Joined: 28 Aug 2011, 17:55
219 times in 163 posts
Okay, I will try to elaborate. Take this current event. First googled item so perhaps not the best.
Re-thinking China’s “Sea Power” Strategy in Modern Times http://chinausfocus.com/peace-security/ ... -thinking/
February 14, 2011
Peace & Security
Alfred T. Mahan’s theory of Sea Power has a long historic impact on Chinese Maritime Strategic Thinking. When modern China struggled for its survival from foreign invasion and colonialism, this theory inspired the dream of greatness among its nationalist leaders. Today, when the dream seems to have come true along with the rise of China in the 21st century, the Sea Power theory really needs serious reconsideration and debate. In 1890, the US Navy Captain Alfred T. Mahan published his book “The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783”, which laid the theoretical foundation for the modern sea power theory. Ten years later, Mahan’s works began to be serialized in a Chinese newspaper “East Asia Times” in Shanghai; this was the first time for Chinese readers to have access to Mahan’s theory. At that time, the Chinese nation was on the brink of extinction, and many thinkers were contemplating on how to save the country’s fate. Mahan’s theory soon attracted the attention of Chinese politicians and militarists and caused a great impact. Modern Chinese nationalist leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen particularly respected Mahan’s sea power ideology. He believed the rise and fall of the country was closely related to sea power: “As the world situation changes, national strength goes up and down, which is often caused by sea power instead of land power, the nation with dominant sea power often surpasses others.” In an article specializing on the Pacific issues he wrote: “What is the problem of the Pacific? It is the sea power issue among countries. The struggle for sea power moved from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic Ocean, and now from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific. “…the problem in the Pacific concerns the survival and fate of the Chinese nation.” “The center of the Pacific is China. The Struggle for Pacific sea power is indisputably the struggle for China’s gateway. Whoever holds this gateway gets both the access to the hinterland and rich resources. Other countries are coveting this, how can we put it aside?” Influenced by Mahan’s sea power theory, Sun Yat-sen advocated putting the building of Navy at the core of national defense construction: “The Navy is the base for strength and prosperity. As is often said by people in Britain and the United States, whoever dominates the sea, dominates world trade; whoever dominates world trade dominates the Golconda; whoever dominates the Golconda dominates the world.” “Boost the shipping industry to expand the Navy, make the national Navy of our country keep pace with the big powers, and get into first first-class power. The only way for China to be prosperous is to develop its military arms.” In times when China was not reunified, facing foreign aggression, weak in strength and military force, sea power was just a part of their super power dream for Sun Yat-sen and strategic thinkers of that era. China, as “the center of the Pacific” not only did not have the strength to compete for sea power, but became the target of competing powers. However, the sea power dream, as one of the main driving forces in modern Chinese history, had a far-reaching impact. Chinese communist leaders, from Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping to Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, although not explicitly putting forward sea power thoughts, always used “build a powerful navy” as an incentive slogan to officers and soldiers of the Navy. In the 21st century, with the increase of China’s national strength and the rise of its international status, sea power theory is once again inspiring Chinese strategic thinkers. The Chinese people for the first time since the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 truly have the strength base and interests need to discuss naval strategies. A century’s sea power dream has become attainable. Over the past 10 years, a great debate on sea power has taken place in China’s academic and strategic thinking circles. Some scholars conclude from history and experience of other countries that the rise of China needs the development of sea power and the establishment of a strong Navy. Some are of the view that: (1) Sea power is an important factor in the rise and fall of a country. Historically, coastal countries without strong navy and maritime forces will have no sea power, and therefore no guarantee of sovereignty. In the five large-scale invasions by imperialists into modern China, the control of China’s coastal by Navy all played the role of forerunner. The fundamental reason for the failure of modern Chinese Navy is the development of the Navy has never been integrated into the development of sea power. (2) After the emergence of world trade, humans entered the “era of the Ocean”. Survival in the future and sustainable development require China to take big strides towards the sea, and a country that steps towards the sea must have sea power. (3) A country’s reliance on sea in an era of globalization is an inevitable logic in the development of sea power. Sea power is the lifeline of China’s market economy. The original departure point of China’s sea power development strategy in future should no doubt be established on “dependent export-oriented economy dependent on the marine channel”. The civilization transition of Chinese society forces us to move land power to sea power. (4) From the geo-strategic perspective, eight countries among China’s nine neighboring countries around its territorial waters have marine territory dispute with China. Maritime security has become the main part of China’s national security. The core issue to solve the Taiwan imbroglio is the issue of Chinese Navy; economic globalization cannot exclude globalization of self-defense means; and the ability to defend overseas energy and free trade depends on overseas military delivery