Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Wither the Nuclear Umbrella?

November 16, 2014

NAM---Minuteman-Mk-5-RV

NAM—Minuteman-Mk-5-RV courtesy of Flikr user lifeontheedge

Well, it’s not explicitly about China, but my latest publication IS about East Asian security matters, how things are changing out here (I say out here – I relocated back to the region earlier this year), and what that might mean for the perceived value of U.S. extended deterrence guarantees to allies and partners.

Here’s the abstract:

As a part of one of the world’s longest-standing and most robust security alliances, the United States has extended its “nuclear umbrella” over Japan since the early 1950s. Despite this enduring partnership, North Korean missile and nuclear tests and Chinese encroachment on Japanese territories in the East China Sea may lead to new questions about the continuing viability of American security assurances. Security concerns have impelled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pursue constitutional changes that may allow for a greater role for Japanese defense forces. After more than a decade of sustained combat in the Middle East, the Obama administration’s renewed commitment to Asia in 2011 combines initiatives that span the spectrum of national power to assure allies and reassure potential adversaries of U.S. determination. However, questions about U.S. fiscal austerity, leadership and readiness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and an unprecedented desire for retrenchment among U.S. citizens have led to ongoing concerns about the authenticity of U.S. resolve to maintain a leadership role in the region. Budgetary concerns regarding the maintenance of a nuclear triad and conceptual criticisms of extended nuclear deterrence may also weaken domestic backing for continuation of historical roles. The United States has been exploring non-nuclear long-range precision strike capabilities as well as developing battle concepts appropriate for sub-nuclear responses to emergent security threats in vast Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere. Based on analysis of these concurrent trends, this paper concludes that Japan is not sufficiently assured by U.S. extended deterrence and may seek additional measures to shore up its security outside of the scope of the alliance.

The whole paper (PDF) is here. Please read it, then share it! (Twitter is a good place.)

View this document on Scribd

The full document, featuring papers from all 17 presenters at the 2013 CSIS PONI Capstone Conference, held in Omaha in March 2014, is here.

I worked on this paper as a part of a non-resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellowship with Pacific Forum CSIS and am grateful to them and to the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues for allowing me to present preliminary versions of my research at two of their annual conference series events in 2013 and 2014.

My 2011 Master’s Thesis Now Available: Looking at China’s A2/AD Capabilities and U.S. Perceptions of the Challenge

April 24, 2012

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally been cleared to post my 2011 master’s thesis, entitled “AMERICAN PERCEPTIONS OF CHINA‘S ANTI-ACCESS AND AREA-DENIAL CAPABILITIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC.” I completed the research on it in May 2011, defended it in June in front of a thesis committee featuring a pair of highly-regarded defense and security experts in Taiwan (Dr. Wen-cheng Lin of National Sun Yat-sen University, who served as my thesis advisor, and Dr. Andrew N. D. Yang, Taiwan’s currently serving Deputy Minister of National Defense), and then made my post-defense revisions throughout the summer, finally completing the work in September. It’s basically been in various states of review for release since then. I suppose it is only fitting that I am finally able to release it on the occasion of the joint Chinese and Russian naval drills taking place in the Yellow Sea and the anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Enjoy!

Abstract:

The post-Cold War world has created a number of important new challenges to the United States‘ power projection capabilities. The worldwide network of bases and stations that enabled the U.S. to contain the Soviet Union have, in many cases, been made into liabilities. U.S. dependence on fixed, vulnerable ports and airfields for the buildup of combat power, as seen in the 1990-91 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War, have shown potential foes like China and Iran that it doesn‘t pay to allow penalty-free access and freedom of action in maritime, air, and space commons. In the Western Pacific, China has pursued an anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) strategy, developing capabilities designed to deny U.S. freedom of movement in the region.

This study examines U.S. perceptions of China‘s growing A2/AD capabilities and their implications for U.S. military operations in the Western Pacific through the analysis of authoritative official and unofficial U.S. documents and studies. This work establishes a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of Chinese A2/AD capabilities through American eyes, updating previous comprehensive works in key areas such as the status of China‘s anti-ship ballistic missile, conventional ballistic and cruise missile capabilities and their implications for key U.S. facilities in the region, and new technology and platforms like China‘s first aircraft carrier and stealth aircraft.

The thesis concludes that the U.S. has been slow in reacting to Chinese A2/AD developments and that it is unlikely that continued Chinese military modernization (including the refinement and development of additional A2/AD capabilities) will end in the near future. For the U.S., this means that development and implementation of a truly joint concept for counter-A2/AD operations, as well as the right mix of military capabilities to carry out such operations, cannot be delayed any longer.

