Tuesday, November 12, 2013

608 Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? - Amitai Etzioni, on "Air-Sea Battle" Pentagon plan

Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? - Amitai Etzioni, on
"Air-Sea Battle" Pentagon plan

Newsletter published on 29 July 2013

Sorry about the size of this bulletin; but I chose to supply full
material from US military and "security" sources on this epic and
life-destroying turn.

(1) The two faux democracies threaten life on earth
(2) Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? - Amitai Etzioni
(3) The Nukes We Need - Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press (Foreign
Affairs 2009)
(4) Senator Joseph Lieberman endorses AirSea Battle
(5) DoD Sheds First Clear Light On AirSea Battle: Warfare Unfettered
(6) AirSea Battle for Dummies
(7) Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart
(8) Air-Sea Battle and the Challenge of Access
(9) AirSea Battle - from Air Force Magazine
(10) Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies at Aspen Security Forum - Max
(11) Gorbachev comment: At stake is whether US will police a “Pax
Americana” - a recipe for disaster - or partner with other nations

(1) The two faux democracies threaten life on earth

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <pdeburgh@harboursat.com.au> Date: Sat, 27 Jul
2013 17:09:31 +1000 Subject: Paul Craig Roberts: The two faux
democracies threaten life on earth


The two faux democracies threaten life on earth

by Paul Craig Roberts

Foreign Policy Journal

July 25, 2013

Amitai Etzioni has raised an important question: “Who authorized
preparations for war with China?”

Etzioni says that the war plan is not the sort of contingency plan that
might be on hand for an improbable event. Etzioni also reports that the
Pentagon’s war plan was not ordered by, and has not been reviewed by, US
civilian authorities.

We are confronted with a neoconized US military out of control,
endangering Americans and the rest of the world.

Etzioni is correct that this is a momentous decision made by a
neoconized military. China is obviously aware that Washington is
preparing for war with China. If the Yale Journal knows it, China knows
it. If the Chinese government is realistic, the government is aware that
Washington is planning a preemptive nuclear attack against China. No
other kind of war makes any sense from Washington’s standpoint. The
“superpower” was never able to occupy Baghdad, and after 11 years of war
has been defeated in Afghanistan by a few thousand lightly armed
Taliban. It would be curtains for Washington to get into a conventional
war with China.

When China was a primitive third world country, it fought the US
military to a stalemate in Korea. Today China has the world’s second
largest economy and is rapidly overtaking the failing US economy
destroyed by jobs offshoring, bankster fraud, and corporate and
congressional treason.

The Pentagon’s war plan for China is called “AirSea Battle.” The plan
describes itself as “interoperable air and naval forces that can execute
networked, integrated attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy, and defeat
enemy anti-access area denial capabilities.”

Yes, what does that mean? It means many billions of dollars of more
profits for the military/security complex while the 99 percent are
ground under the boot. It is also clear that this nonsensical jargon
cannot defeat a Chinese army. But this kind of saber-rattling can lead
to war, and if the Washington morons get a war going, the only way
Washington can prevail is with nuclear weapons. The radiation, of
course, will kill Americans as well.

Nuclear war is on Washington’s agenda. The rise of the Neocon Nazis has
negated the nuclear disarmament agreements that Reagan and Gorbachev
made. The extraordinary, mainly truthful 2012 book, The Untold History
of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, describes the
post-Reagan breakout of preemptive nuclear attack as Washington’s first

During the Cold War nuclear weapons had a defensive purpose. The purpose
was to prevent nuclear war by the US and USSR each having sufficient
retaliatory power to ensure “mutually assured destruction.” MAD, as it
was known, meant that nuclear weapons had no offensive advantage for
either side.

The Soviet collapse and China’s focus on its economy instead of its
military have resulted in Washington’s advantage in nuclear weaponry
that, according to two US Dr. Strangelove characters, Keir Lieber and
Daryl Press, gives Washington first-strike capability. Lieber and Press
write that the “precipitous decline of Russia’s arsenal, and the glacial
pace of modernization of China’s nuclear forces,” have created a
situation in which neither Russia nor China could retaliate to
Washington’s first strike.

The Pentagon’s “AirSea Battle” and Lieber and Press’ article in Foreign
Affairs have informed China and Russia that Washington is contemplating
a preemptive nuclear attack on both countries. To ensure Russia’s
inability to retaliate, Washington is placing anti-ballistic missiles on
Russia’s borders in violation of the US-USSR agreement.

