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Alfred Thayer Mahan was a historian who wrote a massively influential book, which stated that a country that wished to become a dominant world power needed to do the following:
Attempt to create alliances with the strongest nation in order to create a favorable chance for victory should war come.
Stay focused on economic measures and avoid foreign affairs.
Use war as a first policy and diplomacy as a last resort.
Build up a large and powerful navy.
Make alliances with local peoples to in order to subdue their neighbors and conquer large territories.