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The New Age of Naval Power in the Indo-Pacific: Strategy, Order, and Regional Security

03 May 24

340 pages

Dr James Bosbotinis

This is an important and timely book, providing a valuable discussion of naval power in the Indo-Pacific. As the editors state in their Introduction, the role of naval forces is central to the analysis in the book, because “Maritime geography holds a central role in the security of the Indo-Pacific. In this part of the world, the centrality of the sea to regional connectivity and interactions is essential to understanding how state actors seek to exert influence – through both coercive and engagement measures”. The editors, Catherine Grant and James Russell both at the US Naval Postgraduate School, and Alessio Patalano, from King’s College London, who may be known to some members, have assembled an impressive group of contributors, including Ian Bowers, Richard Dunley, Peter Alan Dutton, Ryan Gingeras, Kevin Rowlands, and Christopher Twomey. The late James Goldrick also contributed a chapter, and the book is dedicated to him.

The New Age of Naval Power in the Indo-Pacific is divided into three sections, encompassing ‘The Factors of Influence in Indo-Pacific Security’, ‘Naval Power in the Indo-Pacific as History’, and ‘Naval Power and Contemporary Security in the Indo-Pacific’, with 15 chapters covering issues such as China-US competition, the evolving regional nuclear balance, marine resources and competition, imperial competition in East Asia before the First World War, the Cold War and its effects on the region, contemporary Northeast Asia, the East and South China Seas, and the US-India relationship. This provides a wide-ranging analysis, which is both historically rooted and forward-looking. In this regard, although writing about imperial competition in the late 19th century, Dunley makes a point with contemporary resonance, stating that seapower “enabled the maritime states, most notably, Britain, to develop a calibrated response to the challenge posed by Russia. This included engagement in diplomacy and alliance-building as well as coercion, deterrence, and more than a whiff of cordite”.

This book is well-written, highly engaging, and thought-provoking. Although following academic conventions, the book will be accessible to the interested lay reader. There are only a few minor typos: for example, the Chinese DF-17 hypersonic glide vehicle-armed ballistic missile is referred to as a hypersonic cruise missile, and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai are stated as occurring in 2011. These are minor points and do not in any way detract from the quality of the analysis in this book. For all those with academic or professional interest in the Indo-Pacific, or maritime strategy more broadly, The New Age of Naval Power in the Indo-Pacific will be essential reading. It is highly recommended.