Crouching tiger, hidden dragon : the Indian Ocean and the maritime balance of power in historical perspective
Date of Issue2007
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
The Indian Ocean since ancient times was an important goe-strategic arena of inter-regional unities held together informally by trade winds and diplomatic relations. In the geographical and historical convergence of East and West, Asians, Africans and Europeans interacted with one another over a period of many centureis, participating in a sophisticated structure of commerce and politics underpinned by the system of monsoons. It was therefore only a matter of time before the 'balanced' geography of the Indian Ocean gave rise to balances of power. But when exactly, and how, did the geo-strategic, inter-regional character of the Indian Ocean translate into maritime balance-of-power considerations? This paper explores the historical roots and changing dynamics of that geopolitical equation. In so doing, it evaluates the evolving matrix of intra-regional and extra-regional players as well as the comparative importance of varieties of power in the Indian Ocean arean: 'hard' or 'soft', 'state' or 'non-state', 'land-based' or 'seaborne'. The paper then examines some of the long-term implications of these changing balances for the future of the region-especially in view of the present, concurrent rise of India and China.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Military and naval science::Strategy::Asia
RSIS Working Papers ; 144/07
Nanyang Technological University