capability. With the expansion of its overseas interests, China’s security boundary has already far exceeded the territory boundary, which demands that China have a corresponding overseas military capability. Many scholars are critical of the “Sea Power” theories stated above. They raise doubts from the perspective of geo-political constraints, overall national strength constraints and the risk of conflict with hegemonic powers and neighboring countries, warning that China should avoid falling into the “sea power dilemma”. Xu Qiyu criticized doctrinally Zhang Wenmu and other scholars item by item: (1) from the perspective of historical experience, it is history that decides sea power, rather than sea power deciding history; (2) the logic that economic globalization calls for sea power to protect international market and resources is to pursue “absolute security” and “absolute self-help” and “absolute means”, which is impossible as proved by history and reality; (3) the idea that sea power is a must for the rise of power is not only a misunderstanding of history but ignores the objective conditions to attain sea power, as not all countries are able to grow into a sea power; (4) the logic that maritime forces share the hegemony reverses cause and effect. In short, it is sea power that caters to the strategy, rather than the strategy catering to sea power. Tang Shiping also believes that the development of military strength is to achieve the national strategic objective, instead of realizing our maritime power dream; just to deter US intervention in the Taiwan Strait, we do not need to develop a Navy that can compete with the US. Missiles, air force, underwater Navy and effective nuclear deterrent are more effective than expensive Navy’s surface force; one-sided pursuit of ocean-going Navy will only bring us burden or even disaster, for the US may think us challenging its supremacy at sea, and all the other Asian countries will be anxious about the competition between China and the US for supremacy at sea; as a land and sea country, China always cannot devote too many resources on sea, because the Navy is much more expensive than the Army; China must develop the navy according to its capability, and military forces must comply with the country’s overall interests. Ye Zicheng thinks that each country should trade off the development of land power and sea power according to its natural endowment, and the ultimate goal should be the long-term development of the nation. From the macro-historical point of view, the development of land power is more persistent, while marine space has the nature of liquidity, uncertainty, instability and sea forces are unsustainable, converge fast, and disappear fast. Human society has some extent of initiative to change certain aspects of the natural limitation, but there is a limit. The effort will end in failure if there is bid to change land to sea or vice versa. Therefore, only having military power at sea is not enough to be a sea power. The traditional Western concept of sea power does not adapt to the current development of China’s sea power; it is unlikely for China to become a sea power, even unlikely to become a power having both land and sea power. The only way for China is to become a land power with a strong navy. Almost all scholars agree that the development of Chinese sea power will inevitably result in contradiction and conflict with the existing maritime hegemony, the US：“The dynamic between China and the United States today is closely reminiscent of the 19th century, when Britain attempted to keep a young America under control… As China grows out of its isolation and attains greater influence internationally, there is a very real risk that the United States will repeat the mistakes of past great powers, and try to contain China.” It is worth noting that few scholars publicly declare that the development of the Chinese Navy is to challenge the US supremacy at sea. Zhang Wenmu once suggested that China’s development of sea power enhanced its ability to share sea interests with major powers especially the US, but later revised his view that China’s sea power is limited sea power, and does not exceed the sovereignty and the scope determined by international law. The development of the Navy does not go beyond the purpose of self-defense. He also stressed: “Either unlimited expansion of the Chinese Navy or giving up of basic naval modernization is catastrophic for China in future. We should adhere to the dialectical attitude towards the issue of China’s sea power...” Most scholars believe that China should take the multiple needs of its own national strategy as the starting point, realistically understand the sea power issue in Sino-US relations, and do all it can to avoid conflict with the US; further strengthen the Sino-US maritime military safety consultation mechanism; increase mutual understanding and mutual trust on security to reduce or avoid conflict; and carefully promote the orderly development of sea power, including naval and air force, seeking peace with strength. Sea Power as a symbol of greatness has been a dream of Chinese for centuries, and until recent years this theory provided the material base to be considered seriously. The debate around this theory in the past decade, mixed with academic and emotional thinking, is far from enough to meet the development of the global trends and China’s overseas interests. Today, we are in the real moment to debate and do a serious, in-depth study of Sea Power when the dream has come true. Yu Wanli is Associate Professor in School of International Studies, Peking University
and as much as I hate to quote wikepedia
Alfred Thayer Mahan (September 27, 1840 – December 1, 1914) was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide impact; it was most famously presented in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 (1890). The concept had an enormous influence in shaping the strategic thought of navies across the world, especially in the United States, Germany, Japan and Britain, ultimately causing a European naval arms race in the 1890s, which included the United States. His ideas still permeate the U.S. Navy Doctrine.
