Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction/Chapter 4

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IV

THE LANDSMAN'S POINT OF VIEW
Four centuries ago the whole outlook of mankind was changed in a single generation by the voyages of the great pioneers, Columbus, Da Gama, and Magellan. The idea of the unity of the ocean, beforehand merely inferred from the likeness of the tides in the Atlantic and Indian waters, suddenly became a part of the mental equipment of practical men. A similar revolution is in progress in the present generation in the rapid realisation of the unity of the Continent owing to modern methods of communication by land and air. The Islanders have been slow to understand what is happening. Britain went into the War for the defence of her neighbours, Belgium and France, seeing vaguely perhaps that she was herself threatened through their danger, but almost unanimous in her decision only because of a moral tie, her bond in regard to Belgium. America was shocked by the Lusitania tragedy, and was ultimately brought in because of the general infringement of the rights of neutrals by the German submarines. Neither of the Anglo-Saxon nations at first clearly saw the strategical meaning of the War. Theirs was an external view of the Continent, like that of the seamen who named the Guinea, Malabar, Coromandel, and Murman

Fig. 14.—Showing the great part of Asia and Europe whose rivers flow either to the icy north, or into salt lakes without exit to the ocean; also how Africa faces Europe and Asia for 4000 miles. (Equal areas projection.)
Fig. 14.—Showing the great part of Asia and Europe whose rivers flow either to the icy north, or into salt lakes without exit to the ocean; also how Africa faces Europe and Asia for 4000 miles. (Equal areas projection.)

'Coasts.' Neither in London nor in New York were International Politics commonly discussed in the way in which they are discussed in the cafés of Continental Europe. In order, therefore, to appreciate the Continental view we must remove our standpoint from without to within the great ring of the 'Coasts.'

Let us begin by 'brigading' our data, for only so shall we be able to reason conveniently about the realities which the Continent presents for strategical thought. When you are thinking of large things you must think on broad lines; the colonel of a battalion thinks in companies, but the general of a division in brigades. For the purpose of forming our brigades, however, it will be necessary at the outset to go into some degree of geographical detail.

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The northern edge of Asia is the Inaccessible Coast, beset with ice except for a narrow water lane which opens here and there along the shore in the brief summer owing to the melting of the local ice formed in the winter between the grounded floes and the land. It so happens that three of the largest rivers in the world, the Lena, Yenisei, and Obi, stream northward through Siberia to this coast, and are therefore detached for practical purposes from the general system of the ocean and river navigations.[1] South of Siberia are other regions at least as large, drained into salt lakes having no outlet to the ocean; such are the basins of the Volga and Ural Rivers flowing to the Caspian Sea, and of the Oxus and Jaxartes to the Sea of Aral. Geographers usually describe these inward basins as 'Continental.' Taken together, the regions of Arctic and Continental drainage measure nearly a half of Asia and a quarter of Europe, and form a great continuous patch in the north and centre of the continent. That whole patch, extending right across from the icy, flat shore of Siberia to the torrid, steep coasts of Baluchistan and Persia, has been inaccessible to navigation from the ocean. The opening of it by railways—for it was practically roadless beforehand—and by aeroplane routes in the near future, constitutes a revolution in the relations of men to the larger geographical realities of the world. Let us call this great region the Heartland of the Continent.

The north, centre, and west of the Heartland are a plain, rising only a few hundred feet at most above sea level. In that greatest lowland on the Globe are included Western Siberia, Turkestan, and the Volga basin of Europe, for the Ural Mountains, though a long range, are not of important

Fig. 15.—The Great Lowland, which is seen to extend westward into Europe, beyond the limits of the Heartland. The boundary of the Heartland in the East is here shown as including the lofty plateau courses of the Pacific and Indian rivers.
Fig. 15.—The Great Lowland, which is seen to extend westward into Europe, beyond the limits of the Heartland. The boundary of the Heartland in the East is here shown as including the lofty plateau courses of the Pacific and Indian rivers.

height, and terminate some three hundred miles north of the Caspian, leaving a broad gateway from Siberia into Europe. Let us speak of this vast plain as the Great Lowland.

Southward the Great Lowland ends along the foot of a tableland, whose average elevation is about half a mile, with mountain ridges rising to a mile and a half. This tableland bears upon its broad back the three countries of Persia, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan; for convenience we may describe the whole of it as the Iranian Upland. The Heartland, in the sense of the region of Arctic and Continental drainage, includes most of the Great Lowland and most of the Iranian Upland; it extends therefore to the long, high, curving brink of the Persian Mountains, beyond which is the depression occupied by the Euphrates Valley and the Persian Gulf.

Now let us travel in imagination to the west of Africa. There, between the latitudes of the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, is a Desert Coast: it was the character of that coast, it will be remembered, which so long baffled the effort of the mediæval sailors to make the southward voyage round Africa. With a breadth of a thousand miles the Sahara spreads thence across the north of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Valley of the Nile. The Sahara is not everywhere an utter desert; there are many oases—trenched valleys with wells to the water percolating underground in their bottoms, or hilly tracts against which at times the clouds gather—but these are minute and scattered exceptions upon a barren and riverless area nearly as large as all Europe. The Sahara is the most unbroken natural boundary in the world; throughout History it has been a barrier between the White and the Black men.