Because the American press is a corrupt government propaganda ministry,
the American people have no idea that neoconized Washington is planning
nuclear war. Americans are no more aware of this than they are of former
President Jimmy Carter’s recent statement, reported only in Germany,
that the United States no longer has a functioning democracy.

The possibility that the United States would initiate nuclear war was
given reality eleven years ago when President George W. Bush, at the
urging of Dick Cheney and the neocons that dominated his regime, signed
off on the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review.

This neocon document, signed off on by America’s most moronic president,
resulted in consternation and condemnation from the rest of the world
and launched a new arms race. Russian President Putin immediately
announced that Russia would spend all necessary sums to maintain
Russia’s retaliatory nuclear capability. The Chinese displayed their
prowess by knocking a satellite out of space with a missile. The mayor
of Hiroshima, recipient city of a vast American war crime, stated: “The
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the central international agreement
guiding the elimination of nuclear weapons, is on the verge of collapse.
The chief cause is US nuclear policy that, by openly declaring the
possibility of a preemptive nuclear first strike and calling for resumed
research into mini-nukes and other so-called ‘useable nuclear weapons,’
appears to worship nuclear weapons as God.”

Polls from all over the world consistently show that Israel and the US
are regarded as the two greatest threats to peace and to life on earth.
Yet, these two utterly lawless governments prance around pretending to
be the “world’s greatest democracies.” Neither government accepts any
accountability whatsoever to international law, to human rights, to the
Geneva Conventions, or to their own statutory law. The US and Israel are
rogue governments, throwbacks to the Hitler and Stalin era.

The post World War II wars originate in Washington and Israel. No other
country has imperial expansionary ambitions. The Chinese government has
not seized Taiwan, which China could do at will. The Russian government
has not seized former constituent parts of Russia, such as Georgia,
which, provoked by Washington to launch an attack, was instantly
overwhelmed by the Russian Army. Putin could have hanged Washington’s
Georgian puppet and reincorporated Georgia into Russia, where it resided
for several centuries and where many believe it belongs.

For the past 68 years, most military aggression can be sourced to the US
and Israel. Yet, these two originators of wars pretend to be the victims
of aggression. It is Israel that has a nuclear arsenal that is illegal,
unacknowledged, and unaccountable. It is Washington that has drafted a
war plan based on nuclear first strike. The rest of the world is correct
to view these two rogue unaccountable governments as direct threats to
life on earth.

Copyright © 2013 Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic
Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist
for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate.
He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have
attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez
Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.


(2) Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? - Amitai Etzioni

Who Authorized Preparations for War with China?

By Amitai Etzioni*

Yale Journal of International Affairs

June 12, 2013

Abstract—The Pentagon has concluded that the time has come to prepare
for war with China, and in a manner well beyond crafting the sort of
contingency plans that are expected for wide a range of possible
confrontations. It is a momentous conclusion that will shape the United
States’ defense systems, force posture, and overall strategy for dealing
with the economically and militarily resurgent China. Thus far, however,
the military’s assessment of and preparations for the threat posed by
China have not received the high level of review from elected civilian
officials that such developments require. The start of a second Obama
administration provides an opportunity for civilian authorities to live
up to their obligations in this matter and to conduct a proper review of
the United States’ China strategy and the military’s role in it.

The U.S. Military /Civilian Relationships in Facing China

The United States is preparing for a war with China, a momentous
decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from
elected officials, namely the White House and Congress. This important
change in the United States’ posture toward China has largely been
driven by the Pentagon. There have been other occasions in which the
Pentagon has framed key strategic decisions so as to elicit the
preferred response from the Commander in Chief and elected
representatives. A recent case in point was when the Pentagon led
President Obama to order a high level surge in Afghanistan in 2009,
against the advice of the Vice President and the U.S. ambassador to
Afghanistan. The decision at hand stands out even more prominently
because (a) the change in military posture may well lead to an arms race
with China, which could culminate in a nuclear war; and (b) the economic
condition of the United States requires a reduction in military
spending, not a new arms race. The start of a new term, and with it the
appointment of new secretaries of State and Defense, provide an
opportunity to review the United States’ China strategy and the
military’s role in it. This review is particularly important before the
new preparations for war move from an operational concept to a
militarization program that includes ordering high-cost weapons systems
and forced restructuring. History shows that once these thresholds are
crossed, it is exceedingly difficult to change course.

