Last week I ended with a posting that referred to the “Big Stick” diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt. A footnote of this diplomacy was the dispatching of the “Great White Fleet” for its around the world trek. While it took several years to complete, these somewhat out of date ships, many harking back to the Spanish American War, were able to coal, re-provision, and show the world that combat power could be projected over distances that were unheard of prior to their 1907 cruise. Today, we still are projecting that power at sea, using different energy sources and with greater speed, but that is far from the end of the story. At the time of the Great White Fleet, Japan was already fresh from their victory over the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war. Ethnic confrontations between Japanese immigrants and citizens on our west coast were growing, and relations were becoming quite strained between our nations. Japan felt that because of the racial tensions and poor treatment of their own citizens, that the United States was becoming a problem on their Pacific Ocean. It was against this posturing that Theodore Roosevelt dispatched the fleet. While undertaking some social reform to resolve things here, the fleet was sent as a reminder to the Japanese that we could project our power, and weren’t afraid to do so in a pinch. It was from this showing of the stick, and the use of the domestic carrot, that the situation was defused. This lasted through the First World War, and on into the late 1930s. Something to ponder, as we move forward in our relations around the world. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.