Some interesting thoughts from Kaplan in the Atlantic 150th Year Anniversary edition

Eoin Purcell

Sea power in the modern era
Amongst a number of other great articles, the 150th Anniversary Edition has one thoughtful and exceptional one from Robert D. Kaplan. It deals with the imperative of the US have a function and effective navy. Given the excellent news that the Atlantic has opened its archive I can link directly to the piece:

“Regular wars” between major states could be as frequent in the 21st century as they were in the 20th. In his 2005 book, Another Bloody Century, the British scholar Colin Gray, a professor of international politics and strategic studies at the University of Reading, explains convincingly that these future wars will not require any “manifestation of insanity by political leaders,” nor even an “aberration from normal statecraft,” but may come about merely because of what Thucydides recognized as “fear, honour, and interest.” Wars between the United States and a Sino-Russian axis or between the United States and a coalition of rogue states are just two of the scenarios Gray imagines.

Are we prepared to fight these wars? Our Army and Marine Corps together constitute the most battle- hardened regular land force in the world. But it has been a long time since our Navy has truly fought another navy, or our Air Force another air force. In the future they could be tested to the same extent that the Army and Marine Corps have been. The current catchphrase is boots on the ground; in the future it could be hulls in the water.

As an added bonus the article in print carries references to two classic titles: Alfred T Mahan’s, The Influence of Sea Power upon History and Julian S. Corbett’s Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. The print version even offers brief aside on Mahan’s work written by none other than Theodore Roosevelt.

Worth reading all three!

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