Land power versus sea power Name: Institution: Land Power versus Sea Power In classical geopolitics, one theoretical dispute that persisted was that of the value of land power against that of sea power. While Alfred Mahan championed for sea power primacy, Halford Mackinder was a proponent of the belief that any nation with the ability to gain primacy over the heartland of Eurasia would give him an overwhelming land power…
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This dichotomy has not been limited to the perspectives of the Anglo-Americans on hegemonic power. Alexander Dugin, the geopolitical theorist from Russia, argued that this was core to international conflict, contending that these positions are the basis of cultural differences that will be in conflict all the time. This paper aims to discuss the two concepts and show whether they are relevant or obsolete in international relations. Mahan’s idea contends that the potency of a nation is dependent on unobstructed access to the sea in order to conduct trade. His interpretation of sea power was the total of factors and forces, geographical circumstances and tools, operated to attain sea command and secure it from enemies (Gray, 2009). In Mahan’s formulation, sea power included colonies, shipping, and domestic production. America, he said, had to build and maintain a massive combat navy to be fuelled by coal stations in the colonies. His argument was on the basis that the United States should become internationally competitive for the protection of itself. Mahan articulated ideas on sea power importance and the desire to see an expansionist philosophy for the American nation. Mackinder, on the other hand, extended his land power theory. He said the land surface could be subdivided into various parts. One was the world island that included Africa, Asia, and Europe interlinked together. This combination was the richest, most populous, and largest of them all (Kennedy, 2004). Another part was the offshore islands which included the Japanese and British Islands. Finally, he identified the outlying islands such as Australia, South America, and North America. It was the heartland which he saw as lying at the centre of the island of the world, extending from the arctic to the Himalayas and from the Yangtze to the Volga. During his era, the heartland was that controlled by the empire of Russia, later by the Soviets without the Vladivostok and the area around it. Mackinder predicted that the rimlands, as he called them, would become less relevant as industrialization caught on in the heartlands and as the inland became more accessible by the railway system. This would make land an asset rather than a barrier to communication. Eventually, Russia would tap the massive natural resources and manpower it had and overshadow its fellow powers in the west. Mahan’s theory remains relevant to date especially as far as its logic goes. America’s power in the sea has now turned on the ability of the navy to preserve access to the Eastern part of Asia, as well as the Middle East, which are the theatres of American maritime operations. The strategic gaze of the Americans now lies on Asia as its maritime target. However, costs for such projects are increasing while budget acquisition becomes stagnant. This, in turn, has led to downward pressure on the fleet size of the American Navy. The ability of the Sea Services to carry out the maritime strategy of 2007 is now becoming a doubt. The Chinese Navy, on the other hand, is on a quite different trajectory (Gilboy & Higginbotham, 2012). It now has new aircraft, submarines, and new ships. While these assets may not be equal to the American assets, their fleet is more focused on Asia. With the US placing more focus on a global scale, they could not apply adequate force at a theatre. An ASBM under construction
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