Air-Sea Battle: A Dangerous Way to Deal with China (Page 2 of 2)

As to the Pentagon’s assertion that the plan is not aimed at a particular adversary—there are only two countries with advanced A2/AD capabilities: China and Iran. China is by far the strongest challenger to unfettered U.S. domination of the seven seas, while Iran comes in a remote second place, and according to the CBSA, “cannot hope to match China when it comes to developing an advanced A2/AD network.” When reporters inevitably ask about ASB’s connection to China, its planners respond that “the inclination to narrow down on a particular scenario is unhelpful.” Note: Not false or misleading but – unhelpful to the military’s desired message. Off the record, officials have allowed that “Air-Sea Battle is all about convincing the Chinese that we will win this competition.”

The main flaw Air-Sea Battle is not merely that it is a particularly aggressive military response to the anti-access/area-denial challenge. The problem is that ASB is developing in a foreign policy vacuum. If the U.S. were to conduct a thorough review of China’s military capabilities and its regional and global ambitions—and found that the Chinese were planning to forcefully expand their territory or unseat the U.S. as the global power, perhaps Air-Sea Battle might be deemed appropriate.

There are few signs, however, that China is on this path. China’s leaders have embraced a foreign policy of “peaceful development” and are moving the country toward greater participation in the prevailing world order rather than trying to undermine it. It participates in the United Nations where it often votes “absent” rather exercise its veto power; it plays by the World Trade Organization rules and increased its contribution to the IMF; and it has used legitimate channels to resolve most recent trade and territorial disputes. Moreover, the U.S. and China have surprisingly many complimentary interests that could serve as the basis for cooperative relations, including counterterrorism, economic stability, preventing the spread of pandemics, and environmental protection.

Even if such a review concluded that a military clash with China was a possibility, then the U.S. would still very likely have the time and space to pursue alternatives before embracing a strategy as risky as ASB. One possible way forward is a policy of “Mutually Assured Restraint” modeled after the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Under MAR, the U.S. and China would agree to place verifiable limits on weapon systems (especially anti-ship, space and cyber capabilities) and refrain from seeking to pull China neighbors into their sphere of influence, treating them instead as neutral buffer states.

In contrast, Air-Sea Battle not only makes war with China more likely; it shifts attention and resources from where they are needed most—suppressing the ongoing threat of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa and contributing to nation building at home. For now, it would be best to turn ASB into what the Pentagon says it is: the work of a tiny office, with a few officers, laboring to improve coordination and communication among the services.

Amitai Etzioni is a university professor and professor of international relations at The George Washington University. He served as a senior adviser to the Carter White House and taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book is Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human-Rights World.

Comments
77
PJ
December 24, 2013 at 15:52

Weakness, i.e. never preparing for Air Sea Battle, will not equate to peace. CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE will only be bought be legitimate conventional threat to dissuade PRC escalation and action to take limited objectives.

“If the U.S. were to conduct a thorough review of China’s military capabilities and its regional and global ambitions—and found that the Chinese were planning to forcefully expand their territory or unseat the U.S. as the global power, perhaps Air-Sea Battle might be deemed appropriate.” IF we had, it wouldn’t be in our interests to say it!

“Even if such a review concluded that a military clash with China was a possibility, then the U.S. would still very likely have the time and space to pursue alternatives before embracing a strategy as risky as ASB. One possible way forward is a policy of “Mutually Assured Restraint” modeled after the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Under MAR, the U.S. and China would agree to place verifiable limits on weapon systems (especially anti-ship, space and cyber capabilities) and refrain from seeking to pull China neighbors into their sphere of influence, treating them instead as neutral buffer states.” I don’t see a rational logical way to develop this idea — recommend you focus your high degree of studies here.

A2AD is the model for any future force attempting to limit access by the sea, and ASB is the future of the Joint Force to open access. Having immediate capability and conventional deterrence of PRC action is an added benefit. Besides PRC nation building? What is that? Seems in real terms, we would prefer reform that will never happen if the military focuses on internal control.

James Wong
November 22, 2013 at 17:10

Soon the US will find it won’t have money to feed the ever growing monster,the Pentagon.
A bankruptUS will be the greatest threat to peace and may provoke a war with China.You never know.
Plans have been prepared to raze the PLA nm and castrate China. However it aint as easy as it looks.The US could be in for a nasty surprise .

Gedanken
September 26, 2013 at 05:24

China can prove soon that America was discover by the chinese far back …

Hoang Dinh already poited to their tactics..

Gedanken
September 26, 2013 at 05:17

China: If three people tell you that you are a donkey, you might ignore them. But if all the people around you said you are definitelly a donkey, you should think about it. Confucius!

China need to re-import culture, bc after culture revolution they don't have it anymore. Just lie and greed. No compassion for other (even own) people. 

Gedanken
September 26, 2013 at 05:07

Soon China will claims all chinatown abroad. After Asean east sea. (i try to avoid to use south china sea).

