1st Edition

Security Studies in a New Era of Maritime Competition

Edited By Jonathan D. Caverley, Peter Dombrowski Copyright 2023

    How do two conventionally powerful, nuclear armed, but commercially oriented great powers, reliant on sea lanes and global maritime infrastructure, engage in a long-term strategic rivalry? When do such competitions lead to crisis instability and even war? This book presents a research agenda using a variety of methods to explore this unique competitive environment for China and the United States.

    The most likely great power friction points today are located at sea. Any shots fired between China and the United States will likely be between navies and air forces rather than armies. While much security studies understandably concentrates on land forces, basic concepts such as the importance of territory, the offense-defense balance, technological competition, economic warfare, and crisis stability do not comfortably apply to maritime competition. The chapters in this volume consider the use of naval power - including blockades, naval diplomacy, fleet engagements, and nuclear escalation - across the spectrum of global politics and international conflict. The volume encourages applying the many classic approaches of security studies to this high-stakes relationship while considering maritime conflict as distinct from other forms, such as land and nuclear, that have traditionally occupied the field.

    This work will be of great interest to students of strategic studies, international relations, maritime security, and Asian-American politics. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Security Studies.

    1. Too Important to Be Left to the Admirals: The Need to Study Maritime Great-Power Competition

    Jonathan D. Caverley and Peter Dombrowski

    2. The Influence of Sea Power on Politics: Domain- and Platform-Specific Attributes of Material Capabilities

    Erik Gartzke and Jon R. Lindsay

    3. Clashes at Sea: Explaining the Onset, Militarization, and Resolution of Diplomatic Maritime Claims

    Sara McLaughlin Mitchell

    4. Cruising for a Bruising: Maritime Competition in an Anti-Access Age

    Jonathan D. Caverley and Peter Dombrowski

    5. All-In or All-Out: Why Insularity Pushes and Pulls American Grand Strategy to Extremes

    Paul van Hooft

    6. The Maritime Rung on the Escalation Ladder: Naval Blockades in a US-China Conflict

    Fiona S. Cunningham

    7. Primacy and Punishment: US Grand Strategy, Maritime Power, and Military Options to Manage Decline

    Evan Braden Montgomery


    Jonathan D. Caverley is Professor of Strategy in the Strategic and Operational Research Department of the Naval War College’s Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Newport, USA. He is the inaugural director of the Bernard Brodie Strategy Group.

    Peter Dombrowski is the William B. Ruger Chair of National Security Economics in the Strategic and Operational Research Department. Previous positions include Chair of the Strategic Research Department, Editor of the Naval War College Review, Co-Editor of International Studies Quarterly, and Associate Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University. Dombrowski is the author of over 65 publications. His most recent book is The End of Grand Strategy: U.S. Maritime Operations in the 21st Century (2018).