11 April 2022

Does the New U.S. National Defense Strategy Make Any Sense?

Emma Ashford nd Matthew Kroenig

Emma Ashford: Hello, Matt. I hope you’re enjoying Washington’s wet and blustery spring weather?

Matthew Kroenig: Hi, Emma. I just returned from Brussels for meetings at NATO.

The dreary weather, unfortunately, fits the news of the day, with war continuing to rage in Ukraine and credible evidence of Russian war crimes in Bucha. Given that I doubt we disagree on that issue, we should probably choose another subject for this week’s exchange.

Macron’s Vision for European Autonomy Crashed and Burned in Ukraine

Bart M. J. Szewczyk

Five years ago, French President Emmanuel Macron was elected on the promise of revitalizing the European Union with new vigor and vision. Arriving at his victory rally with the EU anthem playing and EU flags flying behind him, he pledged to “defend Europe” and protect its “civilization.”

At the heart of Macron’s vision for Europe, which he has developed in great detail during his years in office, lies the notion of European strategic autonomy. What sounds sensible and practical at first—Europe should be able to assert its independence and ensure its own security—is part of a much bigger ideological edifice of Europe’s place in the world and pursued by other French leaders before Macron.

NATO Must Prepare to Defend Its Weakest Point—the Suwalki Corridor

John R. Deni

As the Biden administration monitors Moscow’s reaction to dramatic U.S. and allied increases in assistance to Ukraine as well as the punishing Western economic and financial sanctions on Russia, it should turn its focus to a relatively small corner of northeastern Europe that is familiar to military strategists but often overlooked by most policymakers and the general public.

The Suwalki corridor (also known as the Suwalki Gap) separates the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea from Belarus, now host to thousands of Russian troops and soon home to permanently stationed Russian forces, including advanced fighter jets and nuclear weapons. It is also the only way to get by road or rail from Poland and Central Europe to the Baltic states—arguably NATO’s most exposed members.

Historic Parallels between the Ukraine War and the Sino-Japanese War

Keikichi Takahashi

Mark Twain allegedly said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Each historical event has its own features, so there is no perfect historical analogy. Conversely, though, there is rarely an entirely new event, too. Similar events or similar patterns can usually be found in the past. The ongoing Russo–Ukrainian War is not exceptional. It has, for example, some striking parallels to the Sino–Japanese War of 1937-1945.

The first similarity is that the war initiator tragically underestimated its target’s war potential. According to the testimony of CIA Director Bill Burns at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 8, Russian President Vladimir Putin had expected a quick victory over Ukraine, planning to seize Kiev within the first two days of the campaign. Similarly, when Japan started the war with China in 1937, few top government officials in Tokyo foresaw the long haul. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, organized in 1944 to investigate the effects of strategic bombings, correctly pointed out in a 1946 report that the Japanese thrust into China in 1937 “was not expected to develop into a major war. Those responsible for national policy at the time were fully confident that the Chinese government would yield quickly to Japan’s demands and adjust itself readily to the position of a Japanese puppet.”

China’s Bid for Global Hegemony: One Base at a Time

Brent Sadler

China’s dogged campaign to build a global network of commercial ports and naval bases has now reached the Solomon Islands.

If China were to secure this base in Equatorial Guinea, it would give Beijing sustained access to significant oil reserves.

China's move in the Solomons is remarkably troubling.

The U.S. Needs a Strong Response to North Korea’s ICBM Launch

Bruce Klingner

By highlighting the launch of an ICBM rather than masking it as an ostensibly civilian satellite launcher, Kim Jong-un has clearly abandoned any interest in diplomatic dialogue for the foreseeable future, including bargains for maintaining the status quo in return for sanctions relief or economic benefits. As Pyongyang has repeatedly declared, any return to negotiations comes at the cost of U.S. concessions. North Korea has often used any U.S. or South Korean reaction to its provocations to justify additional extreme measures. With both Washington and the incoming conservative administration in South Korea determined to strengthen allied deterrence measures in response to Pyongyang’s transgressions, an escalating cycle of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula is likely.

Kim Jong-un’s latest ICBM launch shows that North Korea has ended self-restraint on major provocations and is also more likely to conduct another nuclear test.

China and Russia blocked punitive measures in the U.N. Security Council, but the U.S. can still lead an international effort to hold Pyongyang accountable.

The U.S. and South Korea should strengthen allied deterrence measures in response to Pyongyang’s transgressions, as tensions will likely rise in the months ahead.

Ms. Bachelet—Don’t Go To Xinjiang

Olivia Enos

The United Nation’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, intends to visit Xinjiang, China in May.

Bachelet will witness only smiling Uyghurs forced to perform ethnic dances and recite CCP-indoctrinated tropes about their happiness and well-being.

Bachelet should take meaningful steps to ensure that the rights of the persecuted Uyghur people are respected. Even and especially since the CCP won’t.

