Sea Power and American Interests in the Western Pacific

Sea Power and American Interests in the Western Pacific

Sea Power and American Interests in the Western Pacific

Sea Power and American Interests in the Western Pacific

Excerpt

The idea for this book originated during research done by the author and Phil Saunders of the National Defense University on the mutual strategic vulnerabilities of China and the United States. That work, which culminated in The Paradox of Power: Sino-American Strategic Restraint in an Era of Vulnerability (National Defense University Press, 2012), proposed measures the two powers could take to reduce the dangers of conflict in the nuclear, anti-satellite, and cyber-war domains. But it left dangling one problem, arguably as important: the maritime domain—in particular, the looming competition and potential confrontation between Chinese and American sea power in the Western Pacific and adjacent seas.

Just as that region has entered a period of change, owing to China’s expanding power, so is the nature of sea power changing. As a consequence, great uncertainty surrounds the question of who will control these vital waters—a question of importance for the United States, China, the rest of the region, and the world. With global economic integration, reliance on sea-borne trade and sea-based resources is growing. So is interest in cooperative maritime security, an idea advanced by the world’s leading naval power, the United States. At the same time, technology is increasing the vulnerability of naval vessels and shipping on the oceans’ surface. If the latter development means that the maritime domain may become less secure, the former development suggests an alternative to maritime competition and confrontation. Indeed, the rush of technology could push rivals at sea to become partners at sea instead.

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