Self Help

Sea Power - Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.)

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 55 min read



  • The book examines the history and geopolitics of the world’s major oceans - the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean, South China Sea, Caribbean, Arctic, and others.

  • It explores how sea power has influenced key events and national strategies over the past 2000 years. The oceans will continue shaping geopolitics in the 21st century through issues like tensions in the South China Sea, piracy off Africa, and the Arctic.

  • The author had a naval career spanning nearly 4 decades and sailed through all the world’s oceans. He came to understand their interconnected nature and influence on international relations.

  • The book aims to convey his appreciation for the ocean views and experiences from his naval service, discussing each body of water and how maritime history and strategy are tied to the oceans.

  • By going to sea, even briefly, one sees the same endless ocean views that shaped previous historic figures and events. The book examines the past and future geopolitical significance of this global maritime domain.

This passage describes the author’s first experience crossing the vast Pacific Ocean in 1972, when he was a young midshipman aboard the USS Jouett. As the ship departed San Diego and he saw the massive Pacific for the first time from the bridge, he had an epiphany and knew he wanted to be a sailor.

The Pacific is described as the largest and most dominant ocean on Earth, covering nearly two-thirds of the planet’s surface. It is vast even for those who live along its shores. The author notes how remarkable it was that ancient Polynesians were able to colonize remote Pacific islands using only simple outrigger canoes, over thousands of years of migration.

As a young naval officer in the late 1970s, the author’s first crossing of the Pacific from Hawaii to Australia took a long time due to the immense distances involved. Navigation was still primarily by sextant and charts. Traditions like “crossing the line” ceremony marked finally reaching the equator. Brief descriptions are given of arriving in Fiji and its multicultural population.

  • Fiji gained independence from Britain in the 1970s and remains a multicultural society today, with Indigenous Fijians making up the largest percentage along with Indians descended from indentured workers and some East Asian and European populations.

  • The author visited Fiji in the mid-1970s after its independence and found Suva to be fairly primitive but enjoyed beach time. Fiji now has an unstable political situation after a recent military coup.

  • They then sailed to New Zealand, finding it similar to 1950s America - quiet, kind, and slightly boring. They witnessed the beautiful landscape ranging from tropical north to mountainous south.

  • After drinking in Auckland, the author had a harrowing experience navigating their ship out of the harbor during a storm. They then sailed to Australia, admiring Sydney harbor and bonding with the Australians over shared military history.

  • Further up the Australian coast, they stopped at the gateway town of Townsville on the Great Barrier Reef, looking forward to completing their Pacific crossing. However, they still had to navigate the shallow, hazard-filled Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea.

  • This summarized the author’s first Pacific crossing from San Diego, describing locations visited and challenges faced along the way.

The vast size of the Pacific Ocean helped prevent Japan from developing a global naval and colonial empire like Britain did in the Atlantic. The Pacific is much larger than the Atlantic, so sailing east meant disappearing into empty seas. Japan was also physically separated from other Asian powers by wider distances than Britain from Europe.

While Japan faced some early invasions, including from Mongols in the 13th century and attempts to invade Korea in the 16th century, they were able to defeat these threats. This reinforced an inward, defensive naval doctrine of guarding the western coast rather than projecting power across the broad Pacific. Nearby powers like China also looked westward at continental threats rather than across the oceans.

Geography thus played a key role - the Pacific’s sheer scale made overseas expansion very difficult, encouraging Japan to consolidate control within islands near its shores rather than establish far-flung colonies like the maritime power of Britain was able to do in the more confined Atlantic region.

  • Unlike China, Japan, and other Pacific cultures, Europeans were the ones who truly crossed the Pacific and established enduring connections between the two regions through trade, missions, and colonial expansion.

  • The most dramatic act of opening up Japan was Commodore Matthew Perry’s voyage in the 1850s, as Japan had isolated itself for over 250 years. Perry took a diplomatic approach using “soft power” and managed to sign a treaty opening up trade.

  • This sparked European engagement with Japan and a period of modernization and industrialization. Japan rapidly developed its military, including a strong navy, and began projecting power in the region.

  • Japan fought the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, defeating China and gaining control of Korea and Taiwan. This established Japan as the dominant power in East Asia.

  • However, Russia threatened Japan’s northern flank by pushing into Manchuria and Korea. This led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, where Japan prevailed through early attacks, concentration of forces, and newer technology. They destroyed the Russian navy.

  • The US grew as a Pacific power through occupying Hawaii and building the naval base at Pearl Harbor, which became the heart of the US navy during WWII under commanders like Nimitz. The Panama Canal also aided US power projection across the Pacific.

  • The Pacific Theater of WWII was characterized by its immense scale, spanning thousands of miles from East Asia to the West Coast of the US. Military operations now traversed vast ocean distances that were previously crossed over decades or months.

  • The war began with Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, severely damaging the US Pacific fleet docked there. Other Japanese attacks the same day targeted US forces in the Philippines.

  • The US suffered initial setbacks but turned the tide at the pivotal Battle of Midway in June 1942, sinking four Japanese aircraft carriers and halting Japan’s expansion.

  • The US pursued island-hopping campaigns across the North and South Pacific under Admirals Nimitz and MacArthur to retake territory and isolate Japan. Fighting was difficult due to terrain, weather and fanatical Japanese resistance.

  • The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 led to Japan’s surrender, ending the massive cost in lives of the Pacific War. However, conflict would continue in Korea and Vietnam in later decades.

  • The Pacific saw renewed tensions but also growing trade and cooperation between former adversaries in the post-war decades. The region remains strategically important today.

  • The Pacific region is increasingly economically and geopolitically important due to trade growth and assertive actions by powers like China, the US and others. It faces risks from overfishing, pollution, climate change effects like stronger typhoons.

  • Countries around the Pacific rim have significantly increased defense spending from 2013-2015, especially China which aims to project more power. This risks fueling an arms race that could increase chances of conflict.

  • China has nearly doubled its military budget since 2013 and aggressively expanded its presence in the South China Sea. It is modernizing forces including aircraft carriers but internal security also requires spending.

  • Japan, South Korea, Australia and others are also increasing defense budgets to ensure security and balance against China’s rise. Japan in particular aims to strengthen its alliance with the US through interoperability.

  • North Korea heavily prioritizes defense spending to maintain political control despite economic weakness, posing an ongoing threat through nuclear weapons and missiles.

  • While the US remains the predominant military power, China’s anti-access capabilities are shifting the regional balance and risk calculus, requiring careful diplomacy to manage tensions. Increased defense coordination among US allies will also be important.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Atlantic Ocean:

  • The Atlantic Ocean was the cradle of colonization and played a central role in the exchange between Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean over the past 500+ years.

  • It is the world’s second largest ocean after the Pacific, spanning over 40 million square miles.

  • The Atlantic connects the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. The Gulf Stream current is a distinctive feature of the western Atlantic.

  • Major colonial powers like Portugal, Spain, France, Britain, and the Netherlands explored and colonized territories along the Atlantic coasts of North America, South America, and Africa beginning in the 15th-16th centuries.

  • The author recalls his childhood memories sailing across the Atlantic from New York to Greece in the 1960s, marveling at the beauty and power of the ocean. He also recounts serving aboard an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic in the early 1970s.

  • The Atlantic played an important strategic role during the Cold War as well, particularly the GIUK gap between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK.

So in summary, the Atlantic Ocean has historically been central to the interactions between Europe, Africa, and the Americas and the development of colonial empires over the past 500+ years.

