Narrow Seas, Small Navies, and Fat Merchantmen (1990) by Charles W. Kobdurger, Jr.:
In the narrow seas , more often than not, it is the bordering small navies which now call the tune to which the super-navies dance. It is they who determine who shall pass and the price he shall pay .
In these small navies, there are few conventional flat-deck aircraft carriers or nuclear-powered submarines. Ship types tend to be down-sized across the board. If they do have a carrier it will be a V/STOL one. They replace destroyers with fast attack craft.
They pay for this in comparative radius of action and in sea-keeping ability --- neither of great interest in most narrow seas it should be noted.
Asymmetric Warfare at Sea: The Case of Sri Lanka (2016) by Jayanath Colombage (Admiral, former Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy):
Maritime terrorism is not just a possibility but a real one. Recent history indicates that the general vulnerability of the maritime environment has become more apparent. To analyze the maritime terrorist threats,
it is not enough to study only the capabilities and motives of terrorist groups, but one must also observe the maritime industry, shipping practices, the vulnerability of the shipping trade as well as counter measures taken by the authorities and other institutions which are entrusted with the security of the shipping routes.
USNI on Naval Cooperation (2015) edited by Sam J. Tangredi. Excerpt from CDRE Adeniyi Adejimi Osinowo's "Africa Partnership Station Helps All Sides" (2011):
APS provides a platform for addressing both African maritime-security limitations and non-African stakeholders' strategic interests. With the extent of challenges and thinness of resources, it is imperative that African maritime services cooperate at all levels to tackle the situation. This mission can be seen as representing a necessary compromise between pride of sovereignty and maritime-security capability. It is an effort-multiplier benefiting all sides.
Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (2010) by Martin N. Murphy:
Several of the factors that favour pirate activity also favour maritime insurgent/terrorist activity. . .
The overriding common factor is politics. While this might be obvious in the case of insurgency and terrorism, including that weak states are less capable of resisting insurgent or terrorist infiltration , it is possibly less evident when it comes to piracy.
Throughout history, however, the ebb and flow of pirate fortunes has been inextricably linked with the ebb and flow of power on land, with the power and policies of states and their political leaders, strong as well as weak. . . .
Small Navies: Strategy and Policy for Small Navies in War and Peace (Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies Series) (2014) from Michael McDevit, "Small Navies in Asia: The Strategic Rationale for Growth":
The ROKN shifted focus to littoral war fighting, concentrating on the North Korean submarine threat. Pyongyang's onventory of midget submarines (40 small 300 tonners, and 100 minis) is challenging. One of the most embarassing features of the post-sinking (sinking of the ROKN Cheonan) investigation was the finding that ASW readiness for ships operating in the Yellow (West) Sea was neglected because of the ROK Navy assumption that the Yellow Sea was too shallow for submarine operations.General Lee: His Campaigns in Virginia 1861-1865 (1906) by Walter H. Taylor:
General Lee anticipated a severe struggle. There were many prominent men on each side of the controversy who contended that the war would be of short duration ; with them there was a disposition to underrate the steadfastness of purpose and the endurance of the other side; and they pretended to expect a sharp, short, and decisive contest. The first call of Mr. Lincoln for volunteers was for three months' service, and the leaders on both sides contended that the war would not last ninety days. General Lee took an entirely different view of the case. He seemed to realize the magnitude of the impending conflict; he gaged correctly the indomitable will, the untiring energy, the fertile resources, the pride of opinion, that characterized the people of the North ; and he knew full well that there would be no holiday affair in a conflict between the two sections of the United States, each animated by a traditional devotion to cherished institutions, each boasting the proud lineage of the Anglo-Saxon, each determined to win or die, and each confident of success.So many lessons to be learned from history and examining assumptions that come back to bite those who assumed.
He looked upon the vaporific declamations of those on each side who proposed to wipe their adversaries from the face of the earth in ninety days as bombastic and foolish. Notwithstanding his views, so freely expressed, and his recommendation that the volunteers be enlisted for the war, the Virginia troops, as also most of those of the other Southern States, were enlisted for twelve months. The civil authorities could not bring themselves to believe that there could possibly be any need for an armed force beyond that time.
In many ways, naval fiction helps to focus on possibilities that might have to be dealt with. In this vein, Claude Berube's The Aden Effect and Syren's Song and Singer and Cole's Ghost Fleet are interesting to expand your discomfort zone.
UPDATE: Forgot to add a gem, Peter Hopkirk's For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History (2011) which was industrial espionage on a grand scale, indeed.
Finally, if you want an understanding of China's 100 years of humiliation, you could start with The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another (2004) by Hanes and Sanello.