US Has No Hegemony to Share; China Stupid to Seek Hegemony


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adjusts his ear phones during a joint news conference with India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (not pictured) in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adjusts his ear phones during a joint news conference with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (not pictured) in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The US is indeed the richest and militarily strongest country in the world, but it does not have world hegemony.

Why?

It is meaningless for a hegemon to have the strongest military power if it cannot use such power wisely to achieve its strategic goal.

When the US won a landslide victory in the Gulf War, it scared everyone even China. At that time, it was world hegemon. When it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and won initial victories, it was still a world hegemon all those who opposed it dared not to openly challenge it.

However, when it kept its troops in the two countries to be killed and wounded by locals for a long time, people saw its weakness in spite of its military power and no longer regarded it as a hegemon to be feared.

The US has thus passed its golden era as the only hegemon in the world. Before American failures in the two countries, no one dare to openly challenge the US. However, when the US has shown its weakness in the two countries, ISIS dare to openly challenge the US and declare that it will attack the US.

A country is regarded as militarily strong because it is able to use its strong military wisely to achieve its strategic goal instead of its possession of the best weapons in the world.

US politicians and generals are not even able to set clear and attainable strategic goals in wars.

For example, what was US goal in invading Iraq? It made public at the beginning of its invasion that it wanted to remove Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It succeeded in its invasion but found no such weapons and there was no need of removal. As a result, it had achieved its strategic goal with respect to weapons of mass destruction and should leave.

However, US politicians and generals changed their strategic goal into an unattainable one of establishing democracy in Iraq. Democracy can never be established by outside military force in a country without the basic foundation of democracy.

The US only succeeded in replacing Saddam Hussein’s national tyranny with regional tyrannies of various factions in Iraq. In spite of obvious failure to achieve the strategic goal of establishing democracy there, the US did not retreat but kept its troops there to be killed and wounded by Islamic extremists and allowed them to grow in strength. Those extremists set up ISIS when the US was forced to retreat.

Moreover, the wars have caused the US to be heavily in debt. The US has betrayed its financial inability in fighting wars to maintain its hegemon status.

By that time the US failures and weakness had caused it to lose its status as world hegemon though it remains the only superpower in the world.

Superpower is not the synonym of hegemon. They are two different concepts.

A country is a superpower when it is militarily and economically the strongest in the world, but it need not pursue world hegemony. Who says that a superpower must pursue hegemony? There is no such rule. Even if there is such a rule, no one is able to impose it as no one is able to tell the strongest what to do.

For example, China was a superpower in Ming Dynasty, but its most powerful fleet in the world did not attack or seize any land in any country. It instead gave gifts to all the countries its fleet visited to show a superpower’s wealth and advanced culture.

I reblogged Michael Lind’s August 21 essay “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?” in order to entertain readers as I find it really funny.

I wrote a post “America Shares Superpower Status with Others – Simply Nonsense” to further entertain readers but seems not able to make readers enjoy the fun fully.

To make further fun, I have to point out here that the writer has confused the concept of superpower with hegemon. The US is the only superpower economically and militarily in the world now but not a hegemon as it lacks the wisdom to pursue hegemony.

The question Michael Lind actually asks is: Can America share its hegemony status? It is not the question “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?” that is simply nonsense.

I have pointed above that the US has no hegemony status now. How can the US share with others what it does not have?

Michael Lind must be sick with hegemony syndrome to be so obsessed with hegemony.

China will become an economic superpower as it wants its people to have the highest living standards. Due to its largest population, its economy will grow much larger than the US.

It must build up its military to be able to resist another country’s bully.

The US tried to impose the Hague arbitration ruling by force when it sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to China’s vicinity to scare China. At that time, its top admiral even said that China must be aware what such deployment meant.

If China had not had grown militarily strong enough, it would have been scared. However, China knows how to defend itself. It has no need to be as powerful militarily as the US to defend itself. With much smaller resources, it can exploit its geographical advantages to resist US attack.

