Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755-2009
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI CENTER FOR NAVAL WARFARE STUDIES
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In the late nineteenth century, the French Jeune cole, or new school, of naval thinking promoted a commerce-raiding strategy for the weaker naval power to defeat the dominant naval power. France provided the vocabulary for the discussion Jeune cole and guerre de course war of the chase and embodied the geopolitical predicament addressed France had been a dominant land power, known for its large and proficient army and resentful of British imperial dominance and commercial preeminence. But its navy had rarely matched the Royal Navy in either quantity or quality, and its economy could not support both a preeminent army and navy. So its naval thinkers thought of an economical way out of its predicament. They argued that a guerre de course allowed a weaker maritime power, such as France, to impose disproportionate costs on the stronger sea power in order to achieve its objectives. Sadly for France, the strategy did not work as anticipated, and British naval dominance and imperial primacy endured.
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