News reports describing the U.S. role in developing the Stuxnet computer virus, and similar allegations about the existence of a second computer virus, named Flame, have sparked a much-needed debate of cyberwarfare and cybersecurity. President Obama contributed to the discussion last week with a call for greater attention to the latter in the Wall Street Journal.
News of Stuxnet has also, however, generated its share of hysteria. Writing in the New York Times, Columbia University's Misha Glenny painted an alarming picture:
"The ... Stuxnet computer worm ... marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet ... If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory ... Stuxnet has effectively fired the starting gun in a new arms race that is very likely to lead to the spread of similar and still more powerful offensive cyberweaponry across the Internet."
Glenny goes on to warn of the "frightening dangers of an uncontrolled arms race in cyberspace" where viruses "inevitably seek out and attack the networks of innocent parties." He worries that "Nobody can halt the worldwide rush to create cyberweapons" but calls for a treaty to regulate their use in peacetime.
Strong stuff. And certainly there is reason to harden U.S. infrastructure against cyber attack. In doing so, however, we should avoid cyber hysteria. Earlier this year, Thomas Rid of King's College London published an important article on cyberwarfare in The Journal of Strategic Studies (which, in the interests of full disclosure, I edit). Rid argues, persuasively in my view, that it is misleading to talk about "cyberwar" when, in fact, all politically motivated cyber attacks to date are merely more sophisticated versions of three traditional activities: sabotage, espionage, and subversion. Stuxnet clearly falls into the first category; Flame into the second.
I would take the argument a step further. Although many view cyber weapons as tools of the weak, they are likely to be most effective when wielded by the strong. That is because cyber means cannot compensate for weakness in other instruments of power. In other words, if a cyber attack by a weaker power on a stronger one fails to achieve its aim, the attacker is likely to face retaliation. In such a situation, the stronger power will possess more, and more lethal, options to retaliate -- what is known in nuclear deterrence terminology as escalation dominance. A weak power might be able to cause a stronger power some annoyance through cyber attack, but in seeking to compel an adversary through cyberwar, it would run the very real risk of devastating escalation.
In addition to escalation dominance, stronger powers, particularly stronger states, are likely to possess a greater ability to combine cyber means with other military instruments to conduct a combined-arms campaign. As a result, it may very well be that although weak powers may attempt to wage cyberwar, they are likely to face cyber weapons wielded by the strong
Because Glenny overestimates the effectiveness of cyber weapons, he also overestimates the speed and scope of their spread. There is a considerable body of work on the diffusion of innovations, and that research tends to show that new ways of war tend to spread more slowly, unevenly, and incompletely than one might think. Adam Liff of Princeton University has recently argued, again in The Journal of Strategic Studies, that the spread of cyber weapons is likely to have a relatively small influence on the frequency of war and that in some cases it may actually decrease its likelihood.
The growth, spread, and effectiveness of cyber weapons is an important subject. Although cyber-hysteria may grab headlines and sell books, it is a topic important enough to deserved focused, reasoned, and thoughtful discussion. Let the debate begin!
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Much of the initial commentary on Julian Assange's surprise bid for political asylum in Ecuador has centered on the question of, why Ecuador? After all, Assange has fashioned himself as a paladin of free speech and government transparency, even as Ecuador's radical populist president Rafael Correa's campaign of intimidation against his own country's free press has been assailed around the world, including his $40 million lawsuit against a leading newspaper and his systematic shuttering of news outlets that don't display an appropriate sympathy for the government line.
Yet if one understands Assange not as a paragon of freedom of expression, but simply as an angry, maladjusted individual who has sought to damage the United States, not because of its alleged lack of openness, but because he sees it as the guarantor of an international system from which he is completely alienated, then his bid for asylum in Ecuador makes perfect sense.
Indeed, he certainly would find a home in Ecuador.
For his part, President Correa appears to have his own psychological tics about the United States. Although he received his PhD in economics here, his father was also jailed here for drug trafficking. He has also consistently railed about the "neo-liberal" world economic order, evidently resenting his country's relatively powerless role in it and its relation to Ecuador's recent history of political instability.
Thus, his presidency has been one of conflict with established international institutions and practices of that order, as well as pretending that the traditional determinants of international power and influence no longer apply. He's all South and no North.
