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Forum LockedAlfred Thayer Mahan

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Timotheus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Timotheus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Alfred Thayer Mahan
    Posted: 06-Feb-2007 at 00:12
Has anybody here read his books? What do you think of his ideas?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2007 at 00:56

The Influence of Sea Power on History, or whatever? Yeah, he has a point. A strong navy heralds the path to Empire.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2007 at 04:46
Very influential book, that led to the strategic naval arms race of the early 20th century.
 
It's an awful long time since I read it, but it probably ought to be read by any serious naval historian.
 
And of course it's a great antidote to the delusion that wars, other than local ones, are won by armies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 00:45
There should be much more to this thread than three short posts.  I think most people would agree that Mahan's influence was important, and that his historical analysis was sound.
 
What were some of the ramifications of the acceptance of his theses?  For example, what influence was there on European states' maritime policies?
 
Britain?
 
Germany?
 
In the Mediterranean (France, Italy)?
 
How about Japan?
 
I do think there is so much more to discuss.  Hopefully there is interest.
 
(Incidentally, we waste a lot of good and interesting threads on AE.  Let's revive some to keep these forums active.  Things tend to really slow down here.)
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 14:49
It didn't really affect British policy much, since the book endorsed what was already British policy. I guess it made things harder for Britain since it encouraged other powers, no names no packdrill, to strive harder to emulate them. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 15:09
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

It didn't really affect British policy much, since the book endorsed what was already British policy. I guess it made things harder for Britain since it encouraged other powers, no names no packdrill, to strive harder to emulate them. 
 
This may be a good starting point for the discussion.  I will need to get specifics, but I do recall Admiralty officials stating that Mahan's writing was a great help in persuading the correct Parliamentary influences to increase appropriations for the navy in the 1880s.  By the 1880s, Britain may have become anesthetized by her accustomed position ruling the waves, and to taking superiority for granted.
 
The 1880s saw an increasing interest in naval policy by France (the jeune ecole approach to naval strategy), by the US, in interest if not yet in means, and later by Germany.  by the mid 1890s, Japan was ordering battleships from British yards.  Not long after, Italian engineers were designing all big gun ships, contemporaneously with Dreadnought.
 
Was all that "chicken" or "egg?"  I don't know but I think there was a Mahan effect.
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 15:26
I guess Mahan's book was helpful to the Admiralty in terms of getting money out of Parliament. I really meant I don't think it affected Admiralty thinking that much.
 
But I do accept the chain Mahan writes his book --> Germany, Japan, etc are convinced by it --> they massively increase spending on naval armaments --> Admiralty tells politicians Britain is in danger of losing its lead --> Admiralty leaks same worries to newspapers --> politicians vote more money for the Navy.
 
So like I said back then, Mahan's book was a prime factor in leading to the naval arms races of the late 19th early 20th centuries. But the Admiralty always did think the Navy was more important than anything else (so did the great British public at that time).
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