Monday, July 30, 2018

It's Always Something

The Post-Cold War era of American military dominance is over. China is the rising power of the future America needs to worry about. Russia is the declining power we still need to worry about.

China is growing more powerful and seeks to be the dominant power at our expense:

Beijing doesn't want to go to war, he said, but the current communist government, under President Xi Jingping, is subtly working on multiple fronts to undermine the U.S. in ways that are different than the more well-publicized activities being employed by Russia. ...

There is concern over China's pervasive efforts to steal business secrets and details about high-tech research being conducted in the U.S. The Chinese military is expanding and being modernized and the U.S., as well as other nations, have complained about China's construction of military outposts on islands in the South China Sea. ...

Marcel Lettre, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army of ground forces, the third-largest air force and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines.

"All of this is in the process of being modernized and upgraded," said Lettre, who sat on a panel with Collins and Thornton.

He said China also is pursuing advances in cyber, artificial intelligence, engineering and technology, counter-space, anti-satellite capabilities and hypersonic glide weapons.

On the bright side, we have allies and friends with significant economic and military power in the region who don't want to be dominated by China while China has few allies they can count on. China's growing power is thus tied down in a number of directions.

Russia is a declining power--notwithstanding their dead cat bounce--with a tenth of America's GDP and half our population. Yet their geography gives them the advantage over far weaker neighbors of Russia who are far from NATO help in the short run.

You know who else had an economy the tenth of our size and half our population? Imperial Japan in 1941. So even a foe at that scale can cause a lot of damage in the short run.*

And Russia has a lot of nuclear weapons that we must assume work well enough to be a catastrophic threat. So America needs to keep an eye on Russia and make sure our European allies can cope with Russia with the least possible American help, so we can keep an eye on the rising power China.

*Although admittedly the current American-Russian military balance--minus the nuclear part--is  heavily tilted in our favor compared to the American-Japanese balance in 1941.