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  3. The politics of maritime power: a survey

Till, though, has no doubt as to its centrality in the world economy. He opens his treatise on seapower with,. Because of its effect on the state, and state practices, globalisation is the central fact of the strategic environment of the early twenty-first century.

Home Fragrance Accessories The politics of maritime power a survey

Governmental … attitudes to globalisation will in turn be a major determinant of strategy and defence and naval policy and therefore of the size, shape, composition and function of navies. If a state cannot easily project its influence across oceans, it must employ a navy which enables it to do so. The sea is the primary medium of transportation and trade, facilitating 95 per cent of world trade.

Sea-borne trade has existed from ancient times. Prior to that, there is some evidence of Mauryan Emperors conducting trade by marine routes in the Third Century BCE as part of their quest for gold bullion. Trade led and still leads to wealth and power. Sea-borne trade grew from 2. Adam Smith, the economist, writing in asked rhetorically,. What goods could bear the expense of land-carriage between London and Calcutta? Or if there were any so precious as to be able to support this expense, with what safety could they be transported through the territories of so many barbarous nations?

He could have asked that question of globalisation today. If economic power leads to military might, the sea offers the most direct route to acquiring it. The sea is equally important a medium for the exchange of ideas. The spread of cultures has strong maritime connections. Captain James Cook, for instance, assisted cartographers by mapping sea coasts and navigation in general by measuring the transit of Venus across the sun from Tahiti.

A third attribute of the sea is its propensity as a medium for dominion. To protect their assets, the Portuguese, for instance, established military outposts at strategic points. To British strategists, the empire was one vast region divided by bodies of water.

They needed to control these waters in order to control the land areas; they needed to control the seas. Control of the sea by maritime commerce and naval supremacy means predominant influence in the world … [and] is the chief among the merely material elements in the power and prosperity of nations.


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It is critical, therefore, that any state which desires to become a great power must possess the capability to project power via the sea; it must possess seapower. In order to ensure it does possess seapower, a great power aspirant must understand what that is. Till perceives seapower as a set of inputs and outputs. The inputs are navies, coast guards, the marine and civil-maritime industries and the contributing land and air forces.

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Its outputs are its capacity to influence the behaviour of other people or things by what it does at or from the sea. Till alleges seapower is more than merely building warships. It also comprises non-military aspects of the use of the sea, such as ship-building, merchant shipping, fishing, ship repair, training at sea, etc.

Moreover, seapower is an exercise in relativity. Whereas most nations have a degree of seapower, some have more than others. The US, for instance, has a well-developed ship-building industry and is commonly seen as the greatest sea power at this time.


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  4. South Korea, though, has a large ship-building industry but is not generally perceived as a sea power. The relativity of seapower implies that its effectiveness depends on an adversary. Their Soviet counterpart was Gorshkov. Mahan noted that command of the sea was a dominant theme of European history. He perceived the world ocean as a single highway facilitating the world economy.

    Mahan foresaw a world where trade was global, requiring access to the sea. He also saw the USA as a maritime power, given that it traded more with Europe at the time than it did with Canada or Mexico.


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    8. Therefore, the sea had to be controlled to ensure European powers did not use it to attack the US, as the British did against Washington in and their blockade of the Mississippi River delta. In his view, the American War of Independence — did not end due to American strategy but because the British were exhausted by their war against Napoleon.

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      This required strong battle fleets to protect merchant shipping. Corbett, though, sought to use seapower to gain leverage in land wars. He saw seapower as a means to prevent a continental European power from gaining so much strength that it could dominate the land and sea and threaten Great Britain. Thus, in general, British policy was to back the second-greatest European power so as to balance any possible threat to British interests. As long as Great Britain could use the sea around Europe, British troops could be landed in a place which would cause a continental enemy the greatest loss.

      According to the USSR, history was a conflict between different political and economic systems: essentially Capitalism and Communism. He created a merchant fleet mostly to connect with Third World liberation movements, believing that by doing so the West could be deprived of the resources of the Third World upon which they depended. He pointed out that Western governments which attacked liberation movements on land, as in Vietnam, were reluctant to attack Soviet ships.

      He also noted in his work, The Sea Power of the State , that in war time a strong Soviet navy could help shape events. He believed that even if a conflict between the USSR and the West, which eventually led to nuclear war, was to occur, Western naval forces would attack Soviet nuclear-armed submarines in the pre-nuclear period of the war — just as the Soviet Navy would do.

      Thus, a strong surface fleet was required to dominate sea areas bastions in which the submarines could operate.

      Despite these reservations, all three saw the navy as an essential part of power projection; differing only in the degree to which they perceived its use and role. The oceans are the major means of transportation, a source of food, and a means of sustaining life. Effectively, the oceans have become political instruments and subject to political control.

      The politics of maritime power: a survey

      Navies thus evolved as a means of a state to control the oceans or those oceanic areas of strategic interest to them. As instruments of state policy, navies function in five ways: they uphold national and international laws governing the use of the oceans; they protect trade and provide for self-defence; they can be used to maintain control over bodies of water or land; they can be used to compel, coerce or intimidate other states to accept a particular outcome or policy; and they act as a method of conducting diplomacy.

      The first four of these functions involve the threat or use of force. Oceans, by their nature, permit ships to travel at will with no set paths or highways. The mobility the oceans offer encourages an indirect approach to war. Once the West developed its naval power and could access the Mediterranean Sea, the problem for the Soviet forces grew exponentially since there were no longer defined attack routes. Similarly, surveilling an entire ocean is difficult if not impossible. Conversely, they could attack ships or even littorals by surprise.

      Submarines add to the problem. Essentially, the oceans lend themselves to seapower. The fifth function, diplomacy utilising the navy or naval diplomacy, leaves unstated the naval threat factor. Thus, the navy has always been an instrument of the policy of states, an important aid to diplomacy in peacetime. Gorshkov was referring to the coercive power of navies. Also referred to as coercive inducement, coercion comprises deterrence and compulsion. Deterrence seeks to prevent a state or, in this context, opposing navy from doing something because the implicit costs will outweigh any potential benefits.

      Compulsion, however, aims to induce a state or navy to adhere to the will of another state or navy. A maritime populace is conducive to seapower. Over time, the sea-farers accrued a wealth of knowledge of and experience at sea that led to further advancements in marine technology and, eventually, a greater maritime ability which could be used in times of peace and war.