Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts

27 April 2017

The Real Risk of US Military Force Against North Korea

By Daniel Amick

Escalating tension between the United States and North Korea has prompted fevered public focus on the possibility of war — even nuclear war — on the Korean Peninsula. The risk is real, and observers are right to emphasize it. Amid the debate, however, another potential scenario remains underexplored: That American use of military force against North Korea might not change much at all. This troubling possibility is not as unlikely as it may seem and would damage U.S. influence in East Asia and around the world. Washington would find itself back where it started, but with a less credible military threat to drive North Korea and other rogue states to the negotiating table.

Washington’s recent posturing aims to force North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to decide once and for all whether his nuclear and missile programs are worth the mounting cost. It attempts to present Kim with a binary — almost apocalyptic — choice: back down immediately and engage with the United States on Washington’s terms, or risk an all-out war that brings down his regime.

To sharpen the decision point, President Donald Trump has prodded China to increase economic and political pressure on Kim and has signaled that he will address the North Korean threat unilaterally if necessary. Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the toughening U.S. stance this week in Seoul, declaring that the “era of strategic patience” is over. He pointed to U.S. airstrikes earlier this month in Syria and Afghanistan as demonstrations of American “strength and resolve.”

24 April 2017


by Max Boot 

We should not panic, any more than we panicked when Russia and China acquired similar capabilities many decades ago. In those cases, we relied on deterrence to prevent an attack, while, in the case of the Soviet Union, implementing a containment doctrine premised on the assumption that the dysfunctional Soviet state would eventually collapse. That strategy was amply vindicated by the peaceful end of the Cold War and could usefully be followed in the case of North Korea today.

From the U.S. perspective, our policy should be to hasten the regime’s demise by applying all possible sanctions, but not to isk an outright military confrontation with a state that possesses nuclear weapons and artillery zeroed in on Seoul. That seems to be the policy that H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was hinting at when he said on Sunday that the U.S. should “take action, short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst” in dealing with “this unpredictable regime.” If so, then the Trump administration is taking a responsible approach—ratcheting up the pressure but stopping short of war. Let’s hope that this is, in fact, the policy going forward.

The Forces that Shape the Military Options in Korea

By Anthony H. Cordesman

It is all too easy to talk about military options in general terms. The devil, however, lies in the details—both in terms of the practical ability of a given side's capability to execute given options and in terms of the ability to predict how the other side(s) will react and how the resulting conflict will escalate or be terminated.

This is particularly true in the case of North Korea. Its leader maintains power and control by constantly exaggerating the threats his country faces, provoking outside states like the United States and South Korea, and leveraging China's need for his country to be a strategic buffer on its northern border, against China's desire for stability and economic development. He gains from carefully exploiting what other states tend to see as extremism, overreaction, and "irrational action."

This offers him a way of dealing with the reality that North Korea is economically weak and is a large but often obsolescent military power. While estimates differ, the CIA World Factbook offers some of the highest public estimates of North Korean GDP. Recent CIA estimates indicate that North Korea's population is around 25.2 million versus 50.9 million for South Korea, making it roughly half the size of its southern neighbor. The CIA notes that any estimate of North Korea's GDP presents major problems, but reports that North Korea's GDP is somewhere around $40 billion in purchasing power parity terms versus over $1.9 trillion for South Korea, or a little over 2% of the size of its neighbor's economy.

23 April 2017

*** What a War with North Korea Looks Like

By George Friedman

In the last week, the possibility of war between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States has increased. It is necessary therefore to consider what such a war might look like. I am using the term war rather than merely American attacks on North Korean nuclear and missile program facilities because we have to consider the possibility of North Korea’s response and a more extended conflict.

Such a war would be based on North Korea’s decision to move its nuclear program to a stage where the U.S. and other countries conclude it is possible that North Korea is close to having a deliverable nuclear weapon. Given that the North Koreans could not survive a nuclear exchange, it is hard to understand why they would have moved their program to this point. The obvious reason for having a nuclear program is to use it as a bargaining tool. The reason for having a nuclear weapon would be as a deterrent to a foreign power seeking regime change in North Korea. The most dangerous period for North Korea is when it is close to having a weapon but does not yet have it. That is the period when an attack by an external force is more likely. It is the period before North Korea could counterattack. Pyongyang’s decision to deliberately send signals that it has a nuclear weapon increases the urgency of an attack. Its decision is odd, even if it already has one or two nuclear weapons.

