Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stavridis on 'Sea Power,' Service

by Bill Doughty

Retired Admiral James Stavridis told NPR's Steve Inskeep last month, "You know what you see when you look out the bridge of a ship? You see eternity."

He spoke about being a young ship handler coming into Pearl Harbor for the first time, and seeing the experience as a lesson in not being “overly impulsive,” not acting unilaterally, and instead relying on the power of teamwork. “It's a powerful metaphor for almost everything in life.”

In a talk to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Policy on June 5, Stavridis says, "Sea Power is at the heart of American Power":

We are a maritime nation in an ocean-reliant world.  

Stavridis, a surface warfare officer and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, takes readers on a personal journey at sea and on the world stage, reflecting how the seas have shaped who we are today.

The author of "Sea Power" (Penguin Press, 2017) has a wide and long vision. His book is subtitled, "The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans."
He calls the oceans the "lungs" of the earth. He notes that 95 percent of the world's trade is by sea. And, he shows that today's potential conflict flashpoints are tied to the waters: western Pacific (North Korea), Arctic (as climate change creates new sea routes), Indian Ocean ("a space of geopolitical criticality), South China Sea (with key sea lanes), eastern Mediterranean Sea (which "has seen more war than any other sea space on earth").
He looks at the Caribbean as a region shared by many people "of the America's" and a zone of partnership. And he singles out India as a hopeful beacon for the future of democracy. He is an advocate of humanitarian missions as good investments for a more peaceful world.

Earlier this year Stavridis served as a keynote speaker at West 2017, where he spoke about what we need for interconnected global and national security:

He facilitated a discussion with the chiefs of the sea services, too, posing and leading questions with the commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard and with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson:

In April 2017, he presented the commencement address at Dickinson College and spoke about education, political diplomacy, humanitarian medical care, entrepreneurial spirit, freedom of the press, and volunteerism. The theme is the importance of service, exemplified by the Greek general Themistocles and his army/navy in defeating Xerxes and the Persians in 480 BCE:

In a fascinating talk at the Naval War College in 2014, Stavridis, who is now Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, spoke about the importance of building bridges in the modern world:

In his "Sea Power," Stavridis brings the legacy and insights of Mahan into the 21st century, expanding Mahan's critical thinking to include not only history, but also literature, environment and future-focused thinking – including the role and threat of cyber warfare. We look forward to reading and learning more.

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