When America inherited the role of British empire it did so largely by inheriting the mantle of sea power. Perhaps never has control of the sea been so important as these early years of the 21st century. Whoever controls the sea has direct power over the undersea fiber optic cables that carry information across the planet; who rules the waves controls the vast flows of oil and merchandise which make a global economy possible. Now we find that last but not least, huge power sources at the sea have the power to burn up anything in orbit.
America still rules the waves. That is perhaps its greatest single trump card. Two hundred years ago another maritime power struggled against an invincible conqueror on land. Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies were unbeatable. But powerful as he was on land, his influence ended at the water’s edge. His ports were blockaded. He could not even cross the channel and turn his might on a small island only two dozen miles away from France itself. Mahan described Britain’s advantage memorably:
Those far distant storm- beaten ships upon which the Grand Army never looked stood between it and the dominion of the world.
The most telling indicator of a serious challenge to American global dominance would be a Chinese blue water navy.
Just file it away, nothing to worry about, nothing to see here…