View this document on Scribd

China explosion! (not really)

March 31, 2011

There’s been an avalanche of interesting things to read about China – what’s a “China hand” to do?

China’s National Defense in 2010, Information Office of the State Council, People’s Republic of China, March 2011

U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine – April 2011, Focus on China. A few of the main features are subscriber-only material, but there are also several articles that look very interesting available for free, such as:

A Step Too Far: Why CPGS Is The Wrong Answer to China’s Anti-Access Challenge (PDF), East-West Center Asia-Pacific Bulletin No. 102, March 24, 2011, by Iskander Rehman

Rising Power… To Do What? Evaluating China’s Power in Southeast Asia (PDF), RSIS Working Paper No. 226, March 30, 2011, by Evelyn Goh

I hope that once I’ve had a chance to read through some of this I will have some comments to add. In the meantime, here’s what a few other learned observers have to say:

China Releases National Defense 2010 White Paper – Information Dissemination

Beijing Issues Latest Defense White Paper “China’s National Defense in 2010”: Full Text and Key Excerpts – Andrew Erickson

Links of Interest 03/29/2011

March 27, 2011
P.R.of China PLA Navy emblem

Image via Wikipedia

  • tags: China naval_power military_modernization FC

    • China is deploying new submarines at an impressive rate — three a year. They are suited to pushing back U.S. power projection in the Western Pacific. China’s much-discussed ballistic and cruise missiles also seem designed to keep U.S. surface forces far from China’s soil. And China seems increasingly inclined to define the oceans off its shores as extensions of the shores — territory to be owned and controlled like “blue national soil.” This concept is incompatible with the idea of the oceans as a “common.”
  • tags: FC China space militarization jamestown

    • In all, according to Chinese analysts, as a result of the actions of the world’s major space powers, space war is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Indeed, they argue that it is already more a reality than a myth. Consequently, they conclude that China must be prepared not only to degrade an adversary’s ability to use space, but also to protect its own space capabilities. Chinese writings suggest that Beijing would consider doing so through a combination of defensive measures and deterrence.
  • tags: FC China Taiwan US

    • What all of this indicates is that it is just as easy to envision a Chinese takeover of Taiwan making security concerns worse as it is to imagine such a takeover making the security environment better. Indeed, PRC control of Taiwan could very easily further serve to escalate any future conflict elsewhere. The psychological effects on US allies and security partners of a US retreat or abandonment has already been explored at length elsewhere and will not be repeated here. What I propose instead is that analysts miss the fact that a PRC takeover of Taiwan would give the Chinese the “central position” in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Looks like a very interesting book.

    tags: nuclear FC

    • Rosenbaum, a columnist for Slate Magazine and the author of several well-received books, including Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars, has explored the danger of nuclear weapons since the late 1970s, when he published a major piece in Harper’s on nuclear command and control and weapons and the problem of “moral choice” raised by the existence of nuclear war plans like the SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan). In this new and highly original book, Rosenbaum revisits these issues in an extended meditation on the risks of nuclear catastrophe in the 21st century world. By looking at the careers of key individuals such as Bruce Blair, Colonel Valery Yarnich, and Harold Hering, the challenges posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s nuclear arsenal, and why the post-war system of deterrence could break down, Rosenbaum shows why nuclear peril did not go away when the Cold War ended.
  • tags: FC China US Taiwan

    • George Washington University professor Charles Glaser wrote in the recent issue of Foreign Affairs that, because a crisis over Taiwan can easily escalate to a war, the US should consider making concessions to China, backing away from its commitment to Taiwan. His views may be questioned on several bases:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 03/26/2011

March 26, 2011
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 6, 2010) Marine amphibiou...

Image via Wikipedia

  • tags: FC China thesis

    • The CASS Asia-Pacific Blue Paper underscored the challenges facing China’s peripheral environment in terms of four types of external trends and threats.  According to the report: First, the “return” of the United States to Asia has made China less appealing to some of its neighbors, through tapping some long existing disputes and incidental security accidents.  Second, instability in Northeast Asia (i.e. North Korea) has become the most serious security challenge to China’s peripheral defense, particularly because of the Cheonon incident and Yeonpyeong artillery shelling.  Third, maritime disputes have become an important source of security tension along China’s periphery.  Fourth, some non-traditional security issues—water security in particular—have affected China’s stability and its regime security, and China’s relations with some neighbors (World Journal, January 13).
    • China’s security environment is increasingly challenged by the United States in that the latter has taken the opportunity presented by regional tensions to shore up its alliance with both South Korea and Japan, as well as through trilateral defense coordination.  If the United States’ “return” to East Asia has not been enough, Washington is also apparently revamping its relations with some Southeast Asian countries and urging these nations to hedge against China’s rise.  In July 2010, Secretary of State Clinton openly challenged China’s position on the South China Sea in her address to the 17th ARF Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, which was bluntly rebuffed by her Chinese counterpart.
  • tags: FC China missiles Taiwan US thesis jamestown

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 03/06/2011

March 6, 2011
A panorama of Beijing's CBD - China World Trad...

