Navies and Soft Power: Historical Case Studies


Navies and Soft Power: Historical Case Studies of Naval Power and the Nonuse of Military Force. Edited by Bruce A. Elleman and S.C.M. Paine. Newport Paper 42. Naval War College, Newport, RI, 2015.

Reviewed by Dr Gregory P. Gilbert

‘Modern navies should be envisioned not as comprising either military or nonmilitary capabilities but rather as being extraordinary flexible “hard power” platforms with an infinite array of “hard” and “soft” extension packages at their disposal.’
Bruce A. Elleman and S.C.M. Paine, p. 198

THE US Naval War College’s Newport Papers are always well-researched and informative publications that examine major maritime issues of great relevance today. ‘Navies and Soft Power’ is no exception. Nine historical case studies are presented to illustrate the variety of operations that use navies as instruments of ‘soft power’, or in terms of RAN doctrine – non-warfighting ‘constabulary’ and ‘diplomatic’ operations. For many years high-end warfighting has been identified as the raison d’etre for modern navies, however, the mission ‘to fight and win at sea’ in reality represents less than 5 per cent of the total number of naval operations conducted. ‘Navies and Soft Power’ helps us understand what navies do for the remaining 95 per cent of operations.

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