US Faces War with Both China and Russia if It Attacks Either of ThemPosted: September 21, 2016
On August 26, Robert Farley, author of The Battleship Book and a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, published on National Interest an article titled “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)”, in which he asks the question that plagues him: What if China and Russia sufficiently coordinated with one another to engage in simultaneous hostilities in the Pacific and in Europe? (I reblogged the article on August 30.)
However, he does not think it likely that China and Russia may coordinate a pair of crises to drive two separate US military responses as each country has its own goal. He believes, “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 such a scenario, Europe is strong enough to deal with Russia with some support from US navy and air force. As a result the US may focus on dealing with China with almost all its navy and air force.
The article believes that US only has to win quickly in order to transfer its force to another theater as soon as possible.
According to current US military strength, it is indeed possible for the US to win first in Asia and then in Europe if China and Russia fight separately in two different theaters. However, what if China and Russia joint force in fighting the US in one theater?
China and Russia Share a Common Goal: Resisting US Containment
Unlike US alliance with Japan, Australia or the Philippines, there is no treaty of alliance between China and Russia, but the alliance between the two is much stronger than US alliance with its allies.
The US has treaty obligations to fight for Japan, Australia and the Philippines but not willingly unless its interests are being hurt; therefore, it does not send its navy to help the Philippines counter Chinese navy in the Scarborough standoff. It just uses the excuse of taking no side in the disputes.
However, the saddest things for the US are that if the US fights a war with either China or Russia, its allies Japan, Australia and the Philippines will provide it with no substantial help as they are neither willing nor able to do so.
China and Russia, however, have no treaty obligations to help each other in a war between the US and either of them, but will join each other to fight the US. When they join force, it is hard for the US to defeat them.
They will do that out of necessity as the US is now doing its best to contain both of them so that they shall ally with each other to resist US containment. If one of them has been subdued by the US, the other will be isolated and easily subdued by the US.
Why? Because their alliance is an alliance of necessity, which is much stronger than a treaty alliance.
What necessity? The necessity to resist US containment of them.
For example, if Taiwan declares independence, China tries to take Taiwan by force. The US concentrates all its navy and air force in the Pacific to save Taiwan as it believes it has legal obligation to do so. Will Russia exploit the conflict between China and US to pursue some gains in Europe?
Not likely. Russia shall be clear that without its help the US may very likely subdue China. When the US has subdued China, the US will certainly transfer all its force to subdue Russia; therefore, whatever Russia may possibly get by exploiting the conflict will be lost after the US has subdued China.
The conflict, however, gives Russia the golden opportunity to subdue the US jointly with China. If it joins force with China and has defeated the US, it will be free to get what it wants in Europe without US intervention.
Remember, the de facto alliance between Russia and China is formed for their common goal to resist the US. That is their priority.
For another example, if the US and its European allies attack Russia to help Ukraine or any other formal member of the Soviet Union. Will China be so short-sighted as to exploit the conflict for some gains in Asia?
No, China knows well that if Russia has been subdued, China will be isolated and easily subdued. It has set up de facto alliance with Russia precisely for the purpose of using Russia’s strength to jointly resist the US; therefore, it sends its vast army and strong air force to Europe to help Russia. That is much more convenient as there are railway connections through Russia and Central Asia, easier than the US across the Atlantic.
That will be a cruel war with heavy casualty, which China with a huge population can afford, but can the US and its European allies afford?
The article’s assumption of US fighting in two separate theaters with the help of its European allies is but the writer’s wishful thinking based on Chinese or Russian leaders’ lack of vision.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article that was reblogged in his blog on August 30.