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  • H/T Small Wars Journal

    tags: FC China rise Taiwan

    • The prospect of failing to attain the level of economic development before its elderly population places an unbearable strain on the country’s economy while simultaneously coping with tens of millions of idle and alienated young men may present the vaunted PRC technocracy with a challenge beyond its capabilities. As Hudson and den Boer ominously warn, “At some point, governments [will] consider how they can export their problem, either by encouraging emigration of young adult men or harnessing their energies in martial adventures abroad.”
  • tags: FC China defense budget

    • BEIJING—China’s government plans to increase its defense budget by 12.7% this year, a pickup from last year’s sharply slower growth that comes amid widening concerns about the capabilities and intentions of China’s military.
  • tags: FC China

    • China’s counterproductive policies are better understood as reactive and conservative rather than assertive, and Beijing should be encouraged by the United States and its allies to return to the more assertive but more constructive policies Beijing adopted in the two years just before the financial crisis.

      In that period China was actually more innovative, proactive and assertive than it is today. By softening its traditional prohibitions on interference in the internal affairs of other states, Beijing was able to play a constructive leadership role in addressing global problems and improve U.S.-China relations in the process.

  • tags: japan Military buildup China FC

  • In December, Tokyo announced plans to strengthen its forces in the southwestern Okinawan islands, including adding a dozen F-15s in Naha. The increase is part of a broader shift in Japanese defensive stance southward, toward China, that some analysts are calling one of Japan’s biggest changes in postwar military strategy.This strategic shift is another step in a gradual and limited buildup of Japan’s forces, aimed at keeping up with the changing power balance in Asia while remaining within the bounds of Japan’s antiwar Constitution and the constraints of its declining economic power. Political analysts say Japan is slowly raising the capabilities of its forces to respond to a more assertive China and a nuclear-armed North Korea — and to take a first, halting step out of the shadow of the United States, its postwar protector, which many Japanese fear may one day no longer have the will or ability to defend Japan.
  • The Decline of U.S. Naval Power – WSJ.com

As China’s navy rises and ours declines, not that far in the future the trajectories will cross. Rather than face this, we seduce ourselves with redefinitions such as the vogue concept that we can block with relative ease the straits through which the strategic materials upon which China depends must transit. But in one blink this would move us from the canonical British/American control of the sea to the insurgent model of lesser navies such as Germany’s in World Wars I and II and the Soviet Union’s in the Cold War. If we cast ourselves as insurgents, China will be driven even faster to construct a navy that can dominate the oceans, a complete reversal of fortune.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 03/03/2011

March 3, 2011
Sunset on the South China Sea off Mui Ne villa...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Asia: A sea of troubles | The EconomistMore on the South China Sea from The Economist (from December 2010; still worth a read if you missed it).

    tags: FC south_china_sea china US

    • Chinese naval influence is extending not just deeper, but farther from China’s shores. In 2010 Sri Lanka opened a Chinese-built port in the south, at Hambantota. Work proceeded on the port at Gwadar in Pakistan. And Chinese warships paid their first call on Myanmar. All of this fuelled Indian suspicions of a “string of pearls” strategy designed to choke its own maritime breathing-space. It is as part of this broader extension of influence that the South China Sea will be a focus of concern.

      Time to prepare for a rainy day

      That concern will be heightened by two particular aspects of China’s military modernisation. One is an unannounced aircraft-carrier programme. The other, of more immediate relevance in 2011, is China’s development of the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, which the Chinese and some foreign newspapers have touted as a “game-changing” carrier-buster.

  • The South China Sea: A sea of disputes | The EconomistWhy the South China Sea is such a thorny issue – nice overview.

    tags: FC south_china_sea china

tags: FC Taiwan China US

  • International Relations theorist Charles Glaser has joined a growing chorus calling for the abandonment of Taiwan. His take on why we should abandon the island is tucked into his “nuanced version of realism” argued on the pages of Foreign Affairs. As do most “abandon Taiwan” arguments, he begins with a “realist” argument for why war between the United States and China is unlikely. Why? Because besides Taiwan, Sino-U.S. interests are compatible.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Review: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964

March 3, 2011

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 by William Raymond Manchester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like most Americans, I knew of Douglas MacArthur before listening to this audiobook. I knew he was a five-star general of the army like Eisenhower, Marshall, and Bradley. I knew he commanded forces in the Pacific in World War II, constituting the southern effort that mirrored the central Pacific effort commanded by Chester Nimitz. I knew that he was sacked early in the Korean War by President Truman for insubordination. I knew that he was called “Dugout Doug” by troops who believed he did not share their privations in forward positions, close to the enemy.