  • Ancient Greeks had myths of Atlas holding up the world and nymphs living at the edge of Oceanus, showing their limited geographical knowledge.

  • Early explorers like Irish abbot St. Brendan (6th century) may have reached Iceland and Greenland, but knowledge was not widely shared.

  • Vikings from 800-1000 AD were the first to record voyages into the open Atlantic, settling Iceland in late 800s. One Viking may have sighted North America in late 900s.

  • Debate over if Vikings “discovered” Americas or just reached them, as discovery implies changing European worldview.

  • Portuguese were key to exploration/colonization from 1400s on. Prince Henry the Navigator sponsored voyages down African coast using new caravel ships.

  • Triangular trade route developed, exploiting winds/currents to explore Africa’s coast and build Portugal’s first African colony on Arguin island.

  • Later Portuguese explorers like Dias, da Gama, Cabral continued this work in late 1400s, firmly establishing the maritime connection between Europe and lands across the Atlantic.

  • The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India by sea in 1498, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and opening up trade routes to Asia.

  • In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil for Portugal while sailing from Europe to India, becoming the first to travel between four continents - Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia.

  • These voyages by the Portuguese opened up sea routes around Africa and into the Indian Ocean in the 15th-16th centuries, expanding European trade and connections between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

  • In the 15th-16th centuries, other European powers like Spain, Britain, and France also began exploring and establishing colonies in the Americas and elsewhere, launching the so-called “Oceanic Age.”

  • Significant figures included Christopher Columbus, who sailed for Spain and “discovered” the Americas in 1492, and Ferdinand Magellan, who completed the first circumnavigation of the globe while sailing for Spain.

  • This led to growing geopolitical rivalries between European powers like England, Spain, the Dutch, and France, played out through naval warfare and competition over colonies in the 16th-18th centuries. Battles like against the Spanish Armada shaped the balance of power.

  • By the 1700s, nations like England had developed maritime empires and global naval strategies to contend with rivals like France around the world, kicking off an era of global imperial power projection by sea.

  • The Seven Years’ War demonstrated Britain’s powerful global naval force and control of the seas was key to victory. Britain gained control of Canada and parts of the Caribbean.

  • European exploration of the Atlantic led to technological improvements in ships as well as the introduction of new crops from the Americas to Europe (and vice versa), fundamentally changing diets. This two-way exchange was known as the Columbian Exchange.

  • Increased trade and commerce due to this exchange contributed to the Industrial Revolution. It also fueled geopolitical rivalries between European imperial powers competing for resources and markets in the Americas through wars.

  • New England emerged as the first global maritime hub for the Americas. Its shipping trade was central to the colonies’ growing independence from Britain and ability to revolt.

  • Control of the Atlantic was a major factor in the American Revolutionary War. The colonies gradually realized they needed to overcome British naval supremacy. French entry into the war in 1778 helped the colonies gain some control of surrounding waters.

  • American naval heroes like John Paul Jones scored victories against the British in the North Atlantic through tactics like privateering. French aid was also important in resupplying American forces across the Atlantic.

  • The Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive campaign that showed the value of sea power. Thanks to French naval support, the Americans were able to shift forces via sea and defeat Lord Cornwallis, leading to British surrender.

  • The next major role of the Atlantic was during the Napoleonic Wars between France and the coalition led by Britain. British sea power under admiral Nelson, including crucial victories at the Battles of the Nile and Copenhagen, allowed Britain to remain independent and blockade France economically.

  • Nelson’s greatest victory was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, which destroyed the French-Spanish fleet and ended Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain. This demonstrated the influence of sea power in history.

  • After defeat, Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena island in the southern Atlantic, where he spent his final years staring out over the ocean he could not conquer.

  • The rise of the US Navy was spurred by conflict with the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean and war with France. However, political differences led to an on-again, off-again approach to naval development in the early 19th century.

  • During the War of 1812, the US navy was very small (18 ships) compared to Britain’s large navy, but some early US frigates like the USS Constitution achieved successes against the British blockade. However, the navy was not a major factor in the overall outcome of the war.

  • From 1815-1860, the Atlantic was relatively peaceful as new naval technologies like steam power and armor emerged. The Mexican-American War and Crimean War saw some Atlantic combat.

  • The Civil War brought major naval battles to the Atlantic as the Union blockaded the Confederacy. New ironclad ships and underwater mines were used. The blockade helped the Union prevail.

  • Advances in shipping like clipper ships and steam power in the 1800s helped facilitate transatlantic trade and shrink the perceived size of the ocean. The first transatlantic telegraph cables in the 1860s further connected the US and Europe.

  • Major Atlantic naval combat returned in WWI as the US navy had improved greatly and joined the Allies against Germany and the Central Powers. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 remained a cautionary tale of the dangers of the North Atlantic.

  • Theodore Roosevelt was deeply influenced by Alfred Thayer Mahan’s writings on sea power and drove a major naval construction program as president, including the creation of a blue-water battle fleet.

  • In WWI, the main naval theater was the North Atlantic, with battles between German and British fleets. Submarine (“U-boat”) warfare against merchant shipping also increased in strategic importance.

  • The US entry into WWI turned the tide on land, and solidified the concept of an Atlantic community of allied nations. However, the US then pursued isolationism after the war.

  • In WWII, Germany initially had the advantage in the Battle of the Atlantic with capable U-boats sinking many ships. The tide turned when Allied convoys with escorts were reinstituted and technologies like radar, sonar, and code-breaking helped counter the submarine threat. Victory in the Atlantic was crucial for the Allies.

  • During World War 2, the Battle of the Atlantic was dominated by the U-boat campaign led by Germany to cut off supply lines between North America and Europe. Despite Allied momentum early on, Germany launched another surge of U-boat attacks in 1942 that sank over a million tons of shipping.

  • Admiral Dönitz had over 300 U-boats at his disposal in 1942 and believed this was enough to starve Britain. While the Allies developed new technologies, the Germans initially had the upper hand due to inexperienced Allied operators and a new encrypted code.

  • Through new tactics like picket lines and cracking the new code by early 1943, the Allies gradually gained the upper hand by effectively attacking U-boats. Crucially, overwhelming US industrial production provided more escort warships to protect convoys. By late spring 1943, the worst of the U-boat threat had passed.

  • Despite destroying over 3,000 Allied ships, the U-boat campaign ultimately failed due to the Allies’ new tactics, technologies, and production capabilities. Churchill emphasized the crucial importance of winning the Battle of the Atlantic for the overall war effort.

  • The summary then transitions to discussing the Cold War role of the Atlantic in surveilling Soviet naval forces through control of the GIUK gap, before briefly mentioning the 1982 Falklands War and noting the current cooperation and peace across most of the Atlantic.

The passage describes the author’s experience sailing through the Indian Ocean in the 1980s as an operations officer on a US Navy cruiser. Some key points:

  • The Indian Ocean is vast and open compared to other oceans, but historically less geopolitically important until recent decades. Trade has long been the main activity due to monsoon winds and currents.

  • The author enters the Indian Ocean from the Strait of Malacca and stops at Diego Garcia before sailing west. He notes the sense of open space compared to crowded seas elsewhere.

  • Ancient civilizations like the Harappans, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, and Indians traded across the Indian Ocean for over 3000 years, driven by reliable monsoon winds and currents. Goods included spices, textiles, oil, and metals.

