Analysis Of Mahan's Advocacy For Sea Power Against Mackinder's Views On A Nation's Economic Prosperity And Security
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In many scholarly and military circles, the writings of Mahan and Mackinder are often portrayed as two purist theories opposing one another. Scholars pit Mahan’s advocacy for sea power against Mackinder’s insights into the benefits of land power and soon the real genius of both is lost. (For examples, see Dodds and Sidaway 292, 2004 and Colls 238-239, 2002 as cited in Dodds and Sidaway 293, 2004 and Holmes and Yoshihara 25, 2005).
In truth, in almost every respect, Mahan’s and Mackinder’s views are complementary. While Mahan does emphasize the importance of sea power to a nation’s economic prosperity and security, his passionate insight is a far cry from any assertion against the importance of land power. Conversely, Mackinder’s insights focus quite extensively on the potential for a country to develop a powerful land force on the core of the Eurasian landmass, but again we see throughout his writing the underlying assumption of the importance of sea power. Both men agreed on so many salient points that it is far better to read their works as a whole and thereby glean the collective wisdom of their perspectives, than to analyze them separately as two opposing schools of thought. In this way, one can see that their complementary insights are greater than the sum of their individual works.
There are a few scholars that recognize this unfortunate trend of depicting a false land power vs. sea power debate. Jon Sumida is one who acknowledges that the Mahan texts are often