Suppose a nation wishes to be taken seriously in international politics and project its influence and power globally.
If that is the case, it will require a powerful navy to meet the needs and requirements of its strategic goals, the long-term goal of policymakers, and the perceived national interests.
To make the correct choices, it’s first necessary to understand what a Navy is for and what it can do regarding geopolitics.
A Navy can control important points of international trade and leverage its naval power into leveraged against other nations (Just think of the Brits in the 18th Century).
The Navy, particularly the British Navy of the 19th century and the American one of the 20th to the present day, policed the global oceans, thereby facilitating the viability of globalisation and prosperity.
Previously if a nation could not access coal and steel, that nation would not be able to industrialise.
In previous centuries, governments operated on principles of imperialism and Mercantilism, a form of economic nationalism that sought to increase the prosperity and power of a nation through restrictive trade practices.
Its goal was to increase the supply of a state’s gold and silver with exports rather than to deplete it through imports. It also sought to support domestic employment.
The imperialist economic system meant that nations like Britain or France would conquer other countries, capture their internal markets, and sell to those markets goods from the home nations.
A great example is the English control of India and flooding the market with British textiles during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain in the 1760s.
During the Imperial error, nations predominantly traded within the internal markets of the empires they established, and trading between other Imperial centres was greatly limited.
This only changed because the United States made it so all nations could peacefully trade on international waters without fearing piracy and privateers being backed by other countries against their rivals.
The American Navy Since World War II
On victory over Japan Day in 1945, the U.S. Navy had 1300 ships.
This count only considers major vessels and not individual landing craft or short-range patrols, and by the end of the Korean War, the Navy shrank to 600 vessels.
During the Vietnam War (1955 to 1975), the American Navy was 450 vessels, and when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, his primary goal was to have the American Navy of 600 ships by the end of his time in office United States at 594 ships.
This was partly done due to Ronald Reagan’s administration’s plan to bankrupt the Soviet Union, which according to the geopolitical analyst Peter Zhilan had already lost the Cold War by 1986.
Today’s American Navy stands at 295 vessels, again not considering smaller vessels used by the United States Navy.
It also must be strongly stated that a modern American military vessel would have been able to destroy the Japanese Navy of 1941.
The Navy is much smaller than the peak during World War II, and the capabilities and capacities of the modern Navy are vastly more effective and powerful than anything else that has existed on this earth.
The biggest concern about the current United States Navy is its overreliance on supercarriers.
The journalist and author of The Blue Age of the U.S. Navy Created Global Prosperity and Why We’re in Danger of Losing it, by Gregg Easterbrook.
In his book The Blue Age, he compared heavily gunned ships like the Dreadnought (1906) created by the British Empire in the early 20th century to compare the global view of the capacity of modern-day supercarriers.
As of 2021, an estimated 46 aircraft/helicopter carriers are in service worldwide.
The United States has 11 aircraft carriers and 9 “hello” carriers, nearly as many as all other countries combined, followed by Japan and France, each with four.
These carriers need Destroyer escort, with the American Navy only having 150 destroyers to escort its Carriers.
According to Peter Zilhen, American supercarriers can knockout nations, but there are not enough destroyers and smaller ships of the American Navy to protect the world’s oceans.
American Spending on Its Navy
In today’s American dollars, Ronald Reagan’s arms buildup in the 1980s to cripple the Soviet Union financially came to $400 billion yearly, more than twice the 170 billion United States spent on its Navy in 2020.
A study by Brown University found that American fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria has cost $6.4 trillion in funding as well as future obligations to injured soldiers from these deployments.
The current budget of the United States Navy in 2020 worked out as $700 per American adult.
During the COVID crisis of 2020 to 2021, the United States added 5.3 trillion in debt to tackle the crisis, which in terms of emergency aid, gave American households an extra $25,000 per American adult transferred from 2020 to 2021.
Following the rising American national debt, which stands at $31,462,154,854,903 as of May 23, 2023, there is also a consumer increase in total household debt in the first quarter of 2023, increasing by $148 billion (0.9%) to $17.05 trillion.
This led to comments by the former American senator and ex-presidential runner John McCain, who stated in 2013 that a 300-ship Navy is an ‘a fantasy’ again due to the USA’s national debt and government debt.
Even more alarming is that Social Security and retirement for American citizens may no longer be feasible.
In 2020 trustees of the Social Security system they reported $43 trillion in unfunded liabilities for pensions and healthcare for the ever-growing ranks of the ageing that the money does not exist.
The Blue Age of the U.S. Navy Created Global Prosperity and Why We’re in Danger of Losing it, by Gregg Easterbrook. Link
Investopedia What Is Mercantilism? link
History Channel Vietnam War link
Britannica Dreadnought link
Federal Reserve Banks of New York Total Household Debt Reaches $17.05 trillion in Q1 2023; Mortgage Loan Growth Slows link
Fiscal Date What is the national debt? Link
Forbes What The U.S. Navy’s Supercarriers Give America That No Other Nation Has link
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