Small Wars Journal

Robert Kaplan previews the battle for the Indian Ocean

In November Robert Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts and many other books on current security issues, delivered the keynote address at the Foreign Policy Research Institute's annual dinner. FPRI has now posted a 38-minute video of Kaplan's remarks on its website. Kaplan discussed the looming competition between India, China, and the United States for control over the Indian Ocean region. I recommend finding time to view this video in order to preview a major security story that will unfold over the next two decades.

A few highlights from Kaplan's remarks:

1) Commerce on the sea lines of communication between the Middle East and East Asia, already massive, will greatly expand in the decades ahead.

2) Echoing the pre-World War I naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain, China will not trust the U.S. Navy to protect its shipping through this region.

3) Naval and air power will dominate military planning among the major powers with China, India, and Japan competing with the U.S. for military leadership in the region.

4) China is using its relationships with unsavory regimes in the Indian Ocean region to build an archipelago of naval bases around India. India is countering by expanding its own naval and air power and by expanding its military relationships with the U.S. and Japan.

Kaplan is writing a book on the future of the Indian Ocean region and this speech likely previews his conclusions. I recommend viewing his remarks.