Posts Tagged ‘China’

Asia Pivot and Air-Sea Battle: Precipitating Military Competition with China?

by Carl Conetta, 03 March 2014

Will China come to pose a peer military threat to the United States?

The Obama administration’s 2012 Strategic Defense Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) turn on this eventuality. Both the so-called “Asia pivot” and the evolving Air-Sea Battle (ASB) operational concept are meant to preclude it. But they may serve to precipitate it, instead.

The Pentagon’s tilt toward Asia finds strong support in the US Navy, while Air-Sea Battle enthuses the Navy and Air Force alike. ASB, and its link to US-China contention, provides a bulwark against defense budget retrenchment as well as a rallying cry for a defense industry that fears a return of Pentagon modernization spending to pre-Iraq War levels.

Whether or not China develops into a peer military rival, it does pose a critical challenge to America’s current defense strategy. Ever since publication of the first QDR in 1997, US strategy has premised itself on global military primacy. All four QDR’s to date have taken primacy to be the cornerstone of American security and, thus, a vital security interest in itself. But the usefulness of this formulation has depended on the unipolar nature of global relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. That condition is now coming decisively to an end largely due to the rise of China and other big, rapidly developing nations. Both the Asia pivot and the ASB concept represent efforts to manage this emergent reality and forestall the end of the ‘American Century.’

Also central to the “QDR consensus” has been the notion that the United States should work to prevent the rise of unfriendly regional superpowers or, failing that, join with allies to balance against them. China has been the focus of such efforts in Asia. Its potential for becoming a regional hegemon is readily apparent. Today, China accounts for two-thirds of the total population and 55 percent of the economic strength of the 10 nations that border the Yellow, East, and South China Seas.

Successive US administrations have hoped that a combination of close-in military presence, engagement, and activism might convince China’s leaders to be more accommodating. At the same time, talk of China as an emergent military threat or likely competitor has been ubiquitous in America’s security policy debate (and in QDR’s after 2000.) It’s hard to find evidence that the net effect on the Chinese, if any, has been positive. Indeed, there has been unparalleled growth in Chinese defense spending and modernization efforts since 2001. Also, US-China military tensions may be contributing to rather than dissuading China’s strong and growing interest in exerting more control over its maritime perimeter.

Many analysts see America’s “Asia pivot,” announced in 2011, as largely a change in military priorities. Some additionally question the substance of this military shift. (The Air-Sea Battle concept is subject to similar doubts.)

It’s true that the pivot involves little increase in America’s military presence in Asia. But this is occurring in the context of a longer-term reduction in America’s military presence abroad and a rollback in the overall size of US armed forces to levels current in the late 1990s. Relatively speaking, Asia is being privileged.

The pivot is also continuing a trend toward a more flexible and distributed presence abroad, but with greater emphasis on the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. And it is giving greater emphasis to alliances and cooperation with nations along China’s trade routes south of the Tropic of Cancer. If America’s Asian interests previously centered on Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, they today more evenly mirror the contours of China.

In sum, the pivot is optimizing America’s military posture for Asia and for US-China competition, but doing so within the context of mild reductions in US military spending and force size. Also key to this optimization is the ASB concept.

Like the pivot itself, ASB has a long pedigree. It draws on Cold War concepts of deep attack — especially Air-Land Battle — and reflects more recent interest in net centric warfare and precision attack. ASB responds specifically to the prospect of US adversaries developing capacities to effectively contest or deny US forces safe entry to areas of conflict.

w-airSeahttp://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/what-is-air-sea-battle/2012/08/01/gJQAlGr7PX_graphic.html

Relevant adversary capabilities include anti-ship cruise and theater ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction, quiet attack submarines and small fast-attack ships, precision munitions and smart mines, long-range drones and stealthy combat aircraft, and systems for space, cyber, and electronic attack. Networked with these would be relatively sophisticated command, control, surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition systems.

