It’s Time to Focus on Preventing War with China, Not Preparing for It

The conventional wisdom in official Washington is that the United States needs to prepare for a potential war with China, either in order to “win” in the event of a conflict or to deter war by convincing Beijing that the U.S. could prevail in such a scenario.

Such is the thrust of a recent piece in Politico entitled “The Pentagon is Freaking Out About a Potential War With China (Because America Might Lose).” As the title suggests, the piece spends the bulk of its time amplifying the views of Pentagon officials, ex-military leaders and analysts at arms contractor funded think tanks to the effect that America has either been a asleep at the wheel and/or too distracted by the war on terror to adequately prepare for what the Pentagon now calls the “pacing threat” posed by China.

The solution? More Pentagon spending, a supersized defense industrial base, and (perhaps) a shift in the type of weaponry the Department of Defense invests in going forward. The article is an accurate depiction of the views of the officials consulted for the piece, but it fails to question the underlying assumptions of what foreign policy analyst Van Jackson has described as the “preparing for war with China industry.”

Jackson gets to the heart of what is wrong with the views expounded in Politico:

“[N]obody can ‘win’ in a war between nuclear powers. The idea that ‘America might lose’ implies that America can win. The United States actually has a terrible track record of ‘winning’ anything other than World War II through the threat and use of force.”

Read the full piece in Forbes.