South Asia and Beyond

Russia-Ukraine, China-Taiwan: “No 2-Front War Bandwidth; U.S. Needs To Walk & Chew Gum At Same Time”

NEW DELHI: On ‘The Gist‘, Jack Detsch, National Security and Pentagon Reporter at ‘Foreign Policy’ tells StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi,” The U.S. just doesn’t have the military bandwidth for two-front wars anymore. What we’re going to continue to see is the military focusing its efforts on a China conflict, but the question is just going to be can you walk and chew gum, potentially putting more troops into NATO zones to reassure allies while simultaneously preparing for you know what everyone expects, in a few years to be much more ramped up pressure on Taiwan from the Chinese. He adds, “Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been thinking a lot about the lessons learned for a Taiwan conflict. The precedent has been set for if there were an invasion of Taiwan.”

Edited Transcript:

Jack, your understanding of Russia being pushed more into China’s corner, and can the U.S. have a two-front confrontation? Is the focus shifting away from the Indo-Pacific and China’s aggression?

That’s the challenge on the job because the administration has wanted to keep the eye on the ball and basically still hone in on China. I expect that to be the focus, but they’re revising the National Security Strategy, Biden’s foreign policy blueprint, which was almost off the shelf and ready to be rolled out before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. Now that has to be revised to sort of a new world order. But, the same issue still holds. The U.S. isn’t in the business anymore of fighting two front conflicts. For years. It was the Pentagon’s military doctrine that you could sort of toggle back and forth between two major wars and then a smaller theatre war. The U.S. just doesn’t have the military bandwidth for that anymore. And they’ve laid that out very clearly in the 2017 national defence strategy. So I think again, what we’re going to continue to see is the military focusing its efforts on a China conflict, but the question is just going to be, can you walk and chew gum, as the the Washington phrase goes, potentially putting more troops into NATO zones to reassure the allies while simultaneously preparing for you know what everyone expects, in a few years to be much more ramped up pressure on Taiwan from the Chinese.

Do you think Russia getting away with Ukraine will encourage China to think they can also get away with Taiwan?

It’s a fascinating question, because it’s something that the US has thought quite a lot about. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been thinking a lot about basically what the lessons learned would be for a Taiwan conflict. I think there were a lot of questions basically, around the timing, the accuracy of American intelligence systems to spot a buildup. It might not be just wide out in the open in the same way that we saw with Russians basically ramping up and ramping down pressure on Ukraine for months. So the Chinese may try to do it a little bit faster. And the Chinese also seem like just militarily, they’re a little bit of a ways away. You have to cross the Taiwan Strait. That might not be something you can do with paratroopers going right into Taiwanese air defences. So, it’s a little bit of a tricky military problem for the Chinese and now I guess they’re aware that you can sort of face this quote, unquote, pariah status. Now how long you can isolate economies like Russia and China is still to be determined but certainly this is basically the opprobrium that Washington would try to bring down on China. The precedent has been set for if there were an invasion of Taiwan.

Watch the complete context of this discussion here( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eETvZ3T2LGI&t=46s)

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