La Riposte

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Real China Challenge

Peter Brookes’ editorial in the New York Post is the latest such article to imply that the United States, embroiled in small wars and facing cuts to its massive defense budget may not have a future military that can “meet the China challenge.” The real challenge with regards to China is getting senior U.S. military officials, especially in the Navy, to view China as a strategic partner rather than a competitor.

It’s long past time for the hawks in Washington to stop beating around the bush and spell out what they mean. When Brookes writes:
We need to win the fights we're in now, but we need to be ready for the possible fights to come. That means having a well-balanced force able to address the contingencies we'll face in the 21st century, whether that is terrorism, insurgency -- or the rise of another major power.
Two World Wars have shown conclusively that no one wins when major powers fight. So if Mr. Brookes is seriously suggesting that the United States requires a war machine capable of taking on China in a head-to-head match in the Pacific, well, then he’s right, we are already badly over-matched.

Unfortunately, his prescription (more carriers, and advanced fighters to launch off them) won’t help much in such a future war – they represented an innovative technology in WWII, but now that technology is over half a century old – and can be successfully and cheaply countered by the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles, and advanced submarines.

Instead of girding our loins and beating the drums for a war we are unlikely to fight, and even less likely to win, we should be seeking to engage China’s military as a partner in global stability, rather than viewing them as a threat to U.S. interests in Asia.

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