  • The Red Sea and Arabian/Persian Gulf have become strategically important more recently due to oil exports. The author recalls escorting oil tankers through the Arabian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, a tense job aimed at keeping sea lanes open.

  • In summary, the passage reflects on the Indian Ocean’s history as a zone of trade rather than war, shaped by geographic factors like monsoons, but with increasing geopolitical significance recently.

  • The Arabian Gulf is a tight, confined body of water surrounded by Islamic countries that are split between Shi’a Iran and predominantly Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia.

  • It has become an area of geopolitical rivalry and “cold war” between the Shi’a bloc led by Iran and the Sunni bloc led by Saudi Arabia. Iran has expanded its influence in the region.

  • The US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain patrols the Gulf and plays a role in the tensions between Iran and the Sunni Arab states.

  • Historically, the Gulf was not politically or militarily significant until the discovery of major oil and gas reserves. Cities like Dubai were small fishing villages.

  • Traditional ships like dhows with triangular lateen sails were used for trade and fishing due to the winds and shallow waters. Naval technology developed to suit these conditions.

  • The author has extensive experience serving in the Gulf region with the US Navy, noting the strategic and operational challenges posed by tensions with Iran.

  • Slavery and piracy have long played a role in the region’s economy and trade networks along the Indian Ocean. Both still persist today, albeit in more modern forms.

  • Vasco da Gama’s 1497-98 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope was a major milestone that established the first direct sea route from Europe to India, bypassing the overland route. However, his record is marred by massacres he committed in India against Muslims who posed no threat.

  • The Portuguese consolidated their maritime advantage to dominate the spice trade with India for a period. Their model of blending state and commercial interests influenced later European powers.

  • The Dutch and British East India Companies followed Portugal’s model, with the Dutch focusing on Southeast Asia and the British gaining control of India. Trade routes remained largely local but imperial competition grew.

  • By the late 18th century, Britain had emerged as the dominant power in the Indian Ocean region due to its control of India, naval strength, and network of bases. The Suez Canal further enhanced Britain’s dominance when it opened in 1869.

  • The strategic and commercial importance of securing control of the Indian Ocean and its trade routes, especially from potential rivals, was a major driving factor behind centuries of European imperial expansion, competition and conflict in the region.

  • The story describes a voyage through the Suez Canal where the ship’s captain ignored the Egyptian pilot’s advice to change course, which could have led them aground. The captain’s decision to trust his young lieutenant instead saved them.

  • It discusses the strategic importance of the Suez Canal in connecting seas and civilizations. In the 19th century, it increased Britain’s dominance over the Indian Ocean.

  • Piracy was a major issue in the waters between South China Sea and Bay of Bengal. Britain and the Dutch worked to reduce piracy and end the slave trade. Some pirate fleets had hundreds of vessels.

  • During the 19th century, European colonial powers consolidated control over much of the Indian Ocean region through trade of goods like coffee, spices, sugar, cotton, tea and rubber.

  • New technologies like steam engines coupled with the Suez Canal increased movement of people, including indentured laborers living in difficult conditions. The opium trade also expanded forcibly.

  • Singapore transformed from raw geography into a powerful, clean and lawful city-state under Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, due to its strategic location astride a key shipping strait.

  • The author reflects on visits to Singapore and a meeting with Lee Kuan Yew, noting Singapore’s discipline, vision and tough decisions helped it become a strong nation.

  • During WWII, the Indian Ocean was important for Axis and Allied naval operations against shipping lanes. Germany and Italy conducted commerce raiding campaigns.

  • After WWII, the UK withdrew from most of the Indian Ocean, leaving a strategic vacuum. The US and Soviet Union increased patrols for political influence. Oil production from the Gulf rose in importance.

  • By the 1970s, the US cooperated with Saudi Arabia and Iran while establishing a base on Diego Garcia. The Soviets conducted naval deployments and gained port access in India, Yemen and Somalia.

  • The Iranian revolution weakened US influence, while Soviet successes included relationships in Ethiopia, Yemen and southern Africa. The India-Pakistan tensions grew into one of the most dangerous nuclear standoffs.

  • The Indian subcontinent was divided into three nations after British rule ended: Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. This division has led to deep tensions, particularly between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region.

  • A major tragedy in the Indian Ocean was the devastating 2004 tsunami that killed over 200,000 people across several countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. The U.S. military played a key role in relief efforts through hospital ships, aircraft and personnel.

  • Piracy was a significant issue emanating from Somalia in the early 2010s. A large naval coalition led by NATO, including both traditional allies and others like Russia, China, India and Iran, significantly reduced piracy through coordinating patrols and apprehending pirates.

  • The Indian Ocean is a critical region globally for trade, with 50% of shipping and 70% of oil transported through it. However, it also faces ongoing geopolitical tensions like the India-Pakistan conflict and internal instability in some coastal nations. Cooperation on issues like piracy showed the potential for coordinated action among diverse countries in the region.

  • The Mediterranean Sea has played a central role in the development of maritime warfare and strategy over millennia. It was where combat at sea originated and evolved.

  • Despite its relatively small size, the Mediterranean features important geographic factors that have strategic significance, like the Strait of Gibraltar, Sicily, Italy, Malta, the Aegean Islands, and proximity to North Africa and the Middle East.

  • Major powers like the Romans, Greeks, and Ottomans fought many naval battles in the Mediterranean over control of trade routes and territories. New ship technologies and naval combat tactics emerged through these conflicts.

  • Even today, tensions exist between Greek and Turkish navies in the Aegean sea due to lingering political disputes. Geopolitical dynamics in the Mediterranean remain influenced by its position between Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

  • The author argues the Mediterranean will continue profoundly shaping 21st century geopolitics due to its strategic location connecting major world regions and the potential for renewed conflict over issues like natural resources and migration. Its historical legacy makes it a symbolic birthplace of maritime warfare.

  • The author recalls sailing a US aircraft carrier into the Mediterranean as a junior officer in the early 1980s during the Cold War. He notes the strategic importance of the Mediterranean and the complex geopolitics between the US, USSR and various Mediterranean powers.

  • The Mediterranean has historically been a crucible for war and conflict due to its location between major civilizations in Europe, Asia and Africa. Its geography enabled invading fleets and conquest. Strategic islands provided bases for naval powers.

  • Two early naval civilizations that flourished in the Mediterranean were the Minoans of Crete and the Phoenicians/Carthaginians. The Minoans dominated trade from 2500-1200 BC but their civilization collapsed, possibly due to an earthquake. The Phoenicians were traders who established ports throughout the Med, including founding Carthage in North Africa.

  • An early “clash of civilizations” was between Greece and the Persian Empire in the 5th century BC. The Greeks managed to temporarily halt their internal wars and defeat the Persian invasions, stopping their expansion into the Mediterranean region.

In summary, the author examines the geopolitical and strategic factors that made the Mediterranean a crucible for naval conflict and conquest throughout ancient and modern history.

  • The Persians launched two failed invasions of Greece by sea in the 5th century BC, first at Marathon and later with a massive force under Xerxes.

  • In 480 BC, the Greeks, led by Themistocles and Athens, fought off the large Persian navy at the critical Battle of Salamis through superior morale and naval tactics. This secured Greek independence.

  • The Romans then rose to power in the Mediterranean, challenging the Greeks and Carthaginians. They adapted Carthaginian naval tactics and invented the corvus boarding bridge to defeat the Carthaginian navy in the Punic Wars.

