A major war in the Indo-Pacific is probably more likely now than at any other time since World War II.
The most probable spark is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
President Xi Jinping of China has said unifying Taiwan with mainland China “must be achieved.”
His Communist Party regime has become sufficiently strong — militarily, economically and industrially — to take Taiwan and directly challenge the United States for regional supremacy.
The United States has vital strategic interests at stake.
A successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan would punch a hole in the U.S. and allied chain of defenses in the region, seriously undermining America’s strategic position in the Western Pacific,
and would probably cut off U.S. access to world-leading semiconductors and other critical components manufactured in Taiwan.
As president, Joe Biden has stated repeatedly that he would defend Taiwan.
But leaders in Washington also need to avoid stumbling carelessly into a war with China because it would be unlike anything ever faced by Americans.
U.S. citizens have grown accustomed to sending their military off to fight far from home.
But China is a different kind of foe — a military, economic and technological power capable of making a war felt in the American homeland.
As a career strategic analyst and defense planner, including for Australia’s Defense Department, I have spent decades studying how a war could start, how it would play out
and the military and nonmilitary operations that China is prepared to conduct.
I am convinced that the challenges facing the United States are serious, and its citizens need to become better aware of them.
The military scenario alone is daunting: China would probably launch a lightning air, sea and cyber assault to seize control of key strategic targets on Taiwan within hours,
before the United States and its allies could intervene.
Taiwan is slightly bigger than the state of Maryland; if you recall how quickly Afghanistan and Kabul fell to the Taliban in 2021,
you start to realize that the takeover of Taiwan could happen relatively quickly.
China also has more than 1,350 ballistic and cruise missiles poised to strike U.S. and allied forces in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and American-held territories in the Western Pacific.
Then there’s the sheer difficulty the United States would face waging war thousands of miles across the Pacific against an adversary that has the world’s largest navy and Asia’s biggest air force.
Despite this, U.S. military planners would prefer to fight a conventional war.
But the Chinese are prepared to wage a much broader type of warfare that would reach deep into American society.
Over the past decade, China has increasingly viewed the United States as mired in political and social crises.
Mr. Xi, who likes to say that “the East is rising while the West is declining,” evidently feels that America’s greatest weakness is on its home front.
And I believe he is ready to exploit this with a multipronged campaign to divide Americans and undermine and exhaust their will to engage in a prolonged conflict
— what China’s military calls enemy disintegration.
Over the past two decades, China has built a formidable cyberwarfare capability designed to penetrate, manipulate and disrupt the United States and allied governments,
media organizations, businesses and civil society.
If war were to break out, China can be expected to use this to disrupt communications and spread fake news and other disinformation.
The aim would be to foster confusion, division and distrust and hinder decision making.
China might compound this with electronic and probably some physical attacks on satellites or related infrastructure.
Dr. Babbage is the author of the forthcoming book “The Next Major War: Can the U.S. and Its Allies Win Against China?”
Ross Babbage is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington and the C.E.O. of Strategic Forum in Canberra, Australia. He has served in a number of Australian government agencies and been a senior adviser to several Australian defense ministers.
…. is it warm? … is anyone warm? … ???? Oh well …..