28 July 2009

Arms and Influence at Sea

Thomas Culora and Andrew Erickson, Arms and Influence at Sea,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2009.

Robert Kaplan (“Center Stage for the Twenty-first Century,” March/April 2009) correctly underscores the Indian Ocean’s strategic importance. But in envisioning “dynamic great-power rivalry” between Beijing and New Delhi there, he is too pessimistic about the United States’ ability to maintain influence, too optimistic about China’s ability to exert influence rapidly, and too dismissive of India’s inherent regional advantages.

Kaplan contends that the United States must skillfully manage an inevitable decline by leveraging the support of allies. But the U.S. military has successfully sustained its level of operations in the region while expanding its range of missions. Washington is working intently with its partners to support cooperative maritime activities globally, as expressed in the maritime strategy released in October 2007.