Between the Sahara and the Heartland there is a broad gap which is occupied by Arabia. The two brinks of the Nile Valley are known as Libyan to the West and Arabian to the East; and away beyond the Lower Euphrates, at the foot of the Persian Mountains, is the district known as Arabistan or the country of the Arabs. In complete harmony, therefore, with local usage, Arabia may be regarded as spreading for 800 miles from the Nile to beyond the Euphrates. From the foot of the Taurus Mountains, north of Aleppo, to the Gulf of Aden, it measures no less than 1800 miles. As to one-half, Arabia is desert, and as to the other half mainly dry steppes; although it lies in the same latitudes as the Sahara, it is more productive and carries a more considerable population of

Fig. 16.—The World-Island divided into six natural regions. (Equal areas projection.).

Fig. 16.—The World-Island, divided into six natural regions. (Equal areas projection.)

wandering Bedouin. Moreover, it has larger oases, and therefore larger cities. What, however, most distinguishes Arabia both from the Heartland and the Sahara is the fact that it is traversed by three great water-ways in connection with the ocean—the Nile, the Red Sea, and the Euphrates and Persian Gulf. None of these three ways, however, affords naturally a complete passage across the arid belt. The Nile was navigable from the Mediterranean only to the first cataract, midway across the desert, though locks have now been constructed at Assouan which give access as far as the second cataract; and the navigation of the Euphrates ascends only to a point a hundred miles from the Mediterranean. To-day it is true that the Suez Canal unites the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, but it was not only the isthmus which formerly impeded through traffic by this route; persistent north winds of the trade wind current blow down the northern end of the Red Sea, which is beset with rocks, and sailing ships do not willingly attempt the northward voyage to the Canal, which would therefore have been relatively useless but for steam navigation. The former Red Sea route to the Mediterranean was from Kosseir on the west coast over the desert to the Nile at Keneh, and then down the Nile; that was the way followed by the British Army when sent from India to Egypt more than a hundred years ago, at the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and Palestine.

It follows from the foregoing description that the Heartland, Arabia, and the Sahara together constitute a broad, curving belt inaccessible to seafaring people, except by the three Arabian water-ways. This belt extends completely across the great continent from the Arctic to the Atlantic shores. In Arabia it touches the Indian Ocean, and, as a consequence, divides the remainder of the Continent into three separate regions whose rivers flow to the ice-free ocean. These regions are the Pacific and Indian slopes of Asia; the peninsulas and islands of Europe and the Mediterranean; and the great promontory of Africa south of the Sahara. The last-named differs from the other two regions in a very important respect. Its larger rivers, the Niger, Zambesi, and Congo, and also its smaller rivers, such as the Orange and Limpopo, flow across the tableland of the interior, and fall steeply over its edge to relatively short seaward reaches in the narrow coastal lowlands. The long upland courses of these rivers are navigable for several thousand miles, but are for practical purposes as completely detached from the ocean as the rivers of Siberia. The same, of course, is true of the Nile above the cataracts. We may, therefore, regard the interior of Africa south of the Sahara as a second Heartland. Let us speak of it as the Southern Heartland, in contradistinction to the Northern Heartland of Asia and Europe.

Notwithstanding their very different latitudes the two Heartlands present other striking similarities. A great belt of forest, mainly of the evergreen type of the pines and firs, spreads from North Germany and the Baltic shore right across to Manchuria, connecting by a forest-ribbon, as it were, the forests of Europe with those of the Pacific Coast. South of this forest zone the Heartland lies open, with trees only along the river banks and upon the mountains. This vast, open ground is a luscious prairie along the southern border of the forest, and brilliant with bulb-flowers in the spring-time, but southward, as the aridity increases, the grass becomes coarser and more sparse. The whole grassland, rich and poor, is conveniently spoken of as the Steppes, although that name properly belongs only to the less fertile southern tracts which surround the desert patches of Turkestan and Mongolia. The Steppes were probably the original habitat of the horse, and in their southern parts of the two-humped camel (Fig. 18).
Fig. 17.—The Southern Heartland. =River falls. ← Lines of Arab invasion.

The Southern Heartland also has its wide open grasslands, which in the Sudan gradually increase in fertility from the edge of the Sahara towards the tropical forests of the Guinea Coast and the Congo. The forests do not spread completely across to the Indian Ocean, but leave a belt of grassy upland which connects the grasslands of the Sudan with those of South Africa, and this immense, open ground, thus continuous from the Sudan to the Cape Veldt, is the home of the antelopes, zebras, and other large, hoofed game, which correspond to the wild horses and wild asses of the Northern Heartland. Though the zebra has not been successfully domesticated, and the South African natives had no usual beast of burden, yet the horse and the one-humped camel of Arabia were early introduced into the Sudan. In both Heartlands, therefore, although to a greater extent in the Northern than in the Southern, mobility by the aid of animals has been available to replace the riverwise and coastwise mobility of the ships of the Atlantic and Pacific coastlands.