In fact, the quixotic, anti-"system" campaigns of Assange and Correa recently converged when the two sat down together for a fawning satellite interview over the news outlet RT TV (funded by the Kremlin). It was a veritable anti-American love-fest, with Correa telling Assange, "Welcome to the club of those who are persecuted!"
So far, the only response from the Obama administration on Assange's Ecuador asylum bid has been a passive statement from the State Department, saying that it was "a matter between Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ecuador."
That may be an appropriate public response, but privately the administration ought to make it clear to the Correa government that there will be serious repercussions if asylum is granted to Assange. The temptation to grant it will be great for Correa, who will bask in the global attention it would bring, as well as further burnishing his radical credentials. So far, his anti-"system" posturing and preening has come at no cost to him. It's time he learned there are limits to such behavior.
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A growing chorus in Washington seems convinced that those of us who served in the George W. Bush administration oversold the benefits of the U.S.-India strategic partnership forged from 2005 to 2008. The centerpiece of that partnership was the bilateral defense agreement of 2005 and a civilian-nuclear agreement ratified by both countries' parliaments and blessed by the international community in 2008. Many critics are drawn from the non-proliferation community that largely opposed the civ-nuke deal because of India's original sin of developing nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- to which India is not a signatory -- and even though it has a clean proliferation record. Their case has legs today less because they were right about the civ-nuke deal -- they were not -- than because the Obama administration has presided over a period of drift in Indo-U.S. relations that has been matched by drift in Delhi on India's reform agenda. The result has been a benign sense of disappointment in each country, despite the compelling structural and ideational logic that continues to push the relationship forward.
Several of us recently debated the question of whether U.S.-India relations were "oversold" at the American Enterprise Institute. Today's Financial Times charges that U.S.-India relations are "wilting" in light of various policy spats between the two countries that belie the mutual optimism of 2008. These claims need to be put in perspective. This is the first of several posts that will try to take the long view by highlighting how extraordinary the transformation of U.S.-India relations actually has been in light of their complicated history -- and why the U.S. strategic bet on India, and India's on America, remains smart policy for the long term, despite short-term disappointments.
Recall the context in which U.S. and Indian officials, nearly 15 years ago, sought to forge a new relationship. For half a century, the American and Indian governments were alienated by India's refusal to sign on as one of Washington's Cold War allies; by the U.S. military alliance with Indian rival Pakistan, forged in 1954; and later by America's tacit alliance with Indian rival China, countered by India's tacit alliance with Moscow. Following wars with both Pakistan and China, India launched a covert nuclear weapons program, leading the United States to muster its allies to impose sweeping sanctions on technology trade with India -- further stifling its development after state socialism had already undercut India's growth potential. Even after the Cold War, Washington and New Delhi spent the 1990s feuding over proliferation, culminating in the imposition of even more U.S. sanctions following India's1998 nuclear weapons test.
It was Indian, not American, leaders who then suggested that India and the United States should break from a half-century of discord to transform their relations for a new era. According to its leaders, India had tested nuclear weapons in response to existential threats from China and the ally it had helped to develop nuclear weapons, Pakistan. India was the world's largest democracy, and its people had friendly views towards the United States. Converging threat perceptions and common values meant that India and the United States were in fact "natural allies," according to then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They should forge a partnership to manage the dangers of the 21st century and to amplify the strengths of the world's biggest open and pluralistic societies. President Clinton's unprecedented support for India over Pakistan in their near-war of 1999, followed by his 2000 trip to India in which he echoed Vajpayee's call for an alliance of interests and values, made possible the breakthroughs that came later.
India's change of administrations in 2004 did not change New Delhi's support for developing a new partnership with the United States. Nonetheless, Bush administration officials who worked with both Indian governments faced a stark challenge. Not only did the Indian and U.S. bureaucracies have no tradition of working together, but the international sanctions regime the United States had put in place following India's 1974 "peaceful" nuclear explosion remained in place. Then-State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow called this legacy the "Gordian knot" which statesmen in Washington and New Delhi somehow had to untie in order to forge an enduring foundation for a transformed partnership.
