Influence of Sea Power (Alfred Thayer Mahan) – UPSC

In this article, You will read Influence of Sea Power (Alfred Thayer Mahan) – for UPSC (Political Geography – Geography Optional).

Influence of Sea Power – Alfred Thayer Mahan

  • The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660–1783‘ is a history of naval warfare published in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan.
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914) was a frequent commentator on world naval strategic and diplomatic affairs.
  • Mahan believed that national greatness was inextricably associated with the sea—and particularly with its commercial use in peace and its control in war.
  • Emphasized that strategic locations (such as choke points, canals, and coaling stations), as well as quantifiable levels of fighting power in a fleet, were conducive to control over the sea.

He proposed six conditions required for a nation to have sea power:

  1. Advantageous geographical position;
  2. Serviceable coastlines, abundant natural resources, and favorable climate;
  3. Extent of territory
  4. Population large enough to defend its territory;
  5. Society with an aptitude for the sea and commercial enterprise; and
  6. Government with the influence and inclination to dominate the sea.

Alfred Thayer Mahan distinguished a key region of the world in the Eurasian context, namely, the Central Zone of Asia lying between 30° and 40° north and stretching from Asia Minor to Japan.

Influence of Sea Power (Alfred Thayer Mahan) upsc

Alfred Thayer Mahan, the son of the legendary West Point instructor Dennis Hart Mahan, was born in 1840, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1859, served in the Union Navy during the Civil War, and thereafter served on numerous ships and at several naval stations until finding his permanent home at the Naval War College. In 1883, he authored his first book, The Gulf and Inland Waters, a study of naval engagements in the Civil War. It was his second book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783 (1890), however, that brought him national and international fame. The book, largely based on Mahan’s lectures at the Naval War College, became the “bible” for many navies around the world.


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