Joe
September 22, 2013 at 17:00

When did Vietnam become an ally?

So, the US will cover for her "ally" regardless; just like you would for your high school friends ("allies") regardless if they steal other kids' lunch money?

Joe
September 22, 2013 at 16:40

The concept of ally is so outdated!

Basically, what that means is that the US is so pussy that she needs others to help her to win the war against China.

With the concept of ally, the US basically is willing to throw away the ethics and human principles to "defend" her rotten "allies" such as Japan and the Philipines regardless of their behaviors.

NoWar
September 19, 2013 at 19:50

Most commenters here appear unable to grasp and understand the blatant consequences of a aggressive and disasterous plan on this scale. There is no doubt that a full blown out war move on this scale will trigger a world war that is far more lethal and deadly than the previous WW2 and the Cold War combined. The whole South Asian region would fall to chaos and China would retaliate by sending actual missles and miliary to all neighbouring countries that are even slightly holding USA miltary hardware, a move that a predicament that Japan and the Phillipines are currently trying to avoid. China won't be act like sitting duck when such high levesl of USA military intensity are present in the region. It's a plan that is both suicidal for USA and would result into a nightmare coming true harboring what all China's neighbors fear; A hostile China willing to strategically terminate all those countries without hesitation as it deems itself vulnerable to destruction. A China that makes the current one who makes occasional military exercises in disputed waters seem like nothing. The Air Sea Battle must never activate as there will no winners when all hell breaks lose in the Asian-Pacific region. 

Diplomacy
September 19, 2013 at 19:31

You must be very eager on wanting a WW3. Millions of innocent people dying in destruction and despair your wetdream riding on this foolish plan. This article is more correct and more accurate than your lies and pro war propaganda. A diplomat is a person who seeks a solution through peaceful dialouge which is much better than a trigger happy soldier handling global affairs and keeping stability.

avatar
September 11, 2013 at 01:44

Interesting points. I don't think the Chinese will nuke the US if we nuke chinese forces at sea. Same goes in reverse. At the end of the day neither will have any deployed navy but the homelands will be intact. I also doubt the newer generation in China is so unconcerned with their own survival that they wouldn't mind a nuclear war with the US.

Marcus
September 10, 2013 at 08:00

Fascinating insight. I think this comment by "average chinese" was as interesting as the base article itself.

jack
September 7, 2013 at 15:50

Both Vietnam and Philippines would not budge on sovereignthy isuues, why would China which

has stronger claims budge.?

Good that the Philippines is in a weak position, otherwise it would be state sponsored murders in the high seas as well as Marcos-style invasion of Sabah.

Talk about the rule of law, it is one lawless country in SE Asia with politicians,teachers ,judges

murdered and foreign tourista kidnapped even when they are in a neighboring country.

 

Alan
March 17, 2014 at 06:45

Why would a nation budge when their on the right track?..This is about oil and gas deposits lie underneath Philippine, Malaysia and Vietnam territory. why would a country like China insist about their claim when China knew that historical ground would not allow in I T L O S & U N C L O S…This is obviously about resources….

John
September 7, 2013 at 04:27

@ACT

Actually China and Japan hold most of the debts we have that are in foreigners' hands. The rest are held mostly by Federal Reserve (heard of printing money). Federal Reserve has been buying up to 70% of our debts in the past 2 years. Who knows what will happen when tapering occur?

John
September 7, 2013 at 04:08

I can not help but notice that this is an extremely biased posting by professor Malik. For example, he states that China is claiming terrirtory based purely on ancient empire boundary. If that is the case, why is China giving up claim of hundred of thousands square miles of land to Russia. Further, when China eventually settled land boundary with her neighbors like Pakistan, Burma, Lao, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan (with the exception of India), China gave up most of the claims (from 60% – over 90%). This does not seem like an aggressive, expansionist, and dangerous country depicted by most western thinkers. I encourage interested readers to consult the book by Professor Fravel from MIT for some of the history of the land border settlements.

As for the disputes in the sea, I believe it is still too early to judge their behaviors and intention. China is quite vague about how they want to settle these disputes eventually. Americans, however, are extremely uncomfortable about ambiguity and unsettled disputes and want to see a quick finality (and preferrably to China's disadvantages). Any wonder the defence department wants this wholely infeasible ASB?

Kronos
September 6, 2013 at 14:50

@ Act

Thank you for the clarification.  The media always makes it sound like we owe all our debts to countries such as Japan and China.  Appreciate the constructive feedback.

 

Observer
September 6, 2013 at 14:36

Oh look, another chinese that brag about chinese militarty power.

 

Hey, how about do something about the 600 thousands square kilometers of land that Russia took from you? How about do something about Russian Navy that shot to death several chinese and blew up several chinese ships as recently as 2012? 

 

What is the matter? Where are your military power now? Pathetic.

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