19 April 2017

*** North Korea: A Red Line at the 38th Parallel

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspects an air drill involving special operation forces at an undisclosed location. The situation is tense across the Korean Peninsula in anticipation of further nuclear tests conducted by Pyongyang. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) 

All eyes are focused on the Korean Peninsula. Signs suggest that North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear weapons test, perhaps as soon as April 15, to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung. If Pyongyang follows through, the act will be nothing short of a provocation. 

As tensions mount, China has stressed the importance of diplomacy and of preventing the situation from escalating to an "irreversible and unmanageable stage." So far, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has relied largely on non-kinetic means such as additional sanctions and increased enforcement or enhanced regional missile defense to keep North Korea's nuclear ambitions in check. But Washington has made clear that it will keep all of its options open. As the United States demonstrated with its limited cruise missile strike in Syria on April 6, it is willing to take unilateral military action. And considering North Korea's dogged efforts to advance its nuclear program, the Trump administration will have to carefully calculate the risks of a potential military strike. 

A Range of Options 

Action against North Korea could take many shapes or forms, from a limited strike to a large-scale military offensive targeting all of North Korea's military assets. On the lowest end of the scale, the United States could launch a strike to punish North Korea for continuing to develop its nuclear and missile arsenal and to deter it from pursuing nuclear weapons in the future. A punitive strike may be limited to a single base or facility in the country, with the threat of further action down the line if Pyongyang doesn't alter its behavior. Though this kind of attack offers the best way to keep the situation from escalating, it would by no means ensure that North Korea heeds the United States' warning and eases up on its nuclear and missile development. Nor does it eliminate the risk that Pyongyang may respond to the strike in kind. 

8 April 2017

South China Sea Options: An Alternative Route

By The Black Swan

“The Black Swan” is an officer and a strategist in the U.S. Army. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been a company commander, and served at the battalion, brigade, division, and Army Command (ACOM) level staffs. The opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, organization, or group.

National Security Situation: Japan is one of the most stalwart allies of the United States (U.S.) in Asia. The U.S. guarantees Japanese security and sovereignty. Japan serves as one of the principal rivals of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Asia. Japan is an island, however, and depends upon seaborne trade routes, especially those that transit through Southeast Asia. PRC claims of sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea (SCS) pose a direct threat to Japanese security.

Background: For the greater part of recorded history, Japan has been a rival of the PRC. All Japanese attempts to dominate the Asian mainland however, have ended in failure. The defeat of Japan during WWII decisively put an end to Japanese Imperial ambitions. Since the end of the Allied post-WWII occupation in 1952, Japan has been one of the most stalwart allies of the U.S. in Asia, and a bastion of western values. Japan is an economic powerhouse, a vibrant democracy, and possesses an extremely formidable military. For those reasons, as well as historical animosity, Japan is one of, if not the main rival, of the PRC in Asia.

Asia Arms Race Heats Up Over South China Sea

As China expands its influence in the disputed South China Sea, an arms race has developed among other nations with claims in the area.

China claims most of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea as its territory. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the waterway. The sea is rich in fisheries and is thought to hold valuable resources such as oil and natural gas.

Since 2010, China has stepped up its military activities in the South China Sea. It has patrolled with coast guard ships and sent its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to carry out military drills.

Construction is shown on Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this March 9, 2017, satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

2 April 2017


With an election looming, the country’s often fraught race relations are as complicated as ever, but that hasn’t dented its appeal to a ‘third wave’ of immigrants from China

Paul Ying Qian, 32, first tried durian when he was 10 years old in his home town of Hunan ( 湖南 ), China. A family friend had sent his mother the pungent fruit, which the whole family enjoyed. Paul tried durian again when he was studying in Australia, but it was expensive and didn’t match the taste in his memory.

Now he lives in durian-obsessed Malaysia, but it isn’t the fruit that brought him here. It was the temperate weather, cleaner air and mix of Asian values and Western infrastructure. “It’s easy to join in the culture here, and not feel like a total outsider. The different races get on well, and it’s quite near China – much nearer than Australia. The education is good, and the country maintains its traditional face while also experiencing development. Back home the seasons are very dramatic with extremely hot summers and very cold winters. Malaysians are very friendly. I feel this is a good place for my next generation.”

