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Category: Captain A. T. Mahan

“In a war undertaken for any object, even if that object be the possession of a particular territory or position, an attack directly upon the place coveted may not be, from the military point of view, the best means of obtaining it. The end upon which the military operations are directed may therefore be other than the object which the belligerent government wishes to obtain, and it has received a name of its own, — the objective. In the critical consideration of any war it is necessary, first, to put clearly before the student’s eye the objects desired by each belligerent; then, to consider whether the objective chosen is the most likely, in case of success, to compass those objects ; and finally, to study the merits or faults of the various movements by which the objective is approached. The minuteness with which such an examination is conducted will depend upon the extent of the work which the inquirer proposes to himself; but it will generally conduce to clearness if an outline, giving only the main features unencumbered by detail, should precede a more exhaustive discussion. When such principal lines are thoroughly grasped, details are easily referred to them, and fall into place.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“The trading temper, independent and insubordinate, is absolutely opposed to the military spirit.” – Admiral comte Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez, bailli de Suffren, Letter to Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix de Castries, marquis de Castries, baron des États de Languedoc, comte de Charlus, baron de Castelnau et de Montjouvent, seigneur de Puylaurens et de Lézignan, Autumn 1782

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“The average man is not a coward; but neither is he endowed by nature only with the rare faculty of seizing intuitively the proper course at a critical moment. He gains it, some more, some less, by experience or by reflection.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“War, with its many acknowledged sufferings, is above all harmful when it cuts a nation off from others and throws it back upon itself. There may indeed be periods when such rude shocks have a bracing effect, but they are exceptional, and of short duration, and they do not invalidate the general statement.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“Neither individual nations nor men can thrive when severed from natural intercourse with their kind; whatever the native vigor of constitution, it requires healthful surroundings, and freedom to draw to itself from near and from far all that is conducive to its growth and strength and general welfare. Not only must the internal organism work satisfactorily, the processes of decay and renewal, of movement and circulation, go on easily, but, from sources external to themselves, both mind and body must receive healthful and varied nourishment.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“In these three things—production, with the necessity of exchanging products, shipping, whereby the exchange is carried on, and colonies, which facilitate and enlarge the operations of shipping and tend to protect it by multiplying points of safety—is to be found the key to much of the history, as well as of the policy, of nations bordering upon the sea.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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