Category: Asia and the Pacific

Dec. 30, 2014

Refocusing the U.S. Strategic Security Perspective

Since the early days of Cold War rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union, policymakers have recognized that low-intensity conflict and limited wars often occur in spite of deterrence—that is, using the threat of military force or coercion to change an adversary’s behavior. Because of this shortcoming and risk of escalation, the United States has applied deterrence haphazardly in its relationship with China. Yet U.S. policymakers have failed to identify an alternative approach for chronic disputes that are not readily shaped by military posturing. This deficiency is overlooked at the expense of muddling through commonplace confrontations with China over fishing rights, maritime borders, and cyberspace rather than establishing consistent mechanisms to reduce tension and prevent escalation. Some analysts, such as Richard K. Betts, see only two stark choices to address this dilemma: “accept China’s full claims as a superpower when it becomes one or draw clear redlines before a crisis comes.” However, we do not need to limit our options to deterrence or acceptance. Rather, we should complement deterrence with a more flexible, strategic framework focused on conflict management.

Oct. 1, 2014

“Not an Idea We Have to Shun”: Chinese Overseas Basing Requirements in the 21st Century

China’s expanding international economic interests are likely to generate increasing demands for its navy, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), to operate out of area to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and sea lines of communication. The frequency, intensity, type, and location of such operations will determine the associated logistics support requirements, with distance from China, size and duration, and combat intensity being especially important drivers.

Sept. 30, 2014

Deterrence with China: Avoiding Nuclear Miscalculation

As China rises and the United States seeks to maintain its global dominance, the world is faced with a new historical phenomenon: a dramatic shift in power between two nuclear-capable nations. As the relative power of each nation nears parity, tension is inevitable and the character of the evolving Sino-U.S. relationship poses a risk of nuclear miscalculation. Nuclear use between China and the United States would be a catastrophe, but China is an independent actor, and the United States can only influence, but not control, the crossing of the nuclear threshold. If U.S. policymakers neglect this risk, miscalculation is more likely.

Sept. 30, 2014

Opportunities in Understanding China’s Approach to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

In 2010, two Japanese coast guard vessels and a Chinese fishing boat collided in the disputed waters near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, sparking increasingly confrontational behavior by both China and Japan. The pattern of escalation continued in 2012 when Japan nationalized several of the disputed islands by purchasing them from the private owner. China promptly responded by sending warships to the area in a show of force. Although escalation to the point of war is unlikely, these incidents underscore the destabilizing regional effects of the disputed islands and associated maritime boundaries. China’s territorial claims are rooted in historical context, nationalism, national security, and economic interests.3 By understanding China’s perspectives, motives, and approaches to resolving this dispute, the United States can anticipate the current pattern of escalation, forecast future Chinese behavior, and identify opportunities for conflict management and eventual de-escalation to improve strategic stability in the region.

Sept. 30, 2014

A Potent Vector: Assessing Chinese Cruise Missile Developments

The numerous, increasingly advanced cruise missiles being developed and deployed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have largely flown under the public’s radar. This article surveys PRC cruise missile programs and assesses their implications for broader People’s Liberation Army (PLA) capabilities, especially in a Taiwan scenario.

July 1, 2014

Tailored Deterrence: Strategic Context to Guide Joint Force 2020

U.S. deterrence is neutered by not clearly defining national security threats and aligning resources accordingly, as in favoring offensive Air-Sea Battle against China against defensive A2/AD capabilities with partners, or preparing sufficiently against regional players such as North Korea and Syria. Plans must accord with actual defense policies and dangers.

July 1, 2014

The Role of U.S. Land Forces in the Asia-Pacific

Washington must not yield to fiscal pressures that erode its legitimacy as a global leader. Its forces must remain capable across the spectrum from the smallest to the largest security challenges and control procurement accordingly, using existing resources and allies in a flexible approach the Army will continue to pursue.

June 1, 2014

The U.S. “Rebalance” and Europe: Convergent Strategies Open Doors to Improved Cooperation

European concerns regarding U.S. disengagement have dissipated but not entirely disappeared over the past 2 years. Still, U.S. readiness to lead politically and militarily in Europe— for example, in response to the ongoing crisis involving Russia and Ukraine—and adjoining regions remains under close scrutiny. Furthermore, while many Europeans agree in principle that renewed American focus on Asia-Pacific issues should encourage Europeans to assume a greater share of security-related responsibilities in their neighborhood, there is little evidence to date of a sea change in European attitudes toward defense spending and overseas military deployments.

April 1, 2014

Airpower and Globalization Effects: Rethinking the Five Rings

The Five Rings theory may not provide quick wins against large countries with modern air defense systems, but an escalatory strategic interdiction strategy relying on capable air and navel forces to affect the most critical and vulnerable elements would apply to many crises with its nonlethal and reversible options.

April 1, 2014

Sun Tzu in Contemporary Chinese Strategy

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War cuts both ways. Its tenets work against enemies but can also strike against China. Using the general’s maxims, we can uncover inconsistencies in the grandly moral stance assumed by Chinese leaders. For instance, claims made for public consumption can be juxtaposed with demonstrable fact.