The answer was the 2005 U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. Under its terms, India would separate its civilian and its military nuclear reactors, submit the former to international monitoring, make a series of binding commitments not to proliferate nuclear materials or technologies, and in return secure the support of the U.S.-led international cartel governing trade in civilian nuclear components for India's access to these materials on the international market. The judgment of not just the Bush administration but of the United States Congress, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group was that the nuclear non-proliferation regime would be stronger if India were a part of it on these terms -- rather than remaining excluded and untethered as a nuclear weapons state not bound by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
For all the attention garnered by the civilian-nuclear agreement, the first long-term partnership agreement between Washington and New Delhi was actually a 10-year defense cooperation agreement signed in June 2005. Most countries without a long history of partnership begin their engagement with trade and diplomatic agreements and only after building trust move on to military cooperation. The opposite held true between the United States and India, in part because of the compelling security threats -- from China, Pakistan, and terrorism -- that drew them together. The defense agreement was a particularly radical step for India to take -- having allied with the United States' primary competitor during the Cold War and condemned America's military primacy in the international system throughout the 1990s, Indian leaders decided by the mid-2000s that the United States was the partner of choice in helping to modernize the Indian military and supply the needs of the world' biggest arms importer.
The success of U.S. and Indian policy from 1998-2008 lay in creating a transformed basis for relations between the world's largest democracies for the new century. The United States would secure not an ally but an independent partner that could help anchor an Asian balance of power otherwise at risk from growing Chinese strength. Washington would be able to point to India's model of democratic development as an alternative to the "Beijing consensus" of authoritarian development that otherwise might appeal to swathes of the developing world. The complementarities between America's hi-tech economy and India's rich human capital would spur growth in both countries. India would secure as a sponsor for its rise and development the international system's predominant power. This seemed like a good bargain from the vantage point of 2008. It remains one today, despite the fact that both India and America have disappointed each other on several key issues over the past three years. These will be the subject of my next post.
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Last October, Ambassador Roger Noriega, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere during the George W. Bush Administration, exposed Hugo Chávez's efforts to aid and abet Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program, including its efforts to obtain strategic minerals such as uranium and to evade international sanctions.
Documentary evidence now suggests that Hugo Chavez's junior partner in Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is apparently forging his own dangerous alliance with the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regime, raising troubling questions about whether Iran continues to expand its global efforts to obtain uranium and other strategic minerals that are critical to Teheran's rogue nuclear program.
According to sensitive official documents provided to me by knowledgeable sources in Ecuador and other countries and published here for the first time, Iran and Ecuador have concluded a $30 million deal to conduct joint mining projects in Ecuador that appears to lay the groundwork for future extractive activities. The deal, which was apparently finalized in December 2009, "expresses the interest of the President of the Republic [of Ecuador] and the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to boost closer and mutually beneficial relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran on a variety of fronts, among them mining and geology."
The deal calls for the establishment of a jointly run Chemical-Geotechnical-Metallurgical Research Center in Ecuador [Laboratorio Químico-Geotécnico-Metalurgico] and "to jointly implement a comprehensive study and topographic and cartographic analysis of [Ecuadorean territory]."
What is most concerning about developing Ecuadorean-Iranian ties in the mining sector is that, like Venezuela, Ecuador is known to possess deposits of uranium. In August 2009, Russia and Ecuador signed a nuclear agreement that included joint geological research and development of uranium fields, as well as building nuclear power plants and research reactors. In March 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency also unveiled plans to help Ecuador explore for uranium and study the possibility of developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
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The past two
months have witnessed a series of revelations regarding China's growing
military power. In December 2010, Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific
Command, declared that the aircraft carrier-killing DF-21D anti-ship ballistic
missile had achieved initial operating capability. Last month, photographs and
video of the J-20 fifth-generation stealth aircraft, a plane considerably more
advanced than observers expected of China, appeared on the internet.
On Monday, Ross Babbage, the founder of Australia's respected think tank, the Kokoda Foundation, issued a monograph, Australia's Strategic Edge in 2030 that examined the changing military balance in the Western Pacific and its implications for Australia. It is a report that demands the attention of policy makers in Washington.
Babbage argued that China's aggressive military modernization is rapidly undermining the pillars that have supported American presence in the Western Pacific for more than half a century. As he puts it, "China is for the first time close to achieving a military capability to deny United States and allied forces access to much of the Western Pacific rim." He catalogues China's anti-access efforts, which include cruise and ballistic missiles that can attack ships and fixed targets; a massive investment in cyber-warfare capabilities, with reports of tens of thousands of Chinese cyber intrusions daily; new classes of both nuclear and conventionally powered submarines; a substantial increase in the Chinese nuclear stockpile; a huge investment in space warfare; and a massive increase in fighter bomber and other airborne strike capabilities.
