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War With China – Prepare and Deter

Posted on Wednesday, May 3, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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22 Comments
War

Discussion is heating up – about war with China. Understanding what that would mean is vital, and argues strongly for deterrence. Wars are imagined as short, limited, victorious affairs, somehow worth the loss, a chance for advantage, or to defend unjust advances. They usually turn out differently.

World War I began with Kaiser Wilhelm II heading for France, then Russia, to elevate Germany and Central Power allies Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire. It was to be a short, affordable, limited, and glorious.

The war began with an assassination in Serbia, Russia coming to Serbia’s defense, then entry by allies France, Britain, Italy, Japan, and the US.  In four years, it killed nine million solders, five million civilians, millions by genocide, and left 23 million wounded.

Hardly limited, it spread from Europe to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, leaving a trail of blood, loss, and multigenerational devastation. Almost 20 percent of the French Army died. Germany lost 15 percent, Austria-Hungary 17 percent, Ottoman Empire 26 percent, Serbia 37 percent, Romana 25 percent, and so it went.

Far from glorious, it led to Wilhelm’s abdication and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, creating misery of a kind that would hobble, threaten, divide, and nearly destroy Europe over the next 70 years, plunging hundreds of millions of Germans, Russians, and countless others into the abyss of Communism.

As bad, it bankrupt Germany, which led to hyperinflation, mass resentment, pre-Soviet agony, and ultimately created an unquenchable thirst for vengeance – met by a fascist hate-state, led by Hitler. 

As history cascades, resentments take on new forms, often rooted in earlier wars, raising the level of devastation. WWII, which began in 1939 and ended with nuclear weapons in 1945, involved 50 nations and 100 million in uniform. Historians put the total death toll at between 70 and 85 million souls.

Was it worth it? Well, to defend the future against Fascism, systematic death, deprivation, and perpetual perversion of the human condition, yes. But was it necessary? Could it have been deterred? Maybe.

Today, we face a direct threat from China, a Communist nation with an aggressive, modernizing military, philosophy of unrestricted warfare, and political leadership convinced of its advantage, even if wrong.

Many wars – if not all – are started on misconceptions of advantage, perceived weakness on one side, perceived opportunity by the other. The power of unknowing, wishful thinking, circular reporting, and self-reinforcing falsehoods is like an undertow – often pulling nations down, until they drown.

Often miscalculated – or viewed as “worth it” by elites – are the financial, personal, cultural, physical, psychological, and irreversible costs of war. Like an addiction, getting in is easy, getting out difficult.

Today, China thinks it operates outside the sphere of societal destruction that attends major wars. As in the Korean War, Chinese Communists so devalue the lives of their countrymen that accept human loss.

China thinks it can catch, overtake, neutralize or disarm, and then intimidate, demand, and ultimately command Western nations, especially the United States, with mass modernization, nuclear weapons creation, and unconventional warfare – cyber, psychological, economic, biological, and chemical.

While arguably primitive, the Chinese are nevertheless aggressively building, deploying, and leveraging what they have, undeterred, certain they can force a unipolar, Communist China- dominated world. That should give Western leaders pause – because it means we will either reverse that thinking or go to war.

To date, US leadership has indulged wishful thinking, shockingly underestimated China’s intent – economic, diplomatic, military, cyber, maritime, and space-based. It has encouraged Chinese ambitions with stunning missteps, cowardice in Afghanistan, failure to hold China accountable for illegalities.

The perception one has is that the Biden team thinks evil is not evil, China’s rhetoric not real, oppression just a cultural difference, or that all this will pass, war never come, appeasement and hope win the day.

Wrong. History teaches, again and again, what we genetically resist. Wars are not averted by wishing them away, cow-towing, ignoring the runup, thinking an aggressor does not mean what they say.

Let us be clear: The world is a nasty, selfish, brutal, brutish place – and Communist countries like China and former Soviet Union make the point persuasively. To ignore their aims and actions is folly.

What must be done to deter China is the question. The answer is allied unity and absolute clarity among free nations – a coordinated legal, political, economic, and military answer that convinces China the jig is up. They cannot win a war with us, would pay a price that destroys their society. We will do that.

Deterrence requires helping an adversary understand reality – with certainty – that a war with us will not be fast, limited, or containable – and is unwinnable. It will be fought to bitter end, will ruin them. To deter war we must believe in ourselves, prepare for it, then convince China it is folly. That is the mission.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
11 months ago

What President Ronald Reagan said in 1980 , makes just as much good sense now as it did then ” We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then that tyrants are tempted.” Right to the point, truthful, statement, the kind of reasoning that helps to get through any fog that envelopes complex situations. A good way to prepare for and deter war with communist China would be to build a strong knowledge of how various systems interact , economic systems, defense systems, education systems, public health systems. It would be very useful for more people here in the United States to develop a thorough knowledge of the history of China, and some knowledge of the Chinese language too. Doing things like that builds strength as it pertains to the truth of what is going .
Truth has a great way of putting things in balance , and understanding how to be prepared for situations of either
a negative or positive nature that are of importance and require good decision making.

