Arleigh Burke Class destroyer operates in the Black Sea

The U.S. Needs a Black Sea Strategy

American foreign policy has always sought to ensure the Western Hemisphere remained free of Eurasian political influence. Since World War I, this has meant active participation in the Eurasian balance to disrupt or defeat aspiring Eurasian hegemons. Today, America needs a Black Sea strategy that furthers its Eurasian interests.

Sens. Mitt Romney and Jeanne Shaheen introduced the Black Sea Strategy Bill last year. It charges the U.S. government with creating a comprehensive Black Sea strategy that includes political, military, and economic regional engagement mechanisms and a clear plan to counter Russia’s Black Sea aggression. A coherent Black Sea strategy would recognize the U.S. interest in the Black Sea as a gateway to the Eurasian heartland, identify as an objective the creation of a dominant Black Sea maritime position in concert with American regional allies and partners, recognize the role of Ukraine in a future Black Sea order, and create a roadmap for future Black Sea strategic action. A Black Sea strategy fit for purpose, put simply, would provide U.S. policy a coherence it currently lacks.

The Black Sea is a central geopolitical region in the ongoing struggle for Eurasian mastery. Just as the White House published an Indo-Pacific Strategy in February 2022, it should do the same with a Black Sea strategy. Except in this context, it would do to have a far more substantive strategic document that actually articulated American interests in the region, and a roadmap for military, economic, and political actions alongside U.S. regional allies to further those interests.

The Black Sea’s unique position within Eurasia makes it a natural zone of contestation during any struggle for Eurasian power. Europe is a peninsula of peninsulas, criss-crossed with rivers. Yet the farther east one moves, the less densely populated, and more truly continental, Europe becomes. Ukraine’s Donbas is the European terminus of the Eurasian steppe. It is an important secondary leg of the Eurasian Nexus Point, the maritime space centered upon the Levantine Basin that still serves as the heart of Eurasian trade. The Black Sea is also the closest maritime space to the Eurasian heartland. No territory contains such a wealth of material riches.

Read the rest at Barron’s.

Seth Cropsey is the founder and president of Yorktown Institute. He served as a naval officer and as deputy Undersecretary of the Navy and is the author of Mayday and Seablindness.

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