  • Roman naval power allowed them to defeat Carthage and control the Mediterranean, ushering in the Pax Romana. A later naval battle at Actium led by Octavian decisively defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra, establishing Rome as an empire.

  • For centuries Rome dominated the Med, but its decline saw the rise of the Islamic Caliphate around the Mediterranean rim. The Crusades then used the sea to launch Christian campaigns into the Holy Land, aiding the growth of trading powers like Venice.

Here is a summary of the key points about Christian campaigns in the Mediterranean over 250 years:

  • Various Italian city-states like Venice, Genoa, and Pisa built powerful navies and established trading posts around the Mediterranean, dominating trade and playing European powers off each other. Venice in particular had a huge arsenal and fleet.

  • The Ottoman Turks rose up and began conquering the Arab world and surrounding lands. They finally took Constantinople in 1453, dealing a major blow to Christianity and allowing them to push into Europe.

  • The Ottomans greatly expanded their control of Mediterranean coasts and islands, raiding Christian ships. Tensions rose between the expanding Ottoman and Christian civilizations.

  • In 1571, Pope Pius V formed the Holy League in response to Ottoman gains. Their navy defeated the Ottoman navy decisively at the Battle of Lepanto, destroying over 200 Ottoman ships and killing 25,000 men.

  • The battle halted the Ottoman expansion into Europe and shattered the fear of their invincibility. However, the Christians failed to follow up, allowing the Ottomans to maintain control of areas like Cyprus. Naval skirmishing continued over the next two centuries.

So in summary, it describes the rise of Italian naval powers, the threat posed by the expanding Ottomans, and the key Battle of Lepanto that marked a turning point in 250 years of conflict between Christian and Ottoman forces in the Mediterranean.

  • With British dominance assured after the Napoleonic Wars, Britain began consolidating control over key islands and straits in the Mediterranean like Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus.

  • In 1798, the pivotal Battle of the Nile saw Nelson destroy Napoleon’s fleet off the coast of Egypt, firmly establishing British naval dominance in the Mediterranean for the 19th century.

  • During the 19th century, geopolitical maneuvering shifted to continental Europe, leaving the Med relatively quiet aside from the Crimean War and Franco-Prussian War.

  • World War I began in the Balkans and pulled in the major European powers. Some fighting occurred in the Black Sea and Dardanelles as the British tried but failed to force the Dardanelles at Gallipoli in 1915.

  • World War II saw intense battles throughout the Mediterranean littoral as the Allies fought to knock Italy out of the war and invade southern Europe from North Africa via Sicily and Italy. Naval battles were also key to control shipping routes.

So in summary, the text traces the shift in dominance from Ottomans to British to the world wars that turned the Med into a major battleground, especially in WW2.

  • During World War 2, the Mediterranean Sea was a major battleground between Allied and Axis naval forces. The Allies struggled in Greece but ultimately prevailed in North Africa. Malta was strategically important for controlling sea lanes.

  • During the Cold War, the US Navy stationed carrier groups in the Med to counter potential Soviet moves behind NATO lines in Europe. There were frequent cat-and-mouse games between US and Soviet ships.

  • In the 1980s, terrorist attacks in the Med increased tensions, leading to US strikes on Libya. Naval operations also occurred in response to the Lockerbie bombing.

  • The Balkan wars of the 1990s embroiled the region in conflict as Yugoslavia broke apart. The US Navy enforced an arms embargo and provided logistical support to allied ground forces.

  • Today, the Med faces challenges from renewed Russian naval assertiveness, the Islamic State near its shores, and ongoing tensions between Israel and its neighbors. Territorial disputes also exist over gas resources in the eastern Med.

  • Russia sees itself as a Mediterranean power and aims to dominate the Black Sea region from its base in Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The Black Sea was historically contested but is now a flashpoint again.

  • Bulgaria joining Turkey has added to regional tensions in the Black Sea region. Ukraine has a troubled relationship with Russia due to the annexation of Crimea. Georgia also has separatist conflicts supported by Russia.

  • Russia sees the Black Sea as vital strategically and economically. Smugglers and extremists also use it to reach Europe.

  • Putin has expanded Russia’s alliance with Syria’s Assad regime, maintaining naval access. This collides with Western desires to remove Assad. Tensions echo 19th century great power politics in the Balkans.

  • The rise of ISIS capitalizing on chaos in Syria and Iraq threatens the Mediterranean. While not controlling coasts yet, their presence is growing in Libya, which could be a path for attacks on Europe. Over a million refugees have arrived in Europe fleeing conflict.

  • ISIS propaganda explicitly threatens to conquer Rome. They could potentially infiltrate Europe via migrant boats from Libya or smaller vessels. Protecting Italy and the “soft underbelly of Europe” is a concern.

  • Increased NATO involvement is suggested, including maritime task forces. Better intelligence sharing with Arab partners on Libyan movements is needed. Focus on maritime security and developing a Libya strategy and peace process to address issues at their source.

  • The passage discusses the strategic importance of the South China Sea for maritime trade, with over half the world’s shipping passing through it annually.

  • It has long been a zone of cultural exchange and globalization, with evidence of early maritime networks facilitating trade between civilizations like China, India, and the Arab world dating back thousands of years.

  • Major powers like China, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and others surround the South China Sea today. Historically, Chinese dynasties dominated the western side and controlled regional trade.

  • Silver and other commodities flowed across the sea, integrating coastal China into the global economy. European powers like Portugal, the Dutch, and British gradually came to dominate trade through the 17th-19th centuries via colonies like Singapore and Hong Kong.

  • Territorial disputes over islands and waters remain a flashpoint today given the strategic importance of the South China Sea for trade, energy shipping, and potential resource development.

  • In the late 1800s, European powers and the US were establishing colonial outposts in Southeast Asia. The US began pursuing strategic assets like coaling stations under the influence of naval strategist Alfred Mahan.

  • The sinking of the USS Maine in 1898 led the US into the Spanish-American War and the annexation of Cuba. Some now believe the Maine was not actually attacked by Spain.

  • This disrupted Spanish control of the Philippines, allowing the US to establish a colonial foothold there. Japan also expanded its influence in Taiwan and China at this time.

  • By WWII, Japan had come to dominate the South China Sea region militarily and economically. Taking control of the key sea lanes was a high priority for the US counteroffensive.

  • Early battles like the fall of the Philippines garrison and the destruction of the “ABDA Fleet” left Japan in charge of the South China Sea until the Allied counterattack shifted the tide of the Pacific war.

  • In 1943, US and Allied forces began turning the tide against Japan in the Pacific, pushing them back across the South China Sea towards the Philippines.

  • MacArthur led island-hopping campaigns in 1944 that positioned US forces to retake the Philippines by March. A key naval battle in June helped relieve pressure on MacArthur.

  • In October 1944, MacArthur waded ashore in the Philippines as promised, declaring it liberated. Subsequent naval battles destroyed much of Japan’s fleet, securing US control of the South China Sea.

  • During the Cold War, US bases in the Philippines like Subic Bay were strategic assets commanding the South China Sea. Naval presence helped counter China and protect Taiwan.

  • The Vietnam War was a major conflict fought in the South China Sea during the 1960s-70s. The US Navy played a key support and logistics role, working closely with growing South Vietnamese naval forces.

  • Hundreds of ships and millions of sailors participated in operations like carrier strikes, coastal shelling, and resupply over the course of the Vietnam War before US withdrawal in the 1970s.