China conducted large-scale military drills before and after the ruling and is now conducting regular combat patrol of its air force to safeguard its historical rights and interests in the South China Sea.

China’s resolution to fight to defend its interests and rights instead has scared the US who regards itself as but is actually not the only hegemon in the world. Now, according to Reuters report today titled “Kerry says no military solution to South China Sea dispute”, the US hopes that China will not resolve the disputes by force as the US will not fight for the Philippines if China takes back by force the islands and reefs occupied by the Philippines but claimed by China.

The role of world hegemon is a hard job. The US spends US$100 billion every year to protect its allies. That is quite a heavy financial burden. That is nothing compared with US very large military budget to maintain its top military strength that it does not know how to use wisely.

Shall China take such burdens to pursue American type of hegemony? Never. Therefore, China shall not share US world hegemony even if the US really has such hegemony and wants to share because it is stupid to pursue such hegemony.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Michael Lind’s essay “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?” and Reuters report “Kerry says no military solution to South China Sea dispute”. Full text of the former was reblogged in my post yesterday while that of the latter can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-ruling-kerry-idUSKCN1160QV

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America Shares Superpower Status with Others – Simply Nonsense


This morning I reblogged Michael Lind’s essay titled “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?” on National Interest that has drawn quite some comments.

The essay is quite interesting, but the title “Can America Share Its Superpower Status” is simply nonsense.

A country can gain or lose its status as a superpower, but cannot share the status with another country.

For example, if the US shares its superpower status with the Philippines, will the Philippines become a superpower?

When another country, namely China, becomes a superpower as its economic, military and soft power has grown as powerful as the only existing superpower the US in the world, it then becomes a superpower no matter whether the US shares its superpower status with it or not.

The US may be unhappy and unwilling that China shares the status of superpower with it, but it cannot help that. If it fights China whether economically or militarily, it cannot win as China is as strong as it. As a result, the US will fight in vain and there will still be two superpowers in the world.

If China has grown much stronger than the US and all other superpowers in the world, if any, then China will become the only superpower and others will decline into second-class powers. That will then be the reality no matter whether China wants or refuses to share its superpower status with others.

Comparison of strength is a reality that does not change due to someone’s willingness to share the strong status or not.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s essay “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?” that has been reblogged by him today.


Can America Share Its Superpower Status?


Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan with ammunition ship USNS Flint. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy.

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan with ammunition ship USNS Flint. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy.

Michael Lind August 21, 2016

The United States is in long-term relative decline. In absolute terms, the America of the future will be richer. But because other countries like China and India, and other regions like Africa, are growing more rapidly, America’s share of global wealth will decline. So will America’s share of global military power, which, in the industrial era, is loosely rather than perfectly correlated with relative economic weight.

Primacy, as a concept in international relations, can refer either to polarity (a country’s share of global economic and military resources) or to hegemony (a specialized function within an interdependent international community). Whether defined as polarity or hegemony, American global primacy is coming to an end.

Projections of national shares in GDP in 2050 by think tanks, investment banks and consulting firms tend to converge at the prediction that the world will have three economic poles or cores—China, the United States and Europe—or perhaps four, if India enjoys rapid and sustainable growth. “The World in 2050,” a report by PwC, assigns 20 percent of global GDP (in purchasing power parity) to China, 14 percent to the United States and India, and a mere 12 percent to Europe as a whole in 2050. A 2015 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit paints a similar picture, concluding: “By 2030 the top three economies of the world will be the US, China and India. Such will be the growth of the two latter countries, in particular, that by 2050 they will each be richer than the next five (Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and the UK) put together. This will represent a scale of wealth relative to the rest of the top ten that is unique in recorded history.” Indeed, to use PwC’s numbers, China, the United States, India and Europe together would account for around 60 percent of global GDP. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will explode in the next few generations, but its successful development, if it occurs, will take a long time.

