Mahan identified three critical elements of seapower:
(1) weapons of war, primarily battleships and their supply
(2) a near monopoly of seaborne commerce from which to
draw wealth, manpower, and supplies; and
(3) a string of colonies to support both of the above. His
theories, however, rested on two serious fallacies.
First, his overreliance upon the notion of concentrating
forces falsely denied the importance of coastal defense,
and undervalued commerce raiding. These assumptions
forced strategists to search for a decisive, war winning
battle, often in vain. Second, he overstated the strategic
benefits of controlling seaborne commerce and colonies.
Whereas in peacetime these components of empire
frequently contributed to wealth and consequently to
long‐ term strength, in war they often proved to be
liabilities. Mahan's timeless principles, as enacted along
the lines of late nineteenth century navalism, had the
effect of turning America's strategic vision of itself on its
side; instead of remaining an unassailable continental
power with maritime reach, it became an overstretched
maritime power with global vulnerabilities.
Malthusian (19th century)
1. Food grows arithmetically (1,2,3,4,5....)
2. Population grows exponentially (1, 2, 4, 8, 12, .....)
3. Population checks needed - private (moral restraint, celibacy, chastity) or destructive (war, poverty, pestilence, famine)
Fell out of favor since did not explain European population growth)
Neo-malthusian (revived 1950's, underdeveloped countries, primarily Africa)
To lift living standards, the existing government efforts to lower mortality rates had to be balanced by government programs to reduce birth rates. Rapid popul;ation growth diverted scarce resources away from capital investments and into unending social welfare programs
Countries develop through five stages:
Stage 1: Traditional - subsistence agriculture, low technology levels, poorly developed commercial economies leading to low productivity per capita
Stage 2: Preconditions for takeoff- led by enterprising elite, begin to organize political rather than kinship units, invest in transportation and other infrastructures
Stage 3: Takeoff-critical 20-30 years, rates of investment increase, new industries established, resources exploited, growth becomes expected norm
Stage 4: Drive to Maturity-application of modern technology to all phases of economic activity, diversification, economy increasingly self-sufficient
Stage 5: Age of Mass Consumption-consumer goods and services begin to rival heavy industry, consumption levels far above basic needs
N.J. Spykman could be considered as a disciple and critic
of both geostrategists Alfred Mahan, of the United States
Navy, and Halford Mackinder, the British geographer.
Spykman states that historically battles have pitted Britain
and rimland allies against Russia and its rimland allies, or
Britain and Russia together against a dominating rimland
power. In other words, the Eurasian struggle was not the
sea powers containing the heartland, but the prevention
of any power from ruling the rimland.
Spykman recalls Mackinder's famous dictum,
Who controls eastern Europe rules
Who controls the Heartland rules
the World Island; and
Who rules the World Island rules
but disagrees, refashioning it thus:
Who controls the rimland rules
Who rules Eurasia controls the
destinies of the world.
Therefore, British, Russian, and U.S. power would play
the key roles in controlling the European littoral, and
thereby, the essential power relations of the world.