  • The passage discusses the history of US involvement in Vietnam and Taiwan during the Cold War era. It describes the US Navy’s operations to evacuate Saigon after Congress cut off funding in the 1970s.

  • The author visited Vietnam with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in the early 2000s and sensed Vietnam’s interest in improving relations with the US to counter China.

  • Taiwan has a long history of invasion and occupation. The US supported Taiwan during the Cold War and stopped port visits in the late 1970s when China shifted its main threat to the Soviet Union.

  • The author fondly recalls US Navy port visits to Keelung, Taiwan. He reflects on Taiwan’s strategic importance for controlling the South China Sea sea lanes.

  • Tensions have grown in recent decades as China increasingly asserts control over the South China Sea through artificial island building. This conflicts with international law and threatens regional stability due to the area’s economic importance. The US has challenged China’s claims through freedom of navigation operations.

  • South Korea: No context was provided about South Korea.

  • Placement of a mobile oil platform in Vietnam’s coastal waters: China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, increasing tensions between the two countries over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

  • Widely reported cyberthefts of U.S. intellectual property and personal data: Hackers, believed to be state-sponsored from China, engaged in massive cyber theft targeting U.S. companies and government agencies to steal intellectual property, industrial secrets, and personal data on a large scale. This underscores continued cyber tensions between the U.S. and China.

  • The geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea region will likely remain high for the foreseeable future due to military spending and assertiveness from China as well as the threat from North Korea.

  • Countries around the South China Sea like Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and the Philippines vary in their relationship with the US and alignment with China. The Philippines under Duterte is distancing from the US and warming to China.

  • India is also playing a larger security role in the region through cooperation with the US and Japan.

  • To help stability, countries should encourage military communication, candid political talks, and joint operations like exercises and disaster/humanitarian relief. Pursuing international dispute resolution is also suggested but unlikely given China’s stance.

  • Maintaining a US presence through bases and access agreements around the South China Sea is important for freedom of operations. Strong bilateral ties with all surrounding countries is also key.

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership would strategically align members economically but China’s inclusion is uncertain given territorial disputes.

  • The US should seek cooperation where possible with China on issues like environment and security while also being prepared for disagreements to flare up over maritime issues and interpretations of international law.

The text discusses the history and geopolitics of the Caribbean region. It begins by describing Columbus’ explorations in the late 15th century, when he arrived in the Caribbean seeking a westward route to Asia but found only indigenous populations. His voyages led to colonization and the establishment of the slave trade by European powers like Spain, bringing death and exploitation of locals.

While sailing as a young naval officer in the Caribbean in the 1990s after the Cold War, the author reflects on Columbus’ legacy. Their crew pointed out the ensuing colonization led more to enslavement and death than accidental discovery. The Caribbean became an important region for powers like Spain to extract resources through the slave trade and forcibly convert populations to Christianity.

The text notes the Caribbean covers around 1.6 million square miles including the Gulf of Mexico, making it a large sea comparable to the Mediterranean. It describes the Caribbean’s volcanic geographic features and notes the strategic importance of islands like Cuba during the Cold War era. Overall it provides historical context on the colonial origins and geopolitics of the Caribbean region.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Caribbean region from the passage:

  • Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, located northwest of Hispaniola which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Further south are chains of smaller islands that were colonies of European powers like Britain, France, Spain, Netherlands, and Denmark.

  • Trinidad and Tobago have a mix of English and Spanish culture and have benefited economically from their oil reserves.

  • The Guyanas (French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana) guard the southern entrance to the Caribbean. Guyana struggles with poverty and brain drain as many educated citizens emigrate.

  • Colombia is beautiful but troubled, with resources and geography that should make it prosperous but it has struggled with drugs, violence, and conflicts over the years. Much cocaine is trafficked through the Caribbean by submarine and other vessels.

  • The Panama Canal connects the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, greatly enhancing trade but was built on land originally belonging to Colombia after a US-backed revolution.

  • The waters off Central America towards Mexico see some of the highest violence rates in the world, fueled by US drug demand and the export of gang culture from the US. The Caribbean coast is essentially lawless in places dominated by drug cartels.

Here is a summary of the passages about heir summer cruises:

  • The author recounts his summer cruises as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. These were not leisurely cruises but involved traveling to ports to embark navy ships and experience life at sea.

  • In 1975, he embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in Norfolk, Virginia. The ship carried them down the East Coast and into the Caribbean Sea.

  • Their first port of call was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba which at the time was used as a naval training facility. Midshipmen would spend a few days ashore to relax between intensive training exercises at sea.

  • The author describes spending a day on the beach at Guantanamo Bay, drinking beer and rum and contemplating the beautiful nighttime Caribbean waters and naval history that had passed through the area over centuries.

  • These summer cruises aimed to introduce midshipmen to life in the navy and “the fleet” in a hands-on manner through participating in ship operations and training exercises.

  • Drake died rich from piracy in the Caribbean in 1596. There were hundreds of other buccaneers (pirates) operating in the Caribbean during the 1500s-1600s. It was like a nautical Wild West with naval warships and pirate attacks on commercial vessels.

  • Sir Henry Morgan was a famous Welsh privateer (state-sanctioned pirate) who had a very successful but vicious career raiding Spanish territories in the Caribbean. He later became governor of Jamaica and continued enabling piracy from the island.

  • By the late 17th century, European powers like Britain, the Netherlands, and France were colonizing Caribbean islands through maritime trading companies and taking territory from Spain through naval battles. The economic model involved the slave-based production of sugar and other crops for export to Europe.

  • The triangular slave trade route developed between Europe, Africa, and the Americas in the 1700s. Millions of African slaves were transported across the Atlantic, with many dying during the journey. Slavery and the associated sugar economy came to define and shape Caribbean demographics and culture for the next centuries.

  • The Monroe Doctrine of the 1820s declared US opposition to further European colonization in the Americas but was initially unenforceable. Over the 19th century its meaning strengthened as US power and influence grew in the region.

  • In the post-World War 2 period, the US sought to enforce stability in the Caribbean region and limit European influence, particularly in countries like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Central America. The US also purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million in 1917.

  • During the Cold War, the Caribbean became a focal point as military dictators rose across Latin America and were challenged by freedom movements, some associated with communism. Cuba’s 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro further heightened tensions.

  • The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closest to nuclear war and marked the height of Cold War tensions in the region.

  • Most Caribbean islands gained independence peacefully from European powers in the 1960s-1980s. Haiti experienced political violence and natural disasters.

  • The US invaded Grenada in 1983 due to concerns about its Marxist-leaning government and to protect US citizens after a coup. This exposed issues with US military cooperation.

  • Despite natural beauty, the Caribbean region struggles with poverty, corruption, violence and weak governance due to its legacy of slavery, small wars, exploitation and frequent natural disasters. It has fallen behind economically.

  • The passage discusses the promise and peril of the Arctic Ocean. It is the only major ocean that has not seen significant military combat due to its remote, frozen location.

  • There is tension between protecting the Arctic’s pristine environment and developing its vast natural resources. Russia and NATO also face off across the Arctic, risking renewed tensions.

  • Scientists want to preserve the Arctic for research, while tourism operators seek to open it up for eco-tourism. Achieving the right balance will be challenging.

  • Historically, the Arctic was an area of mystery and myth. Early maps often depicted it as habitable land at the top of the world, and it captivated explorers for centuries seeking the Northwest Passage.

