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American hawks must become aware of the Chinese situation

American hawks must become aware of the Chinese situation


It is now widely accepted on the center right that China poses the greatest threat to American security, freedom, and prosperity and that the danger is growing. As Beijing continues its vast and historic military buildup, it is widely understood that our own military is not keeping pace and that the United States is quickly running out of time to deter a war against Taiwan. Worse still, there is growing recognition that the United States could lose the war against Taiwan if deterrence fails.

Hawks are those who believe in an assertive and expansive American foreign policy, like many on the center-left, but emphasize, unlike them, that military power and advantage are truly essential to securing that policy. As a result, hawks support increased defense spending and an active U.S. military presence around the world. However, while trumpeting the growing threat from China, they argue that Taiwan's defense runs through Ukraine and are the leading right-wing voices in favor of continued military support for Ukraine. Hawks differentiate themselves on the right from prioritizers who, guided by realism, recognize the current limits of American power and argue for an American foreign policy that prioritizes the interests of the American people. Accordingly, they call for prioritizing China over all other threats and urge U.S. allies to shoulder more of the burden by supporting our friends and allies in Europe and the Middle East. At the other end of the spectrum, on the right, are Restrictives, who generally oppose U.S. involvement in conflicts or commitments abroad.

Hawks, and especially these groups, should recognize the urgency and seriousness of the current situation. After all, the definition of a hawk is someone who takes hard power very seriously and knows it can be decisive if left unchecked. Thus, for more than a decade, hawks have loudly deplored the chronic underinvestment in our army compared to the demands that our traditional strategy imposes on it. Year after year, prominent defense hawks have said we need to spend a lot more on defense to maintain this multi-theater national strategy. Today, they point out that China is undertaking a historic military buildup and has, for example, two hundred times our shipbuilding capacity.

Yet many hawks now act as if, suddenly, our military can still dominate in three theaters, and in particular meet the challenge of a rising China, despite years and years of relative underinvestment that they have themselves criticized. More worryingly, many are rejecting calls to prioritize military aid to Taiwan and strengthening the U.S. force posture in the Pacific in favor of continued engagement and a flow of materiel to Europe and the Middle East. But how is this possible? If the hawks were right in the past, then our military situation must now be hopeless relative to the challenges we face. So why this sudden complacency?

Some hawks argue that tradeoffs can be skillfully managed by sequencing the dangers that come our way. But it is clear that Russia, Iran and terrorist groups are not going to disappear. The hawks themselves emphasize that they are powerful, dangerous and aggressive and therefore cannot be parked. Other hawks argue that such compromises can be avoided entirely, despite the worrying state of our defense industrial base, through smart, low-cost strategies. The most credible of these is to rely primarily on long-range precision-guided missiles, particularly anti-ship missiles, to deter or defeat a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. With a relatively modest cost of about $10 billion to $15 billion per year over several years to reorganize the munitions industrial base, this strategy appears to allow us to continue business as usual while taking care of China.

Read more: Why Taiwan really matters to the United States

But even if the solution is tempting in its simplicity and affordability, the hawks would be profoundly mistaken and even contradict their own basic logic in claiming that it is a prudent solution. Hawk logic itself shows why.

First, the strategy assumes that an annual investment of $10 billion to $15 billion can actually fix our broken munitions industrial base. Yet, as we have seen over the past two years, our defense industry has fallen behind in simultaneously producing weapons for Taiwan, Ukraine and other partners, not to mention the US military itself. -even. Stories of delays in the production of key missiles have become the norm, not the exception. Key stocks are now depleted and will take years to replace.

Relying on the industry to produce the weapons that would be needed to fight the People's Liberation Army on time, while those supply chains remain vulnerable and even systemically dependent on China, would be extremely risky. To be clear, the United States absolutely must make historic efforts to revitalize its defense industrial base, particularly to increase its munitions stockpiles. But those who place the emphasis above all on military realities should be lucid about industrial, political and fiscal constraints.

Second, even if the industry managed to produce these weapons on time, this strategy still relies dangerously on the best-case scenario. Precision-guided missiles would, of course, play a key role in stopping a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan. But as we develop such missiles, the PLA will create countermeasures and defenses, just as the Russians are doing in Ukraine. China could, for example, attack U.S. forces and bases or launch massive cyberattacks on our space infrastructure and assets, which would enable such long-range strikes, which could reduce our ability to execute our plans in a timely manner. and efficient. Or it could use different operational concepts to attack Taiwan, for example relying more on air forces than naval forces in the early stages. The Hawks themselves point out that China spends almost as much as we do on defense, which will allow Beijing to leverage advantages in scale, position, adaptation and initiative. In this context, hawkish logic dictates that we simply cannot cautiously rely on what is essentially a single theory of success. Rather, we must have multiple means and layers of defense.

That's why the United States and its partners will need much more than long-range missiles to mount an effective defense of Taiwan. Hawk's thinking dictates that our strategy and plans must be guided by a healthy respect for our potential adversary, not the hopeful idea that we can defeat China by threading a needle. We will therefore also need many more attack submarines and torpedoes, robust air and missile defenses, efficient logistics and sufficient intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and ground weapons systems, among others. other abilities. Yet we don't have enough.

A final problem with the hawks' proposal is political. Let's tell the American people today that we can deter China with $10 billion to $15 billion a year for a few years. There may be a small chance that this is true. But in what world does the approach of the hawk come close? And does this strategy sufficiently reflect the scale of the challenge posed by China and which the hawks themselves emphasize? How much of a threat does the PLA represent if it can be achieved at such a modest cost? And if powerful China can be deterred by such a deal, it stands to reason that lesser threats like Russia, Iran and North Korea can be deterred as well. American taxpayers, burdened by growing debt and high taxes, might therefore rightly wonder why we spend nearly $1 trillion a year on defense. So how did hawks move from calling for a doubling of the defense budget to an implicit argument for cutting it?

Hawks have been saying for decades that we live in an incredibly dangerous world. This was an exaggeration twenty years ago, but it is now true. In such a context, our nation needs hawks to follow their convictions wherever they lead: that hard power is central, that we face scarcity, that it will take years at best to fix it, that we cannot We can't walk and chew gum, and the most dangerous threat we face is China. In such a context, it is extremely unwise to approach our most significant threat by relying on a single theory of victory. Hawks must now match their laudable rhetoric on China with concrete actions and, above all, a willingness to prioritize fighting this menace, our greatest threat.




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