SusanW
SusanW
11 months ago

I rarely comment on articles of this genre, but I could not let this one pass.Robert, your message is of utmost importance. As a nation we are becoming complacent and unfortunately think we are invincible . We are not invincible! Most Americans appear to be oblivious to the real meaning of a global war. There will be no true winners. As one of my heroes, Albert Einstein once said, “ I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Wake up America! We must prepare ourselves, study our history, and stare down our enemies.

” To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” George Washington

PaulE
PaulE
11 months ago

I have to agree with everything you’ve said. Deterrence, through clear, unambiguous messages and the real capability to back it all up with the means to inflict unacceptable loses to the other side is vital. What we have today is the polar opposite in the current administration at all levels. Which is why our enemies feel so emboldened to act in the manner they have done over the last 2 years and will likely continue to do over the next 2 years.

Rather than strength and unwavering resolve, this administration projects a combination of weakness and intentional incompetence at every turn. Not only don’t we draw a clear and concise contrast for all our allies to rally around to form a unified front, but this administration repeatedly goes out of its way to make excuses for the actions of our enemies and offer many of our allies the cold shoulder that alienates them.

Pamela M Floyd
Pamela M Floyd
11 months ago

I remember statement by someone long ago that China or Russia would break us from within. Seems to be more true today that ever.

heil biden
heil biden
11 months ago

IMPEACH BIDEN AND HARRIS

David Millikan
David Millikan
11 months ago

Excellent article with history examples.

Roy
Roy
11 months ago

We have some idiots who want to convert all the military vehicles in the army to electric so we could have 5 mile long extension cords. Then we have that navy person who thinks it’s a woman who wants to recruit men or women or non-gender to join the Navy. this is the actual state of our military. You have a pre-torn, wet paper bag, that none of them can fight their way out of them.

Mal Telloian
Mal Telloian
11 months ago

This article is spot on with accuracy. All this might have been avoided had Trump remained in office. Consider this: Remember the left shouting “Russia collusion! Russia collusion! shortly after he took office? Then Trump replied “Actually, I’ve never met the man (Putin) but I’m sure we could get along”. Thats called detente’. Tact. I believe he saw the threat by China and was attempting to unite the rest of the world to counter them. That would be 1 1/2 billion Chinese vs 6 1/2 rest of the world. Due to the left’s hounding,Trump never got that chance so Putin aligned with China for self preservation.
Anyway, as a 95 year old Korean Vet, thats my take from all this.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
11 months ago

Stay out of Wal-Mart.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
11 months ago

For ten years, my email sign-off has been ‘Si vis pacem para bellum”. I don’t know about these clowns in the Pentagon, but I’ve read Sun Tzu, von Clausewitz, Machiavelli, and a few others.

RUSSELL D
RUSSELL D
11 months ago

The sad truth is if China were to invade the U.S. there would people from here, including some elected officials that would stand on the shore and welcome them with open arms.

Max
Max
11 months ago

Nice article, RBC. The US military at one time, was showing strength during peace. At this time, however, China will go after what they want on their own time table and there will be no stopping them from the US prospective.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
11 months ago

To prepare and deter — dealing with all sorts of possibilities with communist China, absolutely, important article Robert. Historical references you presented very appropriate. The qualities of having a high level of intelligence, having great courage, and being resourceful are very good to have. Wendell Fertig
( 1900 — 1975 ) was an American engineer and Army reserve officer working as a civilian in the Philippines in 1941, had been there for a few years , his wife and daughter returned to United States in 1941 when trouble with Japan was anticipated. Fertig was building airfields when war with Japan started. He was sent to Mindanao shortly before Corregidor surrendered. By the time he arrived in Mindanao American forces there had surrendered. Fertig did not surrender. He took to the hills, the jungle and organized a resistance army , fought against the Japanese heroically until the end of the war. Fertig was highly intelligent, had great courage, and was very resourceful. Any communist Chinese ( and their sympathizers here ) who think about attacking the United States of America should picture in their minds a large sign that reads No Trespassing , or one that says Beware of Dog, more to the point how about a huge sign that says Beware of Millions of Freedom Loving Americans, with guns, Who Will Never Surrender. Let’s all prepare and deter and do what is needed and morally right to defend liberty.

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