The “Brexit” vote in the UK, together with the growth of nationalism and populism in Europe, has doomed the elite project of creating a federal Europe that can act as a superpower in world politics. Europe will be a rich but fragmented trading bloc surrounded by colossal continental powers, the United States, China and perhaps India.

Tomorrow’s world will be multipolar, not simply bipolar or tripolar. The rise of China and India to great-power status will allow regional powers, from Turkey to Vietnam and Brazil, to play the continent-states against one another and pursue their own independent interests.

The period between 1914 and 2014 can accurately be described as “the American century.” At some point during World War I, the gross domestic product of the United States passed that of the British Empire as a whole. Around a century later in 2014, according to the IMF, the GDP of China passed that of the United States.

After a hundred years in which it typically enjoyed a huge advantage in wealth and power over the next nearest competitors, with China the United States may finally have met a true “peer competitor.” Although per capita income in China is still much lower than in the United States, China is not only the world’s largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), but also the world’s largest manufacturing nation—producing 52 percent of color televisions, 75 percent of mobile phones and 87 percent of the world’s personal computers. The Chinese automobile industry is the world’s largest, twice the size of America’s. China leads the world in foreign exchange reserves. The United States is the main trading partner for seventy-six countries. China is the main trading partner for 124. With growing wealth comes growing power. China is now second only to the United States in its defense spending.

For the first time since it surpassed the British Empire in the early 1900s, the United States faces a rival that, though poorer in per capita terms and still inferior in many ways, has an economy equal in scale to its own. This is a new development. America’s earlier challengers, Germany and the Soviet Union, were nowhere near the United States in their size and resources. Other nations, like Japan, were even less able to challenge U.S. economic and potential military primacy (which began with World War I), or U.S. international institutional hegemony (which began during and continued after World War II).

John Maynard Keynes observed: “The great events of history are often due to secular changes in the growth of population and other fundamental economic causes, which escaping by their gradual character the notice of contemporary observers, are attributed to the follies of statesmen.” The increasing frustrations in U.S. foreign policy have less to do with the failures of American leaders than with deep, long-term trends that are diffusing both wealth and power away from both the United States and Europe.

In particular, the rise of China is the indirect cause, or enabling factor, of many of America’s setbacks. China’s backing helped Russia oppose the United States and its European allies during the crisis over Ukraine. China’s assertion of its power in East Asia has inspired the United States to tighten its links with allies like Japan, while proposing a Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty that, by excluding China, looked very much like part of a frantic policy of anti-Chinese containment. (KY’s note: both US presidential election candidates Clinton and Trump oppose TPP.) To the distress of policymakers in Washington, Brazil, India, South Africa and other countries have joined China to lay the foundations for new international institutions that the United States would not be able to dominate. Adding insult to injury, America’s own allies, Britain, Germany and France, disobeyed Washington’s request and joined the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The standard of living in the United States will probably be higher than those in China and India for the rest of the century, if not beyond. But this is cold comfort. Even if only a fraction of the population of China or India enjoys American living standards, that elite minority could number in the hundreds of millions. And claims that America’s exceptionally innovative culture will ensure a continued technological lead is at odds with the insistence of Silicon Valley that the United States cannot continue to innovate without a constant stream of students and skilled workers who are the products of primary education in China and India, among other nations. At any rate, innovation as an element of geopolitical power is overrated. In many areas the United States was less innovative than Germany during the world wars, but prevailed nonetheless thanks to sheer demographic and industrial mass.

What about primacy as hegemony? During the Cold War, the United States acted as the hegemon of the American-led “Free World” alliance. To its allies and clients it acted as a military protector, a market for exports and provided the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Following the Cold War, optimistic policymakers of both parties hoped that America’s alliance hegemony could be translated into enduring American global hegemony. In the emerging multipolar world dominated by continent-states like China, India and the United States, along with various medium-sized powers, no nation will be able to play the role of a military, financial or commercial hegemon.

It may take time for a new system to replace the dollar as the global reserve currency. But America’s two other hegemonic functions are already under severe strain.

