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  • Author: Howard J. Fuller
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The role of seapower in nurturing American security and prosperity has long been exaggerated, if not wholly misrepresented. Throughout the nineteenth century, the nation’s first generations of leaders exhibited a healthy skepticism toward free trade and the maritime hegemony of the British Empire. By focusing on domination of the country’s littoral space during the Civil War, the U.S. Navy succeeded in shielding the Union from European interference. It was not the assumption of the British mantle that safeguarded the nation; rather, U.S. preeminence was secured by rejection of maritime overreach. Strong anti-British tariffs and industrial protectionism were the cornerstones of sustained commercial growth and genuine national independence. The unique problem with seapower, even in the contemporary period, is how easily we can glorify it. We love the sea, and mighty ships, and we tend to flaunt what we love, but this relationship has no place in a grand strategy that acknowledges the limited historical contribution of free trade to the American economy.
  • Topic: Security, History, Economy, Maritime, Oceans and Seas, Trade, Seapower
  • Political Geography: Britain, North America, United States of America, Oceans
  • Author: Alexander Tabarrok, Alex Nowrasteh
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Government employment of private military firms is not a new phenomenon. During the Age of Sail, naval powers issued privateering licenses to shipowners, allowing and encouraging them to raid enemy commerce and attack foreign navies during times of war – a system that bears several similarities to modern military contracting. But private enterprise did not go to war in a legal vacuum. How do countries make the incentives for private security firms align with national policy in the 21st century?
  • Topic: History, Maritime Commerce, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Britain, Global Focus, United States of America, Oceans
  • Author: John H. Maurer
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: On the eve of the Second World War, the noted journalist John Gunther could still maintain that: “Great Britain, as everyone knows, is the greatest Asiatic power.”[1] The British Empire in Asia controlled a vast territory and large population, sweeping in a great arc from New Zealand and Australia in the South Pacific, to Southeast Asia and South China, and on to India and the Middle East. Britain stood as a superpower with economic interests and security commitments stretching around the globe, much as the United States stands today. That position of leadership, however, was endangered. The emergence of major new industrial great powers was transforming the international landscape. These challengers, as they converted their growing economic strength into military power, confronted Britain’s leaders with uncomfortable strategic choices. In Asia, one of those rising challengers, imperial Japan, posed a dangerous threat to Britain’s standing as a world power after it embarked on a policy of expansion. We know the outcome of Japan’s challenge: war and the catastrophic breakdown of Britain’s standing in Asia. The collapse of British power was in part brought about by dynamic changes in technology and the lethality of modern weaponry, particularly the advent of naval aviation, which shifted the naval balance in Japan’s favor. On the eve of war, Britain sought to deter Japan by forming a naval force in the Pacific, known to history as Force Z, consisting of the battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse. Even as Force Z steamed eastward, the Admiralty could spare none of its aircraft carriers, to protect it from air attack. Nor did the Royal Air Force have enough modern aircraft based in the Far East to offer adequate protection for Force Z. Britain’s inability to control the skies meant the Royal Navy could not command the seas, and this permitted the Japanese to land ground forces in Malaya and seize Singapore, the strategic pivot of British defenses in Asia. Not since Yorktown had Britain suffered such a crushing setback. The world’s leading naval power had been bested by a challenger that exploited innovations in technology and doctrine to gain a marked qualitative edge in fighting power.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, History, Power Politics, Budget, Navy
  • Political Geography: Britain, Japan, Asia-Pacific, United States of America