Andrew Krepinevich op-ed in the WSJ that's a bit breathless in its admiration for the much-hyped Chinese strategy of the "assassin's mace." It always kills me how so many experts criticized net-centric warfare as so much high-tech BS and then seem to swallow this stuff hook, line and sinker from a military that hasn't actually fought anybody in a sustained fashion for more than half a century.
Of course, we might outspend everybody by gajillions and yet our stuff is sooooooo easy to counter, but China is going to pull off this amazing collection of high-tech hijinks the very first time and it'll be so amazingly hard to counter.
Naturally, Krepinevich's logic exists in his usual vacuum where economics and political repercussions of such behavior are set aside--to wit, his argument that China is building up all this power to "Finlandize" the region.
Well, turns out, looking at my post from yesterday, that SE Asian weapon buying has doubled in the past half decade and America seems to be having no trouble locating new military friends from this neck of the woods.
Ah, but we are told that Team Obama is the naive player here, even though virtually every China hand will tell you that Bush-Cheney talked a tougher game but were more lenient with China while Obama-Biden talk a nicer game but actually are tougher. The reason why Pentagon planners refer to China as "Voldemort" (i.e., the threat that dare not be named) is that the scenarios for conflict are bleeding plausibility with each passing year. The Pentagon, in its complete isolation from the economic world and globalization and global supply chains and global financial flows, might find pumping up the China threat to be a tough sell, and that tough sell may be particularly galling for the Air Force and Navy that see their platform budgets tightened thanks to Long War dynamics that favor the Army and Marines more, but watching Krepinevich trying to sell the stealthiness of China's military rise is just sad.
No one is ignoring this build-up--not the US with its annual report nor China's neighbors, and balancing has naturally resulted in the region. Krepinevich oversells the regional fear and overhypes the notion that, unless we start spending mucho on the USAF-USN-heavy Leviathan, that SE Asia "may have no choice but to follow Finland's Cold War example."
I mean, I'd love to read the scenario whereby China's "dazzles" a few US satellites and launches some surprise cyber attacks and blows up a couple of US warships with missiles and voila! Suddenly everybody in SE Asia is China's cowed minions willing to do whatever it says. Oh, and the rest of the world just accepts this fait accompli, offering no response. Doesn't that fantastic logic strike you as mirror-imaging the same sort of net-centric "shock and awe" that we've never been able to pull off on anyone to any lasting effect? So how come China, with its completely inexperienced military, is going to make that happen with such ease and such obvious and permanent gain (i.e., "finlandization)?
It's amazing to me: we supposedly learn the harsh reality of war in the 21st century in Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e., that the high-tech most certainly does not rule--much less guarantee victory), but now we're supposed to freak out and go all Cold War over China because it's able--on a zero-experience base--to do everything we weren't able to do with net-centric warfare and they'll be so good at it that we'll never see it coming and we'll lose everything before we even know what hit us.
Am I the only national-security type who finds this straight-faced juxta-positioning to be ludicrous?
If Krepinevich represents Pentagon war planning thinking, then he's demonstrating that the Defense Department is no closer to understanding globalization today than it was back in 2001. This is classic war-within-the-context-of-war myopia.
All I can say is, thank God for Gates. Obama better do everything in his power to keep him past 2011. The President has no idea how bad the Pentagon's internal dynamics could get in his absence, or what a bulwark he is against such narrow thinking.