America’s Self-Doubt Over a Military Conflict with China

Declassified White House docs reveal America’s self-doubt over a potential military conflict with China

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? . . . For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” Hosea 6:4

RT by Tom Fowdy – 13 Jan, 2021

With Donald Trump set to leave office, newly released documents show his strategy towards Beijing has largely failed, and that the US isn’t confident over its ability to contain China in certain areas should a conflict arise.

Following the departure of White House Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger and with the Trump administration coming to an end, a number of documents have been declassified setting out its ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy or, more specifically, its gameplan to attempt to contain China over its four years in office.

The documents are hardly comprehensive, yet reveal ambitions to contain Beijing in the political, diplomatic, economic and military spheres, including a blueprint of what the US would do in a potential war scenario. 

Declassified White House docs reveal America's self-doubt over a potential  military conflict with China — RT Op-ed
Documents Reveal Self-Doubt

According to the papers, the US has aimed to sustain its “primacy” in the region, “support activists and reformers” opposed to Beijing (such as the Hong Kong protesters), create a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and economically integrate the region towards the US, enlist allies against China in the form of the Quad and assist “the rise of India”. 

But what about in the event of a conflict? The documents spoke of aiming to prevent China “dominating the first island chain” – the scope of islands extending from Japan to Taiwan and around the South China Sea – via air and sea, and to maintain uncontested supremacy over the “area beyond”. Military analysts have described the former objective as being modest in expectation.

“China’s leaders are much smarter than ours. It’s like taking the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and having them play your high school football team,” President Trump.

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If anything, the file reveals the comprehensive failure of the Trump administration’s strategy towards the region during his tenure in office. Not only have attempts to bolster America’s economic presence failed completely, largely owing to the contradictory priorities of the White House, but in addition the document illustrates subtle doubt rather than confidence that the US is capable of defeating China in this “first island chain” region. 

The US, above all, is seeking naval containment of China, and in line Beijing has utilized the Belt and Road Initiative to counter it by diversifying its energy supply routes.

Throughout its tenure in office, the Trump administration has been unable to accept China’s status as a rising power, and these documents reveal how this resulted in a set of policies aimed at attempting to quell the country’s rise through various means. 

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These methods, however, have not yielded much success, largely because of the US’s understating of the dynamics which underscore Beijing’s centrality and importance to the region as an economic power, and the erroneous belief that it can easily divide the world into cold war blocs and force countries to undercut their relations with China on the premise of values alone. 

The idea that the US can somehow displace Beijing again as the region’s economic centre of gravity is not realistic, and events such as the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership underscore that.

Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart; they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria” Hosea 7:11

~ by Joel Huan on January 22, 2021.

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