Against this, ASB would orchestrate US forces to blind and disrupt enemy networks, destroy or disable enemy launchers, and shield US assets from enemy aircraft, missile, submarine, cyber, and space attack. Central to the concept is early (possibly pre-emptive) deep attacks on an enemy’s homeland. Success in breaking an enemy’s longer-range and maritime “kill chain” would presumably allow the main body of US forces to control and safely operate from areas closer to the enemy homeland, with potentially devastating effect.

The ASB initiative seeks to preserve the type of advantage the United States enjoyed in its two wars with Iraq, which depended on having or establishing secure operating bases nearby. Given significant investment, that goal might be within reach for fighting a nation like Iran. China, by contrast, poses a considerably greater challenge that is further complicated by Chinese nuclear capabilities.

ASB critics have pointed out that the effort so far seems more rhetorical than material. And, indeed, the ASB office is a small one with few modernization programs to call its own. But this misses its chief purpose, which is to promote a unifying vision that shapes, coordinates, and channels already existing service efforts. Today, the ASB concept serves as a rationale for Air Force and Navy modernization programs valued by one study at $525 billion over ten years. These programs include many space, cyber, and missile defense efforts as well as long-range strike and reconnaissance platforms and munitions of many types.

A more prescient critique sees the ASB concept as incompatible with any coherent strategy — essentially, an unusable tool — because it depends on early, large-scale attack on the strategic assets of a nuclear armed nation. Under what conditions would a president walk down this path? As one leading analyst puts it:

You don’t conduct widespread bombing campaigns against the homelands of nuclear powers!

Advocates respond that ASB is not specifically about China. And it is certainly true that the concept has application on smaller scales. Still, the influence that the idea is exerting on Pentagon planning and resource allocation only makes sense with a peer contender in mind.

ASB’s emphasis on early, deep attack with the goal of rendering an adversary vulnerable to the full brunt of American power will likely put a use-it-or-lose-it hair-trigger on US-China military confrontations, should they occur. It will certainly accelerate the current US-China and East Asia arms race spiral. However, as one top Navy official points out, “Air-Sea Battle is all about convincing the Chinese that we will win this competition.” Achieving a degree of arms race dominance that can actually convince others to quit the race has been a strategic conceit of the QDR consensus since 1997. It apparently doesn’t work.

This also seems out of touch with economic trends and with the fact that China presently devotes much less GDP to defense than does the United States. It has lots of room to grow. Moreover, China’s interest in its maritime perimeter will almost certainly grow to surpass America’s interest in patrolling seas so far distant from its homeland.

There are more practicable alternatives to ASB that emphasize blockading Chinese maritime trade at some distance from the mainland, in the case of war. Some see using America’s own anti-access and area-denial capabilities to impede any Chinese aggression. Both avoid the costs and provocations of deep attack and big battles near the Chinese shore. And both would allow for more graduated responses. Some alternatives suggest stationing more of America’s assets “over the horizon,” where they would be safer from Chinese preemption while retaining the capacity to rapidly surge forward.

But critics say these alternatives might weaken the credibility of America’s military commitment. Moreover, one purpose of credibly threatening to disable China’s maritime defense and control capabilities is to gain more leverage over China generally, not simply in military confrontation.

It may be that the most realistic and sustainable alternative would be to exit the QDR consensus altogether and adopt a more broadly cooperative approach to integrating China and reducing regional tensions. This would imply de-emphasizing new military initiatives while ramping up inclusive diplomatic ones. Success would hinge on the possibility that China’s recent regional assertiveness has more to do with US-China military contention than with intractable regional differences. America’s Asian military posture should reflect the fact that no one wins from conflict in this region. Minimally, this means adopting a posture with lower escalatory potential than Air-Sea Battle.