Several ships have been named USS Mahan, including the lead vessel of a class of destroyers.
Alfred Thayer Mann was born in West Point, New York, to Dennis Hart Mahan (a professor at the United States Military Academy) and Mary Helena Mahan. He attended Saint James School, an Episcopal college preparatory academy in western Maryland. He then studied at Columbia for two years where he was a member of the Philolexian Society debating club and then, against his parents' wishes, transferred to the Naval Academy, where he graduated second in his class in 1859.
Commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1861, Mahan served the Union in the American Civil War as an officer on USS Worcester, Congress, Pocahontas, and James Adger, and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. In 1865 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and then to Commander (1872), and Captain (1885). As commander of the USS Wachusett he was stationed at Callao, Peru, protecting American interests during the final stages of the War of the Pacific.
Alfred T. Mahan as a Captain
Despite his professed success in the Navy, his skills in actual command of a ship were not exemplary, and a number of vessels under his command were involved in collisions, with both moving and stationary objects. He had an affection for old square-rigged vessels, and did not like smoky, noisy steamships of his time; he tried to avoid active sea duty. On the other hand, the books he wrote ashore made him arguably the most influential naval historian of the period.
 Naval War College and writings
In 1885, he was appointed lecturer in naval history and tactics at the Naval War College. Before entering on his duties, College President Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce pointed Mahan in the direction of writing his future studies on the influence of sea power. For his first year on the faculty, he remained at his home in New York City researching and writing his lectures. Upon completion of this research period, he was to succeed Luce as President of the Naval War College from June 22, 1886 to January 12, 1889 and again from July 22, 1892 to May 10, 1893. There, in 1887, he met and befriended Theodore Roosevelt, then a visiting lecturer, who would later become president of the United States.
Mahan plunged into the library and wrote lectures that drew heavily on standard classics and the ideas of work of Henri Jomini. The lectures became his sea-power studies: The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (1890); The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (2 vols., 1892); and Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812 (2 vols., 1905). The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain (2 vols., 1897) supplemented the series. Mahan stresses the importance of the individual in shaping history, and extols the traditional values of loyalty, courage, and service to the state. Mahan sought to resurrect Horatio Nelson as a national hero in Britain and used the book as a platform for expressing his views on naval strategy and tactics. Criticisms of the work focused on Mahan's handling of Nelson's love affair with Lady Emma Hamilton, but it remains the standard biography. In addition to these works, Mahan wrote more than a hundred articles on international politics and related topics, which were closely read by policy makers.
Upon being published, Mahan struck up a friendship with pioneering British naval historian Sir John Knox Laughton, the pair maintaining this relationship through correspondence and visits when Mahan was in London. Mahan was later described as a 'disciple' of Laughton, although the two men were always at pains to distinguish between each other's line of work, Laughton seeing Mahan as a theorist while Mahan called Laughton 'the historian'.
 Strategic views
Mahan's views were shaped by the seventeenth century conflicts between Holland, England, France and Spain, and by the nineteenth century naval wars between France and Britain, where British naval superiority eventually defeated France, consistently preventing invasion and blockade (see Napoleonic war: Battle of Trafalgar and Continental System). To a modern reader, the emphasis on controlling seaborne commerce is commonplace, but in the nineteenth century, the notion was radical, especially in a nation entirely obsessed with expansion on to the continent's western land. On the other hand, Mahan's emphasis of sea power as the crucial fact behind Britain's ascension neglected the well-documented roles of diplomacy and armies; Mahan's theories could not explain the success of terrestrial empires, such as Bismarckian Germany. However, as the Royal Navy's blockade of the German Empire was a critical direct and indirect factor in the eventual German collapse, Mahan's theories were vindicated by the First World War.