The world’s second-largest economy, which the United States already is when measured by purchasing power parity and will soon be when measured by market exchange rates, simply cannot function as a market of first resort for export-oriented countries, in the way that an older United States enabled the development of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Most of the growth of the global middle class in the future will take place in China, India and other parts of the non-Western world.

At the moment, the United States is determined to remain the military hegemon in four regions: East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. But as China grows in wealth and power, the U.S. attempt to thwart its regional hegemony in East Asia may prove to be as doomed as would have been a British attempt to contain the United States in North America after 1900. If China and India successfully assert their own spheres of influence, after the model of America’s Monroe Doctrine, the United States may have no choice but to retreat from globalism.

In theory, the United States could augment its strength by maintaining the transatlantic alliance. Europeans might welcome U.S. aid in protecting them from dangers from the Middle East and North Africa. But they would be unlikely to join the United States as allies in a Sino-American Cold War. A defensive, neutralist Europe, a sort of giant Switzerland, with a foreign policy toward the Chinese, Indian and American titans dominated by commercial considerations, is a possible, perhaps a likely, outcome.

Confronted with projections of global power shifts, American triumphalists tend to put their hopes either in Chinese stagnation or collapse, or else in a miraculous rejuvenation of American wealth and power. But projections like the ones I have cited assume slower Chinese growth going forward.

Nor is there much the United States can do to boost its share of global GDP. The U.S. fertility rate is below replacement, and yet even admitting enough immigrants to maintain population stability may be difficult, given the public backlash against mass immigration. Because of low labor-force growth, American GDP growth will be slower than in the past and determined largely by the pace of productivity growth. American hawks who propose cuts in entitlements for the elderly to fund higher defense spending are living in a dream world. In a budgetary showdown between American retirees and the Pentagon, the Pentagon will lose.

The overall picture is clear, even though details may turn out to be wrong. By the middle of this century, most of the world’s industry and military potential are likely to be concentrated in four places: China, India, Europe and the United States. In the emerging polycentric world, no single superpower like the late-twentieth-century United States will exist to provide global security and to promote a single set of economic rules. A multipolar world is likely to be a more fragmented world of regional spheres of influence and shifting security alliances reinforced by strategic trade and investment deals. Even if new cold wars are averted, the peace among major countries is likely to be not warm friendship, but a wary cold peace.

The United States will continue to be one of the Big Three or Four economic powers, and one of the Big Two or Three military powers, as far as the eye can see. But it will have to adjust to the loss of its status as the world’s largest economy and the world’s only superpower. Robert Kagan has written that superpowers can’t retire. But they can be forced to share the stage.

This is the sixth in a series of essays on the future of American primacy. You can read the previous essay, “American Power in an Age of Disorder” by Barry Gewen, here.

Michael Lind is a fellow at New America, a contributing editor of the National Interest, and author of The American Way of Strategy.

Source: National Interest “Can America Share Its Superpower Status?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


PLA Engineer Troops Build a 1km Floating Bridge in 27 Minutes


The 1150-meter bridge PLA engineer troops built in 27 minutes. Photo: PLA Daily

The 1150-meter bridge PLA engineer troops built in 27 minutes. Photo: PLA Daily

The 1150-meter bridge PLA engineer troops built in 27 minutes. Photo: PLA Daily

The 1150-meter bridge PLA engineer troops built in 27 minutes. Photo: PLA Daily

Smoke used as cover to avoid discovery by enemy reconnaissance airplane

Smoke used as cover to avoid discovery by enemy reconnaissance airplane. Photo: PLA Daily

Mil.huanqiu.com says in its report on August 30 that in a real-war drill on August 28, PLA engineer troops built a 1150-meter floating bridge across the Yangtze River in 27 minutes. The above are three photos of the bridge.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “A 1km long bridge built in less than half an hour” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)


A B-1B Lancer soars over the Pacific Ocean as it maneuvers in for aerial refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker on September 30, 2005. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force

A B-1B Lancer soars over the Pacific Ocean as it maneuvers in for aerial refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker on September 30, 2005. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force

What would happen?