News and Commentary – sources

China-US Focus: “What Asian Pivot?” Benjamin Friedman, 13 November 2013.
http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/what-asian-pivot/

The National Interest: “How to Win a War with China,” Sean Mirski, 01 November 2013.
http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/how-win-war-china-9346

The National Interest: “Sorry Air-Sea Battle Is No Strategy,” T.X. Hammes, 07 August 2013.
http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/sorry-airsea-battle-no-strategy-8846

Foreign Policy: “Escalation Cause: How the Pentagon’s New Strategy Could Trigger War with China,” David C. Gompert and Terrence K. Kelly, 02 August 2013.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/02/escalation_cause_air_sea_battle_china

Breaking Defense: “Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart,” Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., 09 July 2013.
http://breakingdefense.com/2013/07/glimpse-inside-air-sea-battle-nukes-cyber-at-its-heart/

Huffington Post: “Why America’s Strategic Rebalance Is Really Just Retreat,” John Feffer, 28 January 2013.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-feffer/americas-strategic-rebalance_b_4680035.html

Thomas P.M. Barnett blog: “Nice critique of the sheer – and reckless – overkill that is ASBC,” 10 August 2012.
http://thomaspmbarnett.com/globlogization/2012/8/10/nice-critique-of-the-sheer-and-reckless-overkill-that-is-asb.html

Time.com: “AirSea Battle: The Military-industrial Complex’s Self-serving Fantasy,” Thomas P. M. Barnett, 08 August 2012.
http://nation.time.com/2012/08/08/airsea-battle-the-military-industrial-complexs-self-serving-fantasy/

Washington Post: “U.S. model for a future war fans tensions with China and inside Pentagon,” Greg Jaffe, 01 August 2012.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-model-for-a-future-war-fans-tensions-with-china-and-inside-pentagon/2012/08/01/gJQAC6F8PX_story.html

Key Reports and Journal Articles – sources

G2 Solutions: “Air-Sea Battle FY2014: Concepts, Key Programs and Forecast, Executive Summary,” November 2013.
http://www.g2globalsolutions.com/Executive Summaries/Air Sea Battle FY 2014 Exec Sum.pdf

IISS Strategic Comments: “China’s defence spending – new questions,” 02 August 2013 (subscription).
http://www.iiss.org/en/publications/strategic%20comments/sections/2013-a8b5/china–39-s-defence-spending–new-questions-e625

Yale Journal of International Affairs: “Who Authorized Preparations for War with China?” Amitai Etzioni, 12 June 2013.
http://yalejournal.org/2013/06/12/who-authorized-preparations-for-war-with-china/

Air Sea Battle Office: “Air Sea Battle: Service Collaboration to Address Anti-Access & Area Denial Challenges,” May 2013.
http://www.defense.gov/pubs/ASB-ConceptImplementation-Summary-May-2013.pdf

Woodrow Wilson Center: “Dealing with Rising China,” J Stapelton Roy, November 2012.
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/policy_brief_dealing_with_a_rising_china.pdf

Strategic Forum: “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for An Unlikely Conflict,” T.X. Hammes, June 2012.
http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/StrForum/SF-278.pdf

Congressional Research Service: “Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s
Rebalancing’ Toward Asia,” Mark E. Manyin, et. al., 28 March 2012.
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42448.pdf

U.S. Department of Defense: “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” January 2012.
http://www.defense.gov/news/defense_strategic_guidance.pdf

Foreign Policy: “America’s Pacific Century,” Hillary Clinton, 11 October 2011.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/11/americas_pacific_century

China Leadership Monitor: “China’s Assertive Behavior-Part Two: The Maritime Periphery,” Michael D. Swaine and M. Taylor Fravel, 21 September 2011.
http://www.hoover.org/publications/china-leadership-monitor/article/93591

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment: “Airsea Battle” (slide presentation), Jan Van Tol, et. al., 18 May 2010.
http://www.csbaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/2010.05.18-AirSea-Battle-Slides.pdf

Foreign Affairs: “The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?,” Robert D. Kaplan, May/June 2010.
http://www.cerium.ca/IMG/pdf/Kaplan_How_far_can_Beijing_reach_on_land_and_at_sea.pdf

Project on Defense Alternatives: “A Prisoner to Primacy,” Carl Conetta, 05 February 2008.
http://www.comw.org/pda/0802bm43.html

U.S. National War College: “A New Air Sea Battle Concept: Integrated Strike Forces,”
Commander James Stavridis (U.S. Navy), May 1992.
http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA436862

US doesn’t need more defense dollars to ease crisis in East China Sea

Charles Knight, letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, 24 Janurary 2014.

