Alfred T. Mahan's Sea Power Strategy

1673 Words Oct 14th, 2010 7 Pages
“Wherever the U.S. Navy goes U.S. commerce follows”[1]
Alfred T. Mahan and the influence of sea power on U.S. expansion in the Pacific

Alfred T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power upon History in 1890, outlined and argued that three factors were crucial to The United States' rise to the position of a great world power; the construction of a canal in Central America, the expansion of U.S. naval power, and the establishment of trade/military posts in the Pacific, as a means to stimulate trade with China. This book placed a strong emphasis on the idea that a strong navy stimulated trade, and influenced policy makers such as Theodore Roosevelt and other key proponents of a large navy. Mahan pointed out the importance of sea power in
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Mahan viewed the sea as a center of gravity of vital strategic interest to the United States. Any limitation of, or challenge to, U.S. military power, particularly if it came from the sea, would constrain the nation and harm its national interests. Any victory of U.S. arms upon the sea would give the nation the luxury of independent action in pursuing its interests. While singling out and considering one by one the other components of sea power, Mahan drew the conclusion that the United States had the potential for developing this power. He noted two key elements: the character and will of the American people and the nation’s large industrial potential.
The basic law for the life of nations, as Mahan saw it, was that nations must struggle with one another for existence and unless the United States was strong in the struggle, particularly at sea, it would perish. Therefore, the United States must build a large navy, seize new naval bases and colonies, force open distant markets and enter whole heartedly into the competition of the great nations for the possession and domination of the earth. He wrote that it was of the utmost importance to acquire overseas stations for the Navy:
“Having ... no foreign establishments, either colonial or military, the ships of war of the United States, in war, will like land birds, unable to fly far
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