  • Today the Arctic is rapidly opening due to climate change, bringing both opportunities and risks that will require careful management and cooperation between nations to maximize benefits and avoid conflict. It holds potential as a zone of peace if properly stewarded.

  • The Arctic Ocean covers around 5.4 million square miles north of the Arctic Circle, making it similar in size to Antarctica. However, it remains less mapped and explored than the moon or Mars.

  • It is estimated to contain significant undiscovered oil, gas, minerals, and fish stocks, which are becoming increasingly accessible due to climate change reducing sea ice cover. This has geopolitical and economic implications.

  • Russia has the largest Arctic population and considers itself a key Arctic power. It is heavily investing in Arctic infrastructure like icebreakers to control the Northern Sea Route.

  • Shipping through routes like the Northwest Passage is growing but remains unpredictable and dangerous due to the harsh climate and lack of ports/navigation aids.

  • While increased access to resources brings opportunities, the perilous Arctic conditions like severe weather and lack of infrastructure pose ongoing challenges for development and could increase risks of incidents. Geopolitical tensions between Arctic powers over control of these regions also threaten stability.

  • The Arctic is a harsh and dangerous environment with lack of infrastructure for rescue or monitoring. If issues arise, help is far away.

  • Governance of the Arctic is complex, with overlapping international agreements like UNCLOS and national claims. There are competing interests between Arctic nations.

  • Geopolitical competition exists as relations between Russia and NATO countries deteriorate. Warming opens more sea ice for interaction.

  • Warming permafrost could melt and release massive amounts of methane, worsening climate change catastrophically.

  • Russia sees the Arctic as central to its identity and interests. It has the largest Arctic population and infrastructure. While tensions exist, cooperation is also possible between nations in the Arctic.

  • Canada has a large Arctic territory and coastline, and places high priority on its Arctic role both ecologically and geopolitically. It has expanded military surveillance of the Arctic Ocean and approaches. However, it also supports a balanced, multinational approach through the Arctic Council.

  • The European Arctic nations - Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland - collectively lack resources to match bigger players like Russia, Canada, US. They pursue national interests through the EU, NATO, and Arctic Council.

  • Norway is most focused on Russia due to territorial disputes. It wants a larger NATO presence while Canada prefers the Arctic Council’s leadership.

  • Denmark rules Greenland and sees uncertainty as Greenlanders seek more autonomy or independence amid resource discoveries. It is making seabed claims.

  • Iceland hopes to benefit from Arctic trade routes and hosts an annual Arctic conference. It wants to play a role alongside the five main Arctic nations.

  • Collectively, the European Arctic states show little coordination but pursue interests through various international forums and organizations. National priorities and roles vary.

  • Norway has taken an aggressive stance on NATO’s role in the Arctic due to concerns about potential conflicts with Russia over Arctic territories and resources. As NATO commander, the author worked to assuage Norwegian concerns.

  • Sweden and Finland watch Russia’s expanding Arctic military activities with concern, despite being neutral historically. They have drawn closer to NATO but are not seeking membership currently.

  • The US acquisition of Alaska from Russia in 1867 was extremely beneficial but the US traditionally paid little attention to the Arctic. Policy focus increased recently due to Russian assertions, Chinese interests, and environmental changes.

  • Significant Arctic natural resources and potential shipping routes make the region increasingly strategic. The US lacks an “Arctic identity” compared to other Arctic nations and has far fewer icebreakers than Russia.

  • Key challenges are rising US-Russia tensions, environmental damage from melting ice, future disputes over resources as exploitation increases, and the US lack of Arctic engagement and infrastructure like icebreakers.

  • The US needs to remain engaged in the Arctic Council, increase icebreaking capabilities, and develop a stronger strategic focus and identity regarding the Arctic.

  • The US needs to increase its participation and investment in the Arctic region. This includes sending high-level officials to consultations, appropriating significant funding to Arctic Council activities, and building coalitions within the Council.

  • The US needs to build more icebreakers to operate in the Arctic Ocean for both military and commercial purposes. While US submarines can break ice, more icebreakers are needed to take advantage of reduced shipping times, support offshore oil/gas, and enable science and tourism.

  • The US should take a leadership position within NATO on Arctic issues. There are varying views among NATO members on Arctic involvement, from Canada’s low tension approach to Norway’s desire for more intensive surveillance and integration. The US should lead NATO to engage more in the Arctic through exercises, surveillance, training, etc.

  • The US should enhance dialogue with Russia to ensure the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, not competition or conflict. Despite other disagreements, cooperation on commercial and navigational issues is important given Russia’s large Arctic interests.

  • The US needs an interagency approach involving multiple departments and agencies given the diverse Arctic interests and challenges that cut across the government.

  • Careful multilateral cooperation is needed to avoid militarizing the Arctic or allowing tensions to escalate into a new cold war-like zone of competition or conflict. Infrastructure development and emergency response capability could help foster cooperation.

  • The oceans are increasingly busy, with estimates of 50-60,000 large commercial ships operating at any given time across global shipping lanes. Interactions between commercial and military vessels are usually professional.

  • Despite extensive scientific knowledge about oceans, there remains much to learn about their functioning as a system and wisdom is still developing.

  • Oceans have been described as “the biggest crime scene” and “the outlaw sea” due to criminal activities like piracy, narcotics and weapons smuggling, illegal fishing, and contraband smuggling.

  • Piracy has historically been a major issue globally and remains a challenge today, especially in some regions. Lessons are being learned in how security forces, shipping companies, insurers, and organizations address it.

  • Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing poses major risks to fish stocks and is challenging to adequately mitigate through international cooperation so far.

  • Environmental damage from factors like global warming, pollution, and overfishing threatens ocean health. Knowledge of impacts is growing but solutions require global coordination and commitment.

  • Overall, while scientific knowledge of oceans is extensive, wisdom about addressing transnational challenges like crime and environmental issues through international cooperation is still developing.

  • Piracy has a long history dating back thousands of years in various parts of the world like the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea. It remains an issue today in areas like the Gulf of Guinea, Strait of Malacca, and waters off Somalia.

  • The costs of piracy are estimated at $15-20 billion annually from things like ransoms, insurance, security measures, and counter-piracy operations.

  • Piracy off Somalia arose due to poverty, lack of fishing opportunities, proximity to shipping lanes, and shipper complacency. It was linked to terrorist groups like Al Shabaab.

  • In 2009 when NATO took over counter-piracy efforts, attacks were rising dramatically to over 300 per year. Ships and crews were being held hostage.

  • An international coalition was formed including NATO, EU, Gulf states, Russia, China, India, and even Iran to conduct maritime patrols and counter-piracy operations.

  • By coordinating maritime patrols and using warships to apprehend pirates, attacks were reduced significantly by 2013 though the threat remains. International cooperation was key to the relative success against piracy off Somalia.

  • The operational area off the coast of Northeast Africa where piracy occurred is immense, roughly the size of Europe. It would be like trying to patrol all of Western Europe with just 15 police cars.

  • Maritime patrol aircraft and AWACS planes were used to monitor large areas from the air for many hours. They could direct ships and helicopters.

  • Ships tried to patrol convoys of commercial vessels rather than having each ship travel alone. There were not enough ships to escort each convoy.

  • Capturing pirates was challenging as they would discard evidence and claim to be fishermen. Local governments eventually agreed to prosecute some pirates.