Preventing war with a rising China requires diplomatic wisdom, not additional US military investment. Nicholas Burns (“The trouble with China,” Op-ed, Jan. 16) cites a recent mini-crisis in the East China Sea as a warning sign for “congressional leaders in both parties supporting deep cuts in the State Department and Pentagon budgets.”

However, the modest budget reductions that have been proposed — next year the Pentagon is actually getting a $20 billion raise — would in no way prevent the United States from performing shows of force such as the recent flight of B-52s through China’s newly claimed airspace in the East China Sea. The Pentagon’s budget would have to be cut in half to get close to touching overwhelming US military dominance in the Pacific.

A quick look at a map of the region will reveal that China has critical national interests in unencumbered access to the shipping lanes off its coasts and through the passages to the south. Accommodating these interests is the best path to peace in the long run.

America will be much better served by helping to establish an inclusive cooperative economic and security zone in the region, rather than pursuing an ultimately losing game of indefinitely overmatching China’s military power in its own neighborhood.

The trouble with China: It’s the responsibility of the US to prevent war over East China Sea islands
by Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe, 16 January 2014.

As the White House struggles to cope with a burning Middle East, another vital challenge is arising on the far horizon — China is flexing its muscles with real consequences for America’s future in Asia.

In the East China Sea, the United States worries about a stand-off between our ally Japan and Beijing over conflicting, historical claims to small, uninhabited islands the Japanese call the Senkakus and the Chinese call the Diaoyu. China opposes Japan’s ownership of the islands and, in November, announced creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea that directly challenged the right of Japanese, American, and other aircraft to transit airspace in the area without prior notification to Beijing. China has made equally extravagant legal claims in the South China Sea against Filipino and Vietnamese territorial claims.

As my Harvard colleague, Graham Allison, recounts in the National Interest, China’s actions are playing out on a broad historic canvas with Beijing and Washington as the main actors. He reminds us of the “Thucydides Trap”— when, in past centuries, “a rapidly rising power rivals an established ruling power, trouble ensues. In 11 of 15 cases in which this has occurred in the past 500 years, the result was war.”

Conflict between the United States and China is far from inevitable. But the East and South China Seas crises illustrate the American challenge in working with China’s assertive new leadership. The United States and China are partners on a range of issues, from trade to climate change and proliferation. But they are also strategic rivals for power in Asia. That is why the White House should be firm that the United States and its allies won’t be bullied by China’s peremptory and unilateral territorial claims.

The immediate challenge is in the East China Sea. Tokyo defends its long possession of the islands through naval and air patrols while Beijing counters with its own naval vessels and aircraft to contest it. The obvious risk is potential collision by two powerful militaries at sea and in the air. The stakes are very high for the United States as our defense treaty with Japan obligates us to come to its assistance in the event of conflict with China.

The United States has rightly stood by Japan against China’s unilateral claims. Washington is also counseling China to gain better control of the often-willful People’s Liberation Army and submit its territorial claims to international adjudication rather than assert them by fiat and intimidation.

To be fair, however, Washington is also advising Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to lower the temperature in his rivalry with China. His recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals from the Second World War are buried, as well as Japan’s refusal to acknowledge the horrific actions of its military during the Second World War, are unnecessarily provocative to the Chinese, South Korean, and Filipino peoples.

As the United States seeks to keep the peace in the East China Sea, the immediate danger is not so much that Japan or China will decide to launch a war for the islands but that they might stumble into conflict by mistake or miscalculation.

British historian Margaret MacMillan warns of such a risk in a recent Brookings Institution essay. She recounts the improbable and unplanned events that led to the outbreak of war in 1914 in which 16 million combatants and civilians eventually perished. Her essay is a direct warning — we can’t take the current Great Power peace for granted. Human folly, frailty, and hubris could lead the great powers of our time — among them China, Japan, and even the United States — into a conflagration we never believed was possible. “The one-hundredth anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew,” she warned, “on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophe, and sheer accident.”