In the context of his time, Mahan backed a revival of Manifest Destiny through overseas imperialism. He held that sea power would require the United States to acquire defensive bases in the Caribbean and Pacific as well as take possession of Hawaii. This came at the time when the United States launched a major shipbuilding program to move the United States to the third place amongst worldwide naval powers by 1900.
 Sea Power
Mahan used history as a stock of lessons to be learned—or more exactly, as a pool of examples that exemplified his theories. Mahan believed that national greatness was inextricably associated with the sea, with its commercial usage in peace and its control in war. His goal was to discover the laws of history that determined who controlled the seas. His theoretical framework came from Jomini, with an emphasis on strategic locations (such as chokepoints, canals, and coaling stations), as well as quantifiable levels of fighting power in a fleet. The primary mission of a navy was to secure the command of the sea. This not only permitted the maintenance of sea communications for one's own ships while denying their use to the enemy but also, if necessary, provided the means for close supervision of neutral trade. This control of the sea could not be achieved by destruction of commerce but only by destroying or neutralizing the enemy fleet. This called for concentration of naval forces composed of capital ships, not unduly large but numerous, well manned with crews thoroughly trained, and operating under the principle that the best defense is an aggressive offense.
Mahan contended that with command of the sea, even if local and temporary, naval operations in support of land forces can be of decisive importance and that naval supremacy can be exercised by a transnational consortium acting in defense of a multinational system of free trade. His theories—written before the submarine became a factor in warfare against shipping—delayed the introduction of convoys as a defense against German U-Boats in World War I. By the 1930s the U.S. Navy was building long-range submarines to raid Japanese shipping, but the Japanese, still tied to Mahan, designed their submarines as ancillaries to the fleet and failed to attack American supply lines in the Pacific in World War II.
Mahan argued that radical technological change does not eliminate uncertainty from the conduct of war, and therefore a rigorous study of history should be the basis of naval officer education.
Sumida (2000) argues Mahan believed that good political and naval leadership was no less important than geography when it came to the development of sea power. Second, his unit of political analysis insofar as sea power was concerned was a transnational consortium rather than the single nation-state. Third, his economic ideal was free trade rather than autarchy. Fourth, his recognition of the influence of geography on strategy was tempered by a strong appreciation of the power of contingency to affect outcomes.
Mahan prepared a secret contingency plan of 1890 in case war should break out between Britain and the United States. Mahan concluded that the British would attempt to blockade the eastern ports, so the American Navy should be concentrated in one of these ports, preferably New York with its two widely separated exits, while torpedo boats should defend the other harbors. This concentration of the U.S. fleet would force the British to tie down such a large proportion of their navy to watch the New York exits that the other American ports would be relatively safe. Detached American cruisers should wage "constant offensive action" against the enemy's exposed positions, and if the British were to weaken their blockade force off New York to attack another American port, the concentrated U.S. fleet should seize the opportunity to escort an invasion fleet to capture the British coaling ports in Nova Scotia, thereby seriously weakening the British ability to engage in naval operations off the American coast. This contingency plan is a clear example of the application of Mahan's principles of naval war, with a clear reliance on Jomini's principle of controlling strategic points.
Mahan was a frequent commentator on world naval, strategic and diplomatic affairs. In the 1890s he argued that the United States should concentrate its naval fleet and obtain Hawaii as a hedge against Japanese eastward expansion and that the U.S. should help maintain a balance of power in the region in order to advance the principle of the Open Door policy both commercially and culturally. Mahan represented the United States at the first international conference on arms control that was initiated by Russia in 1899. Russia sought a "freeze" to keep from falling behind in Europe's arms race. Other countries attended in order to mollify various peace groups. No significant arms limitations agreements were reached. A proposal on neutral trade rights was debated but ruled out of order by the Russians. The only significant result of the conference was the establishment of an ineffective Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.
 Impact on naval thought
Timeliness contributed no small part to the widespread acceptance and resultant influence of Mahan's views. Although his history was relatively thin (he relied on secondary sources), the vigorous style and clear theory won widespread acceptance of navalists across the world. Sea power supported the new colonialism which was asserting itself in Africa and Asia. Given the very rapid technological changes underway in propulsion (from coal to oil, from boilers to turbines), ordnance (with better fire directors, and new high explosives) and armor and emergence of new craft such as destroyers and submarines, Mahan's emphasis on the capital ship and the command of the sea came at an opportune moment.