The Northern Heartland adjoins Arabia, as we have seen, for many hundred miles where the Iranian Upland drops to the Euphrates Valley; the Southern Heartland, at its northeastern corner in Abyssinia and Somaliland, grasps, though with an interval of sea, the southern fertile angle of Arabia, known as Yemen. So the Steppes of Arabia, enframing its deserts, serve as a passage-land between the Northern and Southern Heartlands; and there is also the way by the banks of the Nile through Nubia. Thus it will be realised that the Northern Heartland, Arabia, and the Southern Heartland afford a broad, grassy way for horsemen and camel-men from Siberia through Persia, Arabia, and Egypt into the Sudan, and that but for the tsetse-fly and other plagues men would probably have penetrated on horseback and camel-back southward almost to the Cape of Good Hope.

Outside Arabia, the Sahara, and the two Heartlands, there remain in the World-Island only two comparatively small regions, but those two regions are the most important on the Globe. Around the Mediterranean, and in the European peninsulas and islands, there dwell four hundred million people, and in the southern and eastern coastlands of Asia, or, to use the historic expression, in the Indies, there dwell eight hundred million people. In these two regions, therefore, are three-quarters of the people of the world. From our present point of view the most pertinent way of stating this great fact is to say that four-fifths of the population of the Great Continent, the World-Island, live in two regions which together measure only one-fifth of its area.

Fig. 18.—The Steppes. ////// Grasslands.

Fig. 18.—The Steppes. ////// Grasslands.

These two regions resemble one another in certain other very important respects. In the first place, their rivers are for the most part navigable continuously from the ocean.

In the Indies we have this series of large rivers descending to the open sea; Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawady, Salwen, Menam, Mekong, Songho, Sikiang, Yangtse, Hoangho, Peiho, Liauho, Amur. Most of them are navigable from their mouths for some hundreds of miles; a British battleship once steamed up the Yangtse to Hankow, five hundred miles from the sea. There is not much space for such large rivers in peninsular Europe, but the Danube, Rhine, and Elbe carry a great traffic in direct connection with the ocean. Mannheim, three hundred miles up the Rhine, was one of the principal ports of Europe before the War; barges a hundred yards long and of a thousand tons burden lay beside its wharves. For the rest, the peninsulation of Europe, which limits the development of rivers, itself offers even greater facilities for mobility by water.

The similarity of these two 'Coastlands' is not limited to the navigability of their rivers. If we clear away from the more arid zone on the rainfall map of the World-Island the patches indicative of merely local rains, due to mountain groups, we perceive at once the pre-eminence of the coastlands in fertility, owing to their widespread rainfall on the plains as well as in the mountains. The Monsoon winds of the summer carry the moisture of the ocean from the south-west on to India and from the south-east on to China; the west winds from the Atlantic bring rain at all seasons upon Europe, and in the winter time upon the Mediterranean. Both coastlands are therefore rich with tillage, and for that reason nourish their great populations. Thus Europe and the Indies are the regions of the ploughmen and shipmen; whereas the Northern Heartland, Arabia, and the Southern Heartland have for the most part been unploughed, and are inaccessible to sea-going ships. On the other hand, they are naturally adapted to the mobility of horsemen and camel-men, with their herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. Even on the savannahs of Tropical Africa, where horses and camels are absent, the wealth of the natives is chiefly of cattle and sheep. These are of course broad generalisations, with many local exceptions; they are none the less truly and sufficiently descriptive of immense geographical realities.[2]

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Let us now call History to our aid, for no practical idea, no idea which moves men to action, can be grasped statically; we must come to it with a momentum of thought either from our own experience or from the history of the race. The oases of the East

Fig. 19.—Northern Arabia.

Fig. 19.—Northern Arabia.

count in poetry as the Gardens of the World, only because they are approached over the desert!

Recorded History begins in the great oases round the north of Arabia. The first International Politics of which we have definite knowledge were concerned with the course between two States which had grown up on the alluvial flats of the Lower Euphrates and Lower Nile; the maintenance of dykes to keep out the water, and of canals to distribute water, inevitably gives an impulse to social order and discipline. There was a

Fig. 20.—The mobile conquerors of the ploughed lands.

Fig. 20.—The mobile conquerors of the ploughed lands.

certain difference in the two civilisations which may well have been the basis of interchange between them. In Egypt the rocky sides of the relatively narrow valley offered stone for building, and the papyrus reed afforded a material for writing; whereas building was of brick in the broad plain of Babylonia, and clay tablets bore the cuneiform inscriptions. The road between the two countries ran westward from the Euphrates across the Syrian angle of_the Arabian Desert, past the wells of Palmyra, to Damascus, which was built in the oasis formed by the streams Abana and Pharpar descending from Anti-Lebanon and Hermon. From Damascus there were alternative ways into Egypt; the lower by the coast, and the upper along the edge of the desert plateau east of the Jordan Valley. Aloof, on the rocky ridge of Judea, between these upper and lower ways, was the hill fortress of Jerusalem.

In a monkish map, contemporary with the Crusades, which still hangs in Hereford Cathedral, Jerusalem is marked as at the geometrical centre, the navel, of the world, and on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem they will show you to this day the precise spot which is the centre. If our study of the geographical realities, as we now know them in their completeness, is leading us to right conclusions, the mediæval ecclesiastics were not far wrong. If the World-Island be inevitably the principal seat of humanity on this Globe, and if Arabia, as the passage-land from Europe to the Indies and from the Northern to the Southern Heartland, be central in the World-Island, then the hill citadel of Jerusalem has a strategical position with reference to world-realities not differing essentially from its ideal position in the perspective of the Middle Ages, or its strategical position between ancient Babylon and Egypt. As the War has shown, the Suez Canal carries the rich traffic between the Indies and Europe to within striking distance of an army based on Palestine, and already
Fig. 21—A mediæval Wheel-map.
the trunk railway is being built through the coastal plain by Jaffa, which will connect the Southern with the Northern Heartland. Who owns Damascus, moreover, will have flank access to the alternative route between the oceans down the Euphrates Valley. It cannot be wholly a coincidence that in the self-same region should be the starting point of History and the crossing point of the most vital of modern highways.