Paul Ying Qian and his wife moved from China to Malaysia as part of the Malaysia My Second Home programme in 2009. Both of his young children were born in Malaysia.

23 March 2017

Indonesia: 8,000 Islands in a Sea of Trouble?

The Indonesian archipelago is a place of relative calm in a restive neighborhood. To its north, China and its neighbors are disputing Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and democracy is on the wane in Thailand; to the west, India and Pakistan are glowering at each other, and Afghanistan is, well, Afghanistan.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth-largest country, its third-largest democracy, and its largest Muslim-majority country, so it is important that the Trump administration make an early approach to Indonesia to confirm Washington’s long-standing relationship with Jakarta and to seek new opportunities for cooperation and commerce.

Indonesia’s most visible characteristic is its position astride the Strait of Malacca, which connects the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and offers the shortest sea route from China to India. The strait is the world’s busiest shipping lane, hosting more than 80,000 passages in 2016 alone. And the strait isn’t just busy: its daily traffic includes a significant amount of liquefied natural gas shipments and 15 million barrels of oil, a quarter of the world’s seaborne oil, mostly bound for China, Indonesia, and Japan. More than 40 percent of the world’s seaborne trade traverses the strait each year. 

8 March 2017

Lawmakers’ Letters Endorse McCain Plan To Reinforce Pacific, Assist Asian Allies By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

Graphic courtesy Sen. Dan Sullivan

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is urging Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to budget $1.5 billion a year to reinforce US forces in the Pacific to better support Asian allies, stiffening their spines against Chinese intimidation. Known as the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative and endorsed by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, it’s a proposal first put forward by Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain. You can read the different letters from the House and Senate below.

Both documents warn against the rising power of China. The Senators also cite the threat of North Korea and of Russian forces in the Pacific. For its part, the more detailed House letter explicitly likens the McCain plan to the European Reassurance Initiative, created after the Russian conquest of Crimea to reassure US allies in the region. The representatives add the initiative could fund expanded international exercises, investments in infrastructure and munitions, and increased presence of US forces.

5 March 2017

Fencing of India-Myanmar border vital to combating northeastern insurgency

By Rupak Bhattacharjee

The recent realignment of the North Eastern militant groups and their increasing terror activities in the India-Myanmar border areas are posing a threat to the region’s peace, security and stability. Unlike India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders, there is neither proper border road nor fencing along the India-Myanmar frontier. The porous international border has become a serious internal security concern for the state and union governments. 

In an untoward incident on January 31, 2017, at least one army jawan was injured when suspected National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang) or NSCN (K) militants ambushed an army convoy in Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh. The site of the attack is only 7 km from the inter-state border in Assam’s Charaideo district. Reports say one NSCN (K) militant was killed in the retaliatory firing.

In another major incident on January 22, about 15-20 militants ambushed an Assam Rifles (AR) vehicle, killing two AR troopers and injuring three others, while two of the rebels were also killed in the ensuing encounter at Jagun 12th Mile Barabasti on NH-153 in Tinsukia district of Assam. The militants launched the attack when hundreds of tourists were passing through the area to attend the three-day (January 20-22) Pangsau Pass Festival, which is held every year at Nampong in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The prime attraction of the festival is the famous Stillwell Road that was built during World War II.

28 February 2017

** Think Asia Will Dominate the 21st Century? Think Again.

Dov S. Zakheim

Michael R. Auslin deconstructs the tensions lurking below the region’s prosperous surface.

MICHAEL R. Auslin opens his book with a preface entitled “The Asia that Nobody Sees.” He might better have entitled it “Hiding in Plain Sight.” For far too long, but especially during the Obama years, policymakers chose to focus on Asia’s remarkable economic growth, coupled with an era of relative peace. Too often they overlooked economic, demographic, social, political and military tensions that did not lurk all that far below Asia’s shiny surface.

Barack Obama, who spent part of his formative years in Indonesia, was a leading cheerleader for the concept of the Asian century. He seemed to care little about Europe and preferred to avoid the troubles of the Middle East as much as possible. He embraced the notion of a rising Asia that soon would constitute America’s most vital interests. It was in that spirit, too, that Hillary Clinton announced the “pivot to Asia,” which was meant to refocus American military power and political and economic priorities away from Europe and the Middle East and instead underscore Asia’s importance to the United States.

