Has someone at the Pentagon been reading azizonomics.com? While I recognise that all great powers will devise contingency plans, it should come as no surprise that Pentagon resources are being directed toward devising a strategy to fight none other than the single largest Treasury creditor, China. After all, as I have pointed out time and again, they are not happy that so much of their productive output is going to stock Wall Mart, Target and J.C. Penney in exchange for the increasingly devalued dollar. From Salon:
This summer, despite America’s continuing financial crisis, the Pentagon is effectively considering trading two military quagmires for the possibility of a third. Reducing its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan as it refocuses on Asia, Washington is not so much withdrawing forces from the Persian Gulf as it is redeploying them for a prospective war with its largest creditor, China.
According to the defense trade press, Pentagon officials are seeking ways to adapt a concept known as AirSea Battle specifically for China, debunking rote claims from Washington that it has no plans to thwart its emerging Asian rival. A recent article in Inside the Pentagon reported that a small group of U.S. Navy officers known as the China Integration Team “is hard at work applying the lessons of [AirSea Battle] to a potential conflict with China.”
A U.S. mobilization in Asia is well underway, in faith with a spring 2001 Pentagon study called “Asia 2025,” which identified China as a “persistent competitor of the United States,” bent on “foreign military adventurism.” Three years later, the U.S. government went public with a plan that called for a new chain of bases in Central Asia and the Middle East, in part to box in the People’s Republic. Similarly, the nuclear energy cooperation deal signed by the U.S. and India in 2008 was an obvious containment maneuver aimed at Beijing. In late March, press reports detailed a major buildup of American forces in Asia, including increased naval deployments and expansive cooperation with partner countries. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is forging ahead with a multi-year effort to transform Guam into its primary hub in the Pacific, an initiative so vast that John Pike of the Washington, D.C.-based GlobalSecurity.org has speculated that Washington wants to “run the planet from Guam and Diego Garcia by 2015.”
Unlike America’s allies in Asia and Europe, however, China is not about to outsource its national security obligations to a foreign power, particularly when it comes to the South China Sea. There more than ever, and not without reason, Beijing identifies the U.S. not as a strategic partner but as an outright threat. In 2007, when China destroyed one of its weather satellites with a ballistic missile, it served as a warning to Washington after the ramming six years earlier of a U.S. spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet off the coast of Hainan Island. Though the crisis that followed was defused diplomatically, it was interpreted by some in Washington as vindication of the throaty Asia 2025. In fact, the clash followed a dramatic rise in the frequency of U.S. overflights in the area during the twilight of the Clinton years, which triggered a demarche from Beijing that slipped through the cracks of the transition to the Bush administration. The Hainan incident, as affair is known, was the inevitable outcome of a highly intrusive American surveillance regime.
For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government has encountered the practical limits of the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance. In its story about AirSea Battle and the China Integration Team, Inside the Pentagon revealed an oblique, if profound insight from Andrew Krepinevich, the highly regarded head of Washington’s Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. China, he said, is clearly jousting for control of the Western Pacific and “we have to decide whether we’re going to compete or not. If we’re not, then we have to be willing to accept the shift in the military balance.” Otherwise, “the question is how to compete effectively.”
Of course, it is an obvious fact that China has no interest whatsoever in war with America in the near future. China remains a clear second to America in military might. And — with China becoming stronger by the day, and America crippled by debt, by poor management, and by deindustrialisation — why would the Confucians risk this favourable long-term trend? As Confucius put it:
“To lead an uninstructed people to war is to throw them away”
No: China has slowly sapped America’s strength with cheap imports, and credit. The real danger to global peace is that America might try to reverse its long, slow decline from global hegemony through proxy or outright warfare before China becomes too strong to make that impossible.