Here’s How a U.S.-China War Could Play Out
- Here’s How a U.S.-China War Could Play Out
by PETER APPS, http://www.reuters.com/
For all the focus on terrorism, one of the most striking features of the last decade is that the risk of war between the world’s major countries has returned. For the first time since the fall of the Berlin wall, military thinkers in the United States, Europe and Asia are putting serious thought into what such a conflict might look like.
For a world with no shortage of nuclear weapons, that’s alarming. As I wrote last month, there is now not just a credible – if still limited – risk of conflict between Russia and NATO states, but also a real risk any such war would go nuclear.
Last week, U.S.-based think tank RAND Corporation – which also studied the prospects of war in the NATO member Baltic states – unveiled its latest thinking on what a potential clash between the United States and China would look like. The report is not direct U.S. government policy – although RAND has long been regarded as a major generator of thought for the U.S. military – but it does push the envelope further than much that has gone before.
The report stresses that while premeditated war between Washington and Beijing ”is very unlikely,” the mishandling of disputes like the multiple territorial confrontations between China and U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines are a “danger” that “cannot be ignored.”
RAND examined two different scenarios, one for an inadvertent conflict taking place in the present day and one in 10 years from now, assuming Beijing’s military and economic buildup continues at roughly its current rate. China will substantially close its military gap with the United States over the next decade, it predicts – but the fundamental dynamics of how things will play out might not be hugely different.
Even now, the People’s Liberation Army is seen as having the ability to give a bloodied nose to U.S. forces in the region. Washington could expect to lose an aircraft carrier and multiple other surface warships in the opening stages, RAND warns, citing Chinese advances in ballistic and guided missiles as well as submarines.
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