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Monday, July 31, 2006

Is China a Military threat to US?

UPI: WASHINGTON, DC, United States: In the 1980s, when I was on the staff of Democratic Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado, I traveled regularly to Maxwell Air Force Base to give the slide-show briefing of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus to Squadron Officers` School. After one such session, a U.S. Air Force captain, an intelligence officer, came up to me and asked, 'Does military reform mean we can stop inflating the threat?'

The U.S. Department of Defense`s annual report to Congress, 'Military Power of the People`s Republic of China, 2006,' shows that threat inflation remains a growth industry in Washington. Though the report is written in a careful tone, its message is that China is a growing military threat to the United States. Subheads in Chapter Five, 'Force Modernization Goals and Trends,' point to 'Emerging Area Denial Capability,' 'Building Capacity for Precision Strike,' and 'Improving Expeditionary Operations.' One can almost hear the threat inflation engines pumping away, puffing the dragon up to a fearsome size.

China is, to coin a Donald Rumsfeld turn of phrase, the threat we want, not the threat we face. By dint of much puffery, China can be made into the devoutly prayed for 'peer competitor,' an opponent against whom our 'transformed,' hi-tech, video-game future military can employ its toys, or more importantly, justify their acquisition. Our real enemy, the thousand faces of the Fourth Generation war practitioners, fails to meet that all-important test and is therefore deflated into 'rejectionists' and 'bad guys.'

In fact, China`s conventional forces are a long way from being able to take the United States on, especially at sea or in the air. The issue is less equipment -- not that China has much of it -- but personnel. Chinese ships spend little time at sea, its fighter pilots get few flight hours, and one can hardly speak of a Chinese 'navy': it`s really just a collection of ships. In a naval and air war with the United States, China would have little choice but to go nuclear from the outset, which is what I suspect it would do.

A close read of DOD`s China report reveals an interesting twist, one all too typical of the 'American Empire' advocates who dominate the Washington Establishment. The main Chinese 'threat' the report identifies is defensive, not offensive, namely an improving capability to repel outside intervention in a crisis between China and Taiwan. The report states, 'Since the early- to mid-1990s, China`s military modernization has focused on expanding its options for Taiwan contingencies, including deterring or countering third-party intervention.... Click here to view full article
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