I learned so much more about MacArthur in this book. I learned that his Army career spanned a remarkable 52 years, and that he was a general officer for something like the last 30 of these. Contrary to the “Dugout Doug” epithet that followed him in the Pacific, he was hardly a coward in the face of the enemy – in fact, it was quite the opposite. He was virtually suicidal in taking undue risks in battle. In World War I, though he was a high-ranking officer (colonel as chief of staff for the Rainbow Division, and later brigadier general in command of his own units), he insisted on commanding from the front, not some tent or quarters far removed from the battlefield. He accompanied his troops on raids and reconnaissance efforts armed only with a riding crop and refused to wear a steel helmet or carry a gas mask (he was gassed at least once because of the latter). Much later, when he withdrew to Corregidor in Manila Harbor after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, while everyone else rushed for cover when the island came under air attack, he routinely came out of the underground shelters to observe. It was much the same when he later returned to the Philippines after withdrawing to Australia to regroup. Though the Japanese knew the location of the house he was using as a command post and regularly strafed and bombed the area, he refused to leave the building or seek shelter when attacks came. In fact, one of the first actions he took upon assuming the private home as his headquarters was to demolish and fill in an “unsightly” bomb shelter that spoiled the aesthetics of the home’s lawn. Even during the Korean War, he still needed to get close to the front lines to get a feel for the fighting, much closer than many of his aides would have preferred (though in Korea he always made “day trips” to the fighting – flying in, touring, then returning to Tokyo at the end of the day).

Though he was quite fearless in battle, he was also a megalomaniac, highly egotistical, unable to accept blame for mistakes, and unwilling to allow anyone but himself to be acclaimed. His cables were routinely studded with accolades of his own exploits and triumphs, rarely if ever even mentioning the name of any other officer from his command.

I was unaware that Dwight Eisenhower had been one of MacArthur’s aides in the 1930s when MacArthur had retired from active duty and had gone to the Philippines to oversee the U.S. military assistance program there. It would forever sting MacArthur that Ike, who had been a major or lieutenant colonel while working for him, would have such a meteoric rise thereafter, pulling equal with him in rank as a five-star general of the army in the next decade and even further when he won the presidency – something MacArthur always coveted.

His seniority and reputation earned him a great deal of autonomy in how he conducted his business as a warfighting general. In World War II, orders were issued to all other theater commanders, but to MacArthur, the orders were sent for information only. This would lead to his ultimate fall from command in Korea. The man simply could not refrain from dabbling in politics, even going as far as launching an abortive presidential bid in 1948. He could not see the line between civilian control of the military, and was belligerent and insubordinate to commands and instruction issued even from the president himself. The lesson for American civil-military relations was clear – something was wrong with how the system allowed MacArthur to behave as he had – and would yet.

One thing I thought completely remarkable was that even after Truman fired him and he returned to the U.S. – his first time back in over a decade (he had been in the Philippines, Australia, and Japan during his time abroad) – he toured the country, making political speeches attacking the president while in full uniform, still on active duty, still drawing full pay and benefits from the military, jetting about the country on a military plane. This would never happen today.

In the end, MacArthur was a tragic figure – so talented, so gifted and driven (largely by the influence of his mother, who always pushed him to best the achievements of his father, who had been an Army three-star general), but also so terribly flawed. He failed to adequately prepare the Philippines for the Japanese invasion in World War II, responded sluggishly to reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (which preceded the strike on the Philippines by several hours), and largely repeated these mistakes in Korea in 1950. US troops in Japan were soft from easy occupation duty there, and the U.S. posture on the peninsula itself was abhorrent when the North Korean attack came. Of course, MacArthur could never be blamed for any of these shortcomings. (In an interesting sidenote, many of the Japanese troops who attacked the Philippines in December 1941 came from Takou, Formosa – now Kaohsiung, Taiwan, from which I write these words. MacArthur failed to conduct any aerial reconnaissance missions of Southern Formosa to determine the disposition and strength of Japanese troops – something he and the Filipino people would pay dearly for.)