  • Shipping companies implemented safety measures like convoys, barriers on ships, and secure areas for crews but fighting pirates was not their crews’ role.

  • Embarking private security teams aboard ships effectively stopped hijackings as pirates would back away from armed defenses.

  • International efforts also worked to address conditions driving piracy in Somalia and build up local law enforcement and courts.

  • While piracy decreased off Somalia, it rose in the Gulf of Guinea due to oil/gas production, militant groups like Boko Haram, and a history of lawlessness in the region. A multi-pronged approach was needed.

Piracy is increasing off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, reminiscent of previous issues off the east coast. Several Western nations are considering mounting another joint operation to suppress piracy in the region. While local coast guards, militaries and justice systems have improved, they remain highly corrupt. Long term solutions will require greater stability, honest policing, fair courts, jobs and education on shore to discourage piracy.

Fishing is another major challenge for ocean governance. Despite massive fish stocks, overfishing has led to the decline of over 60% of fish populations worldwide. Lack of accurate data, greed, lack of enforcement, destructive practices like bottom trawling, government subsidies that overbuild fleets, and bycatch that makes up 25% of catches all contribute to overfishing. International agreements have had limited success in regulating the industry due to lack of accountability from flags of convenience and underreporting. Stronger enforcement and deterring illegal fishing is needed to sustain fish populations.

The passage discusses several issues related to environmental degradation of the oceans:

  • Piracy and illegal fishing are significant problems enabled by flags of convenience that make enforcement difficult. Overfishing has reduced fish stocks by up to 50% since the 1970s.

  • The author recounts his personal realization in graduate school of the environmental damage caused by practices like dumping waste and bilge water at sea that were considered normal in the Navy.

  • Climate change is having major impacts like rising ocean temperatures up to 1 degree Fahrenheit in some areas, disrupting ecosystems and fish migration patterns. Rising sea levels threaten coastal lands and populations.

  • Oil pollution from offshore rigs, tankers, and spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster cause massive environmental damage. Offshore drilling is a complex business that visually impacts coastlines.

  • Resource exploitation and liquid hydrocarbon extraction are intertwined with oil pollution problems and damaging oceans, despite some improvements in regulation and awareness over time.

In summary, the passage discusses the environmental toll of overfishing, climate change, oil pollution, and resource exploitation on ocean ecosystems and coastal areas. The author reflects on how naval practices once viewed as normal are actually harmful.

  • The passage discusses various types of pollution that threaten the oceans, including oil spills from tanker accidents, routine oil pollution from sources like wastewater runoff, chemical pollution from industrial activities, dumping of plastic garbage, and dumping of medical waste and sewage.

  • It notes that while large spills get more attention, the steady input of pollution from numerous small sources may be an even bigger threat over the long run.

  • Protecting the oceans will require enhanced international cooperation through agreements like the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but efforts so far have had mixed results and oceans protection targets are not being met.

  • Interagency cooperation within countries also faces challenges of inadequate resources. Cooperation between public and private sectors like shipping companies will also be important.

  • Overall the outlook is cautiously optimistic if countries can strengthen enforcement of agreements and regulations through sanctions, courts, and public pressure, but cooperative efforts need to be significantly stepped up.

  • The passage discusses naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan and his theories of sea power, which emphasize a nation’s production, shipping, colonies/alliances, and geographic advantages. These theories still influence American naval strategy today.

  • Mahan argued national power depends on engagement via oceans across these vectors. His works are still studied and form the basis of U.S. sea power in the 21st century.

  • Key factors in developing sea power per Mahan include favorable geography like long coastlines and good harbors, which the U.S. possesses in abundance. Coastline length is more important than total land area.

  • Mahan developed his theories as a U.S. naval officer and president of the Naval War College. His body of work was highly influential, though he was a mediocre seaman who often bumped ships.

  • The passage analyzes how Mahan’s ideas still apply today but need updating for modern realities. It emphasizes continued work is needed to effectively manage international maritime issues.

  • Mahan emphasizes the importance of geography and natural attributes that enable sea power, like long coastlines. Canada has the largest coastline but much is inaccessible part of the year.

  • Demography is also important - the size and character of the population, including their propensity for naval service, shipbuilding, trade, etc. emphasizes trade and commerce as key drivers.

  • Consistent government support and understanding of sea power is needed to fully develop it.

  • Mahan advocated for a strong, muscular US fleet capable of defeating opponents at sea, like Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

  • Sea power allows countries to use naval forces for strategic containment of continental powers focused on land. He cites examples like Athens vs. Sparta and Britain dominating land powers through naval dominance.

  • Mahan’s principles still apply today - the US should maintain maritime capabilities, defend open global commons, and rely on alliances and partners around the world to maintain influence and access. This approach remains central to US maritime strategy.

Here is a summary of Mahan’s maritime strategy:

  • Maintain a robust maritime capability through supporting the maritime industry and global trading capability. Private sector is key to ensuring naval strength.

  • Pursue high levels of private-public operational integration and cooperation, such as sharing intelligence on ship movements to protect navigation and counter piracy threats.

  • Remain vigilant of rising sea powers like Russia and China that are improving their naval fleets, especially submarine capabilities, which Mahan would see as important to monitoring.

  • Maintain the ability to defeat potential naval competitors through superior maritime forces.

  • Focus would have been on naval engagements and sea control to support maritime trade. Joint operations integrating land, sea, air would surprise Mahan.

  • Emerging technologies like submarines, cyber warfare, satellites, and undersea cables integral to modern naval strategy could not have been predicted by Mahan.

In summary, Mahan emphasized developing naval strength to protect trade, monitoring rising powers, and traditional naval engagements, but would be surprised by modern integrated/joint operations, new technologies, and importance of undersea domains.

  • Internet speeds in Egypt plummeted by over 60% due to damage to an undersea cable in the Mediterranean.

  • Undersea cables are vulnerable to accidental damage from anchors or corrosion, as well as potential attacks. As more nations and groups develop capabilities to disrupt cables, the vulnerabilities will increase.

  • Technologies are improving to boost the capacity of undersea cables by over 50 times through new modulation techniques and submarine line terminal equipment. Unmanned systems are also helping to maintain and repair cables.

  • There are proposals to leverage undersea cables by creating airborne and sea-based mobile hubs connected by “risers” from the cables. This could provide broadband connectivity over large areas, with potential military and commercial applications. It would be much cheaper than satellite networks.

  • Protecting undersea cables is important as they form a vital part of the global communications infrastructure. Innovative ways to enhance their capabilities should also be explored through public-private partnerships.

So in summary, the key points discuss the importance of undersea cables for global connectivity, vulnerabilities they face, technologies to boost their capacity, and proposals to further leverage them through new networking architectures.

  • The global security environment is characterized by the rising importance of the Indo-Asia-Pacific, challenges to U.S. maritime access from China’s anti-access/area denial capabilities, threats from terrorist and criminal networks, increasing maritime territorial disputes, and threats to maritime commerce.

  • The U.S. is pursuing forward presence and partnerships, with more ships, aircraft and Marines operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and expanding cooperation with allies globally.

  • Sea power is required to protect homeland security, provide sea control through carrier strike groups, amphibious task forces, surface warships and submarines. Access across all domains is imperative.

  • Against budget constraints, flexible, agile and highly trained forces with a balanced mix of assets are needed for deterrence, sea control, power projection and maritime security tasks like countering terrorism.