Babbage argued that Australia will need to take drastic action in order to protect its interests in a region increasingly dominated by China. These include acquiring a fleet of 12 nuclear-powered attack submarines (the report hinted at leasing or purchasing Virginia-class SSNs from the United States), developing conventionally armed ballistic and cruise missiles, increasing Australia's investment in cyber warfare, and hosting American forces on Australian soil.
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U.S. policymakers for years have lamented their lack of leverage in pushing for democratic reform and respect for human rights in Russia. Well, now we may have an opportunity, but the question is whether we will make use of it. If Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is serious in wanting our help with his economic modernization agenda, we should insist that he needs to make measurable progress in political liberalization first.
Medvedev has made "modernization" and "innovation" the buzzwords in Russia these days, and he brought that buzz with him to the United States this week. Before arriving in Washington today, Medvedev visited Silicon Valley to study that high technology center in hopes of replicating it in Russia. He has designated an area just outside of Moscow, Skolkovo, and a Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, to spearhead this effort. During a speech at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last week, he also promised various economic reforms designed to spur foreign investment in the high-tech field as part of his efforts to diversify Russia's economy away from dependence on exports of natural resources.
The West is eager to get in on the act. The European Union earlier this month launched a "Partnership for Modernization" with Russia. Medvedev met with top representatives from Cisco Systems, Apple, Microsoft, and others to encourage their investment. And the Obama administration, in a June 11 statement announcing Medvedev's trip to the United States, noted that President Obama looked forward to exploring greater cooperation with Russia in "trade, investment and innovation." According to the statement, Obama is "pleased" that Medvedev will visit Silicon Valley and "have the opportunity to review the unique set of factors that has fostered this important center of technological advancement and entrepreneurship."
What's wrong with this picture? Let's begin in Russia. Medvedev's high-tech project so far appears to be driven by a top-down approach. The Russian state plans to pump lots of rubles into Skolkovo, but this contradicts Medvedev's previous pledge to reduce the role of the state in the economy. Throwing lots of money at the problem is more likely to feed corruption than spur innovation. As Vladislav Inozemtsov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies, recently argued, the Russian government is simply "throwing money at ventures...but little is being done to develop innovation from the bottom up." In an interview the other day with RFE/RL, Vladimir Babkin, an expert at the State Duma's committee for science and technology, noted, "Silicon Valley in California was created on the basis of universities. It was a bottom-up growth. In Russia, it's top down, and the goals are unclear."
Moreover, Russia doesn't have a competitive advantage to focus on development of a high technology economy. It spends little of its GDP, comparatively speaking, on research and development. According to the number of patents issued by the United States Patents Office to residents of foreign countries, Russia registered 904 over the past five years; Belgium with one-fourteenth the population of Russia, registered four times as many. Many Russian scientists and engineers have emigrated to more promising prospects overseas (including, fortunately, many smart ones to the United States), leaving Russia suffering still from a brain-drain. Russia's economic advantage, for better or worse, is in natural resources, and most Russian businessmen know that.
When the price of oil plummeted in 2008-09 and Russia's GDP dropped by nearly eight percent last year, Medvedev sought to energize his modernization drive by emphasizing the need for development of a high technology sector. The price of oil has bounced back, albeit not to the highs of two years ago, and pressure to diversify has decreased correspondingly. But Medvedev has not given up and has made Skolkovo the centerpiece of his agenda.
It is one thing for the Googles and Microsofts of the world to invest in Skolkovo; after all, they are accountable to shareholders and will be driven by whether they see the possibility of making a profit in Russia. The bigger question is why the U.S. government should get involved. What policy reason do we have to help Russia develop into a high technology economy, assuming this is even possible?
After all, despite Medvedev's rhetoric about dealing with corruption and rooting out legal nihilism, Russia continues to move in an anti-democratic direction, with no real rule of law or accountability but lots of impunity for murders of human rights activists, critics, and journalists. Pending legislation would expand the powers of the FSB (the KGB's successor organization), and the farcical Khodorkovsky trial continues apace. Russia ranks 146th out of 180 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Index and 63rd out of 137 in the latest Global Competitiveness Report. The "values gap" between our two countries is growing and contributes to diverging interests on key issues. The argument that a Russia with a more vibrant economy over time will become more democratic is belied by the trend of the last decade -- Russia's economy soared (thanks to the rise in the price of oil) but its political situation deteriorated badly.
