Theoretical Explanation of the Foundations Forming Geopolitical Competition

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran

2 Porfessor of Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

4 PhD in political Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


In system level on the world scale almost three quarters of all the wars of the world occurred between the states and countries that had serious competition against each other. It is essential to consider the concept of competition in regional and global geopolitics due to its centrality for the interests among the states.  Therefore, as the formation of geopolitics was accompanied by power and competition, it seems necessary to analyze the dimensions of the competition and its configuration foundations. This present research seeks to explain theoretical fundamentals of the basic concept of the competition in geopolitics.  
This research with an interpretation-analytical approach is to explain theoretical foundations of the basic concept of competition in political geography and geopolitics. In other words, the objective of this study is to clear the conceptual factors effective on the formation of the geopolitical competition.  
The research hypothesis represents that although the competition among the states can take a variety of forms over time and in different geographical locations, some issues including territory problems, change in geopolitical structure, military preparations, and general treaties and strategies can provide proper conditions to form the competitions and stabilize the geopolitical rivalries.  
Results and discussion
Competitions among the countries take various forms during time and in different geographical regions. A competition may be very short that results in a few military events among the two rivals.  Some competitions may last during a generation that causes many repetitive rivalries and military contacts between the involving countries. The geopolitical competitions may have different perspectives. In one perspective, a competition is initiated between two or more states on the problems like territory issues. In response, the states promote their obligations and participate in military preparations. The states to show their decisiveness may take part in other disputes and competitions. They, finally, scheme a macro strategy to face the enemy or rival state. All the attempts are integrated in steps that may, finally, cause conflict between two or more powers or a vicarious conflict. 
On the other hand, a competition can itself generate a new rivalry forming competition relations among several spaces. In this case, the competitions that are in relation with other conflicts can create a conflict between one state and many other states. In other words, increase in space and competition relations can augment the possibility of conflict. This can indicate obligations of rivals or tendency of a country for conflict on each problem. Other foundation of the competition and its cycle is macro-strategy, because the macro strategy is appeared as a result of the signs of increasing competitions. Indeed, the macro-strategy is a scheme a state may devise to ensure its security in competition space. 
Another dimension of generation and development of the competition is usually resulted from changes in regional and global geopolitical structure. For example, after a war among great regional of global powers or defeat of a rival, some great geopolitical competitions may be ended, because a rival may not be able to compete in the new altered competition space. Accordingly, appearance of new powers provides new opportunities for competitions. In addition, a change in distribution of power can transform traditional treaties and make a rival state as an ally. As distribution and hierarchy of power formed the structure global geopolitics and generate short-term and long-term competitions, increase in power creates new geopolitical interests to ensure security and survival of a country. Therefore, the rival states make competition actions to preserve their security and ensure their approach for gaining their regional and global geopolitical interests. Thus, ensuring survival and achieving geopolitical goals through military preparations including maneuver, treaties, and macro-strategies for dominance over border and territory issues can give rise to short term and long term competitions. These competitions can also endanger survival of a country. However, since the powers cannot confine themselves in national borders to ensure their interests and achieve development, they enter trans-national space to seek their goals. This can lead to especial forms of geopolitical competition and conflicts. 
The voracious needs to provide goods, power, and geopolitical position make the states to seek competition actions. Different scales of competitions provide the governments with space resources, either objective or subjective. On the other hand, in geopolitical rivalry common material and subjective interests are replaced by conflict interests, because the common interests lead to cooperation, coalescence, and geopolitics of peace and the conflict interests lead to competition, dispute, and war. Therefore, it seems impossible for the states to be confined in national boundaries for achieving development, because all the national, regional, and global powers go beyond trans-boundary spaces to seek their goals. This can generate a new kind of geopolitical competition and conflict. 


Main Subjects

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Volume 50, Issue 1
April 2018
Pages 199-216
  • Receive Date: 04 November 2016
  • Revise Date: 11 June 2017
  • Accept Date: 12 June 2017
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2018