Past event

The Geopolitics of Continental and Maritime Power China, Russia, Britain, and the United States - S.C.M. Paine William, William S. Sims University Professor History and Grand Strategy U.S. Naval War College

Maritime powers are the exception, while continental powers are the rule. Maritime powers can defend their homeland by sea whereas continental powers cannot. What opportunities does geography open and what opportunities does it foreclose? Under what circumstances does it make sense for countries to invest in a big navy or a big army? The answers to these questions have profound military, political, and economic implications. The lecture focuses on the military implications of geopolitics, using the Chinese, Mongol, Russian, and British empires as examples. Because continental empires and maritime empires organized themselves and attempted to organize others in fundamentally different ways, they had mutually exclusive preferred international orders, one focused on maximizing territorial control and the other focused on maximizing commercial profits. Although the Industrial Revolution and ensuing transportation revolution upended the world of empires by producing compounding economic growth, the continental-maritime disagreement endures. Those promoting continental security paradigms seek a world divided into exclusive spheres of influence, while those following maritime security paradigms envision a world of shared maritime commons governed by universal rules to maximize the compounding wealth from trade. The lecture will conclude by highlighting the implications for Britain, the United States, Russia, and China. The analysis is based on two decades teaching historical case studies about maritime powers at the U.S. Naval War College, and years of archival research in China, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and the United States.

Nine years of research in Australia, China, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan form the basis for Prof Paine's publications: The Japanese Empire (Cambridge, 2017); Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 (Cambridge, 2012), The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 (Cambridge, 2003), and Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed Frontier (M. E. Sharpe, 1996). Most recently she co-edited with Andrea J. Dew and Marc A. Genest, From Quills to Tweets: How America Communicates about War and Revolution (Georgetown University Press, 2019). Her degrees include B.A. Latin American Studies, Harvard University; M.I.A. Columbia University School for International and Public Affairs; certificates from both the East Asian and Russian Institutes; M.A. Russian, Middlebury College; and Ph.D. history, Columbia University.

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