What you're describing was the main strategic line of Spain through the 18th century
During the Golden Century, Spain achieved both, naval and land military superiority over its enemies in Europe, a feat any other European power could do. However, Spain lost both to its enemies: land superiority to France, sea rule to England.
Bourbon Spain had one thing clear: choose fighting on the seas, or over land fields, but not both. And so the Spanish navy of the 18th century grew to a third and then second position, second always in performance. Sea routes were kept open, Spanish privatering devastated its enemies in the successive wars and troops were transported in large quantities through long distances. The expedition to Sacramento of 1776-1777 involved the displacement of 9,000 soldiers in 99 ships, 10,000 kms away. Not even the UK could achieve this.
This could be done because of one reason: peace and alliance with France. The Spanish army was kept at a moderate size, and fully focused to its Atlantic and Mediterran fronts. Guard of the Pyrenees existed of course, but that was a safe area for almost a century.
The French Revolution changed everything: huge amounts of money were diverted from the Navy to the Army, which was increased to confront the new menace to the north, while neglecting and reducing the navy capabilities. This dramatic change put Spain on a very difficult position.
The solution was clear for Godoy: turn back to the geoestrategical situation of 1770, even if an alliance with Revolutionary France was needed. So he tried to replicate what worked well before.
Financial and military aid given to Napoleon, in order to support his land campaigns in Europe, made this option imperfect. The fault is again on Napoleon: had him guaranteed Spain its continental safety, the Spanish could focuse on the sea warfare, which was what the Spanish needed in order to mantain their empire, whatever the colour of the French government
Very interesting post I agree with you, Mr Frank. I agree only Spain was able to achieve Naval and land military superioirty. Britain and Netherlands were naval.. France, Prussia, Germany, Austria, Russia etc were land powers... only USA achieved the same military and naval superiority.
You are right.. Bourbons prefered to choose or naval or land.. Habsburg fought in naval and land. Of course, the French Revolution changed everything... and the Spanish revolution in 1808 gave the fatal blow.
Napoleon was guilty, of course... but because he knew nothing about Spain. About Godoy, I agree again. He was not so bad as people think... but he was a non very honest man. By other side, the "subsideo" to France was unfair, amoral and devastating for the Spanish accounts and had its influence in the army.