Category Archives: U.S.

China, Be Afraid: The Mighty U.S.-Japan Alliance Is Going Global | The National Interest Blog

Going global also reflects Japan’s larger aims to see itself as a significant international player. Abe has travelled extensively to spread the message not only that Japan’s economy was back in business but also that it has a global role. But this vision is driven not only by Abe’s ambitions for Japan. It also reflects the reality that its rivalry and competition with China—whose rise is the primary driver of the revised Guidelines—is playing out internationally.

The driving force behind the revision of the Guidelines is China’s revival and the growing rivalry and tension this is causing with Japan. Yet the document is extremely deft in its treatment of China. …

China, Be Afraid: The Mighty U.S.-Japan Alliance Is Going Global | The National Interest Blog

Asia Unbound » China’s Secret Plan to Supplant the United States

First up is Dr. Michael Pillsbury’s The Hundred-Year Marathon (Henry Holt and Co., 2015). Let me begin by noting that this is a highly engaging and thought-provoking read. It does what few books do well, and that is to mix scholarship, policy, and memoir-style writing in an accessible but still intellectually rich fashion. Pillsbury, senior fellow and director for Chinese strategy at the Hudson Institute, presents a straightforward thesis. In its most bald form, he argues that China has a long-term marathon strategy to supplant the United States as the sole superpower by 2049. If successful, Pillsbury argues that China will reshape the world into one that will “nurture autocracies,” “rewrit[e] history to defam[e] the West and prais[e] China,” sell its own highly polluting development model to other countries, and constrain the political space for international organizations (195).

… He argues that through an elaborate plan of deception in which China underplays its strengths, Beijing has managed to dupe the West into helping China develop its economy and advance its scientific capabilities, therein planting the seeds of the United States’ own destruction.

Asia Unbound » China’s Secret Plan to Supplant the United States

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

Gottemoeller’s comments come on the heels of another report that former Russian military officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow would consider using nuclear weapons over disputes involving Ukraine and the Baltics.

Specifically, The London Times reported that during a “high-level meeting” between former U.S. and Russia security chiefs last month, the Russian side said that Putin would consider “a spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military” if NATO continues to build-up its forces in the Baltic states. They also said there was three flashpoints that could lead to a possible nuclear showdown between the former Cold War adversaries: Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the Baltic States. According to the report, the former security chiefs had been briefed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before the meeting.

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran – NYTimes.com

When diplomats at the Iran talks in Switzerland pummeled Department of Energy scientists with difficult technical questions — like how to keep Iran’s nuclear plants open but ensure that the country was still a year away from building a bomb — the scientists at times turned to a secret replica of Iran’s nuclear facilities built deep in the forests of Tennessee.

There inside a gleaming plant at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation were giant centrifuges — some surrendered more than a decade ago by Libya, others built since — that helped the scientists come up with what they told President Obama were the “best reasonable” estimates of Iran’s real-life ability to race for a weapon under different scenarios.

“We know a lot more about Iranian centrifuges than we would otherwise,” said a senior nuclear specialist familiar with the forested site and its covert operations.

The classified replica is but one part of an extensive crash program within the nation’s nine atomic laboratories — Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Livermore among them — to block Iran’s nuclear progress. As the next round of talks begins on Wednesday in Vienna, the secretive effort remains a technological obsession for thousands of lab employees living the Manhattan Project in reverse. Instead of building a bomb, as their predecessors did in a race to end World War II, they are trying to stop one.

Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran – NYTimes.com

Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict | The National Interest

“Putin and Obama think they’ve got this crisis contained. Two prominent experts say they may be wrong.”

The United States and Russia may be unwittingly stumbling down a path to deeper confrontation and even war, cautioned two prominent American national-security experts at a panel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of this magazine, suggested that while leaders in both countries may not intend to escalate their disagreements on matters like the Ukraine crisis, poorly structured decision processes, opposing goals and divergent narratives can still produce conflict. “Even as they state that they don’t want a confrontation—with full conviction,” said Simes, “they are seeking a victory without war…Both sides show little inclination to compromise on what they consider to be fundamental and what they believe they are entitled to.”