In the dawn of History we find the children of Shem, the Semites, conquering the cultivated margins of the Arabian deserts; there is no small similarity between the ring of their settlements round the sea of sand, and the settlements of the Greeks round the Ægean Sea. The invasion of the Promised Land from beyond the Jordan by the Beni-Israel, the Children of Israel, was probably but one of many like descents of the Bedouin. The Chaldees, from whose city of Ur on the desert border Abraham migrated along the beaten track into Palestine, were Semites who supplanted the non-Semitic Accadians in the land which became Babylonia; and the Dynasty of the Shepherd Kings in Egypt was also apparently of Semitic origin. So it came about that all the peoples of Arabia—Arabs, Babylonians, Assyrians, Syrians, Phœnicians, and Hebrews—spoke dialects of the same Semitic family of speech. To-day Arabic is the universal tongue from the Taurus to the Gulf of Aden, and from the Persian Mountains to the oases in the Sahara west of the Nile.

The Arabian tableland drops steeply to the sea shores around in all directions save one; north-eastward it shelves gradually down to the depression occupied by the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf. That depression is 1800 miles long, from the gorge by which the Euphrates issues from its source valley in the Armenian Plateau to the Strait of Ormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf; throughout its length it is overlooked by the range of the Persian Mountains, the high Iranian brink of the Heartland. One of the great events of Classical History was when the Persian Highlanders came down on to the Euphrates plain under their King Cyrus, and, after conquering Babylon, passed on by the Syrian road through Damascus to the conquest of Egypt.

The gorge by which the Euphrates escapes from the Armenian upland is more than 800 miles in a direct line from the river mouth and only a little more than 100 miles from the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea near Aleppo. Immediately west of this gorge the High Upland of Armenia, some one and a half miles in average elevation, drops to the much lower peninsular tableland of Asia Minor. A second great event in Classical History was when the Macedonians, under King Alexander, having crossed the Dardanelles and traversed the open centre of Asia Minor, descended by the Taurus passes into Cilicia, and struck through Syria into Egypt, and then from Egypt back through Syria to the Euphrates, and down the Euphrates to Babylon. It is true that Alexander thus led his Macedonians overland into Arabia, but their attack was really based on sea-power, as is evident from the rapid rise which ensued of the great Greek-speaking ports of Alexandria and Antioch, the coastal capitals, that is to say, of seamen going inland.

If these facts be considered with a geographical eye, a belt of fertility will be seen extending north-westward up the Euphrates, then curving to southward along the rain-gathering mountains of Syria, and ending westward in Egypt. It is a populous belt, for it is inhabited by the settled ploughmen. Except for two intervals of sterility, the trunk road of antiquity ran through its corn-fields from Babylon to Memphis. The key to some of the greater events of Ancient History is to be found in the subjection of the peoples of this agricultural strip now to this and now to that neighbouring race of superior mobility. From the south, with all the depth of Arabia behind them, the Camel-men advanced north-eastward against Mesopotamia, north-westward against Syria, and westward against Egypt; from the north-east, with all the vast depth of the Heartland behind them, the Horsemen came down from the Iranian upland into Mesopotamia; and from the north-west, whether across the peninsula of Asia Minor or directly to the Levantine shore, came the Shipmen against Syria and Egypt, having behind them all the water-ways of Europe.[3]

In Asia the Romans did but take over the western portion of the Macedonian conquests. As the Rhine and Danube, defended by the Legions, marked the extent of Roman penetration northward from the Mediterranean, so the Upper Euphrates, where it flows from north to south before bending south-eastward, marked the limit, defended by other Legions, of their eastward penetration from the Mediterranean. The Roman Empire was, in fact, in the large sense, a local Empire; it belonged wholly to the Atlantic Coastland. The further provinces which had been under the Macedonian sway fell in Roman times to the Parthians, successors of the Persians, who in their turn descended from Iran upon Mesopotamia.

Once more came the opportunity of the camel-men. Inspired by the preaching of Mohammed, the Arabs of the central oasis of Nejd, and of its western extension in the Hedjaz of Mecca and Medina, sent forth the Saracen armies, who drove the Parthians from Mesopotamia, and the Romans from Syria and Egypt, and established a chain of inland Capitals—Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad—in the ancient trackway of fertility. From this fertile base the Saracen power was carried into all the regions around in such manner as to make a bid for a truly World-Empire. North-eastward the Mohammedans ascended from Baghdad into Iran by the same passway which had guided the Parthians and Persians downward, and they spread even into Northern India. Southward they crossed from the Yemen headland of Arabia to the African coast south of the Sahara, and penetrated on their camels and horses through the whole breadth of the Sudan. Thus, like a vast eagle, their Empire of Land-power spread its wings from the Arabian Centreland, on the one hand over the Northern Heartland, far into the depths of Asia, and on the other hand over the Southern Heartland equally far into the depths of Africa.