Why U.S. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework Must Include Taiwan

Anthony B. Kim
Source Link

It’s regrettable that Washington is sending ambiguous signals to Taiwan on economic engagement.

Taiwan, America’s longtime valued, like-minded, and willing partner, has voiced its strong desire to be a “full member” in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework of the United States.

But at a March 31 hearing, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai declined to say whether Taiwan would be invited to join the Indo-Pacific economic strategy.

Air Forces Need, You Know, Airplanes

Mackenzie Eaglen

The president’s latest defense budget request for 2023 would shrink and age America’s geriatric Air Force even further as proponents of robbing capacity to buy more future capability erroneously argue that the military should shrink to pay for making existing forces more lethal, transformational, and modern.

A neutral Ukraine is a dangerous idea

Leon Aron

As secret and not-so-secret peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv proceed amid fierce fighting, Ukraine’s “neutrality” has reemerged as Vladimir Putin’s key condition for ending the war that he started. The Ukrainians’ supposed lack of neutrality—that is, their repudiation of pro-Moscow rulers and their tilt toward the West—was the Russian president’s excuse for invading. Because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has conditionally agreed to the Kremlin’s demand, the “Finlandization” of Ukraine will, in short order, once again be bruited about as a possible solution—one that the West could accept as a satisfactory resolution to the current crisis and as reason enough to eventually remove sanctions on Russia.

Opposing China means defeating Russia

Hal Brands

Local crises can trigger searching debates over global strategy. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’ forces invaded Ukraine, analysts in Washington have been debating which of its autocratic rivals- -China or Russia–the United States should prioritize containing.

On one side are those who argue that the immediacy and ferocity of Russian aggression compel the United States to treat Moscow as a first-tier rival. On the other side are the Asia Firsters, who argue that, however deplorable Putin’s conduct may be, China still represents the more comprehensive and capable challenge to American power.

Supporting the Royal Australian Navy's Campaign Plan for Robotics and Autonomous Systems: Emerging Missions and Technology Trends

Linda Slapakova, Paola Fusaro, James Black, Peter Dortmans

The span of uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) missions has grown particularly because of increasing (though still relatively limited) reach, adaptability, and survivability of UAVs.

Increasing use of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) in support of Navy missions has been enabled by advances in communications, payloads and modularity, though constraints include reliance on remote control from a crewed platform and limited integration with other vehicles.

Uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) missions have expanded due to increasing ability to operate at greater depth, over longer ranges and with advanced sensors and payloads. However, limited endurance and unresolved barriers for underwater communications, networking and deepwater navigation still impose constraints on UUV missions.

Nuclear-Use Cases for Contemplating Crisis and Conflict on the Korean Peninsula

Paul K. Davis, Bruce W. Bennett

This paper motivates and sketches a set of nuclear-use cases involving conflict on the Korean peninsula. The cases reflect a wide range of ways that nuclear weapons might be brandished or used in a Korean crisis. We identify possible cases by using two different lenses: a "logical" or taxonomic lens and a decisionmaking lens that asks how an actual national leader might decide to use nuclear weapons first. We then select cases from the space of possibilities to reflect that range usefully. The use cases consider mistakes, unintended escalation, coercive threats, limited nuclear use to reinforce threats, defensive operations, and offensive operations. They also consider the potential role of fear, desperation, responsibility, grandiosity, indomitability, and other human emotions. Some use cases are far more plausible than others at present, but estimating likelihoods is a dubious activity. The real challenge is to avoid circumstances where the use cases would become more likely.

Security Cooperation in a Strategic Competition

Michael J. Mazarr et al.

In this study, RAND researchers examined the current role of security cooperation efforts as a tool in the emerging strategic competition among the United States, Russia, and China. The researchers did not assess the effectiveness or measure outcomes of security cooperation efforts but rather sought to identify how, where, and to what degree the three major competitors — plus Australia, Japan, India, and several countries in Europe — are using security cooperation. To answer this question, the team gathered all available data on the programs of the major countries that lead and usually fund security cooperation activities, examined the national security strategies and official statements of those countries to discover the intent and approach of their security cooperation efforts, and conducted case studies of major junior partners in (or recipients of) security cooperation efforts to see how the competition is playing out on the ground. The researchers found that security cooperation is a growing area of competition; that the United States and its allies enjoy a significant competitive advantage in this space; and that U.S., and particularly U.S. Air Force, security cooperation programs should have a geopolitical and an operational focus. Research for this report was completed in late 2019, and the analysis is supported by the data available at that time.

Don't Sleep on Russian Information War Capabilities

Alyssa Demus, Christopher Paul

Recently, leaders in the Defense Department and broader U.S. government acknowledged the criticality of information in conflict and competition. In this vein, federal agencies and the armed services have taken steps to institutionalize this refocusing through the establishment of informationally-focused organizations, units, and positions in leadership. Even so, recent research in this arena has indicated that these nascent efforts still have a long way to go. It would seem to be a mistake to take Russia’s recent blunders in the information space in Ukraine as reasons to deprioritize or reduce American investments in its informational capabilities.

