News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs

1. America Is Not Ready for a War With China

2. US begins shifting Afghan combat operations outside country

3. Op-eds in a Chinese state tabloid slammed U.S. policy. The author works at the Pentagon.

4. If China Is the No. 1 Threat, Why Doesn’t the 2022 Budget Reflect It?

5. Australia should steer the US off a values-based Indo-Pacific strategy

6. Japan to protect Australian naval ships under new security setup

7. Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win

8. Senate passes bill to compensate ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims who suffered brain injuries

9. Alarm Over China Spying, Hacking

10. US Army developing world’s most powerful laser weapon for a ‘future battlefield’

11. China’s Uyghurs living in a ‘dystopian hellscape’, says Amnesty report

12. Charting a Way Ahead in the High North: What We Learned from the Polar Special Operations Essay Contest

13. What Biden and Johnson really want from the new Atlantic Charter

14. A Most Adaptable Party (Chinese Communist)

15. Out of Sight Should Not Mean Out of Reach: Deterrence and the Proliferation of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets

16. Austin, Milley defend weapons cuts in Biden’s defense budget

17. ‘Hack The Army’ Uncovers 238 Cyber Vulnerabilities

 

1. America Is Not Ready for a War With China

Foreign Affairs · by Michael Beckley · June 10, 2021

Excerpts: It has become conventional wisdom that this gathering storm represents the inevitable result of Beijing’s rise and Washington’s decline. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. The United States has vast resources and a viable strategy to counter China’s military expansion. Yet the U.S. defense establishment has been slow to adopt this strategy and instead wastes resources on obsolete forces and nonvital missions. Washington’s current defense posture doesn’t make military sense, but it does make political sense—and it could very well endure. Historically, the United States has revamped its military only after enemies have exposed its weaknesses on the battlefield. The country may once again be headed for such a disaster.

To change course, the Biden administration must explicitly and repeatedly order the military to focus on deterring China and downsize its other missions. These orders need to be fleshed out and codified in the administration’s defense budget requests and in its National Defense Strategy. In addition, the administration should support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a program that would plug holes in the U.S. defense perimeter in Asia. If the United States does not seize this chance to secure its military advantage over China, it may not get another.

Meanwhile, anti-China sentiment, both within the United States and around the world, has surged to its highest level since the Chinese government carried out the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Getting tough with China is one of the few bipartisan initiatives in the United States, and China seems to be doing everything it can to fan these flames with “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy.

 

2. US begins shifting Afghan combat operations outside country

militarytimes.com · by Lolita Baldor · June 10, 2021

Excerpts: “The number of American troops needed for the overall security missions inside Afghanistan will depend on a variety of requirements, and could range from roughly a couple hundred to a bit less than 1,000, officials said. When the pullout officially began on May 1, the number of U.S. troops was between 2,500 and 3,500.

McKenzie is expected to provide options on the amount of aerial surveillance and drones needed to keep an eye on any potential resurgence of al-Qaida, the Islamic State or other militant groups. Those options will involve U.S. aircraft from ships at sea and air bases in the Gulf region, such as Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates. And they could range from persistent U.S. overwatch to a more minimal presence. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning details.

 

3. Op-eds in a Chinese state tabloid slammed U.S. policy. The author works at the Pentagon.

The Washington Post · by Michael E. Miller· June 11, 2021

Wow!

Here is the link to the April OpEd in Global Times: “Why US will lose a war with China over Taiwan island.”  

 

4. If China Is the No. 1 Threat, Why Doesn’t the 2022 Budget Reflect It?

Defense One · by Bill Clark

Excerpts: “ If the Pentagon maintains its current footprint in the Middle East, to counter Iran, to support the Afghan government and to continue its operations in Iraq, will it be able to fully execute its refocus on China? That depends on whether the current presence is going to taper off, or if the over-the-horizon support turns into a persistent presence of airpower, said Stacie Pettyjohn, a former director of strategy and doctrine for the Air Force who is now the director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security. 

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported the Pentagon was sending its sole Pacific theater aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, to the Gulf to provide CENTCOM additional airpower support. That transit has not occurred and the carrier is still in the Pacific, the Navy said Thursday. The Navy would not discuss whether the carrier would eventually be sent to CENTCOM. 

“There is a zero-sum element to it, because we have a finite amount of force structure,” Pettyjohn said. “A lot of the assets you really need for any sort of operations or preparing for a high-end fight in the Indo-Pacific are similar, at least from the air and naval side.” 

“So you do end up sometimes taking from one area or another,” Pettyjohn said. “If you are really trying to be present and compete day to day in all of these places, that’s a lot of demand on the services to supply those forces.”

 

5. Australia should steer the US off a values-based Indo-Pacific strategy

lowyinstitute.org · by Susannah Patton

I disagree. We can protect interests without compromising our values. We need to rally like-minded democracies. But the author makes some good points that are worth pondering.

Excerpts: “Defining strategic competition in ideological terms is likely to create distance between the world’s democracies and the regional countries that Washington wants to assist.

