Robert Kaplan has an article on Stratfor that talks about the primary motivation of nations in geopolitics, the expanding or protecting of their spheres of influence. It's a good article, unfortunately it is unavailable to those who do not subscribe, and the first paragraph perfectly summarizes why mass media get geopolitics so wrong.
The media is preoccupied with democracy, human rights and other values-driven elements that reflect the discourse of foreign policy among elites and that often have little to do with the actual motivations of governments behind closed doors. So what is really going on in the world, what really motivates governments? In fact, the globe is a venue for struggles over geographic spheres of influence to the same extent it has been in former ages. Once that reality is accepted, relatively little that happens in the world is surprising.It isn't that ideology doesn't matter in the realm of geopolitics, it does, but it is of secondary importance to the fundamental aims of a nation securing territory or influence that enables the territory to protect it's borders and get the resource it needs. When leaders allow ideological ends, rather than focusing on the primary interests of the nation, terrible consequences are usually had eventually.