The net result is that the PRC enjoys an unexpected geopolitical boost even as it backs Washington’s adversaries in their wars and whittles away at U.S. alliances in Asia. While soothing China may be an understandable inclination in the current geopolitical climate, doing so will only encourage Beijing to continue its harassment campaigns. Analysts who argued years ago that the United States needed a military to conduct decisive military operations in three theaters simultaneously anticipated this geopolitical moment. Right now, the military is built to fight only one big war, and American security is suffering as a result.
The United States still has some time to deter China from starting a full-scale war in the Western Pacific, reverse Ukraine’s fortunes, and keep Iran from escalating its proxy wars, but not much. It will require a rapid bipartisan agreement to increase the American stock of munitions both for its own inventory and for transfer to Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel and to provide more money to bolster the U.S. nuclear submarine force, the Pacific’s deterrence workhorse. The Congress and the President need to increase the defense budget by 5 percent annually for the foreseeable future to adequately resource the Pentagon’s new posture plans in the Pacific and European theaters. The U.S. strategic goal should be for its allies to defeat Beijing’s proxies and undermine its military intimidation. Nothing less will arrest a slide into a larger conflagration.
About the Author
Dan Blumenthal is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. Mr. Blumenthal has served in and advised the U.S. government on China issues for more than a decade.
Image: Creative Commons/U.S. Navy.