By Robert Farley August 26, 2016

The United States discarded its oft-misunderstood “two war” doctrine, intended as a template for providing the means to fight two regional wars simultaneously, late last decade. Designed to deter North Korea from launching a war while the United States was involved in fighting against Iran or Iraq (or vice versa,) the idea helped give form to the Department of Defense’s procurement, logistical and basing strategies in the post–Cold War, when the United States no longer needed to face down the Soviet threat. The United States backed away from the doctrine because of changes in the international system, including the rising power of China and the proliferation of highly effective terrorist networks.

But what if the United States had to fight two wars today, and not against states like North Korea and Iran? What if China and Russia sufficiently coordinated with one another to engage in simultaneous hostilities in the Pacific and in Europe?

Political Coordination

Could Beijing and Moscow coordinate a pair of crises that would drive two separate U.S. military responses? Maybe, but probably not. Each country has its own goals, and works on its own timeline. More likely, one of the two would opportunistically take advantage of an existing crisis to further its regional claims. For example, Moscow might well decide to push the Baltic States if the United States became involved in a major skirmish in the South China Sea.

In any case, the war would start on the initiative of either Moscow or Beijing. The United States enjoys the benefits of the status quo in both areas, and generally (at least where great powers are concerned) prefers to use diplomatic and economic means to pursue its political ends. While the U.S. might create the conditions for war, Russia or China would pull the trigger.

Flexibility

On the upside, only some of the requirements for fighting in Europe and the Pacific overlap. As was the case in World War II, the U.S. Army would bear the brunt of defending Europe, while the Navy would concentrate on the Pacific. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) would play a supporting role in both theaters.

Russia lacks the ability to fight NATO in the North Atlantic, and probably has no political interest in trying. This means that while the United States and its NATO allies can allocate some resources to threatening Russia’s maritime space (and providing insurance against a Russian naval sortie,) the U.S. Navy (USN) can concentrate its forces in the Pacific. Depending on the length of the conflict and the degree of warning provided, the United States could transport considerable U.S. Army assets to Europe to assist with any serious fighting.

The bulk of American carriers, submarines and surface vessels would concentrate in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, fighting directly against China’s A2/AD system and sitting astride China’s maritime transit lanes. Long range aviation, including stealth bombers and similar assets, would operate in both theaters as needed.

The U.S. military would be under strong pressure to deliver decisive victory in at least one theater as quickly as possible. This might push the United States to lean heavily in one direction with air, space and cyber assets, hoping to achieve a strategic and political victory that would allow the remainder of its weight to shift to the other theater. Given the strength of U.S. allies in Europe, the United States might initially focus on the conflict in the Pacific.

Alliance Structure

U.S. alliance structure in the Pacific differs dramatically from that of Europe. Notwithstanding concern over the commitment of specific U.S. allies in Europe, the United States has no reason to fight Russia apart from maintaining the integrity of the NATO alliance. If the United States fights, then Germany, France, Poland and the United Kingdom will follow. In most conventional scenarios, even the European allies alone would give NATO a tremendous medium term advantage over the Russians; Russia might take parts of the Baltics, but it would suffer heavily under NATO airpower, and likely couldn’t hold stolen territory for long. In this context, the USN and USAF would largely play support and coordinative roles, giving the NATO allies the advantage they needed to soundly defeat the Russians. The U.S. nuclear force would provide insurance against a Russian decision to employ tactical or strategic nuclear weapons.

The United States faces more difficult problems in the Pacific. Japan or India might have an interest in the South China Sea, but this hardly guarantees their participation in a war (or even the degree of benevolence of their neutrality.) The alliance structure of any given conflict would depend on the particulars of that conflict; any of the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan or Taiwan could become China’s primary target. The rest, U.S. pressure aside, might well prefer to sit on the sidelines. This would put extra pressure on the United States to establish dominance in the Western Pacific with its own assets.