22 February 2017

Reviving the Quad: Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia 144 Shares

By Lavina Lee

If Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and the words of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are to be believed, Washington is set to defend disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea from being ‘overtaken’ by Beijing, as part of an effort to stand up to China more generally. While the Obama administration’s approach was more diplomatic, the perceived lack of consistency and backbone when it came to standing up to China spooked many throughout the Indo–Pacific wanting to see stronger US resolve.

If President Trump proves genuinely ready to step into the fray where his predecessor did not, like-minded states will have an opportunity to take stronger steps to defend the existing regional order. Having said that, there will be no free rides. As Trump has said, regional allies and partners will need to contribute more to their own security.

If that’s the case, it might be time to revisit the Quadrilateral Initiative.

Much has changed since Kevin Rudd unilaterally withdrew from the grouping in 2008. China’s assertive actions to extend and defend its territorial claims in the East and South China seas have undermined its own rhetoric about a peaceful rise. While Beijing’s complete rejection of the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling in its dispute with the Philippines was anticipated, it also exacerbated fears about how China will use its growing military might and political influence.

21 February 2017

2 Maps That Show The US’ Strategy In Asia-Pacific


Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently wrapped up his first international trip whose purpose was to “listen to the concerns of South Korean and Japanese leaders.”

The two countries are crucial US allies in Asia, and both face serious threats in their near abroad.

Discussing security threats, though, wasn’t the main goal of Mattis’s trip. He was there to assure both countries that the Trump administration will not abandon the US alliance structure in the Pacific.

20 February 2017

*** The Rise of Uyghur Militancy in and Beyond Southeast Asia: An Assessment

By Nodirbek Soliev

In this article, Nodirbek Soliev looks at 1) the growing disaffection of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China; 2) their susceptibility to recruitment by IS and Al Qaeda; and 3) their movement into Southeast Asia, where the more radicalized among them might link up with existing militant groups. To blunt these trends, Soliev believes the Chinese government must develop comprehensive counter-radicalization and community engagement strategies, and focus more aggressively on winning the “hearts and minds” of the Uyghur community.

Southeast Asia is witnessing evolving security risks from Chinese Uyghurs’ involvement in militant activities in the region. Although this is a relatively new phenomenon, it has transnational security implications for the region. This article assesses the threat of Uyghur militancy in Southeast Asia and beyond.


First reports of Uyghur militants’ presence in Southeast Asia emerged in September 2014 when Indonesian police arrested four Uyghurs attempting to link up with Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or Mujahidin Indonesia Timor), a militant group in Sulawesi that has pledged allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorist group. Since then, six more Uyghurs had been killed among MIT militants (Sangadji 2016). In August 2015, two Uyghurs were found to be among the masterminds and perpetrators of the Bangkok bombing (Vonow 2016) which killed 20 people and injured over 120. On 5 August 2016, Indonesian police arrested five members of a Batam-based terrorist cell known as Katibah GR, which had reportedly received funding from the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) (formerly known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)), an Al Qaeda-linked Uyghur terrorist group fighting in Syria and Afghanistan. Katibah GR was involved in smuggling and harbouring two Uyghurs (The Straits Times 2016), one of them, named Ali, was arrested in December 2015. This article argues that terrorist networks linked to the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) and Al Qaeda are attempting to build connections with human smuggling networks to recruit Uyghurs coming from Xinjiang. IS and its local affiliates in Southeast Asia are keen to recruit and mobilise disenfranchised and radical-minded Uyghurs for their militant activities in the region. However, Al Qaeda’s affiliates, al-Nusra Front (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) and TIP in Syria, appear to be mainly interested in safeguarding existing recruitment channels in Southeast Asia to further their fight in the Middle East, rather than expanding their operations in Southeast Asia.

19 February 2017

Globalization In The Asian Century – Analysis

By Jonathan Perraton

Predictions that the 21st century will be the Asian century appear to have been borne out already. From the 1990s there has been a decisive shift in global economic activity—current projections pit the centre of economic activity globally between India and China by the middle of the century.[1] This shift in economic activity—arguably a return to patterns before the industrial revolution—has occurred over an unprecedentedly short period of time. Over 2003-2013, the global median level of real income nearly doubled.[2] This was essentially an Asian effect, the only region to experience sustained productivity growth and catch-up this century; above all, this transformation has been driven by Chinese and Indian growths.