But the Saracens were not content with a dominion based only on the means of mobility proper to their steppes and deserts; like their predecessors, the Phœnicians and Shebans, they took to the sea. Westward they travelled along the north coast of Africa, both on sea and land, until they came to two countries, Barbary and Spain, whose broad tablelands, neither utterly sterile like the Sahara, nor yet forested like most of the European Peninsula, repeated in some degree the conditions of their own homeland. On the other hand, eastward from Yemen, at the mouth of the Red Sea, and from Oman, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, they sailed on the summer Monsoon to the Malabar coast of India, and even to the far Malay Islands, and returned home on the winter Monsoon. Thus the Arab dhows sketched out a Sea-Empire, extending from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Straits of Malacca, from the Atlantic gate to the Pacific gate.

This vast Saracen design of a northward and southward Dominion of Camel-men crossed by a westward and eastward Dominion of Shipmen was vitiated by one fatal defect; it lacked in its Arabian base the necessary manpower to make it good. But no student of the realities about which must turn the strategical thought of any government aspiring to world-power can afford to lose sight of the warning thus given by History.

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The Saracen Empire was overthrown, not from Europe or the Indies, but from the Heartland in the north—a significant fact. Arabia is sea-girt or desert-girt in every other direction but towards the Heartland. The western sea-power of the Arabs was no doubt countered from Venice and Genoa, and their eastern sea-power was subdued by the Portuguese after they had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, but the downfall of the Saracens in Arabia itself was due to Turkish land-power. We must give some further consideration to the characteristics of the great Northern Heartland, and in the first place to those of the long Grassy Zone which, south of the Forest Zone, extends across its whole breadth, overlapping westward and eastward some distance into the adjoining parts of the two Coastlands.

The steppes begin in the centre of Europe, where the Hungarian Plain is completely surrounded by a ring of forested mountains, the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians.[4] To-day fields of wheat and maize have in large part replaced the native grass, but a hundred years ago, before the railways had brought markets within reach, the sea-like levels of Hungary east of the Danube were a prairie land, and the wealth of the Hungarians was almost exclusively in horses and cattle. Beyond the forested barrier of the Carpathians begin the steppes of the main belt, spreading eastward, with the shore of the Black Sea to the south and the edge of the Russian Forest to the north. The forest edge crosses the Russian Plain sinuously, but in a generally oblique direction, from the northern end of the Carpathians in the fiftieth parallel of latitude to the foot of the Ural Range in the fifty-sixth parallel. Moscow stands a short way within the forest, where are the broad clearings which constituted all of inhabited Russia until the recent colonisation of the steppe southward. As far as the Volga and the Don the wheat-fields have now in large measure replaced the steppe grass, but until a hundred years ago the Cossack outposts of Russia were still based on the Dnieper and Don Rivers, the trees along whose banks alone broke the vast levels of waving grass or of snow.

The forests which clothe the end of the Ural Mountains form a promontory southward into the open steppes, but the grass is continuous through the gateway of plain which leads from Europe into Asia between the Ural Range and the northern end of the Caspian Sea. Beyond this gateway the steppes expand again to even greater breadth than in Europe. To the north of them are still the forests, but to the south are now the deserts and sub-arid steppes of Turkestan. The Transiberian railway traverses the Grassy Zone from Chelyabinsk, the station at the eastern foot of the Ural Mountains where the lines from Petrograd and Moscow unite, to Irkutsk on the Angara River just below its exit from Lake Baikal. Wheat-fields are beginning in large measure to replace the grass along the line of the railway, but the thread of settled population is still a narrow one, and the Tartar and Khirghiz horsemen are still nomad over wide areas.

The edge of the forest bends southward along the boundary between Western and Eastern Siberia, for Eastern Siberia is filled with forested mountains and hills, which fall in elevation gradually from the Transbaikalian Plateau into the north-eastern promontory of Asia towards Behring Strait. The Grassy Zone bends south with the forest and continues eastward over the lower level of the Mongolian uplands. The slope upward from the Great Lowland into Mongolia is through the 'Dry Strait' of Zungaria, between the Tianshan Mountains on the south and Altai Mountains on the north. Beyond Zungaria the steppes, now at upland level, continue round the southern edge of the forested Altai and Transbaikalian Mountains, with the Gobi Desert to the south of them, until they reach the upper tributaries of the Amur River. There is a forest belt along the eastern, outward face of the Kingan Range, by which the Mongolian upland drops to the lowland of Manchuria, but there is a last detached grassland in Manchuria, to be compared with the similarly detached grassland of Hungary five thousand miles away at the west end of the steppe belt. Grassy Manchuria does not, however, extend through to the Pacific shore, for there a coast range of mountains, thickly forested, enframes the open country and deflects the eastward flowing Amur to a northward mouth.

