August 29, 2016 at 5:08 am

Brobst Publishes Chapter on U.S.-British Defense Strategy in Indian Ocean

Dr. John Brobst

Dr. John Brobst

Dr. John Brobst, Associate Professor in the History Department, published “‘No Scope for Arms Control’: Strategy, Geography, and Naval Limitations in the Indian Ocean in the 1970s,” in Strategy and the Sea: Essays in Honour of John B. Hattendorf, edited by N. A. M. Rodger, J. Ross Dancy, Benjamin Darnell, and Evan Wilson (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2016).

This essay examines how the persistent mismatch between sea power and land power influenced strategic competition over Asia and the Middle East in the 1970s. Brobst argues that the asymmetry between the maritime posture of Britain and the United States, on the one hand, and the continental position of the Soviet Union, on the other, confounded any approach to security in the Indian Ocean through arms control.

In other words, geography rendered limitations on the size and type of external naval forces deployed in the Indian Ocean incompatible with Anglo-American concerns about the defense of sea lanes over which rode the oil supplies on which the Free World increasingly depended.

The story underscores the resilience of global thinking in both British and American foreign policy during the period of retrenchment that followed decolonization and the Vietnam War. It also invites comparison to emerging (and re-emerging) rivalries in the region today.

Brobst’s essay is based on his research in recently declassified materials from archives in Britain, the United States, and Australia. Like the other contributions to Strategy and the Sea, this chapter grew out of a paper presented at a 2014 conference hosted by All Souls College, Oxford, honoring John B. Hattendorf, the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College, on his impending retirement.

For more on Brobst’s research and teaching, visit his History Department profile.

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