13 May 2020

The U.S. does not have military superiority over China

Excerpts from a thought-provoking article at The Washington Post:
“Over the past decade, in U.S. war games against China, the United States has a nearly perfect record: We have lost almost every single time.” 
That’s a quote from a new book called “The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare,” the most provocative critique of U.S. defense policy I’ve read in years. It’s written by Christian Brose, former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a close adviser to late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). The book isn’t just a wake-up call, it’s a fire alarm in the night... 
Brose explains a terrible truth about war with China: Our spy and communications satellites would immediately be disabled; our forward bases in Guam and Japan would be “inundated” by precise missiles; our aircraft carriers would have to sail away from China to escape attack; our F-35 fighter jets couldn’t reach their targets because the refueling tankers they need would be shot down... 
How did this happen? It wasn’t an intelligence failure, or a malign Pentagon and Congress, or lack of money, or insufficient technological prowess. No, it was simply bureaucratic inertia compounded by entrenched interests. The Pentagon is good at doing what it did yesterday, and Congress insists on precisely that. We have been so busy buffing our legacy systems that, as Brose writes, “the United States got ambushed by the future.” 
A new world will emerge after the global coronavirus pandemic, one in which China is clearly determined to challenge the United States as a global power. The propaganda wars over the origin of the novel virus that causes covid-19 are just a warm-up for the tests that are ahead... 
China’s military isn’t focused on projecting power, as ours is, but instead on preventing U.S. domination. Rather than match our fleets of carriers and squadrons of jets around the world, Beijing developed precision weapons to prevent the United States from mobilizing these forces... 
And Congress demands adherence to this status quo. When then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer tried to retire an aircraft carrier in 2019, Congress refused. Expensive fighter jets have a lobby, too. As Brose notes: “There is a reason why parts of the F-35 are built in every state in America. . . . It is political expediency.”
Continue reading at the link.


  1. This is a little alarmist. In terms of sapping the will to fight without actually setting foot in the country in question (neither the US nor China has any desire to invade the other), the United States still enjoys far more ways to deprive China of material and income than the other way around.

    China is still heavily dependent on foreign imports of fossil fuels, and pipelines from the middle east are easy pickings. They are also enormously dependent on exporting goods to fuel their economic growth, and are therefore uniquely vulnerable to shipping blockades. US submarine warfare is still a generation or two beyond China's, and we could easily cut off anything coming or going up and down their entire coast. Diplomatically, China's prospective partners don't bring much to the fight that the United States and NATO couldn't overcome. Even Russian involvement would be a toss up, since they could possibly prefer a weakened China to be their neighbor if they felt it was worth losing the counterbalance against the West they traditionally provided.

    Not that any of this is an excuse to get lazy, but China suffers from some strategic weaknesses that gee-wiz weapons can't solve.

    1. As with most things China doesn't have to have technological parity with the US in submarine technology, all they need are a LOT of anti-submarine measures. You're probably aware of the massive field of sensors they've seeded their waters with and the big upgrade in anti-submarine tech on their surface fleet over the last decade/decade and a half.

      But it's almost unthinkable there'll be an actual blockade of China.

      Meanwhile a cold/economic war is stacked in China's favour. The US is 350-400 million people and 15% of world GDP. The rest of the world, including significant inroads in Europe, are participating in the Chinese Belt and Road initiative.

      Because it's a dictatorship China has been ABLE to spend decades with a singular focus, making exclusive deals to get access to raw materials to fund their expansion, particularly in Africa.

      The US hasn't had a coherent foreign policy since the sixties. They'd much rather destabilise and embargo or dump excess food production ruining local economies than build infrastructure in foreign countries.

      China is making the deals and even if it's an obvious bait and switch, it's the nature of a democracy to respond in the short term. So democratic governments will take what's offered and hope someone in the future will deal with the consequences.

  2. Timothy, I accidentally deleted your comment while curating the list this morning. Sorry. Feel free to re-comment.

  3. Strategically speaking if 2 adversaries were to engage in war games I would expect the more powerful opponent to lose every time.
    You don't play your best cards when their are no stakes.

    1. Strategically speaking, if you're playing a war game, you play to win, by whatever means are required. You do, in fact, play your best cards when there are 'no stakes', or you lose. Which we did. Lose, that is. Our national posture of arrogant superiority, which you are so clearly displaying here, is precisely the problem. Facts are facts.

  4. ya keep thinking that ... China cannot ... pure and simple

    1. They can and have. It's called evidence. And it's against us.


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