The Chinese superpower has arrived. Could America’s failure to grasp this reality pull the United States and China into war? Here are two books that warn of that serious possibility. Howard W. French’s “Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power” does so through a deep historical and cultural study of the meaning of China’s rise from the point of view of the Chinese themselves. Graham Allison’s “Destined for War: America, China, and Thucydides’s Trap” makes his arguments through historical case studies that illuminate the pressure toward military confrontation when a rising power challenges a dominant one. Both books urge us to be ready for a radically different world order, one in which China presides over Asia, even as Chinese politicians tell a public story about “peaceful rise.” The books argue persuasively that adjusting to this global power shift will require great skill on both sides if conflagration is to be avoided.Sponsored Ads
“In just a few years, if we don’t change the trajectory, we will lose our qualitative and our quantitative competitive advantage,” Marine Corps. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 13.
“The consequences will be profound. It will affect our nuclear deterrence, our conventional deterrence and our ability to respond if deterrence fails.”
We don’t have to wait 5 years for trouble to arrive. It has already arrived:
Defense Secretary Mattis “shocked” by poor state of U.S. combat readiness – CBS News
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared Monday that he was “shocked” upon his return to the Pentagon by the poor state of the U.S. military’s readiness for combat.
He put most of the blame on Congress for its inability to approve budgets on time or repeal a law that strictly limits defense spending.
On the Brink of Disaster: Can Congress Save the U.S. Military? | The National Interest Blog
The 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength looked at the size, capabilities and readiness of each part of the military and concluded that as a package the military is only “marginal” in its ability to protect America. The Army, which just became the smallest since before World War II, fell even lower to a “weak” rating due to the dramatic cuts in its size and readiness.
The trend is clear—the military is getting smaller and less ready.
Putin has made a huge error in leaving it up to Assad whether Russia goes to war with the US. The initiative for war would not be in the hands of Putin, but with the Syrian dictator, who could initiate a conflict by using chemical weapons again on civilians or just dropping a few barrel bombs of conventional explosives. On his own, Assad could start a war and then force Putin to either make good on his threat or slink away.
Vladimir Putin does not seem to me to be the slinking type.
Hopefully, Putin will put his foot on Assad’s neck in order to keep him in line. But if Putin has finally decided he wants a confrontation with the west, Syria is probably where it will start.
Pressure to escalate is only going to get worse.
When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow this week, topic No. 1 will be Syria — and the stakes could not be higher. If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria, it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.
But therein lies a major dilemma for Trump moving forward. Successful deterrence requires a credible threat to hit Assad’s forces again if the regime continues to use chemical weapons or commits other transgressions. Yet Trump, having already rejected a larger military response out of apparent recognition of the dangers, may find it difficult to credibly signal he is willing to deploy this option in response to further actions by Assad down the line.
In this context, the danger of miscalculation is real. The Syrian dictator (perhaps prodded by Russia or Iran) may attempt to test Trump again, hoping to prove the president is a “paper tiger.” And Trump, having invested his personal credibility in standing firm, may find himself psychologically or politically compelled to respond, despite the very real risks that it could result in a direct military clash with Russia.
When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow this week, topic No. 1 will be Syria – and the stakes could not be higher.
If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria, it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.
However justified and morally satisfying, any use of military force is serious business, and even last Thursday’s limited strikes could lead the United States and Russia down a path towards escalation.
The expansive way in which US officials have talked about the purpose of the strikes increases the prospects of mission creep. In his statement announcing the attack, Trump framed it as essential to “prevent and deter the spread and use of chemical weapons.”
US and Russia haven’t been this close to a clash since the Cold War | New York Post
Russia and the US now are in greater danger of a direct military clash than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Their leaders are driven by domestic political considerations and macho instincts — a dangerous combination. The only clear winner in this fraught situation is ISIS. In recent months, the Russian-aided Syrian regime and the US have been successfully chipping away at it from different sides. Now, the regime may need to concentrate on its immediate survival in the face of an increased US threat.