  • Maintaining adequate U.S. fleet size and military spending is crucial to ensure control of ocean approaches and sea lanes vital to U.S. strategy, especially in the strategic “twin towers” of the North Atlantic and Pacific.

  • The organization of U.S. fleets, with command structures for the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, western Pacific/Indian Ocean and Latin America/Caribbean, remains viable but an eighth fleet for the Indian Ocean may be needed.

  • In 2006, the author established the Fourth Fleet to better coordinate naval operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was controversial in some countries who saw it as a return to US imperialism.

  • The author argues that Guantanamo Bay naval base serves important strategic purposes beyond just being a detention center. It could be a hub for regional humanitarian, disaster relief, and counternarcotics efforts through more international cooperation.

  • The Mediterranean and South China Seas are also important regions where increased US naval presence is needed. The Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean should be larger to counter Russian and extremist threats.

  • In the South China Sea, working with allies and partners is key to maintaining a balance amid China’s rising influence. More US submarines and an aircraft carrier should be stationed there permanently.

  • Regarding North Korea, stronger international sanctions are needed, especially from China. Missile defense systems like THAAD should be deployed to South Korea and Japan to protect against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities. Pressure on China to curb North Korea is also important.

  • The US, Japan, and South Korea should cooperate on regional missile defense, conducting joint exercises integrating their Patriot, Aegis, and other systems.

  • The US should work closely with South Korea and Japan to conduct aggressive cyber operations against North Korea’s weapons programs and critical infrastructure. If necessary, the US should be prepared to attack North Korea’s electrical grid in response to an attack.

  • The US should further link South Korea and Japan in air and maritime cooperation to deter North Korea, such as conducting large annual exercises focusing on the North Korean threat with an emphasis on cyber operations.

  • While negotiations with North Korea seem unlikely to be fruitful, the US should keep communication channels open but be cautious of falling into familiar cycles where North Korea receives concessions without changing its behavior. Engaging China is important for negotiations to succeed.

  • The US Seventh Fleet will need advanced weapons systems like Aegis missiles, carrier presence in the Pacific and Japan, Marine Corps elements in Okinawa and Guam, ballistic missile submarines, bases in Japan, Philippines, Australia, Vietnam, and cyber and special forces support to deal with threats like China and North Korea.

  • The US should strengthen ties with India through naval cooperation like exercises and selling Aegis, cooperate on nuclear submarines, and counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean. It should also work with allies Australia, New Zealand, and the UK in the region.

  • Maintaining a naval presence in the Arabian Gulf with a carrier group and Marines is essential given the importance of the region’s oil flows. The US also needs icebreakers and infrastructure to operate in the Arctic.

The passage argues that a nation’s security and prosperity forever depends on its naval power and sailors. It acknowledges that being a maritime nation requires maintaining a strong navy to secure access to the seas and protect economic and trade interests that flow through maritime routes. Sailors are recognized as providing crucial security by manning ships and maintaining the nation’s presence on the oceans. The passage presents the view that the protection and prosperity a nation derives from the sea can only be guaranteed through maintaining robust sea power projected by naval forces and sailors. In summary, it expresses that a maritime nation will always rely on its navy and sailors to safeguard its security and enable prosperity gained from international commerce that transits the oceans.

Here is a summary of the key points from the page references provided:

  • Shinzo Abe was the prime minister of Japan from 2012-2020 who sought to bolster Japan’s military capabilities.

  • Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates located on the Persian Gulf.

  • The Achille Lauro hijacking was a terrorist attack in 1985 where Palestinian hijackers seized an Italian cruise ship.

  • Adak is a town located on an Aleutian island in Alaska.

  • The book “Admiral Bill Halsey: A Naval Life” provides a biography of the famous US Navy admiral.

  • The German battleship Admiral Graf Spee fought the British in the early stages of World War II.

  • HMS Adventure was one of Captain Cook’s ships that explored the Pacific in the late 18th century.

  • The Aegean Sea separates Greece from Turkey and was an important naval battleground in World War II.

  • The AEGIS Combat System is an advanced naval weapons and defense system used by multiple navies including the US.

  • Afghanistan has experienced conflict and instability for decades that has impacted regional maritime security.

So in summary, the references provide context on important locations, naval vessels, historical figures, and events related to maritime geography, history, and security. Let me know if you need any part of the summary expanded on.

  • Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya from 1969 until 2011 when he was overthrown and killed during the Libyan Civil War.

  • Garbage disposal is a major issue for ships and ocean pollution.

  • Fritz Gaylord was a US admiral during World War II.

  • Genoa was an important Mediterranean port city.

  • Georgia and Germany were involved in World War II fighting in various locations.

  • The Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, were major theaters of naval warfare during World War II.

  • Mel Gibson starred in the film The Captain and the Enemy.

  • GPS allows for precise global positioning.

  • The Golden Hind was an English ship that circumnavigated the globe in the 16th century.

  • The Golden Horn is an inlet that hosted naval forces in Istanbul.

  • Sergei Gorshkov modernized the Soviet navy in the Cold War era.

  • The Great Barrier Reef is an ecosystem off the coast of Australia.

  • The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea via the Great Bitter Lake.

  • Britain has a long naval history globally.

  • Japan sought to control the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” during World War II.

  • The Great Wall of China was originally intended for defense but was less effective against naval powers.

  • China has constructed artificial islands in the South China Sea, dubbed the “great wall of sand”.

  • Greece and the Greeks had naval activity historically in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean.

  • Piracy has been an issue affecting many ocean regions over time.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Pacific from the provided sections:

  • The Pacific is estimated to have a surface area of around 60 million square miles, making it much larger than the Atlantic or Indian Oceans.

  • The author describes crossing the Pacific by boat from California to Australia, highlighting the vast expanse and isolation of the ocean.

  • Outrigger canoes were traditionally used by Polynesians to traverse the Pacific, settling islands thousands of miles apart through expansive voyages.

  • Overfishing is a major problem in the Pacific, with some fish stocks declining by as much as 90% due to unsustainable fishing practices. This poses a threat to food security and economic livelihoods.

  • The United States fought several important campaigns in the Pacific during World War 2, including the battles of Pearl Harbor, Midway, and the Philippines, which were pivotal in turning the tide against Japan.

  • Controlling the Pacific is seen as economically and strategically important, with the U.S. maintaining a strong naval presence through multiple fleet commands headquartered in the region.

Here is a summary of the key points from Bern Bailyn’s Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (2005):

  • Bailyn argues for the adoption of an Atlantic world historical perspective that views the Atlantic Ocean as an interconnected zone of interaction and exchange.

  • Previous historiography considered histories of North America, South America, Europe, and Africa separately without appreciating their connections in the Atlantic world.

  • An Atlantic perspective recognizes transoceanic connections and sees the Atlantic as a conduit for the movement of peoples, commodities, plants, animals, diseases, and ideas between Europe, Africa, and the Americas from the 15th century onwards.

  • Major themes of Atlantic history include European colonial expansion and conquest, the African slave trade, forced migration of enslaved peoples, religious and cultural diffusion, development of plantation societies, trade networks, revolutions and independence movements.

  • Adopting this perspective opens up new historical questions about processes of creolization, comparative colonialism, globalization in early modern times, and the role of the Atlantic in the shaping of national and regional identities on both sides.

  • Bailyn argues Atlantic history can help address some of the limitations of national history frameworks and calls for more collaborative, cross-disciplinary work on Atlantic themes and interactions.

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About Matheus Puppe