Let us clear this long ribbon of steppes of its modern railways and corn-fields, and people it again in imagination with horse-riding Tartars, who are none other than Turks; it is said that the Turkish language of Constantinople can to this day be understood by the Arctic tribe at the mouth of the Lena River. For some recurrent reason—it may have been owing to spells of droughty years—these Tartar mobile hordes have from time to time in the course of history gathered their whole strength together and fallen like a devastating avalanche upon the settled agricultural peoples either of China or Europe. In the West we hear of them first as the Huns, who in the middle of the fifth century after Christ rode into Hungary under a great but terrible leader, Attila. From Hungary they raided in three directions—north-westward, westward, and south-westward. North-westward they caused so much commotion among the Germans, that those tribes nearest the sea, the Angles and Saxons, were in part driven over the water to a new home in the island of Britain. Westward they penetrated far into Gaul, but were defeated in the great battle of Chalons, where the Frank, the Goth, and the Roman Provincial, standing shoulder to shoulder against the common enemy from the East, began that fusion from which has sprung the modern French people. South-westward Attila advanced as far as Milan, destroying on the way the important Roman cities of Aquileia and Padua, whose inhabitants fled to the lagoons by the sea and there founded Venice. At Milan Attila was met by Bishop Leo of Rome, and, for whatever reason, went no farther, with the result that the Roman See won a great prestige. Thus can it be said with much truth that from the reaction of the Coastmen against this hammer blow from the Heartland, there arose the English and French nationalities, the sea-power of Venice, and the supreme mediæval institution of the Papacy. Who shall say what great and, let us hope, beneficent things may not grow out of the reaction which has been compelled by the hammer blow of our modern Huns?

Fig. 22.—Forest and Steppes in East Europe. (After a diagram in my paper on 'The Geographical Pivot of History' in the Geographical Journal for 1904.)
Fig. 22.—Forest and Steppes in East Europe. (After a diagram in my paper on 'The Geographical Pivot of History' in the Geographical Journal for 1904.)

The Hunnish raids ceased after a few years, for it is probable that the man-power behind them was not very considerable; the force of a blow may be due as much to its speed as to its weight. But some Hunnish remnants probably lingered in the grassy vacancy of the Hungarian Plain, to be absorbed by new tribes of horsemen advancing westward, the Avars, against whom Charlemagne made war, and presently the Magyars. In the year 1000 these Magyar Turks, who had done much ravaging in Germany during the previous century, were converted to Christianity from Rome, and became thenceforth some sort of a bulwark to Latin Christendom, so that no more Tartars were admitted into Hungary. But the economic life of the Magyars continued in the main to be that of the steppes until less than a hundred years ago.

When we reflect that through several centuries of the Dark Ages the Norse pagans in their ships were at piracy on the northern seas, and the Saracen and Moorish infidels in their ships at piracy on the Mediterranean, and that the horse-riding Turks from Asia raided thus into the very heart of the Christian Peninsula when it was clasped by hostile sea-power, we have some idea of the pounding, as between pestle and mortar, which went to the making of modern Europe. The pestle was land-power from the Heartland.


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If these historical events be followed on the map, the strategical fact of decisive meaning which emerges is that the continuous plains of the Great Lowland overlap from the Continental and Arctic drainage of the Heartland into the East of the European peninsula. There was no impediment to prevent the horsemen from riding westward into regions drained by such wholly European rivers as the Dnieper and Danube. In sharp contrast to this open passage from the Heartland into Europe is the system of mighty barriers which separate the Heartland along its eastern and south-eastern border from the Indies. The populous lands of China proper and India lie round the eastern and southern slopes of the most massive uplands on the Globe; the southern face of the Himalaya Range, curving for 1500 miles along the north of India, rises from levels at most only 1000 feet above the sea to peaks of 28,000 and 29,000 feet. But the Himalaya is only the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, which is as large as France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary put together, and of an average elevation of 15,000 feet, or the peak height of Mont Blanc in the Alps. As compared with such facts as these, the distinction between the lower uplands and the lowlands, between the Iranian Upland, let us say, and the Great Lowland, becomes altogether subordinate. Tibet, with its attendant Himalaya, Pamirs, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Tianshan—call them together the Tibetan Heights—has no parallel on Earth for combined height and area, or, in a single word, for massiveness. When the Sahara shall be crossed and recrossed daily by the traffic of civilisation, it is probable that Tibet, the 'roof of the world,' will still deflect round its flanks and widely separate the overland routes into China and India, thus giving a special significance to the North-west Frontiers of those two countries.

North of Tibet, a considerable part of which has a continental drainage, and is, therefore, included within the Heartland, spreads the Mongolian Upland, also largely of the Heartland. This Mongolian Upland is of a much lower elevation than Tibet, and is in fact comparable in point of level with the Iranian Upland. Two natural ways come over the arid surface of Mongolia to drop down into the fertile lowland of China; the one through the Province of Kansu, round the north-eastern corner of Tibet, to the great city of Sinan, of a million inhabitants; the other directly south-eastward from Lake Baikal to Pekin, which city also has about a million inhabitants. Sinan and Pekin, thus just within the Chinese Lowland, are capitals founded by conquerors from the Heartland.

