Maritime Forces in Global Security: Comparative Views of Maritime Strategy as We Appraoch the 21st Century

By Tritten, James J. | Naval War College Review, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview

Maritime Forces in Global Security: Comparative Views of Maritime Strategy as We Appraoch the 21st Century


Tritten, James J., Naval War College Review


Griffiths, Ann L., and Peter T. Haydon, eds. Maritime Forces in Global Security: Comparative Views of Maritime Strategy as We Approach the 21 st Century. Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie Univ., 1995. 362pp. $12

This book (fifth in a series of conferences and colloquia on maritime security hosted by Dalhousie University's Centre for Foreign Policy Studies) contains the proceedings of an international colloquium held in June 1994. Its aim was to examine different views of the role of maritime forces, and especially medium maritime powers, in the closing days of the twentieth century. Participants represented primarily Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, but they also came from France, Australia, Argentina, and India.

This work addresses four main topics: new issues in maritime security, cooperative security, maritime strategies of medium maritime powers, and the future of Canadian naval forces.

Although many of the contributors believe that navies no longer exist only to fight wars, one of the major themes addressed at the conference (and by the entire series) is that if warfare at sea cannot be prevented, there should be procedures by which we can cooperate to limit its consequences. The UN figures heavily in the essays.

Another major area of interest was the relationship between the one superpower navy and the world's mediumpower navies. Rear Admiral Richard Hill (Royal Navy, retired) offers a refinement of the definition of a mediumpower navy. Many of the authors point out the differences between the new regional approach to international relations, involving medium powers, and the former global approach that typified the Cold War. The former appears more complex than the latter, and regional issues may be more routinely a threat to peace. It is interesting to note that at least one author still believes that the United States is playing world policeman, despite both words and deeds to the contrary.

It would appear that many of the authors here assume that the United States will have to rely more on its allies and friends and that occasionally these nations may have to go it alone. Consideration of this question is typical of a conference held in a medium-power nation, but the issue is generally ignored in the U.S. armed forces. American naval officers especially generally assume that their allied and coalition partners produce seagoing officers that share both their own love of the sea and their political objectives. …

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