China is likely to overtake the United States soon as the world’s largest economy and the World Economic Forum predicts that India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030.[3] Asian economies succeeded through embracing globalisation, but they did so on their terms. More subtly, emerging economies have come to play a much greater role in global economic governance, notably as the G7 was superseded by the G20 and through a more active role within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in particular. Further, emerging economies have started to construct institutions of international economic cooperation and governance parallel to existing ones established and dominated by Western powers.

8 February 2017

United States Forward Defence Perimeter in Western Pacific 2017 Reviewed

Paper No. 6219 Dated 06-Feb-2017
By Dr Subhash Kapila

The United States Forward Defence Perimeter in the Western Pacific ever since 1945 has been an effective shield and a first line of defence for Mainland USA, first against the Soviet Union and now against an increasingly belligerent China’s geopolitical designs.

China as a military threat weighs heavily in threat perceptions of not only the Asia Pacific nations but increasingly also in threat perceptions of the United States. Militarily, China can be assessed as not being powerful enough to militarily challenge the United States directly. China’s immediate priority, in the interim, is to dilute US Forward Military Presence in the Western Pacific by subtle political and military coercion of US traditional allies in the region like Japan, South Korea and the Philippine. These nations are essential components of the US Forward Defence Perimeter and the United States should never ever allow a rising militaristic China to breach this Perimeter. The United States must guard against any acts of commission or omission in US policies which could facilitate such a breach.

US Forward Defence Perimeter comprises of nearly 100,000 Forward Military Presence deployed on a network of military bases hosted by South Korea and Japan primarily, and a complete US Marines Division-sized Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan. Supplementing this presence are sizeable US Air Force assets based in both these countries and US Navy Seventh Fleet. Philippines, despite current strains in relationship is likely to fall back in line, once again, as another important component of this network.

Reviewing the United States Forward Defence Perimeter in the Western Pacific in February 2017, just a month away from US President Trump’s inauguration, it is assuring for Asian nations to note that no changes have occurred in terms of dilution of US deployments or putting US traditional security ties with Japan and South Korea under strain, as President Trump’s election rhetoric indicated.

7 February 2017


Source Link
Michael R. Auslin,

Viewed from a distance, Asia appears the stable driver of global economic growth. Corporate forecasts and business outlooks show big bets are being made that present growth trends will continue. Boeing, for example, is betting that roughly 40 percent of new aircraft deliveries for the next 20 years will be in Asia. It is easy for the big stories of Asian economic modernization — of hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty, trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure, the rise of India and China, etc. — to overshadow the contested rocks, reefs, and islands in the South and East China Seas. The bright lights of Shanghai’s skyline blind us to China’s volatility. The booming e-commerce businesses, estimated at more than $500 billion, suggest a youthful dynamism belied by emerging demographic bottlenecks that will transform Asian societies and labor markets.

Michael Auslin’s The End of Asian Century offers a welcome antidote to the Panglossian paeans to Asian growth to which we have been subjected for years. Auslin forcefully argues that the risks emerging amid the region’s relentless growth need to be addressed honestly for Asia to thrive in the next two decades and for the United States to benefit. This gives his narrative the classic two parts of a Beltway book: the identification and elaboration of problems followed by presenting policy options. 

Auslin elegantly succeeds in the former but is less convincing when he turns to the latter. Yet he still succeeds in outlining the bare minimum that Washington should consider as part of its Asia policy.

Any piece of writing, especially a book, has holes that invite critics to rip it apart. The wide swathe Auslin cuts across Asia provides an indefensible frontier. The scope is huge. Area experts will be tempted to pick apart Auslin’s arguments for their pet countries and haggle over the details with their pens in the book’s margins. The End of the Asian Century is not for them. It is, however, for those who are forced to live in the wider world. The book seems meant for the kind of engaged reader who regularly reads the news but lacks a framework for appreciating regional dynamics on the other side of the Pacific. To be true to the book’s purpose specialists should judge the book less on its specifics than its ability to generate useful questions going forward.

