by WorldTribune Staff, August 22, 2019
China would “pay a price they wouldn’t want to pay” in a military conflict with the United States, President Donald Trump said after a report said the U.S. has lost its military edge in the Indo-Pacific to China.
“America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific and its capacity to uphold a favorable balance of power is increasingly uncertain,” the United States Study Centre at the University of Sydney said in a new report titled “Averting crisis: U.S. defense spending, deterrence and the Indo-Pacific”.
“Asymmetries in power, time, distance and interest would all work against an effective American response” to a Chinese military attack in the Indo-Pacific,” the report said. “Under present-day U.S. posture in the region, most American and allied bases and forward-deployed ships, troops and aircraft would struggle to survive a PLA salvo attack, and would be initially forced to focus on damage limitation rather than blunting the thrust of a Chinese offensive.”
“American forces that are able to operate would be highly constrained in the early phases of a crisis — lacking air and naval dominance, outnumbered by their PLA equivalents and severely challenged by the loss of enabling infrastructure, like functioning airstrips, fuel depots and port facilities, all of which would be at least temporarily degraded by precision strikes,” the study continued.
A military confrontation would end badly for Beijing, Trump said: “We have the strongest military in the world right now. Right now there’s nobody that’s even close to us militarily — not even close.”
And when it comes to confronting China on trade, Trump said on Aug. 21 that he is the “chosen one” to battle the regime of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping.
As he addressed the ongoing trade battle with China, Trump briefly looked to the sky, then said: “I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it, so I am taking on China, I’m taking on China on trade, and you know what? We are winning.”
Trump suggested that China was probably waiting for a Democrat like “Sleepy Joe” Biden to win the presidency, rather than make a deal with his administration.
“Sleepy Joe doesn’t have a clue, Sleepy Joe said, ‘Oh, China’s wonderful,’ Well China is wonderful for China, but I’m wonderful for the USA,” Trump said.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Aug. 20, Trump said “It’s about time, whether it’s good for this country or bad for this country short term,” he said. “Long term, it’s imperative that somebody does this.”
Under his trade policies, Trump said China is experiencing one of the worst months in half a century economically and that Xi’s regime seems ready to make a deal.
Trump also vowed to keep fighting on trade: “I could be sitting right now with a stock market that would be up 10,000 points higher if I didn’t want to do it,” he said and added, “You should be happy that I’m fighting this battle because somebody had to do it. I don’t think it’s sustainable with what was happening.”
Meanwhile, in the Indo-Pacific, the University of Sydney report said that China “is growing ever more capable of challenging the regional order by force as a result of its large-scale investment in advanced military systems. Although the past 18 months have seen renewed efforts by the U.S. Department of Defense to prioritize the requirements for great power competition with China — a key objective of America’s 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) — Washington has so far been unable or unwilling to sufficiently focus its armed forces on this task or deliver a defense spending plan that fits the scope of its global strategy. The result is an increasingly worrying mismatch between U.S. strategy and resources that jeopardizes the future stability of the Indo-Pacific region.”
The United States, the study said, “has an atrophying force that is not sufficiently ready, equipped or postured for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific — a challenge it is working hard to address.”
The study said:
• Twenty years of near-continuous combat and budget instability has eroded the readiness of key elements in the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps. Military accidents have risen, aging equipment is being used beyond its lifespan and training has been cut.
• Some readiness levels across the Joint Force are improving, but structural challenges remain. Military platforms built in the 1980s are becoming harder and more costly to maintain; while many systems designed for great power conflict were curtailed in the 2000s to make way for the force requirements of Middle Eastern wars — leading to stretched capacity and overuse.
• The military is beginning to field and experiment with next-generation capabilities. But the deferment or cancellation of new weapons programs over the last few decades has created a backlog of simultaneous modernization priorities that will likely outstrip budget capacity.
• Many U.S. and allied operating bases in the Indo-Pacific are exposed to possible Chinese missile attack and lack hardened infrastructure. Forward deployed munitions and supplies are not set to wartime requirements and, concerningly, America’s logistics capability has steeply declined.
• New operational concepts and novel capabilities are being tested in the Indo-Pacific with an eye towards denying and blunting Chinese aggression. Some services, like the Marine Corps, plan extensive reforms away from counterinsurgency and towards sea control and denial.
The study said the U.S. must also focus on hypersonic technology and other cutting-edge weapons and take other steps to avoid falling further behind.
Late last week, the Trump administration approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, which enraged China.
The U.S. also is closely monitoring Beijing’s response to protests in Hong Kong amid fears China could respond militarily or even impose martial law.
Lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to prepare a slate of options should the Chinese government mount a violent crackdown.
“We ought to reconsider the kind of visas that we give to senior-level Chinese officials, or the number of Chinese nationals we allow into our universities,” Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Aug. 20. “We could also just say simply that trade talks will no longer go forward and the tariffs will remain in place.”
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