Worse, warned Allison, Russia may believe that the use of threats and military force will produce the best outcomes in a serious confrontation with the West. “Russia has escalation dominance,” said Allison, and “from a Russian point of view,” shaping the confrontation in such a way “sends a very powerful message, especially to the Europeans.” Allison and Simes suggested that a diplomatic resolution is still very possible—“we are not predicting World War Three,” in Simes’ words—but that “this is not [a] time in the U.S.-Russian relationship when you want to be too polite about stating what the danger is.”

… “President Obama and President Putin may genuinely believe that we are not on a dangerous track.” They may be wrong.

Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict | The National Interest

China and America: Sleepwalking to War? | The National Interest

“THE INTENSIFYING Sino-American rivalry looks an awful lot like the pre-1914 Anglo-German antagonism.”

“As with the Anglo-German antagonism, economic rivalry and ideological antipathy are causing the perception of the “China threat” to congeal within the U.S. foreign-policy elite.”

“AS WAS true for Britain and Germany before World War I, powerful forces are pushing the United States and China toward confrontation.”

History suggests that great-power transitions often lead to war.

Accordingly, much contemporary commentary points to direct parallels between today’s events in East Asia and those that led to the outbreak of World War I in Europe one hundred years ago. Just as the ascent of Wilhelmine Germany unsettled pre-1914 Europe, so, we are told, a rising China is roiling East Asia. The Economist thus noted “the parallel between China’s rise and that of imperial Germany over a century ago.” And “even if history never repeats itself,” it wrote on another occasion, “the past likes to have a try.”

If the past is “having a try” in East Asia, it is because there are several important—and unsettling—parallels between the Anglo-German relationship during the run-up to 1914 and the unfolding Sino-American relationship. First, both relationships involve power transitions, two aspects of which have not received the attention they deserve. Although Britain and Germany were competing for power and security, they were also—just as importantly—competing for status and prestige, which made the competition between them pretty much intractable. Germany’s rise also posed a challenge to the existing international order, the Pax Britannica. Second, in Britain, liberal ideology contributed to what might be called a “perception spiral,” which fostered in policy makers and citizens an image of Germany as an implacably hostile and dangerous rival. Viewed through the lens of the perception spiral, the potential threat posed by a rising Germany to the geopolitical position of a declining Britain was magnified and, possibly, distorted. Perception-spiral dynamics go a long way toward explaining why Britain was not able to accommodate a rising Germany before 1914—and why the United States is unlikely to accede to China’s claim to equal status.

China and America: Sleepwalking to War? | The National Interest

More and more we are seeing the foreign establishment recognize that war between China and America is a real possibility. So too with Russia. We appear to be nearing a point of collapse in the international order with war as the primary driver. In the next article I take a look at the cold hard probabilities of war, and they are not encouraging.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

In history the probability of war is high when a powerful rival approaches or passes a hegemonic leader. Depending on how you count one gets the following probabilities: 10/13 (77%), 11/15 (73%) or 6/7 (86%). With China approaching the US today, the real probability of war is higher. That’s because historical results are heavily weighted by the US passing Britain without a war. Two democracies with similar cultures passing without a war. That doesn’t exactly describe the US-China situation. Also, one could argue that the rivalry between the US and Soviet Union (Russia) continues today. That means we don’t know the true outcome.

So adjusting the historical results gives us answers ranging from 73% to 100%.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

Based on the historical data, the actual probability of war today appears to be a lot closer to 100% then 73%.

“AS WAS true for Britain and Germany before World War I, powerful forces are pushing the United States and China toward confrontation.”

Think of these powerful forces as tidal forces. It’s going to be very difficult to overcome the tide. It’s almost like you don’t sleepwalk into war, or stumble into war, but rather one falls into war.

 

Russia and America: Stumbling to War | The National Interest

“While many Americans have persuaded themselves that nuclear weapons are no longer relevant in international politics, officials and generals in Moscow feel differently.”

Could a U.S. response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russian war?

Americans would do well to recall the sequence of events that led to Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the Second World War. In 1941, the United States imposed a near-total embargo on oil shipments to Japan to punish its aggression on the Asian mainland. Unfortunately, Washington drastically underestimated how Japan would respond. As one of the post–World War II “wise men,” Secretary of State Dean Acheson, observed afterward, the American government’s …

COULD A U.S. response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russian war? Such a possibility seems almost inconceivable. But when judging something to be “inconceivable,” we should always remind ourselves that this is a statement not about what is possible in the world, but about what we can imagine. As Iraq, Libya and Syria demonstrate, political leaders often have difficulties envisioning events they find uncomfortable, disturbing or inconvenient.