Why Most of the Indo-Pacific Tiptoes Around Russia

Derek Grossman

Clearly the West will struggle to receive additional support in the Indo-Pacific for sanctions against Russia. That said, if Moscow ramps up the carnage and if the atrocities committed in the liberated Kyiv suburbs are just harbingers of worse to come, it might become easier to convince several nations to do more. But the reality is that most countries will likely continue to resist Western pressure due to a combination of distrust of Western motives and desire to preserve the benefits that come with healthy Russia ties. Concerns that any open alignment with the West might cause blowback from not only Russia, but China, too, likely play a significant role for most smaller Indo-Pacific nations as well. In the future, Western capitals should keep these factors in mind—and be realistic about the extent to which they'll have the Indo-Pacific in their corner when punishing Moscow.

Space Threat Assessment 2022

Todd Harrison, Kaitlyn Johnson, Makena Young

The 2022 Space Threat Assessment covers the growing counterspace capabilities of China, Russia, India, Iran, North Korea, and others. It also analyzes several key events, including the 2021 Russian ASAT test, the supposed Chinese FOBS test, and Russian jamming in Ukraine.

The Other Side of Chinese Sea Power: 'White Area Warfare'

Anthony H. Cordesman

China, however, is scarcely Russia, and Xi is scarcely Putin. China’s steady rise to the status of a military and economic superpower has so far shown that China is cautious; willing to move slowly and carefully; and has emphasized politics, economics, and indirect military pressure over conflict. Assessments like the annual U.S. official China Military Power Report also make it clear that Chinese strategy integrates civil and military operations and that China’s civil advances in trade, technology, and manufacturing capability cannot be separated from its rising military budgets and force levels.

It is something of a strategic cliché to note Sun Tzu’s famous statements, such as, “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting,” and “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Yet, no one who attends Chinese military conferences or talks to Chinese planners can ignore the extent to which Chinese military and civil leaders still emphasize the use of economic and political power, military demonstrations and exercises, and the indirect use of force.
There is a very real cultural difference between China and the West in addressing the need for integrated civil and military strategies, and China seems much more committed to integrating civil and military activity at every level.

Securing Asia’s Subsea Network: U.S. Interests and Strategic Options

Matthew P. Goodman

This brief explores Asia's evolving subsea cable network, explains why trusted cable networks are a key ingredient for U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, and offers recommendations for bolstering U.S. interests in the region.

How Is The U.S. Cooperating with its European Allies on Issues of Technology?

Gregory Arcuri

Russia’s revanchist aggression in Ukraine has shocked Europe, the United States, and the world. At the same time, it has breathed new life into the imperatives for a transatlantic partnership and the broader liberal-democratic order it represents.

One key area of added transatlantic cooperation lies with the newly established forum for negotiation on technology and innovation issues, the U.S.-E.U. Trade and Technology Council (TTC). However, while the newfound transatlantic unity provides a valuable opportunity for American and European leaders to cooperate through the TTC, some experts have expressed doubt that the TTC would succeed in solving long-standing disputes.

Foreign Volunteers in Ukraine: Warfighters or Propaganda Tools?

Mark F. Cancian

Amid much fanfare, Ukraine established a legion of foreign volunteers to help the Ukrainian people repel the Russian invasion. It seemed a logical complement to the sanctions and weapons deliveries already implemented by NATO and the international community. However, the reality was disappointing, with most volunteers sent home and further accessions limited to those with prior military experience. What can history tell us about successful foreign volunteer efforts? The answer is that some combination of screening, training, discipline, and organization are needed to produce a militarily useful force.

The Solution to Chinese Courts' Increasingly Aggressive Overreach

Andrei Iancu

In an alarming new affront to American sovereignty, Chinese courts are now attempting to prohibit American courts from adjudicating American patents for technologies such as wireless communications.

This new legal tactic is known as an anti-suit injunction (ASI). In several recent disputes, Chinese courts have used it to attempt to dictate global licensing royalty rates for inventions patented around the globe.

In the Shadow of Warships

Matthew P. Funaiole , Brian Hart, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Given CSSC’s lack of transparency and its central role in supporting the PLAN, foreign companies should exercise more caution when engaging with it and other Chinese shipbuilders. For democracies, especially those in the region that must weather the brunt of China’s rising assertiveness, these ties are more than just worrying. They present a tangible threat to national security.

There is, however, a silver lining. South Korea and Japan are the leading alternatives to China in the global shipbuilding industry. Both are open and transparent democracies that are allied with the United States. Policymakers in Washington should explore opportunities to incentivize foreign companies away from China and toward partnerships with South Korean and Japanese alternatives. The shift will not be easy or immediate. Short-term capacity issues will arise. But in managing hard choices vis-à-vis China, especially those critical to national security, the United States should be prepared to steer the lead ship.