The East China Sea Crisis and the lessons of World War I remind Americans of a final stark reality — global peace and security still depends on us more than any other country. It is thus essential that we remain the world’s strongest diplomatic and military power. Congressional leaders in both parties supporting deep cuts in the State Department and Pentagon budgets should remember that in Asia, the Middle East, and beyond, we are still, as Madeleine Albright once rightly claimed, the world’s “indispensable” nation.

Nicholas Burns is a professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Reset Defense Bulletin: Small Changes for the Army and Navy

PDA Review
from 20 Janaury 2014 Reset Defense Bulletin

In the last issue of the Reset Defense Bulletin we reported that the Pentagon will likely pass up one of the best options for greater strategic efficiency — that is relying more on a strong and capable strategic reserve for large and medium scale wars.

The size of the Total Army has been declining and will be down by about 100,000 this decade. However, the relative size of the active and reserve components has not yet been decided. Sydney Freedberg in Breaking Defense reports of the National Guard leadership complaining of being cut 10% t0 315,000 while the active component Army is hoping to remain as close to 490,000 as they can. Reportedly many in the Army expect there will be a further 8% reduction (to 450,000) in the active component before the end of the decade. By way of comparison the study Reasonable Defense from the Project on Defense Alternatives calls for 420,000 in the active component and 325,000 in the Guard.

In a sign that the Pentagon may face up to a small part of their fiscal reality, Bloomberg reports that the Navy will order 32 rather than 52 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).

Navy experts Eric Labs of CBO and Ronald O’Rourke of CRS have long caste doubt the affordability of the Navy’s 30 year shipbuilding plan. Indeed, in an odd budgetary gambit, the Navy has lobbied to get the $90-100 billion cost of replacing their aging ballistic missile subs paid from some Pentagon treasury outside Navy’s regular shipbuilding budget (Frank Oliveri of Roll Call and Ronald O’Rourke of the Congressional Research Service offer details.) Christopher Preble and Matt Fay suggest that the Navy buy the SSBN[X] with funds saved from eliminating or curtailing the Air Force’s ICBM and Bomber legs of the strategic nuclear posture.

Now it looks like a small portion of the Navy shipbuilding budget deficit will be paid for by producing fewer than planned of the over-budget and under-performing LCS.

Coincidentally, a Defense News editorial praises the flexibility and affordability of frigates, calling particular attention to Denmark’s Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates as “long-range, efficient but highly flexible ships that come equipped with considerable capabilities.” Perhaps the Navy will now replace some retiring frigates with modern frigates proven by allied navies, instead of the much more expensive LCS.

Frigate_Iver_Huitfeldt

Danish Ivar Huitfeldt Class Frigate

There has been several calls for disbanding the Air Force (Carroll, Farley) and for folding its roles and missions back into the other services. This is surely a ‘non-starter’ with a White House that has been consistently reluctant to take on anything held very dear by the Pentagon brass or their supporters in Congress. However, radical proposals such as this one will sometimes open space for discussion of other changes to strategic ambitions and to now calcified service roles and missions — which too often excessively and wastefully overlap. One such area is the strategic triad, jeaslously protected by the Navy and Air Force.

Reuters reports that the Pentagon is considering additional educational and financial incentives for Air Force officers who guard and operate the nation’s ICBM force. There have been a number of recent incidents of misbehavior which has to be worrisome given the extraordinary responsibility these service members have to prevent an unintentional nuclear war. “The scandals are raising questions about how to keep up morale of the force in the post-Cold War era…” Is it possible that the mission of maintaining such a large nuclear arsenal no longer makes good sense to those who are closest to it?

In a related piece Walter Pincus reports:

An unpublished Rand Corporation study done between December 2012 and February 2013 found that those in the nuclear missile force ‘have low job satisfaction and often feel job-related burnout.’

Pincus then laments:

Despite problems among the U.S. strategic nuclear force personnel, questions about the role of nuclear deterrence in the age of growing cyber and terrorist threats, and current budgetary pressures in defense spending, Hagel did not propose that the Obama administration would seek to reduce further the new START level of deployed warheads, cut the number of stockpiled warheads or eliminate one leg of the triad.

