America & China Military Competition – Read these WSJ and Foreign Affairs Articles

We have always taken America’s Military dominance as a given and as a constant. We were aware that China was building up its forces at a rapid pace but we remained complacent that China is still too weak to confront America or to deny American access to Asia.

Our complacency was rudely shaken by two articles this week.  Both these articles are must reads in our opinion.

The first and smaller article is a Wall Street Journal Asia article titled Asia’s Military Balance at a Tipping Point with the sub-title America’s deterrent is shrinking in the region. It is written by Paul S. Giarra and Michael J. Green. According to the Journal, Mr. Giarra is the president of Global Strategies & Transformation, a Virginia-based defense consultancy. Mr. Green is senior adviser and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Relations and a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The second and longer article is a Foreign Affairs piece written by Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., the President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and the author of Seven Deadly Scenarios. This seven page article is titled The Pentagon’s Wasting Assets with the sub-title The Eroding Foundations of American Power.

Below we include some excerpts from these articles:

I. Asia’s Military Balance at a Tipping Point Wall Street Journal – July 17, 2009

  • Officials from Japan and the United States meet tomorrow in Tokyo to discuss the future of the alliance under the Security Consultative Committee. The talks come at a crucial time, when the military balance of power in Asia is in flux.

  • China is challenging access to the global commons through a broad, consciously directed array of military developments. China’s military has moved beyond its focus on Taiwan and now possesses antisatellite weapons, advanced land attack ballistic missiles, new classes of submarines and surface ships and the emerging ballistic missile capability to hit ships at sea at least 1,000 miles from China’s coasts.

  • These developments are designed to re-order the balance of power in China’s favor by diminishing American strategic mobility and free access to Pacific waters, Pacific airspace, and the “high terrain” of space and cyberspace. A good example of this is China’s development of land-mobile anti ship ballistic missiles. This anti access capability is unprecedented anywhere in the world and has numerous implications for the U.S. Navy, probably best summarized as losing air and sea dominance– and perhaps control — in the Asian-Pacific region.

  • Next year, the United States and Japan will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1960 mutual security treaty.

  • The high level defense discussions in Tokyo are the “best first” opportunity for the Obama administration to demonstrate its readiness to continue an American tradition of working with allies to reinforce stability in the Asia Pacific region.

II. The Pentagon’s Wasting Assets – Foreign Affairs – July/August 2009 Issue

This seven page article argues that the “military foundations of U.S. dominance are eroding. In response, Washington should pursue new sources of military advantage and a more modest grand strategy.” The article quotes Defense secretary Robert Gates as saying “It would be irresponsible not to think about and prepare for the future.”

The article then states that “Despite this admonition, U.S. policymakers are discounting real future threats, thereby increasing the prospect of strategic surprises. What is needed is nothing short of a fundamental strategic review of the United States’ position in the world — one similar in depth and scope to those undertaken in the early days of the Cold War.”

It is beyond the scope of our article to describe all the issues discussed in this excellent article. We will merely include some excerpts related to the Chinese Military and urge readers to read the entire article on the Foreign Affairs website.

  • China is working to combine Western technology with Eastern stratagems,aiming to be able to seize the initiative in the event of a conflict by exploiting the element of surprise…..The Chinese call the military capabilities that support this strategy“assassin’s mace.” The underlying mantra is that assassin’s mace weapons and techniques will enable “the inferior” (China) to defeat“the superior” (the United States).

  • Chinese efforts are focused on developing and fielding what U.S.military analysts refer to as “anti-access/area-denial” (A2/AD)capabilities. Generally speaking, Chinese anti-access forces seek to deny U.S. forces the ability to operate from forward bases, such as Kadena Air Base, on Okinawa, and Andersen Air Force Base, on Guam. The Chinese are, for example, fielding large numbers of conventionally armed ballistic missiles capable of striking these bases with a high degree of accuracy……The intended message to the United States and its East Asian allies and partners is clear: China has the means to put at risk the forward bases from which most U.S. strike aircraft must operate.

  • Area-denial capabilities are aimed at restricting the U.S. Navy’s freedom of action from China’s coast out to “the second island chain”— a line of islands that extends roughly from the southeastern edge of Japan to Guam. The PLA is constructing over-the-horizon radars,fielding unmanned aerial vehicles, and deploying reconnaissance satellites to detect U.S. surface warships at progressively greater distances. It is acquiring a large number of submarines armed with advanced torpedoes and high-speed, sea-skimming ASCMs (anti ship cruise missiles) to stalk U.S.carriers and their escorts. … And it is procuring aircraft equipped with high-speed ASCMs and fielding antiship ballistic missiles that can strike U.S.carriers at extended ranges. Advanced antiship mines may constrain U.S.naval operations even further in coastal areas.

  • If the United States does not adapt to these emerging challenges, the military balance in Asia will be fundamentally transformed in Beijing’s favor. This would increase the danger that China might be encouraged to resolve outstanding regional security issues through coercion, if not aggression. (emphasis ours)

  • Security, of course, involves more than just defense policy. For one thing, Washington must do much more than it has in recent years to attract capable and willing allies. (emphasis ours) After the Cold War, during its“unipolar moment,” the United States seemed to have no need for allies, save perhaps for legitimizing its use of force so that it could fulfill its role as the primary guarantor of the international system.

This last excerpt is our greatest concern about the Obama Administration. President Obama seems far more interested in being nice and polite to America’s enemies while being harsh with America’s friends.  We hope it is simply a transient case of being against everything President Bush was for. But, we are worried that Mr. Obama might be behaving the way Prime Minister Nehru of India behaved sixty years ago. (see our article Is Barak Obama America’s Nehru?)

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