Naval strength is often determined by kinetic employment and the service’s ability to wage war. Scenes of battle in movies or books convey strong personal courage, daring engagements, and battles overflowing with excitement. These sights are depictions of hard power, which is the tangible means of engaging enemies in battle to determine the outcome of a war; but what posturing takes place before shots are fired? The speed with which information travels around the globe and the impact world politics has in the average household has changed the way war is fought. Modern-day naval power is less about military conquest and more about influence—soft power diplomacy such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief efforts, and shows of force. Guns and missiles are essential in battle, but the United States’ greatest weapon system is naval diplomacy.
1. Former official in U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, interview with Commission staff, 4 December 2018.
2. Alan McPherson, A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean (Somerset, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2016).