Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.)

Former NATO Supreme Allied High Commander

Sailing True North: American Leadership at Sea and China's Maritime Strategy

About the Topic

Exploring leadership qualities through the profiles of ten navy admirals, Stavridis dubs U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan “The Influencer.” Mahan had the ability to analyze the past to shape the future, laying, "... the intellectual foundation upon which [Theodore] Roosevelt would build the modern U.S. Navy and carve out a far larger role for the United States in the world.” This month, in an article about China’s growing navy, the Harvard Political Review observes, “Seemingly someone in the CCP has been reading Alfred Thayer Mahan, a famed nineteenth-century American naval strategist.” China’s 2015 defense white paper projected a maritime military force to align with its expansive “national security and development interests.” In the South China Sea, China has militarized reefs, arming them with airstrips, radar domes, and missile installations. Stavridis observes that consolidating its power there would provide China with a windfall of oil and natural gas, and a potential chokehold over nearly 40 percent of the world’s shipping. To understand China’s “great game” at sea, he also flags the 380 underwater cables carrying 95% of the world's internet traffic. China's Huawei is currently working on constructing or improving 100 of them, raising vulnerabilities to Chinese naval espionage. Is a confrontation inevitable between U.S. security interests and Beijing's naval ambitions? Are we witnessing the decline of U. S. leadership in the Pacific? Can China's navy replace America's as the world’s primary influencer at sea?

About the Speaker

Four-star Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) served as NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander after leading the U.S. Southern Command covering Latin America. Dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, he now serves as operating executive at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates. Among the nation’s leading national security experts, Stavridis writes columns for Bloomberg, TIME and contributes as international security analyst for NBC News. He has authored several books, the most recent published this month: Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character. Admiral Stavridis will sign copies of his new book following the lecture