Poseidon or Mars? That’s the question that Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain, takes up in the cover story of the latest issue of National Review: “To Rule the Waves: Why America Must Be a Sea Power.”
The United States was founded as a self-consciously maritime nation, but we’ve strayed from our roots, Hendrix argues. A Cold War buildup to defend the West from Soviet tyranny, 20 years of battle against terrorism, and the naïve and misguided hope of collecting an End of History “peace dividend” has left the U.S. Navy badly understrength and underfunded in this new era of great-power competition with Chinese and Russian aggression.
Because the United States has presented itself as a global leader, it must continue to lead globally so that the security structure it has created can sustain itself. Should China in the South China Sea or Russia in the Arctic successfully create and then sustain a carve-out to the concept of the free sea, should either create a local sphere of influence, it will make a lie of the entire American-led global system, introduce instability, and most assuredly lead to a disastrous and costly war.
In today’s dangerous world, a sea power strategy for a sea-power nation will have many benefits: Sea power is cost-effective compared with maintaining large land armies, it’s a prudent move during a period of suspicion of foreign adventurism, and it is one of the best ways that the U.S. government can invest in the American industrial base.
Our national security-economic-industrial game plan should embrace the “decision to return to the Founders’ intent of placing naval power first in our national strategy,” Hendrix writes, “reduce American boots-on-the-ground continentalist commitments around the world, and focus on investing in maritime commercial trade and a naval offshore-balancing military strategy.”
Elsewhere in the issue, Phil Klein looks at why some people seem to be embracing a philosophy of COVID Forever. Rob Long explores Tinder chat transcripts. Al Felzenberg reviews a new biography of the Magnificent Nancy Reagan. And Charlie Cooke busts open the myth of “Rebekah Jones: the COVID Whistleblower Who Isn’t.”
(Oh yeah — and don’t miss the bus on Ross Douthat’s road trip through a robot apocalypse.)
In 17 articles — across culture, current events, and politics — NR is the captain of your Poseidon Adventure.