So, why would the U.S. government want to help Russia become more economically efficient and diverse -- i.e., stronger -- when Russia is becoming more authoritarian? The Obama administration explicitly rejects linkage in its relationship with Russia -- it pursues each issue on a separate track -- and thus won't insist on political modernization in Russia as a precondition for helping Medvedev's high technology pursuits. Such an approach forfeits any leverage we may have to push for liberalization in that country. That is a shame, for a Russia that is reforming economically and politically would indeed be a Russia worth investing in.
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It is a quality of human nature to extrapolate the present into the future. What else explains the pervasive gloom about America's future in the international system? Headlines around the turn of the new year were full of learned and normally astute commentators bemoaning the inexorable diminution of the West by the ever-growing economies of Asia in the wake of the global financial crisis and what many perceived to be a lost decade from 2001- 2009. Surveys show that three in five Americans believe their country is in decline. A little more New Year's cheer is in order.
The United States today enjoys a share of global GDP no different than it did in the 1970s. The spread of democratic capitalism to large parts of the world that, during the Cold War, suffered from closed economies of scarcity is an enormous victory for American power and principles, and has made this country -- not to mention billions of people across Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and at least parts of Africa and the Middle East -- decisively better off.
This outcome, no less than the end of the U.S.-Soviet balance of nuclear terror, is the ultimate victory of the Cold War, and its final chapters have yet to be written -- as China's leaders, consumed by domestic insecurities even as the world lauds their unprecedented ascent to world power, seem to understand.
The United States remains the world's indispensable nation, even if President Obama has cast off the bracing language of American primacy in favor of a more subtle and understated poetry about American purpose. Washington's security commitments continue to order Asia, deter aggression in the Middle East, and make possible Europe's historic experiment in regionalism. The United States remains the international system's core convening power -- as seen most recently at Copenhagen-- and no solution to any pressing international problem is possible without American leadership.
The same cannot be said of China, so often conflated to be America's global equal despite possessing an economy one-quarter of America's size and political, demographic, and economic challenges that dwarf those of any other great power (with the possible exception of Russia, whose future appears bleak). China's passive acquiescence may be necessary on a host of international challenges, from stemming Iranian proliferation to (not) agreeing to climate change targets. But where is Beijing forging international solutions on the hard issues of the day? More often it is free-riding on the leadership of others, or belatedly consenting to decisions after being forced to take a position by the more active leadership of the West.
Uniquely within the developed world, America possesses a population that does not face a demographic crisis over the coming few decades, thanks in part to our historical tolerance for immigration. U.S. universities continue to educate the global elite -- and if they go back to India or China to start software companies rather than staying in the United States, that is in part an indictment of our tough controls on highly skilled immigration that deter the world's best talent from staying. At the same time, while it would be better to import than to export talent, we shouldn't diminish the value of the latter in extending American influence into these important new centers of power and seeding economic growth there that benefits us, too.
The United States is well-placed to compete in a globalized world -- we always have been, which is why generations of American presidents have pursued free trade and freedom of the seas as enduring national objectives. Half the S&P 500's earnings come from abroad, which means every American who owns a retirement fund in stocks, even if not invested internationally, benefits from the economic "rise of the rest" (as does every American who doesn't own a retirement fund but shops at Walmart and chooses to consume cheap imports). And it's worth pointing out that economic growth in the BRICS relies in part on the soft infrastructure of trade and finance that is dependent on the security of the global commons, still policed overwhelmingly by the U.S. military and our allies.
The United States suffered calamitously from the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which started here at home from our own Schumpeterian excesses of capitalism. But the United States also appears poised to lead the developed world out of recession and into sustained, if moderate, growth. It is true that China, in contrast to the West, had a good financial crisis. But its extraordinary stimulus spending combined with its artificially undervalued currency is creating a different set of financial and economic risks. The country's opaque and underdeveloped banking system, not to mention its rigid and non-transparent political regime, will be hard-pressed to manage these with ease.
More broadly, as Thomas Friedman has said, the 21st century cannot belong to a country that doesn't let its citizens use Google. Americans (and our friends abroad) should have a little more confidence in the values and purpose that have inspired us to help make the new world we live in. We have plenty of problems at home, from inadequate infrastructure to an underperforming educational system and, perhaps most disturbingly, a growing burden of national debt that, if not corrected, will increasingly undermine our welfare at home and our leadership abroad.