Winslow Wheeler has contributed a good analysis and comment on how national security spending fared in the ‘Omnibus’ spending bill that just passed through Congress. Wheeler sums it up this way:

The bill attempts to build a bridge to a future time when higher defense budgets are politically feasible. In the meantime, the congressional appropriators will use gimmicks and dodges to keep spending higher while appearing to be lower.

Defense News provides a summary of how appropriators added more than $5 billion to Overseas Contingency Operations funding to cover procurement and other items that didn’t get funded in the base budget. As a consequence of this maneuver, ‘war spending’ is actually rising in the year that the Afghan war is supposed to end.

There are links to all the literature cited above in the 20 Janaury 2014 Reset Defense Bulletin.

USA and Allies Outspend Military Rivals by Four-to-One: America Carries Heavy Defense Burden for Allies

Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Memo #55, 18 July 2012.
http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/120717-US-world-military-spending.pdf

Efforts to cull savings from the US defense budget for purposes of deficit reduction have been stymied by Pentagon claims that any significant cut might have “devastating” or even catastrophic” effects. However, a review of global defense spending data by the Project on Defense Alternatives shows that America and its allies outspend potential rivals by a margin of four-to-one.

Moreover, according to the PDA review, the United States carries much more than its share of the allied defense burden, as measured by percentage of Gross Domestic Product allocated to defense. Together, the United States and its close allies worldwide spent $1.23 trillion on their armed forces in 2010 – more than 68% of the global total. But had the burden been shared equally among the allies based on GDP, the United States could have reduced its military spending by one-third (33%), including spending for war. This proportion substantially exceeds the Pentagon budget cuts mandated under the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act.

global military shares

U.S., Australia to broaden military ties amid Pentagon pivot to SE Asia

Craig Whitlock. Washington Post, 26 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/HzVeNJ

from the Washington Post

Excerpt:

The United States and Australia are planning a major expansion of military ties, including possible drone flights from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports, as the Pentagon looks to shift its forces closer to Southeast Asia…

US Primacy in Asia: Not Inevitable

Galrahn. Information Dissemination, 30 November 2011.
http://defensealt.org/KAYVda

Insiders: U.S. Should Begin ‘Pivot’ to Asia Through Diplomacy, Not Military Steps

Sara Sorcher. National Journal, 29 November 2011.
http://defensealt.org/HqhEoL

Excerpt:

President Obama recently announced steps to strengthen the architecture of an American foreign policy with new focus on the Pacific, including plans to deploy 2,500 troops to a base in Australia—all the while insisting that any reductions in U.S. defense spending will not come at the expense of priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. Even as many in Washington warily eye China’s rapidly modernizing military and expanding naval presence in the Pacific, 39 percent of Insiders said the next move is to improve American engagement with Beijing while avoiding any military-related steps.

Big-War Thinking in a Small-War Era: The Rise of the AirSea Battle Concept

Thomas P.M Barnett. China Security, October 2010.
http://www.comw.org/qdr/fulltext/1010Barnett.pdf

Excerpt:

In sum, ending China’s free-riding is arguably more important for long-term system-wide stability than continuing to deter China’s military invasion of Taiwan. As globalization’s networks continue to expand at a rapid pace, America’s ability to play sole Leviathan to the system naturally degrades dramatically. That means, while the likelihood of China’s military invasion of Taiwan dissipates with each passing year, the likelihood of America’s “imperial exhaustion” most certainly surpasses it in strategic importance in the near term.

History will judge US strategists most severely if our choice to maintain “access” to East Asia by triggering a regional arms race precludes our ability to draw China into strategic co-management of this era of pervasively extending globalization—without a doubt America’s greatest strategic achievement. I cannot fault the AirSea Battle Concept as an operational capability designed to keep us in the East Asian balancing “game.” But my fear is that it will—primarily by default and somewhat by “blue” ambition—serve America badly in a strategic sense, absent a proactive political and military engagement effort to balance its negative impact on the most important bilateral relationship of the modern globalization era.

Editor’s Comment:

Barnett alerts us to a prospective instance when leading with military capability is likely to be a disservice to strategic interests.