Across the Iranian Upland into India there are also two natural ways, the one over the lofty but narrow spine of the Hindu Kush, down the Cabul VaUey, and over the terminal Kaibar Pass to the crossing of the Indus River at Attock; the other through Herat and Kandahar, round the ends of the Afghan ridges, and by the Bolan Gorge down to the Indus. Immediately east of the Indus River is the Indian Desert, extending from the ocean to within a short distance of the Himalaya, and the Bolan and Kaibar ways converge, therefore, through the ante-chamber of the Punjab to the inner entry of India, which is the passage left between the desert and the mountains. Here stands Delhi, at the head of the navigation of the Jumna-Ganges, and Delhi is a capital founded, like Sinan and Pekin in China, by conquerors from the Heartland. By these narrow and difficult ways both China and India have repeatedly been invaded from the Heartland, but the Empires thus founded have usually soon become detached from the rule of the Steppe-men. So was it, for instance, with the Moguls

Fig. 23.—The Tibetan Heights and the approaches to China and India from the Heartland.

Fig. 23.—The Tibetan Heights and the approaches to China and India from the Heartland.

of India, who were derived from the Mongols of the Interior.

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The conclusion to which this discussion leads is that the connection between the Heartland, and especially its more open western regions of Iran, Turkestan, and Siberia, is much more intimate with Europe and Arabia than it is with China and India, or yet with the Southern Heartland of Africa. The strong natural frontiers of the Sahara Desert and the Tibetan Heights have no equivalent where the Northern Heartland merges with Arabia and Europe. The close connection of these three regions is well typified by that geographical formula into which it was attempted to crystallise. just now certain essential aspects of Mesopotamian and Syrian history; the ploughmen of Mesopotamia and Syria have always been exposed to descents of the horsemen from the Heartland, of the camel-men from Arabia, and of the shipmen from Europe. None the less—and indeed just because of its more transitional character—the boundary between the Heartland on the one hand, and Arabia and Europe on the other, is worth following with some care.

The long range of the Persian Mountains bends westward round the upper end of Mesopotamia and becomes the Taurus Range,

Fig. 24.—The Heartland, with the addition of the basins of the Black and Baltic Seas, and of the uppermost (plateau) valleys of the Chinese and Indian rivers.
Fig. 24.—The Heartland, with the addition of the basins of the Black and Baltic Seas, and of the uppermost (plateau) valleys of the Chinese and Indian rivers.

which is the high southern brink of the peninsular upland of Asia Minor. The surface of Asia Minor is a patch of steppes, verging on desert in the centre, where salt lakes receive some of the streams from the Taurus; but the larger rivers flow northward to the Black Sea. Beyond the break made by the Ægean Sea, we have the great basin of the Danube, also draining into the Black Sea; the head-streams of the Danube tributaries rise almost within sight of the Adriatic, but high on those Illyrian Uplands whose steep outer brink forms the mountain wall above the beautiful Dalmatian coast. That wall we name the Dinaric Alps.

Thus the Taurus and the Dinaric Alps present steep fronts to the Mediterranean and Adriatic, but send long rivers down to the Black Sea. But for the Ægean Sea, breaking through the uplands towards the Black Sea, and but for the Dardanelles, whose current races southward with the water of all the Black Sea rivers, these high, outward fronts of the Taurus and Dinaric Alps would be a single curving range, the edge of a continuous bar of land dividing the inner Black Sea from the outer Mediterranean and Adriatic. Were it not for the Dardanelles that edge would form the border of the Heartland, and the Black Sea and all its rivers would be added to the 'Continental' systems of drainage. When the Dardanelles are closed by land-power to the sea-power of the

Fig. 25—Showing the boundary of the Heartland when Mediterranean sea-power enters the Black Sea + + + + +, and when land-power advances from the steppes to the Taurus and Dinaric Alps - - - - -.

Fig. 25—Showing the boundary of the Heartland when Mediterranean sea-power enters the Black Sea + + + + +, and when land-power advances from the steppes to the Taurus and Dinaric Alps - - - - -.

Mediterranean, as they have been in the Great War, that condition of things is in efEect realised so far as human movements are concerned.

The Roman Emperors put their Eastern capital at Constantinople, midway between the Danube and Euphrates frontiers, but Constantinople was to them more than the bridge-town from Eiurope into Asia. Rome, the Mediterranean Power, did not annex the northern shore of the Black Sea, and that sea, therefore, was itself a part of the frontier of the Empire. The steppes were left to the Scythians, as the Turks were then called, and at most a few trading stations were dotted by the seamen along the coast of the Crimea. Thus Constantinople was the point from which Mediterranean sea-power held the middle sea-frontier, as the land-power of the Legions held the western and eastern frontiers along the rivers. Under Rome, sea-power thus advanced into the Heartland, if that term be understood, in a large, a strategical sense, as including Asia Minor and the Balkan Peninsula.

Later history is no less transparent to the underlying facts of geography, but in the inverse direction. Some of the Turks from Central Asia turned aside from the way down into Arabia, and rode over the Median and Armenian uplands into the open steppe of Asia Minor, and there made their home, just as the Magyar Turks only a century or two earlier rode round the north of the Black Sea into the Hungarian Steppe. Under great leaders of cavalry of the Ottoman dynasty, these Turks crossed the Dardanelles, and, following the 'Corridor' of the Maritza and Morava valleys through the Balkan Mountains, achieved the conquest of Magyar Hungary itself. From the moment that the city of Constantinople fell into Turkish hands in 1453, the Black Sea was closed to the Venetian and Genoese seamen. Under Rome, the realm of the seamen had been advanced to the northern shore of the Black Sea; under the Ottoman Turks the Heartland, the realm of the horsemen, was advanced to the Dinaric Alps and the Taurus. This essential fact has been masked by the extension of Turkish dominion into Arabia outside the Heartland; but it is evident again to-day when Britain has reconquered Arabia for the Arabs. Within the Heartland, the Black Sea has of late been the path of strategical design eastward for our German enemy.