The news aggregator Al-Masdar is already reporting, based on unnamed sources, that ISIS has launched an offensive in the area near Shayrat. In a conflict as complicated as the Syrian one, hitting one of the parties, no matter how evil, necessarily encourages other bad actors. Trump won’t beat ISIS by attacking Assad — he can only embarrass his domestic opposition and, to some extent, Putin. Neither is necessarily in the US interest.
NatSec adviser says “we’re prepared to do more” as Russia hints current U.S. strategy could mean war
Trump’s top national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster suggests Russia had to know Syria was plotting chemical attack.
In his first interview as President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on Sunday backed the U.S. missile attack on Syria last week, saying “we’re prepared to do more,” even as Russian officials hint that current U.S. strategy could mean war.
When Wallace asked what the United States will do if Russia defends its interests in Syria, mentioning Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s comments Friday that the U.S. missile strike in Syria put the two countries “on the verge of a military clash,” McMaster stood firm on his position that Russia is “part of the problem” and should become “part of the solution.”
Will this lead to war?
We already know that the US and Russia are at a tipping point: Where something small can trigger something big. It’s not going to take a lot to push them over the edge.
We know that Putin doesn’t back down, he doubles down. And it appears that Trump doesn’t back down either. Haven’t you noticed how Trump always fights those who attack him? Against all odds Trump fought to become president and by a miracle he won. Syria is a place where two leaders who won’t back down can butt heads.
My conclusion is that the elements for a great-power war are certainly present in Syria. If the war spreads to Israel, then I think it would be time to get serious about preparing for World War III.
While the world watches mounting military tensions in the South China Sea, another, more ominous situation is brewing in the East China Sea that could be the trigger point for a major war between the superpowers. At the heart of tensions are eight uninhabited islands controlled by Japan that are close to important shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves. China contests Japan’s claims and is escalating its military activity in Japan airspace. In response, Japan has been doubling its F-15 jet intercepts.
The situation increases the risk of an accidental confrontation — and could draw other countries, like the United States, into a conflict. It’s a topic President Trump will likely bring up with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate this week.
In this timely op-ed, Maj. Paul Smith, who works in the J-9 of U.S. Pacific Command but is, of course, writing in a personal capacity, compares today’s international security situation to that preceding World War I and sees worrying parallels. He calls for a reassessment of our strategy toward China. Read on. The Editor.
The global environment today eerily resembles that of Europe in the early twentieth century, when a rising tide of nationalism swept through the continent. That nationalism led to increased trade competition, networks of intertwined and complicated alliances and social and political ferment that sparked a war that eventually spread to engulf much of the world in the flames of World War I.
Are we headed towards another global conflict? If so, then where? Most importantly, can this crisis be averted?
A prominent retired general said Sunday that the U.S. military was in decline and indicated that not even President Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending was likely to prevent it from soon being surpassed by those of Russia and China.
Former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, told John Catsimatidis on the “Cats Roundtable” radio program on AM 970 in New York that, “if you look at what’s happened over 25 years, the United States has mostly put its military modernization on warm idle.”
“Accepting spheres of influence is a recipe for disaster.”
Americans tend to take the fundamental stability of the international order for granted, even while complaining about the burden the United States carries in preserving that stability. History shows that world orders do collapse, however, and when they do it is often unexpected, rapid, and violent. The late 18th century was the high point of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent fell suddenly into the abyss of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as revolutions in communication and transportation knit economies and people closer together. The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war. Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable.
The Dark Ages 2.0
… Now, the question is whether the United States is willing to continue upholding the order that it created and which depends entirely on American power or whether Americans are prepared to take the risk — if they even understand the risk — of letting the order collapse into chaos and conflict.
I’ve been following this problem since 2003. From what I can see a global crisis is a lot closer to three years than 15. And it might even be less than three years.
“Report says ties between the two nuclear-armed countries could deteriorate into an economic or military confrontation”
The group’s report, which was handed to the White House on Sunday and will be published in Washington DC on Tuesday, says ties between the two nuclear-armed countries could rapidly deteriorate into an economic or even military confrontation if compromise on issues including trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea cannot be found.
It says China’s increasingly assertive actions in the region – which include placing sophisticated weapons systems on artificial islands – coupled with growing domestic nationalism risks setting the US and China on “a dangerous collision course”.