Parting Shots

The United States can still fight and win two major wars at the same time, or at least come near enough to winning that neither Russia nor China would see much hope in the gamble. The United States can do this because it continues to maintain the world’s most formidable military, and because it stands at the head of an extremely powerful military alliance. Moreover, Russia and China conveniently pose very different military problems, allowing the United States to allocate some of its assets to one, and the rest to the other.

However, it bears emphasis that this situation will not last forever. The United States cannot maintain this level of dominance indefinitely, and in the long-term will have to choose its commitments carefully. At the same time, the United States has created an international order that benefits many of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world; it can count on their support, for a while.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Information Dissemination and the Diplomat.

Source: National Interest “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Why China Should Fear the US Military’s Third Offset Strategy


US missiles Image: Raytheon

US missiles Image: Raytheon

By Richard A. Bitzinger August 28, 2016

The Pentagon has never been at a loss for cute catch phrases when it comes to describing the Next Big Thing in the way of warfare.

In the 1900s, the U.S. military was all about the “revolution in military affairs” (RMA) and “network-centric warfare.” This gave way to “force modernization” in early 2000s, when Donald Rumsfeld was in charge. By 2010, it was “AirSea Battle” (ASB), later transmuted into the jaw-mangling “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons.”

Today, the buzzword of choice is the “third offset strategy.”

Like many initiatives coming out of the Pentagon, it is long on ambition and short on details. Yet people in the Asia-Pacific had better become familiar with this new idea, as it will likely have a significant impact on the region.

The third offset strategy is all about leveraging US advantages in new and emerging critical technology areas in order to overcome supposedly weakening US advantages in more “traditional” areas of conventional military power.

The concern is that the US is losing its “near-monopoly” in “reconnaissance-precision strike,” as potential adversaries are now capable of fielding their own reconnaissance-strike networks to challenge US power projection. As such, the US military is increasingly vulnerable to long-range strike, modern integrated air-defense systems, more capable underwater systems, and attacks in the space and cyber domains.

The third offset strategy is both about developing new capabilities and about exploiting state-of-the-art enabling technologies.

On the one hand, third offset include many cutting-edge technologies, such as robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.

On the other hand, it also entails the development of new pieces of military equipment, including hypersonic missiles, directed-energy weapons, electromagnetic rail guns, and naval mines.

China’s A2/AD challenge

What does the third offset strategy have to do with Asia-Pacific? Almost certainly it is intended to deal with the growing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) challenge posed by China.

As the US military begins to address the challenges and opportunities created by third offset technologies and strategies, one of the most critical ways in which these ideas will be tested is with China and its growing capacities to create “no-go” sanctuaries in the far western Pacific, particularly in and around the East and South China Seas.

According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Affairs (CSBA), “anti-access (A2) strategies aim to prevent US forces from operating from fixed land bases in a theater of operations,” while “area-denial (AD) operations aim to prevent the freedom of action of maritime forces operating in the theater.”

As such, China is trying to obtain the means by which to prevent US forces (and, by extension, its regional allies and partners) from entering or operating with impunity within these seas.

China possesses several strategic advantages when it comes to A2/AD. In the first place, it has the “homefield advantage” of being able to engage in military operations quite close to its national territory. Most of its forces that could be employed for A2/AD operations are already positioned on or near the Chinese coast and are therefore rapidly deployable to likely conflict zones in the East and South China Seas.

These forces are being reinforced by military buildups on Chinese-held islands in the regional seas, such as the heavily militarized Woody Island, and by the construction of artificial islands in the Spratlys, many outfitted with airstrips and radar. These islands greatly extend the PLA’s theoretical range of operations around the South China Sea.

Secondly, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has, over the past 15 years or so, acquired considerable hardware that boosts its A2/AD capabilities. These include an aircraft carrier, new submarines, new types of anti-ship missiles, and modern sea mines.