We defined the Heartland originally in accordance with river drainage; but does not history, as thus recounted, show that for the purposes of strategical thought it should be given a somewhat wider extension? Regarded from the point of view of human mobility, and of the different modes of mobility, it is evident that since land-power can to-day close the Black Sea, the whole basin of that sea must be regarded as of the Heartland. Only the Bavarian Danube, of very little value for navigation, may be treated as lying outside.

One more circumstance remains to be added, and we shall have before us the whole conception of the Heartland as it emerges from the facts of geography and history. The Baltic is a sea which can now be 'closed' by land-power. The fact that the German Fleet at Kiel was responsible for the mines and submarines which kept the Allied squadrons from entering the Baltic does not, of course, in any way vitiate the statement that the closing was by land-power; the Allied Armies in France were there by virtue of sea-power, and the German sea defences of the Baltic were there as a result of land-power. It is of prime importance in regard to any terms of peace which are to guarantee us against future war that we should recognise that under the conditions of to-day, as was admitted by responsible Ministers in the House of Commons, the Fleets of the Islanders could no more penetrate into the Baltic than they could into the Black Sea.

The Heartland, for the purposes of strategical thinking, includes the Baltic Sea, the navigable Middle and Lower Danube, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, Armenia, Persia, Tibet, and Mongolia. Within it, therefore, were Brandenburg-Prussia and Austria-Hungary, as well as Russia—a vast triple base of man-power, which was lacking to the horse-riders of history. The Heartland is the region to which, under modern conditions, sea-power can be refused access, though the western part of it lies without the region of Arctic and Continental drainage. There is one striking physical circumstance which knits it graphically together; the whole of it, even to the brink of the Persian Mountains overlooking torrid Mesopotamia, lies under snow in the winter time. The line indicative of an average freezing temperature for the whole month of January passes from the North Cape of Norway southward, just within the 'Guard' of islands along the Norwegian shore, past Denmark, across Mid-Germany to the Alps, and from the Alps eastward along the Balkan range. The Bay of Odessa and the Sea of Azof are frozen over annually, and also the greater part of the Baltic Sea. At mid-winter, as seen from the moon, a vast white shield would reveal the Heartland in its largest meaning.

When the Russian Cossacks first policed the steppes at the close of the Middle Ages, a great revolution was effected, for the Tartars, like the Arabs, had lacked the necessary man-power upon which to found a lasting Empire, but behind the Cossacks were the Russian ploughmen, who have to-day grown to be a people of a hundred millions on the fertile plains between the Black and Baltic Seas. During the nineteenth century, the Russian Czardom loomed large within the great Heartland, and seemed to threaten all the marginal lands of Asia and Europe. Towards the end of the century, however, the Germans of Prussia and Austria determined to subdue the Slavs and to exploit them for the occupation of the Heartland, through which run the land-ways into China, India, Arabia, and the African Heartland. The German military colonies of Kiauchau and East Africa were established as termini of the projected overland routes.

To-day armies have at their disposal not only the Trans-Continental Railway but also the Motor-Car. They have, too, the Aeroplane, which is of a boomerang nature, a weapon of land-power as against sea-power. Modern artillery, moreover, is very formidable against ships. In short, a great military power in possession of the Heartland and of Arabia could take easy possession of the cross-ways of the world at Suez. Sea-power would have found it very difficult to hold the Canal if a fleet of submarines had been based from the beginning of the war on the Black Sea. We have defeated the danger on this occasion, but the facts of geography remain, and offer ever-increasing strategical opportunities to land-power as against sea-power.

It is evident that the Heartland is as real a physical fact within the World-Island as is the World-Island itself within the Ocean, although its boundaries are not quite so clearly defined. Not until about a hundred years ago, however, was there available a base of man-power sufficient to begin to threaten the liberty of the world from within this citadel of the World-Island. No mere scraps of paper, even though they be the written constitution of a League of Nations, are under the conditions of to-day a sufficient guarantee that the Heartland will not again become the centre of a World- War. Now is the time, when the Nations are fluid, to {hws|con|consider}}

Fig. 26.—The World-Island united, as it soon will be by railways, and by aeroplane routes, the latter for the most part parallel with the main railways.

Fig. 26.—The World-Island united, as it soon will be by railways, and by aeroplane routes, the latter for the most part parallel with the main railways.

consider what guarantees, based on Geographical and Economic Realities, can be made available for the future security of Mankind. With this in view, it will be worth our while to see how the storm gathered in the Heartland on the present occasion.

  1. This is true up to the present time, though, with the aid of modern ice-breakers, the efforts which are being made, especially by Tyneside enterprise, to open a direct route to the mouths of the Obi and Yenisei may perhaps result in the establishment of a sea-borne summer traffic to Western Siberia.
  2. Realities, that is to say, that have conditioned History, and have thus led to the present distribution of population and civilisation. These same realities have to-day begun to take on new aspects, owing to the higher organisation of food production on the richer grasslands.
  3. See Fig. 20 on p. 113.
  4. See Fig. 18, on p. 108.