Friday, July 08, 2005

Bill Gertz reports intra-IC wrangling over the Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military power between China softliners and those painting a more dire picture of Chinese capabilities.

"The draft report had included tough assessments of China's arms buildup and a stark conclusion that the military balance of power across the Taiwan Strait was shifting in Beijing's favor. The shift is because of a sharp increase in China's arms purchases and deployments, that include new missiles, warships, aircraft and communications gear.

...Among those who do not regard China as a near-term threat are Thomas Fingar, the former State Department intelligence analyst who is now the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst under Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte. Mr. Fingar recently hired former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Lonnie Henley, who during his career at DIA developed a reputation as someone who played down China's military developments. "

The hardliners and skeptics here would include Naval intelligence, PACOM, the submarine community, current and former NSC and DoD political appointees of a neocon orientation who developed the idea of deterring the emergence of a " peer-competitor" in the National Security Strategy of the United States .

What the hardliners have in their favor is that official Chinese statistics are, quite simply, bilge. Like the former Soviet Union, China attempts to conceal their actual military budget by dispersion through a range of military, economic, scientific and state security agencies and a bewildering array of PLA-connected companies. Estimating actual Chinese expenditures is at best an educated guess from what we know the Chinese to have actually produced or are in the stages of designing and testing.

The softliners can point to the fact that paper capabilities mean a lot less than what a military force can logistically bring to bear and sustain for a significant length of time in the field. China is not in America's class. In fact, China is not in PACOM's class, even given the assumption that PACOM is operating in China's theater and conceding " home field advantage", much less PACOM plus Taiwan.

The short and medium term danger is that China is gaining ground on Taiwan and closing the qualitative gap that is the bedrock of Taiwan's security, increasing the incentives for Chinese generals and Politburo officials to play at brinksmanship. This is best remediated by the Taiwanese to increase their own anemic defense spending to keep the transaction costs of a Chinese attack on Taipei as high as possible. Going the " free rider" route of the Europeans in the post-Soviet NATO 1990's is a luxury Taiwan cannot afford, particularly when coupled with periodic bursts of Taiwanese nationalist rhetoric calculated to give Beijing fits.

To paraphrase Brooks Adams, to be disarmed and aggressive is a particularly stupid policy and one that endangers American national interests. The purpose of Taiwan Relations Act is to commit America to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression, a pact that helps stabilize East Asia and keep the peace.

What is not, is a blank check to encourage Taipei to indulge in European-style geopolitical immaturity.
First-rate response to the increasingly troublesome China hysteria. I'm afraid I tend to be overly dismissive of much of it as mostly a matter of fighting over DOD budgets. Good on you for taking the time to address the issue on its merits.

I don't, however, see the matter as simply one of adequate (self)-defense spending, though that's certainly a major factor in the case of Taiwan. Last September there was a provocative article (sub req'd) in National Interest entitled "Wagging the Dog." I don't agree with everything the authors are pushing, but they certainly provide a useful note of caution for how the US manages these asymmetical patronage relations. All the more important, given the Bush Admin's "forward strategy of freedom" rhetoric, which the China-bashers use to their maximum advantage.

Blurb: "By: Nikolas K. Gvosdev & Travis Tanner. In an unequal friendship, does the weaker have the whip hand? America is the stronger partner in any relationship. But the Taiwanese, the Israelis and the Georgians don't seem to know this."
Hey Nadezhda

You raise an excellent point.

The nature of the Constitutional set-up and electoral realities of the Congress is that a determined and loud minority, even a small one, will have much more influence on foreign policy than the passive, quiet majority that cares( and knows)less. In tight races, an unhappy and motivated 2 % can swing an election.

Interestingly enough, some ethnic minorities are very successful at the foreign policy game - Jews, Cubans, Greeks, Poles, Indians to name a few, while others - Arabs, Pakistanis, Turks, Central Americans, Serbs - are not. It isn't simply money either, it's saavy and cultural influence. as Tip O'Neil put it when asked why the U.S. always favored Greece over Turkey, " Everybody in Congress knows the people who own all those restaurants - nobody knows a Turk "

A factor that makes for some weird foreign policy decisions at times.
On the subject of domestic ethnic interest groups (and Turks, for that matter) -- today coincidentially, Eurasia Daily Monitor has a truly mind-boggling piece on the Armenian lobby. I knew it was powerful, but it's apparently it's got the biggest caucus in the House! Most from blue states, of course. But far from exclusively. Mitch McConnell is a big fan, for example.
That was an excellent article. I can attest to their description - the Chicago area has a not insignificant Armenian-American population and they get involved. School boards, local government, community volunteering - they network.
Another article to put into your calculus on Taiwan -- from the SCMP, courtesy Howard French's Glimpse of the World. This one on the debate over whether Taiwan should buy the early warning system they're slated to acquire since it would only give them six more minutes against incoming Chinese missiles.

More interesting than that specific debate is the broader question -- just what should Taiwan spend on -- that the article raises. Should Taiwan upgrade their own missiles aimed at China as a deterrent? If so, is it first or second strike? If not, what should they be doing instead?

The article also raises another set of questions regarding the US umbrella more broadly. Is the interest in the whole early warning and Patriot system just a first step in integrating with a US regional ABM system? And if so, two questions. Is a forward-based ABM really a good policy for the US in strategic deterrence terms. I personally think not for two reasons. First, it's an unnecessarily provocative "containment" approach to China. But as or more important in this day and age of increased nuclear proliferation -- I think it just encourages the NKs and Irans (and any other countries that get on the US s*t-list) to acquire nukes as fast as they can. But that's a debate for another day. Back to the Taiwan issue -- if we proceed with regional anti-missile systems, do we want to further entwine our umbrella operationally with Taiwan?

As for the other areas of defense spending, as the article points out, the US itself has put the kibosh on some of Taiwan's proposed expenditures -- the Aegis purchase e.g.

A similar set of problems has often arisen with Europe's patterns of defense spending, which you characterize as geopolitically immature. Over the decades of "burden sharing" debates, the US has wanted Europe to take more responsibility for its own defense in terms of expenditure. But the US also wants the lion's share of the "say" in what they buy and when, where and how they use the stuff. It's a perfectly rational position for the US -- both for "inter-operability" concerns and given the US umbrella, which can't be extended with no strings attached. But it does create tensions -- not merely between the US and certain Europeans but within the US defense community.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on where you see Taiwan's spending should be boosted, and what implications that would have for US strategy and crisis management.
Wow - you're blog is full of good info. It's getting hard to find blogs with useful content and people talking about Crisis Management these days. I have just started my Latest Crisis Management News blog and would really appreciate you coming by - thanks again
Hi - You have a great blog. I have a webpage about elite self defense I'd like you to visit. Here's the link
Post a Comment

<< Home
Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, United States

" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli

Determined Designs Web Solutions Lijit Search
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 /

follow zenpundit at http://twitter.com
This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.
Get this widget!
Sphere Featured Blogs Powered by Blogger StatisfyZenpundit

Site Feed Who Links Here
Buzztracker daily image Blogroll Me!