Prevailing views of the current confrontation with Russia over Ukraine fit this pattern. …

… While many Americans have persuaded themselves that nuclear weapons are no longer relevant in international politics, officials and generals in Moscow feel differently. …

There are three key factors in considering how today’s conflict might escalate to war: Russia’s decision making, Russia’s politics and U.S.-Russian dynamics.

… The Russian public largely supports the hard-line camp, whom one Putin adviser called the “hotheads.” …

While none of the “hotheads” criticize Putin, even in private conversations, a growing number of military and national-security officials favor a considerably tougher approach to the United States and Europe in the Ukraine crisis. …

… In these debates, many ask whether President Obama would risk losing Chicago, New York and Washington to protect Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. …

… Many in Beijing fear that if the United States and its allies were successful in defeating Russia, and particularly in changing the regime in Russia, China could well be the next target. …

Russia and America: Stumbling to War | The National Interest

Let us remember that the Russians get a vote too. And if they feel differently about the use of nuclear weapons then you had better pay attention and come out of your fantasy land.

The Edge: Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End? | The Guardian

Mark Urban is the BBC’s respected diplomatic and defence journalist and a military historian, and his book asks “Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End?”. The answer is: “Yes, of course.” That is, in the way the west’s conventional weapons have in the past been vastly superior to those of Russia, India, China and other Asian powers.

Now, warns Urban, projected cuts “will make it impossible for America to have the kind of military reach it used to”. Many Americans, he adds, “do not realise that the age of a single global hyperpower is over. And, actually, it’s worse than that. For it is only by combining metrics of that decline with the growth in military capabilities elsewhere that you can gain a sense of how quickly the scales are tipping”.

Now, says Urban, Russia, China and India have such strong conventional forces, and America has cut its forces so much, that in the event of a conflict “the US would be left with the choice of nuclear escalation or backing down”. He adds: “Against a full-scale invasion of South Korea, the US would have little choice but to go nuclear.” Russia, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and some other countries could “mount a credible conventional defence that would leave the United States having to think the unthinkable, with profound implications for the world”.

The Edge: Is the Military Dominance of the West Coming to an End? by Mark Urban – review | Books | The Guardian

Countdown to War: A U.S.-Russia War Over Ukraine?

“Could a U.S. response to Russia’s action in Ukraine provoke a confrontation that leads to a U.S.-Russia War?”

This jolting question is raised by Graham Allison and Dimitri Simes in the cover article of The National Interest. [Apparently, this article is not out yet.]

The answer the authors give, in “Countdown to War: The Coming U.S. Russia Conflict,” is that the odds are shortening on a military collision between the world’s largest nuclear powers.

The cockpit of the conflict, should it come, will be Ukraine.

What makes the article timely is the report that Canada will be sending 200 soldiers to western Ukraine to join 800 Americans and 75 Brits on a yearlong assignment to train the Ukrainian army.

And train that army to fight whom? Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine whom Vladimir Putin has said will not be crushed, even if it requires Russian intervention. Says Putin, “We won’t let it happen.”

What are the forces that have us “stumbling to war”?

A U.S.-Russia War Over Ukraine? | RealClearPolitics

We aren’t going to stumble into anything. We are going to fall into war. Since both sides must move forward and can’t accept defeat, then the option that is left is war. The key questions are when and precisely how. A better scenario for Russia is to acknowledge that war is likely, and launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US. It only needs a good excuse to pin the attack on the US.

Military moving back into Cheyenne Mountain Complex after being abandoned | Daily Mail Online

It shut down nearly ten years ago as the threat from Russia seemed to subside, but this week the Pentagon announced that Cheyenne Mountain will once again be home to the most advanced tracking and communications equipment in the United States military.

The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command’s sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that ‘because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened.’

‘And so, there’s a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there,’ Gortney told reporters.

‘My primary concern was… are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I’m not at liberty to discuss who’s moving in there,’ he said.

Military moving back into Cheyenne Mountain Complex after being abandoned | Daily Mail Online