It’s a refashioning of the strategic playbook that underpinned 20th century competition with the Soviet Union. And it entails a similarly sweeping goal “to reinforce, renovate and buttress a world order that favours freedom”.

But it’s the wrong approach for the Indo-Pacific today.

Despite the intuitive appeal of rallying the world’s democracies to check China’s power, this agenda can only unite a narrow coalition in the region. Unlike Western Europe in the 1950s, Indo-Pacific political systems are diverse, with few liberal democracies in the mix. Indeed, many of the US and Australia’s most important regional partners when it comes to competing with China – such as the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and even India – fall outside the liberal democratic club.

Most of the region is sceptical about endorsing Biden’s values-based strategy, even as they share deep concerns about the nature and purpose of Chinese power. They are largely agnostic to the language of human rights and democracy promotion, and allergic to Cold War allusions that forebode the emergence of permanent ideological or economic divisions between blocs.

Explicitly defining strategic competition in ideological terms is likely to create distance between the world’s democracies and the regional countries that Washington wants to assist.

​Conclusion: “The most effective message that the Biden administration can send is that it remains committed to the security of the Indo-Pacific, and that it will cooperate with all countries – including China and other non-democracies – in pursuit of this goal. Four years after withdrawing from what was then known as the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”, the US must also signal that it plans to contribute to and benefit from the region’s economic growth.

This would not preclude the US from cooperating with liberal democracies or advocating human rights principles. But it would enable regional countries to support discrete aspects of the US agenda, for example on maritime security or infrastructure standards, even if they remain unwilling to wholly align themselves with Washington’s regional priorities.

Australian security depends on the sustainability of America’s presence in the Indo-Pacific. Rather than echoing Washington’s thinking, Morrison should urge Biden to adopt a strategy for regional influence that can succeed.​”

 

6. Japan to protect Australian naval ships under new security setup

asahi.com · by Naoki Matsuyama

I did not see this coming. A positive development.

Excerpts: Controversial national security legislation that took effect in 2016 included revisions to the SDF Law that allow SDF members to protect U.S. naval ships. From the outset of Diet deliberations, Australia was considered a likely future candidate if the need arises.

Japan and Australia have strengthened cooperative efforts in recent years in part to deal with maritime advances by China in the East China and South China seas. The offer of protection to Australian naval ships reflects the two countries’ position that they increasingly regard each other as quasi-allies.

Once a request for protection is received from Australia, the National Security Council will decide whether to give it. The law does not require the government to report to the Diet about any expansion of the protection duties.

The two sides also agreed during the June 9 video conference to accelerate discussions to make it easier to visit each other during joint training exercises between Japan and Australia.

The two sides issued a joint statement after the meeting that for the first time named China as a nation of concern due to its activities in the South China Sea.

 

7. Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win

The Atlantic · by Thomas Wright · June 9, 2021 

A fascinating perspective. I saw a tweet that said the author has close ties to the administration that provide him with very accurate insights.

Excerpts: To implement his doctrine, Biden will have to be politically agile. Progressives have been vocal in criticizing his China policy, accusing the president of starting a cold war that could stoke anti-Asian sentiment. But this is a peculiar charge. After all, it was Bernie Sanders who made a foreign-policy speech in Fulton, Missouri, decrying authoritarianism, in an echo of Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain address. And it was Elizabeth Warren who made the struggle against kleptocratic authoritarianism the centerpiece of her foreign policy as a presidential candidate. If anything, Biden is following in their footsteps. He should seek to enlist both senators in his efforts. Moreover, Biden should remind progressives that if the competition with China is not about values and democracy, then all that is left is to focus on China itself, which is truly a recipe for nationalism.

On the other side, conservatives will never agree with Biden wholeheartedly on foreign policy, but some are working with him on legislation pertaining to China. Many Republican senators are committed to U.S. alliances and emphasizing democracy and human rights in U.S. strategy, even if Trump and his supporters disagree with that stance. Some have even indicated that they would support multilateral organizations if they were necessary to compete effectively with China. Biden could take advantage of this gap between Republican senators and Trump to secure bipartisan support for key parts of his foreign policy.

Some presidents never find a doctrine. Biden has one. In his view, the United States is in a competition of governance systems with China. His response is not about spreading democracy at gunpoint or even democracy promotion per se, but about showing that democracy can deliver—at home and abroad. The question now is whether Biden can bring his administration, the country, and America’s allies along to embed this doctrine in U.S. foreign policy.

 

8. Senate passes bill to compensate ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims who suffered brain injuries

americanmilitarynews.com · by Alex Daugherty ·  June 10, 2021

Some good news. At least Congress is acting in a relatively quick manner, unlike how veterans suffered when faced with unknown maladies (e.g., Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, burn pits, etc). 

 

9. Alarm Over China Spying, Hacking

spytalk.co · by Jeff Stein

 

10. US Army developing world’s most powerful laser weapon for a ‘future battlefield’

americanmilitarynews.com · by Liz George · June 10, 2021

Excerpts: ““Twenty-three months ago, this was just an idea,” Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph Martin, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s very promising. It’s very powerful. There are many things we’ve got to do in terms of testing, and it’s about to go through a shootout to see how it does.”

