Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reminder: Defense spending remains necessary

The war for Taiwan starts in the early morning. There are no naval bombardments or waves of bombers: That's how wars in the Pacific were fought 70 years ago. Instead, 1200 cruise and ballistic missiles rise from heavy vehicles on the Chinese mainland.

Taiwan's modest missile defense network—a scattered deployment of I-Hawk and Patriot interceptors—slams into dozens of incoming warheads. It's a futile gesture. The mass raid overwhelms the defenses as hundreds of Chinese warheads blast the island's military bases and airports. Taiwan's air force is grounded, and if China maintains air superiority over the Taiwan Strait, it can launch an invasion. Taiwanese troops mobilize in downtown Taipei and take up positions on the beaches facing China, just 100 miles to the west. But they know what the world knows: This is no longer Taiwan's fight. This is a battle between an old superpower and a new one. Ever since 1949, when Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan following the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, Beijing has regarded the island as a renegade province of the People's Republic. Now, in 2015, only the United States can offer Taiwan protection from China's warplanes and invasion fleet.

The article, titled "What a war between China and the United States would look like", paints a vivid image of a war between the two powers over the Republic of China (Taiwan).  It describes how the Chinese, using a mixture of modern tactics and technology, surprise and defeat the United States in the Pacific and take control of Taiwan.  At the end of the article the US officers discuss and revise their strategy, and replay the simulation, this time managing to defeat the Chinese and save the tiny, island republic, but the disturbing feeling of a Chinese victory - and rise to superpower status - is not washed away.  And for good reason.

Ten years ago RAND published a study which showed to the United States winning an air war over Taiwan easily.  Today that battle would end in defeat according to the study, and since that study the Chinese have announced their newest weapon to counter America: Anti-carrier missiles.
Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.

China may soon put an end to that.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

While the United States flounders in areas of cyber warfare the Chinese are creating an army of hackers.  While Americans downplay the idea of any nation would dare think to challenge American military supremacy, both the Chinese rhetoric and actions continue to be both bold and disturbing.  And while America struggles with its own debt and tries to maintain it's superpower status, there is an effort to cut US military spending.
Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push the President's Commission on Deficit Reduction for cuts in military spending, as they seek signatories to a letter  circulated Tuesday.


The commission released a report  in June, outlining how to cut $1 trillion in defense budget and reduce the deficit over the next decade, without compromising national security.
People like Barney Frank and Ron Paul represent the new American isolationism, a belief which paradoxically believes that we can maintain our level of prosperity while sacrificing the role in foreign affairs that has helped lead to it.  This isolationist view ignores a world full of dangers.  When North Korea attacked the South, their response was "Keep America out of it".  When Russia invaded Georgia, they wanted none of it.  And when China makes it's move for Taiwan, they will ask "Why should Americans die for Taiwan?  This is a Chinese dispute".  The isolationist ignores that these views have died repeated deaths over the last 70 years, as the world has shrunk and a world power (let alone the sole superpower) cannot ignore events that happen half way across the globe any more.

So is it any shock that they would buy into the belief that you could cut an average of 100 billion a year from defense - without compromising national security - when we've fallen behind with increased spending over the previous ten years?  For them the rise of China is a mere inconvenience, one they would either rather ignore, or pretend it does not hold negative consequences for America, but one the which cannot be allowed to stand in the way of their illogical ideology.

To be clear:  I most certainly believe that trimming the defense budget is necessary, and I also believe that we can maximize our money by reviewing what we're spending our defense dollars on, and adjusting it as necessary.  But ultimately I believe any mass cuts in defense spending should be reserved as an act of desperation.  Though such acts may save us from complete collapse, it would be a phyrric victory.  The United States that would remain would be a shadow of its former glory, and our age would truly be over.  The American people need to think hard about everything going on in the world today and ask themselves if they as individuals, and our nation, is ready to see massive cuts in defense spending.

For further reading I recommend this excellent article.

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