Seapower (DIP 600)

Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce

Spring 2013

Monday 4pm-6:30pm

Robert M. Farley

Office: Patterson 467

Office Hours:

Telephone: 859-533-0410




The bulk of global commerce travels over water, and a majority of the world’s population lives in coastal areas.  Consequently, the modern global economy and the political systems that this economy supports, depend on access to the sea.  This course examines historical and modern conceptions of seapower, especially at the intersection of military and economic power.  The first third of the course concentrates on early modern theorists of seapower, including Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett.  The second third examines modern U.S. naval doctrine, including the Cooperative Strategy for U.S. Seapower.  The final third of the course studies developments in maritime commerce, law enforcement, and disaster relief. 



This course will be conducted as a graduate seminar, with minimal lecture.   I expect everyone to attend, have studied the readings, and have a familiarity with current events.  The reading is substantial, but the syllabus allows sufficient slack time to complete the most relevant works.  I also expect that every student will as regularly as possible read the blogs Danger RoomInformation Dissemination, the Naval Diplomat, the United States Naval Institute blog, and Eagle Speak.


Student Learning Outcomes:

After completing the course,

·         Students will demonstrate a familiarity with the history of naval practice and theory

·         Students will be able to discuss and evaluate contemporary issues in seapower

·         Students will be able to trace how military policy decisions are made in the US governmental system.  

·         Students will be able intergrate maritime thought with the major schools of grand strategic thought

·         Students will be able to give competent professional oral presentations. 

·         Students will demonstrate the ability to generate and answer good, interesting questions  


Academic Integrity

Per university policy, students shall not plagiarize, cheat, or falsify or misuse academic records. Students are expected to adhere to University policy on cheating and plagiarism in all courses.  The minimum penalty for a first offense is a zero on the assignment on which the offense occurred.  If the offense is considered severe or the student has other academic offenses on their record, more serious penalties, up to suspension from the university may be imposed. 


Plagiarism and cheating are serious breaches of academic conduct.  Each student is advised to become familiar with the various forms of academic dishonesty as explained in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.  Complete information can be found at the following website:  A plea of ignorance is not acceptable as a defense against the charge of academic dishonesty. It is important that you review this information as all ideas borrowed from others need to be properly credited.


Plagiarism includes reproducing someone else’s work, whether it be a published article, chapter of a book, a paper from a friend or some file, or something similar to this. Plagiarism also includes the practice of employing or allowing another person to alter or revise the work which a student submits as his/her own, whoever that other person may be. Students may discuss assignments among themselves or with an instructor or tutor, but when the actual work is done, it must be done by the student, and the student alone.  However, nothing in these Rules shall apply to those ideas which are so generally and freely circulated as to be a part of the public domain (Section 6.3.1).



Grading will be based on class participation (25%), and three 7-9 page analytical papers (25% each) OR one 22-24 page research paper.  You must decide on which option (and inform me) by the third week of the course. All work will be graded on an A (4), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3), B- (2.7) and so forth scale.  Final grades above 3.5 will be awarded an A, between 2.7 and 3.5 a B, and below 2.7 a C or lower.


All papers must be typed and double-spaced.  Please do not exceed the page limit.  Specific paper topics are up to you.  The papers need not hold to any particular format (policy oriented memo, for example), but should be internally consistent in focus.  Additional research is welcome, and may be necessary for the adequate presentation of some topics.  One paper is due on the week of your presentation (see below), one on the final day of the course, and one at any time during the course other than those two dates.   The research paper is due on the final day of the course.


You will be required to make an oral presentation and defense of one analytical paper (or of your research paper) during class.  You must indicate to me a preference for which week to present by the second week of the course, such that I can stagger presentations. The presentation should last about fifteen minutes, and will be followed by a fifteen minute question and answer period.  The presentation will make up 50% of your participation grade, or 12.5% of the total grade. Research paper presentations will occur on the last day of the course.


The papers will be evaluated on both content and presentation.  Accurate information, well-thought out arguments, and compelling style win the day.


Class Materials

Purchase of the following books is strongly recommended: 


Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (available on iBooks)

Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (available on iBooks)

Jon Testuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command

Geoffrey Till, Seapower: A Guide for the 21st Century

Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two Ocean War

Marc Levinson, The Box

Martin Murphy, Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money

Bernard Cole, The Great Wall at Sea (2nd edition)


Week 1 (January 14): Introduction


Week 2 (January 28): Mahan

Alfred Thayer Mahan, Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1-132 (especially first chapter)

Jon Testuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command


Week 3 (February 4): Corbett

Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, 77-278

Frank Hoffman, The Fleet We Need


Week 4 (February 11): US Naval History

Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two Ocean War (especially first five and last five chapters)


Week 5 (February 18): Seapower in International Perspective

Geoffrey Till, Seapower: A Guide for the 21st Century


Week 6 (February 25): Roots of Modern US Naval Strategy

John Hattendorf, The Evolution of the U.S. Navy's Maritime Strategy, 1977-1986 1-92


Week 7 (March 4): Post-Cold War Naval Strategy

John Hattendorf ed., U.S. Naval Strategy in the 1990s: Selected Documents (Introduction, 1, 3, 5, 6, 7)

Cooperative Strategy for U.S. Seapower


Week 8 (March 18): The Marine Corps

US Amphibious Forces: Indispensible Elements of American Seapower

Caught on a Lee Shore

General Amos: The Role of the Marine Corps


Week 9 (March 25): Maritime Commerce and Law

Marc Levinson, The Box

Opinio Juris, Debate on U.S. Ratification of UNCLOS


Week 10 (April 1): Law and Piracy

Martin Murphy, Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money

Milan Vego, Coast Guards


Week 11 (April 8): Disaster Relief and Naval Operations Other than War

Bruce A. Elleman, Waves of Hope: The U.S. Navy's Response to the Tsunami in Northern Indonesia

John Bradford, Waves of Change: Evolution in the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Approach to Disaster Relief


Week 12 (April 15): The Emerging Challenge of China

Bernard Cole, The Great Wall at Sea

James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, China and the United States in the Indian Ocean: An Emerging Strategic Triangle?


Week 13 (April 22): Presentations