Russia deploys warships off Syria. China sends threatening vessels to its neighbors over island disputes. The world can't afford a return to 19th-century naval intimidation.
Just when the world had begun to view aerial drones as the weapon of the 21st century, the 19th-century practice of “gunboat diplomacy” seems on a rebound.
Here are recent examples:
Iran has threatened to disrupt oil-tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for sanctions against its nuclear program. Even Turkey has flexed its naval muscle over disputes with Cyprus and Israel.
Then there’s the Arctic. The melting of the icecap has touched off a tense display of naval ships from several nations trying to claim maritime rights to newly opened ocean passages.