The laser can detect and destroy enemy drones within five miles, the report stated.

“We’ve got a target acquisition system that can sense and lock-on and then strike a moving mortar round, a moving cruise missile, an unmanned aerial system, and other aircraft… It will penetrate and disrupt that particular munition or platform’s ability to accomplish its mission,” Martin said. “That’s an incredible power to have. That is the kind of capability we have to have, and it demonstrates our ability to respond to the world around us with technology.”

 

11. China’s Uyghurs living in a ‘dystopian hellscape’, says Amnesty report

The Guardian · by Sarah Johnson · June 10, 2021

The 160 page Amnesty International Report can be downloaded here.

Excerpts: Amnesty is calling for all camps housing Muslim and ethnic minorities across Xinjiang province to be closed and for the UN to investigate and bring those suspected of crimes under international law to account.

China has consistently denied all accusations of wrongdoing in Xinjiang and said the camps were designed to offer Chinese language lessons and job support, as well as to combat religious extremism.

It runs a campaign to discredit accusers, deny allegations and findings, and promote Xinjiang as a “wonderful land”. It refuses journalists and human rights groups free access to the area and dismisses investigative findings as lies.

The report adds mounting pressure on Chinese authorities and comes after British MPs passed a motion in April that declared China is committing genocide against the Uyghur people and other minorities in Xinjiang.

 

12. Charting a Way Ahead in the High North: What We Learned from the Polar Special Operations Essay Contest

mwi.usma.edu · by Zachary Griffiths · June 11, 2021

I have to commend 10th SFG for participating in this effort. I expect this from Modern War Institute but I am pleased to see an organization like 10th SFG engaged in the intellectual effort to prepare for the future and in this case in the Arctic. There is a huge pool of critical thinkers and intellectual giants in our operational units (SF, SOF, and conventional units) and their ability to contribute to the debates should not be overlooked and in fact should be encouraged. I hope to see more of this. And kudos to Modern War Institute for partnering and providing the forum.

 

13. What Biden and Johnson really want from the new Atlantic Charter

Washington Examiner · by Tom Rogan · June 10, 2021

Conclusion: So, yes, the new charter might appear to be a simple reassertion of deep historical bonds. Beyond its paper text, however, both Johnson and Biden have their own interests in mind.

 

14. A Most Adaptable Party (Chinese Communist)

The New York Review of Books · by Ian Johnson

Four books reviewed.

 

15. Out of Sight Should Not Mean Out of Reach: Deterrence and the Proliferation of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets

realcleardefense.com · by Michaela Dodge

Conclusion: When the United States stopped developing and testing new nuclear weapons in the early 1990s, the world was a different place than it is today. Serious Great Power nuclear threats and conflicts of interest have reappeared in international relations. The U.S. nuclear arsenal must evolve to provide capabilities suited to best deter adversaries, including nuclear-armed states that have developed and deployed their nuclear weapon capabilities after the end of the Cold War and that protect what they value in hard and deeply buried bunkers. Congress should ensure that the United States has the HDBT capabilities now needed for deterrence.

 

16. Austin, Milley defend weapons cuts in Biden’s defense budget

Defense News · by Joe Gould · June 10, 2021

Excerpts: In the face of the criticism, Austin acknowledged at the hearing that the $5.1 billion PDI request had missed the mark. His staff is working with the committee to “clarify and adjust any perceived misalignments,” he said.

“A great deal of the department’s budget is invested in capabilities and activities that concentrate on deterring China,” he said, “and I’m committed to making sure that we work with the committee to get it right and answer the needs of the [INDOPACOM] commander.”

 

17. ‘Hack The Army’ Uncovers 238 Cyber Vulnerabilities

breakingdefense.com · by Brad D. Williams · June 11, 2021

 

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“The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

– Solzhenitsyn

 

And he reiterated his disdain for the hearts and minds approach, as exemplified in the village resettlement programs. “I do not believe the Americans can bring pacification to Vietnam,” Dayan wrote in his last dispatch from the war zone. “The Americanization of the war can, from the military point of view, succeed, but the Americanization of the peace, of daily life, can only serve the Viet Cong with terrorist objectives and propagandist arguments against ‘American hegemony in Vietnam.’”

Or as Dayan put it in his book, Vietnam Diary, which was published in Israel in 1977, “the Americans are winning everything—except the war.”

 

“… insurgency and counterinsurgency… have enjoyed a level of military, academic, and journalistic notice unseen since the mid-1960s. Scholars and practitioners have recently reexamined 19th- and 20th-century counterinsurgency campaigns waged by the United States and the European colonial powers, much as their predecessors during the Kennedy administration mined the past relentlessly in the hope of uncovering the secrets of revolutionary guerrilla warfare. The professional military literature is awash with articles on how the armed services should prepare for what the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) refers to as “irregular warfare,” and scholars, after a long hiatus, have sought to deepen our understanding of the roles that insurgency, terrorism, and related forms of political violence play in the international security environment.”

– William Rosenau, “Subversion and Terrorism: Understanding and Countering the Threat”

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