No matter where or how hard you look, it is very difficult to find a more successful military career than that of Admiral James G. Stavridis (Florida, 1955). His graduation with honors in 1976 from the US Naval Academy signaled the beginning of a road full of academic success and, above all, military achievement. Between 2006 and 2009 he served as commander of the US Southern Command –now based in Miami—, from where he only left to assume one of the most important military leadership positions in the world: Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO. To this day, he remains the only naval officer to have held both positions.
Following his retirement as SACEUR in May 2013, Stavridis was appointed Dean at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, an institution where he had previously earned a Masters degree and a Ph.D., in 1984. Having published dozens of books and articles in the world’s most important publications, Stavridis is one of the most authoritative voices analyzing the global situation, especially from an American viewpoint.
You’re a retired 4-star Navy admiral, something very significant since America’s global position rests on its naval superiority and thus its ability to control the world’s oceans. This has been the arrangement for several decades, but it seems to be changing now (China’s naval buildup, Russia’s quest for superiority in an increasingly navigable Arctic). How do you assess the current situation, where do you see it all going, and how will America’s role evolve?
I think the US will continue to be a significant maritime power for the foreseeable future. As you know we have enormous coastlines, we have wonderful neighbors to the north and south of us in Canada and Mexico, and as a result, in a lot of ways, the US is like an enormous island-nation, so the sea lanes of communication are extremely important to us.
The US Navy is still, by far, the preeminent naval force in the world, both in capability and in numbers of ships. You’re correct to point out that China’s navy is increasing in size and capability, but at the moment China’s navy remains very focused on the South China Sea and on East Asia. Russia’s navy, while it has some strong capability in strategic ballistic missile submarines, overall has no aircraft carriers and its surface ships are not particularly capable.
The US, on the other hand, enjoys very strong alliances with not only all NATO countries –including Spain, which has a very effective navy— but also Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand. So there’s lots of very positive naval capability that’s aligned with the US. Therefore, I think the US will continue to enjoy a very strong position in the maritime world.
Read the full interview in La Prensa (Spanish)
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