That said, I wouldn't trade America's problems for those of any other country. For his part, President Obama certainly doesn't want to spend four or eight years presiding over American decline. It doesn't pay to bet against the United States. We should have faith in our political leadership -- and actively involve ourselves in the political process -- to shape a coming decade and century that prove the skeptics wrong.
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By Dan Twining
While everyone here in the United States and beyond was focused on Barack Obama's Inauguration on Tuesday, China chose that day to slip this little item under the door --China’s National Defense in 2008, their annual white paper detailing plans for increased defense spending and military modernization.
While significantly understating real military spending, this latest defense white paper is revealing in its attempts to reassure an outside world deeply concerned about the country’s aggressive pace of non-transparent military modernization. It also teaches us something about China’s own strategic priorities –- and insecurities. Here are a few key themes of the paper, as well as my quick take on what lies behind the rhetoric:
1. China is an indispensable player in a shifting global balance of power that features trends toward both cooperation and conflict. Commendably, China seeks a “harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity” –- and while China cannot develop in isolation from the world, “nor can the world enjoy prosperity and stability without China.” Complex interdependence and enhanced cooperation make major wars unlikely -- but there are also tendencies toward more intense strategic competition among rising and developed powers, fueled by military modernization, arms races, and the struggle to secure energy resources. There is a tension here: China’s military wants to reassure other powers that it foresees a cooperative international system, but it needs to justify its continuing expansion and growing sophistication with reference to a widening array of threats, many of them emanating from the United States.
2. The world is increasingly multipolar and China increasingly powerful, but a militarized United States will resist the rise of China by promoting outmoded “hegemonism and power politics.” Without mentioning the United States by name, China's white paper uses clear code to condemn America’s ongoing military transformation, including force realignment, missile defense, and leadership of the Revolution in Military Affairs. An aggressive, unilateralist America seeks to weaken China, “supporting diplomatic struggles with military means.” Unlike the United States, China will “oppose the enlargement of military alliances, and acts of aggression and expansion.” In fact, in comparison with the world’s current superpower, “China will never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion now or in the future, no matter how developed it becomes.” No rising power has ever kept such a promise, but it is reassuring to hear nonetheless.
3. The United States under President Bush upped its game in Asia, to Beijing’s consternation. Chinese leaders and analysts appreciate the stability of U.S.-China relations since 2001. But the white paper attests that, notwithstanding American critics who charge that Washington has neglected Asia while firefighting in the Middle East, the U.S. has paid careful attention to Asian power dynamics, and has positioned America to continue to lead in the region. Rather than ignoring Asia, “the U.S. has increased its strategic attention to and input in the Asia-Pacific region, further consolidating its military alliances, adjusting its military deployment and enhancing its military capabilities.” Indeed, polling by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that America’s soft power in Asia greatly exceeds that of China. Despite conventional wisdom that China’s rise erodes America’s staying power in the region, both popular polls and worries of China's military suggest that the United States has been doing something right in Asia.
4. The core threats to Chinese national security are internal, or arise from external support for internal separatists and dissidents. Outsiders underestimate the degree to which the sources of Chinese insecurity are internal rather than exogenous. The nightmare for Chinese security planners, based on their reading of China’s predation by foreign powers during the age of imperialism, is of external sponsorship of “splittist” or dissident movements that undermine the cohesion of the Chinese state. “[D]omestic security and international security are interwoven and interactive,” says the new white paper. China “faces strategic maneuvers and containment from the outside while having to face disruption and sabotage by separatist and hostile forces from the inside.” Hence the need for strong and technologically sophisticated military forces.
5. China is pursuing “leapfrog development” of advanced capabilities by undertaking military modernization in a high-tech environment. Beijing foresees comparative advantages stemming from its development of asymmetric capabilities, including in electronic warfare; from preparing to wage modern war in a battlespace where information dominance is a key to victory (China “aims at winning local wars in conditions of informationization”); and from undertaking military modernization with the benefit of new technologies not available to great powers that modernized earlier in history. China’s replication of American rhetoric about force doctrine, the Revolution in Military Affairs, and information warfare is striking.
Bottom line: This white paper is a useful reminder that China’s is the only military in the world explicitly training and equipping to fight the United States.
Shadow Government is a blog about U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration, written by experienced policy makers from the loyal opposition and curated by Peter D. Feaver and William Inboden.