In addition, modern fighter jets and an expanding array of short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as well as long-range land-attack cruise missiles, have endowed the Chinese military with new and improved capabilities for long-range, precision attack of US and allied bases in and around the far western Pacific, including Guam, Okinawa, and Taiwan.

What makes this strategy different?

Third offset capabilities are all about defeating A2/AD, therefore, and no nation today more embodies the A2/AD concept than China. That said, there is a lot about the third offset strategy that is quite familiar.

To quote CSBA’s Robert Martinage, the United States’ “core competencies” in the area of third offset technologies are “unmanned systems and automation, extended-range and low-observable air operations, undersea warfare, and complex system engineering and integration in order to project power differently.”

This is, however, not that much different from Rumsfeld’s “force transformation” efforts of a decade ago; perhaps there is a bit more emphasis on robotics and automation, directed-energy weapons, and extra-long precision-strike, but many of these initiatives were already underway long before the third offset was enunciated.

In addition, while cyber may be the next great battle space, most of us already knew that, and it is a certainty that the US military is almost certainly elbow deep into the planning stages for operations in cyberspace. Other technologies or capabilities often touted under the third offset umbrella – such as the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), sea mines, networked expeditionary forces, etc. – also do not seem that radical.

So is the third offset strategy simply a re-branding exercise, a case of “new wine” in even newer bottles? Not necessarily. There is something different about the third offset strategy.

In the first place, it does not attempt to be as awesome-sounding as the “revolution in military affairs,” nor does it aspire to be an all-encompassing war-fighting doctrine like AirSea Battle. Rather it is an effort to bundle together and coherently pursue a number of promising technologies that could preserve the US military’s competitive edge.

And since it is much more modest in scope and goals than any RMA or new doctrine, it actually stands a much higher chance of succeeding – and that should give A2/AD-aspiring actors like China real cause for worry.

Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Source: National Interest “Why China Should Fear the US Military’s Third Offset Strategy”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Vatican says it has high hopes of better ties with China


Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi

The Vatican is hopeful it can improve ties with China after decades of tension, the Roman Catholic Church’s highest-ranking diplomat said on Saturday, adding that warmer relations would benefit the whole world.

Beijing severed links with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the Communist Party took power and launched a crackdown on organized religion, with China’s new rulers setting up their own church and appointing bishops without the pope’s backing.

After decades of mistrust, Pope Francis is pushing to improve relations and his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sounded upbeat about the chances of success.

“There is much hope and expectation that there will be new developments and a new season in relations between the Holy Sea and China,” he said in a speech in the northern Italian city of Pordenone, which was released to reporters in the Vatican.

“(This) will benefit not just Catholics in the land of Confucius, but the whole country, which boasts one of the greatest civilisations on the planet,” he said.

“Dare I say, it would also be of benefit to an ordered, peaceful and fruitful cohabitation of peoples of all nations in a world, such as ours, which is lacerated by so many tensions and so many conflicts.”

For the Vatican, a thaw in relations with China would offer the prospect of easing the plight of Christians on the mainland, who have often been persecuted by the authorities.

For China, good relations could burnish its international image and soften criticism of its human rights record.

The Vatican is the only Western state that does not have diplomatic ties with Beijing, maintaining instead formal relations with the Republic of China, Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province.

Parolin made clear the Vatican wanted formal ties. “The new and hoped-for good relations with China, including diplomatic relations, God willing, are not an end in themselves,” he said, reiterating that they would be good for world peace.

A Reuters investigation this year suggested the Vatican and China were working on a deal that would fall short of full diplomatic ties but would address key issues at the heart of the divide between the two sides.

“One has to be realistic and accept that there are a number of problems that need resolving between the Holy See and China and that often, because of their complexity, they can generate different points of view,” Parolin said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Andrew Roche)

Source: Reuters “Vatican says it has high hopes of better ties with China”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.