It’s a long book – nearly 800 pages in print and over 31 hours of unabridged audio – but very interesting for military history buffs and students of Asia-Pacific geopolitics. (MacArthur to this day is probably regarded more fondly in the Philippines and Japan than he is in much of the United States.) I have read another book by the same author, William Manchester, called “Goodbye, Darkness” about his experiences fighting as a Marine in the Pacific theater during World War II, and there is no doubt that he is a skilled writer. Recommended.

View all my reviews

On Cyberwar with China, and other recent publications

March 2, 2011
Cyber-attack on Mastercard.com

There’s been a glut of military journal releases this week – the stalwart Military Review, featuring an excerpt (PDF) from Bing West‘s new book on Afghanistan; a new issue from the journal Prism, which discusses what are known as “complex operations” (basically, the messy, nation-building-type wars heavy in interagency coordination that have proliferated in the last decade) with an interesting-looking article on human security in complex operations (human security is a newer concept in security studies with the premise that without security at the human level – essentially addressing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at the lowest level – then you aren’t going to be able to achieve any other type of security); and finally a new issue from Strategic Studies Quarterly. Regular readers will recall I examined an article from their last edition on the “new” Korean War and implications for Taiwan. (It came out just about when the NorKos were shelling Yeonpyeong Island and it seemed as if we were about to say goodbye to the 1953 armistice.) The latter contains an article called “Blown to Bits: China’s War in Cyberspace, August–September 2020“. (PDF) OK, you got me – I’m pretty interested in China’s computer network operations capabilities – let’s take a look at this one.

The author, Christopher Bronk, Fellow in Information Technology Policy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, sets up the fictitious future cyberwar scenario by discussing the development of U.S. information warfare superiority from the 1991 Gulf War to the 1999 Kosovo War. He also mentions the other, more recent bellwethers of possible future cyber conflict, the 2007 and 2008 cyber wars on Estonia and Georgia, respectively. (The belligerent in both instances was thought to be Russia.) In the latter case (Georgia), kinetic conflict was preceded by a cyber “preparation of the battlespace” just as many analysts believe would be the case if the U.S. and China at some point come into a state of military conflict. On the prospects of such an occurrence, Bronk notes

While it is the author’s deepest and most sincere hope that no military conflict will come between China, Japan, India, the United States, or any other states of the Western Pacific and Asia, the massive interest in cyber conflict among these countries leads many to ponder such a struggle.

And so here we are. The scenario he asks us to ponder is this: it is 2020, Taiwan has completed its Finlandization, and the PRC aches for greater conquest in Asia. It sets its sites on Singapore, at the southern end of the Chinese “lake” called the South China Sea and at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Malacca, perhaps the most crucial maritime chokepoint in the Pacific Basin, if not the world. Quite plausibly, China’s actions are spurred by concerns about the security of precious seaborne fossil fuel imports coming through the Indian Ocean.

The author’s intent is not to try to present a litany of details about potential cyberwar that would be impenetrable to anyone not holding an advanced degree in theoretic mathematics or computer science, but instead to consider “how cyberwar might supplant more traditional conflict and how cyber dimensions may alter warfare.”

After laying the groundwork, the scenario begins:

Many a pundit and strategic theorist had wondered what shape unrestrained information warfare might take. The opening hours of China’s virtual war with the United States and its allies over Singapore would confirm many of the worst suspicions of that crowd. Chinese forces were quite clearly working inside the decision loop of the allied forces. Preliminary moves by the PLA in the information space indicated that it could do much damage to enemy communication and computing resources, but a series of hints would reveal that China also likely had compromised, at least to a degree, the encryption mechanisms used to secure US and allied military and diplomatic communications. At times, Beijing most probably held the capacity to have a fairly complete information picture even of very high-level, classified systems, although the reverse was also likely true.

Though the author intended to “stay out of the cyber weeds”, there is a bit of digital undergrowth to deal with, though not too much to detract from his main intent: starting a discussion about whether a forceful political goal can be achieved by cyber means alone. I think this is a lot like the shopworn, discredited thesis popular in the late 1990s that wars could be won by airpower alone that grew from the 1999 Kosovo War – it would be great if the answer was yes, but it’s not.

The scenario demonstrates ably the potential vulnerability of U.S. and allied information nets to cyber attack; the question remains if U.S. decision-makers are willing to take concrete steps now to really protect these vital information channels. Sure, the U.S. has established a formal joint command to deal with cyber issues, but in many cases the lines of responsibility have not been clearly drawn and require further clarification.

Links of Interest 02/24/2011

February 24, 2011
Poppy ELINT Satellite (Type 2)

Image via Wikipedia

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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