnessed the inability of Germans then to expand Eastwards, and the British were held back and were not able to cross the Black Sea and the state of bosphorus. Mackinder, therefore, modified the pivot area boundary by expanding it south and Westwards to include Turkey Black Sea the Western Russian plains, and the Baltic Sea.
In the East, the land beyond the river Lena was considered inconsequential because of Highlands and mountains. This Lena land was discounted from the fortress boundary this redefined pivot area what's the heartland of Mackinder.
World War 1 - Mackinder was witness to the termination of World War 1 and the Treaty of Versailles. Mackinder was of the opinion that under the much-compromised treaty the Germans were actually not destroyed and he predicted the Germans would consolidate and again try to occupy the heartland from Eastern Europe.
World War 2 - Mackinder coined the phrase who rules Eastern Europe commands the heartland Who commands the heartland rules the world in the later years Germany did consolidate under Hitler ran on Poland and had threatened to attack and take over Russia following which the Russians aligned with Britain which resulted in World War 2
The 1943 modification and the concept of Midland basin
During the 1940s, after World War II, to the eventual defeat of Germany, and dismemberment - the division of Germany was what Mackinder was observing. Mackinder was witnessing the rise of Anglo-America under the US. He called North America the Midland basin. Mackinder considered the Midland basin as an extension of Western Europe and of Britain. North America according to him was integrated with Europe because of trans-Atlantic traits and common cultural and historical similarities. He predicted that Global geopolitics will no longer be the conflict between the Russian heartland and Britain as a part of marginal Cresent. But would be between the heartland and Midland basin (USSR vs the US)
USSR vs the US - this prediction was correct because starting from 1940 still disintegration of the USSR in 1990-91 the superpower rivalry and the cold war and the alignment of global power politics between us led NATO and Russia led Warsaw pact countries was the reality of global conflict. Even after USSR disintegrated the Russian have remained an important potent force and we may be witnessing the attempt at consolidation and resurgence of Russia in the Crimean annexation and the Russian role in the Syrian crisis
Mackinder was able to predict the fall of the Czar, the rise of Russia, the Rise and consolidation of Japan, and Germany that led to the two world wars. He also predicted the decline of Britain the rise of the US and the superpower rivalry and the infamous cold war for close to five decades.
Mackinder may have exaggerated the advantage of the heartland. It is not really a Fort particularly if we consider the air power and missile technology. It is highly naive that Mackinder ignored Air Force that played a vital role in World War 2. The heartlands isolation is rather exaggerated in Mackinder's predictions
Mackinder's concept of security and power dominance is more relevant in conventional warfare which is fought with army, Navy, soldiers, infantry, cavalry, and wherein nation-states are involved
The modern conflicts are not fought on conventional lines. Conflicts like terrorism, trade war, Cyber War, that threatens security are mostly nonstate players and supranational powers.
However, it will be incorrect to dismiss Mackinder's theory because of the resurgence and consolidation attempt by Russia in the annexation of Crimea and the conflicts of erstwhile superpowers. In the major global issues of today, Issues related to climate change freedom of internet oil and energy pricing and in conflicts like Gulf War Afghan war and Syrian War looks like Mackinder is being played out the major limitation of Mackinder would be he didn't foresee the rise of India and China as the economic power which even if they don't dominate the geopolitics of today there can be a potent force in future Alfred Mahan as a naval strategist can be considered more relevant in parts because he had predicted the rise of India and China seeing both countries having advantages of size resources and the long civilization
Rimland theory of Nikoli Spykman
Spykman was a professor at Yale University. He wrote a seminal paper that details the advantages of Marginal Cresend or the inner Crescent of Mackinder. The concept was consolidated in this book 'Geography of Peace' published in 1944 which was highly influenced by Alfred Mahan's 'Theory of Naval and sea power' and 'the geopolitical strategy' of George Simmel's who decided much of US foreign policies. Spykman was of the opinion that heartland is actually in a disadvantaged position because the power occupying heartland can be locked in the land and can be denied access to sea routes. He coined a phrase as an alternative to Mackinder's idea "Who controls the Rimland controls Eurasia; Who controls Eurasia controls the Destiny of the world".
The US under Harry Truman, J F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bush senior, and junior is known to have encouraged the presence and domination of the US in West Asia, South Asia, and South-East Asia. The Afghan War, Vietnam War, and the present Syrian crisis is a part of the US attempt to consolidate its presence in the rimland. The policy of Containment of communism is a part of keeping Russia locked in its heartland. The contemporary events and developments in the rise of India and China and initiatives like BIMSTEC, IOR, Asian Chinese policy of maritime Silk route, India's Sagarmala project justify that the rimland and the coastal security and economics are a deciding factor in the Global geopolitics of today. The South-China Sea conflicts, America's pivot to Asia, and the Trans-Pacific trade pact also in tune with Sykman's prediction.