Alfred T. Mahan's Sea Power Strategy

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“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 becoming a world power and argued that the navy was the sole determining factor of national destinies, and that sea power was the decisive factor in war. He would go onto write numerous articles that were published in prominent journals and magazines that greatly influenced the attitude of the American public opinion on foreign policy and enhanced their support for U.S. overseas expansion. No other singular individual has so dramatically influenced and shaped American foreign policy as Alfred T. Mahan and his sea power theory. Acting almost exclusively on Mahan’s book, American expansionists would go on to protect America’s expanding mercantile trade in Asia through the speedy build-up of a large navy, the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, the extension U.S. control over the Philippines and other key Pacific Islands for coaling stations and the construction of the Panama canal. The doctrine of sea power is the highlight of all of Mahan’s writings. The idea that sea power is the key factor of a nation’s destiny was advocated in the light of the naval wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wars fought by the great powers for colonies and new markets. He concentrated on the history of the British colonial empire and the...
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