Auslin makes the core argument that Asia is more dangerous than economic success stories credit it, and its future deserves better scrutiny than an assumption of straight-line growth; this argument is divided into five parts. Each part addresses a different theme in Auslin’s evaluation of risk, and, as will become apparent, those parts are interconnected. The first is failed or failing economic reforms. 

Asia, not simply China, became the world’s workshop. Many of these countries, however, have struggled to rebalance their economies, allowing waste and corruption to enervate their future potential. The challenges obviously differ between mature economies like Japan, developing countries like Vietnam, and more mixed economies like China and India. But, all face thus far unmet challenges in maintaining economic growth across the next generation.

6 February 2017

Army Must Be Ready For Multi-Domain Battle In Pacific ‘Tomorrow’

Source Link

A Punisher unmanned ground vehicle follows soldiers during the PACMAN-I experiment in Hawaii.

WASHINGTON: With one eye on China and another on North Korea, US Army Pacific is injecting cyber warfare and new joint tactics into every wargame it can. At least 30 forthcoming exercises — culminating in the massive RIMPAC 2018 — will train troops on aspects of Multi-Domain Battle, the land Army’s effort to extend its reach into the other “domains” of air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, USARPAC simulations of the concept test near-future weapons such as ship-killer missiles and cruise missile-killing cannon.

US Army Pacific commander Gen. Robert Brown (right) with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley (left).

“The big advantage we have in the Pacific is we’ve got a boss that is pushing us,” said Gen. Robert Brown, the USARPAC commander, during a visit to Washington last week. That’s Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, a fan of Multi-Domain Battle. Harris has got PACOM’s components — Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine — working together as Brown has never seen before, the general said.

There’s a real sense of urgency on Multi-Domain Battle in the Pacific, too Brown told the Center for a New American Security. “This isn’t something 10 years from now,” he said. “If Kim Jong-un goes south tomorrow, I will need some of this tomorrow.”

A land war in North Korea is Gen. Brown’s top concern. That’s where the US Army has stood ready to “fight tonight” since 1953. But Pyongyang’s investments in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, drones, cyber attack, and special forces might make a second Korean War murderously more complex than the first. That type of threat drives much of Multi-Domain Battle’s emphasis on air, missile, and cyber defense.

4 February 2017

The South China Sea – Some Fundamental Strategic Principles

Source Link

With the incoming administration likely to grapple early with South China Sea issues, the CSIS Southeast Asia Program, directed by Dr. Amy Searight, worked in collaboration with other Asia colleagues at CSIS—Dr. Michael Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair; Dr. Zack Cooper, Fellow, Japan Chair; Bonnie Glaser, Senior Adviser for Asia and Director, China Power Project; Andrew Shearer, Senior Adviser on Asia-Pacific Security; and Greg Poling, Director Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative—to provide the analytical context and some fundamental principles that should guide strategic thinking on South China Sea policy.

A critical and early Chinese test of U.S. resolve is likely to come in the South China Sea, where Washington has struggled to respond effectively to assertive Chinese behavior. 

Enduring U.S. interests—freedom of navigation and overflight, support for the rules-based international order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes—are at risk in the region. U.S. goals to uphold regional alliances and partnerships, defend international rules and norms, and maintain a productive relationship with China remain valid. China has seized the initiative in the South China Sea, however, and the United States needs to revamp its strategy to reverse current trends and escape the trap of reactive and ineffectual policymaking. To this end, the new administration should perform an early, top-down, and thorough strategic review to enable greater consistency and effectiveness in U.S. South China Sea policy.

China is undertaking a persistent, long-term effort to establish control over the South China Sea. Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has undertaken more assertive policies that have greatly improved Beijing’s position in the South China Sea. China remains uncompromising on sovereignty, has increased its capability to enforce its de facto control in disputed areas, and has sought to advance its claims while staying below the threshold for direct military conflict with the United States. 

China has steadily built capabilities and infrastructure, most notably military facilities on artificial islands, that enable greater control of the South China Sea. The growing size and capability of the Chinese air force, navy, and coast guard allow Beijing to consistently monitor and exercise de facto control over most of the South China Sea. China’s island outposts will increase this advantage as Chinese aircraft, ships, and paramilitary vessels will be able to rest and resupply in the southern portion of the South China Sea.