Economic strength and naval power

February 14, 2012

The theoretical foundation for this blog lie in World System Analysis in general and in Modelski’s Long Cycle Theory in particular.  From this perspective, the world is best understood as a unitary economic system that relies on a single, powerful leader (hegemon) to set the rules and to maintain order.  Throughout the ~500  year existence of the current Modern World System, that leading nation has always been a maritime power with a relatively open society and a trading economy.   That nation is currently the US and there is no obvious successor state (I think India could fill the role in the long term, but that nation probably needs a few more decades of political, economic and especially naval development to fully take up the mantle).

The leading nation has always been challenged by a land based power operating in system that is relatively more closed both politically and economically.  If the US allows its naval power to decay or otherwise declines to maintain leadership, then the world system will undergo substantial change.  Either a continental power (China) will assume leadership and assert a new set of rules, or the system will devolve into relative anarchy.  Therefore, if the US wishes to ensure that its primary interests of liberty and prosperity are maintained, it must maintain its strategic power.  To me, that means both naval and air power, even at the expense of a large army and standing forces deployed around the globe.  Gordon England, former Secretary of the Navy and Deputy Secretary of Defense, made the case for the linkage of naval power and national economic success from a less theoretical but more grounded perspective in last month’s edition of Proceedings, the journal of the Naval Institute.

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