The British Premier, David Cameron's
remarks about perpetual conflicts in decades ahead, following the Algerian hostage crisis, echo an earlier Briton, Halford MacKinder (1861-1947), whose 1904 thematic map (see below) focused on pivotal world locations for eventual conflict.
MacKinder postulated a Pivot Area and Inner Marginal Crescent were the natural seats of global power, political and economic. He didn't mention religious.
According to this seminal geopolitical thinker, the Outer Insular Crescent includes the United Kingdom, the United States, the nations of South America, Australia, and 50 or so other nations. Over time these nations, he imagined, would become relatively inconsequential.
He postulated, however, important confrontations or (as he said) 'crude resorts to arms' (what we call 'terrorism') would largely be along the Inner Marginal Crescent and Pivotal Region.
While MacKinder's views are over 100 years old, in reference to Islamic terrorism and threats to Western Nations, only days ago, Cameron said, “This is a global threat and will require a global response" He went on to say, "It will require a response that is years, even decades, rather than months.”
That global threat
spans the Inner Marginal Crescent of MacKinder. This observer sees a nearly continuous span ranging north and south of latitude 30 from northern Africa crossing the Middle East then dipping toward the Equator in SE Asia. Cairo is at 30 degrees N.
Along those latitudes exists a geopolitical Ring of Fire that includes (as the map above illustrates) most nations with larger populations of Muslims, the vast majority going about life without wanting conflict.
From the consequences of 9/11, the Arab Spring, Algeria, Mali, the Israel/Palestinian conflict, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan . . . to bombings in Bali and island-to-island conflicts in the Philippines, the seemingly perpetual struggle spreads east and west and east again along the Ring of Fire.
William Hartley, now living in Australia, who reported from Iran during the embassy hostage-taking in 1979-81 and has covered much of the 'ring' from North Africa to SE Asia for the Wall Street Journal
had -- in an interview -- this to say about the Islamic Ring of Fire:
"While MacKinder didn't anticipate religious strife, rather giving all his attention to economics and political consequences, Mr Cameron is likely very wrong about the on-going conflicts requiring decades to resolve. More likely a century or more. Everywhere in the regions you refer to as along a 'ring-of-fire' the arguments among religious factions are endless. Each religion or faction has its own interpretation of what their very own God or Allah will bless. And most interpretations are equally uninformed. Difficult as it is for political leaders or military forces to compromise, it appears an impossibility for those driven by a faith."