Mahan's name became a household word in the German navy, as Kaiser William II ordered his officers to read Mahan, and Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849–1930) used Mahan's reputation to finance a powerful surface fleet.
Between 1890 and 1915, Mahan and British admiral John Fisher (1841–1920) faced the problem of how to dominate home waters and distant seas with naval forces not strong enough to do both. Mahan argued for a universal principle of concentration of powerful ships in home waters and minimized strength in distant seas, while Fisher reversed Mahan by utilizing technological change to propose submarines for defense of home waters and mobile battle cruisers for protection of distant imperial interests.
The French were less susceptible to Mahan's theories. French naval doctrine in 1914 was dominated by Mahan's theory of sea power and therefore geared toward winning decisive battles and gaining mastery of the seas. But the course of World War I changed ideas about the place of the navy, as the refusal of the German fleet to engage in a decisive battle, the Dardanelles expedition of 1915, the development of submarine warfare, and the organization of convoys all showed the navy's new role in combined operations with the army. The navy's part in securing victory was not fully understood by French public opinion in 1918, but a synthesis of old and new ideas arose from the lessons of the war, especially by admiral Raoul Castex (1878–1968), from 1927 to 1935, who synthesized in his five-volume Théories Stratégiques the classical and materialist schools of naval theory. He reversed Mahan's theory that command of the sea precedes maritime communications and foresaw the enlarged roles of aircraft and submarines in naval warfare. Castex enlarged strategic theory to include nonmilitary factors (policy, geography, coalitions, public opinion, and constraints) and internal factors (economy of force, offense and defense, communications, operational plans, morale, and command) to conceive a general strategy to attain final victory.
Ideologically, the United States Navy initially opposed replacing its sailing ships with steam-powered ships after the Civil War; Mahan argued that only a fleet of armored battleships might be decisive in a modern war. According to the decisive-battle doctrine, a fleet must not be divided; Mahan's work encouraged technological improvement in convincing opponents that naval knowledge and strategy remained necessary, but that domination of the seas dictated the necessity of the speed and predictability of the steam engine.
His books were greatly acclaimed, and closely studied in Britain and Imperial Germany, influencing the build up of their forces prior to the First World War. Mahan influenced the naval portion of the Spanish-American War, and the battles of Tsushima, Jutland, and the Atlantic. His work influenced the doctrines of every major navy in the interwar period.
Mahan's concept of sea power extended beyond naval superiority; that in peace time, states should increase production and shipping capacities, acquire overseas possessions — either colonies or privileged access to foreign markets— yet stressed that the number of coal fuel stations and strategic bases should be few, not to drain too many resources from the mother country.
Although Mahan's influence on foreign powers has been generally recognized, only rather recently have scholars called attention to his role as significant in the growth of American overseas possessions, the rise of the new American navy, and the adoption of the strategic principles upon which it operated. He died in Washington a few months after the outbreak of World War I.
The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660–1783 was translated to Japanese and used as a textbook in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). This strongly affected the IJN's doctrine on stopping Russian naval expansion in the far east, which culminated in the Russo-Japanese War from 1904-1905.
The IJN's pursuit of the "decisive battle" was such that it contributed to Imperial Japan's defeat in World War II, and so rendered obsolete the doctrine of the decisive battle between fleets, because of the development of the submarine and the aircraft carrier. However, one could argue that the IJN did not adhere entirely to Mahan's doctrine, as they did divide their main force from time to time, particularly the extensive division of warships in a complicated battle plan that led to the disaster at Midway, and as such sealed their own defeat.
 Later career
Between 1889 and 1892 Mahan was engaged in special service for the Bureau of Navigation, and in 1893 he was appointed to command the powerful new protected cruiser Chicago on a visit to Europe, where he was received and feted. He returned to lecture at the War College and then, in 1896, he retired from active service, returning briefly to duty in 1898 to consult on naval strategy for the Spanish-American War.
Mahan continued to write voluminously and received honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and McGill.
In 1902 Mahan invented the term "Middle East", which he used in the article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September in the National Review.
He became Rear Admiral in 1906 by an act of Congress promoting all retired captains who had served in the Civil War. At the outbreak of World War I, he initially engaged in the cause of Great Britain, but an order of President Woodrow Wilson prohibited all active and retired officers from publishing comments on the war. Mahan died of heart failure on December 1, 1914.