In the following pages I first outline recent developments in the
Pentagon’s approach to dealing with the rise of China; I then focus on
the deliberations of the highest civilian authorities. These two sides
seemed to operate in parallel universes, at least until November 2011
when the pivot to Asia was announced by the White House—though we shall
see their paths hardly converged even after that date. I conclude with
an outline of what the much-needed civilian review ought to cover.

I write about the “Pentagon” and the “highest civilian authorities” (or
our political representatives) rather than contrast the view of the
military and that of the civilian authorities, because the Pentagon
includes civilians, who actively participated in developing the plans
under discussion. It is of course fully legitimate for the Pentagon to
identify and prepare for new threats. The question that this article
raises is whether the next level of government, which reviews such
threats while taking into account the input of the intelligence
community and other agencies (especially the State Department), has
adequately fulfilled its duties. Have the White House and Congress
properly reviewed the Pentagon’s approach—and found its threat
assessment of China convincing and approved the chosen response? And if
not, what are the United States’ overarching short- and long-term
political strategies for dealing with an economically and militarily
rising China?

In the Pentagon

Since the Second World War the United States has maintained a
power-projection military, built upon forward deployed forces with
uninhibited access to the global commons—air, sea, and space. For over
six decades the maritime security of the Western Pacific has been
underwritten by the unrivaled naval and air power of the United States.
Starting in the early 1990s, however, Chinese investments in
sophisticated, but low-cost, weapons—including anti-ship missiles,
short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, stealth
submarines, and cyber and space arms—began to challenge the military
superiority of the United States, especially in China’s littoral waters.
These “asymmetric arms” threaten two key elements of the United States’
force projection strategy: its fixed bases (such as those in Japan and
Guam) and aircraft carriers. Often referred to as
anti-access/anti-denial capabilities (A2/AD), these Chinese arms are
viewed by some in the Pentagon as raising the human and economic cost of
the United States’ military role in the region to prohibitive levels. To
demonstrate what this new environment means for regional security,
military officials point out that, in 1996, when China conducted a
series of missile tests and military exercises in the Strait of Taiwan,
the United States responded by sending two aircraft carriers to the
South China Sea, a credible display of force that reminded all parties
of its commitment to maintaining the status quo in the region.1 However,
these analysts point out, if in the near future China decided to
forcefully integrate Taiwan, the same U.S. aircraft carriers that are
said to have once deterred Chinese aggression could be denied access to
the sea by PLA anti-ship missiles. Thus, the U.S.’s interests in the
region, to the extent that they are undergirded by superior military
force, are increasingly vulnerable.

Two influential American military strategists, Andrew Marshall and his
protégé Andrew Krepinevich, have been raising the alarm about China’s
new capabilities and aggressive designs since the early 1990s. Building
on hundreds of war games played out over the past two decades, they
gained a renewed hearing for their concerns following Pacific Vision, a
war game conducted by the U.S. Air Force in October 2008. The game was
financed in part by Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment, a division of
the Pentagon focused on identifying emerging security threats to the
United States. Air Force Magazine reported at the time that the
simulation convinced others in the Pentagon of the need to face up to
China, and “[w]hen it was over, the PACAF [Pacific Air Force Command]
staff set about drawing up its conclusions and fashioning a framework
for AirSea Battle”—a plan to develop the new weapons and operation
capabilities needed to overcome the challenges posed by A2/AD.2

With Marshall’s guidance, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates instructed
the Chiefs of Staff to begin work on the AirSea Battle (ASB) project
and, in September of 2009, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz
and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead signed a classified
Memorandum of Agreement endorsing the plan.3 ASB received Gates’
official imprimatur in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review which
directed the U.S. military to “develop a joint Air-Sea Battle concept
... [to] address how air and naval forces will integrate capabilities
across all operational domains—air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace—to
counter growing challenges to U.S. freedom of action.”4 In late 2011
Gates’ successor, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, also signed off on
the ASB and formed the new Multi-Service Office to Advance AirSea
Battle. Thus, ASB was conceived, born, and began to grow.

AirSea Battle calls for “interoperable air and naval forces that can
execute networked, integrated attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy, and
defeat enemy anti-access area denial capabilities.”5 The hypothetical
battle begins with a campaign to reestablish power projection
capabilities by launching a “blinding attack” against Chinese
anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers,
surveillance and communica-tion platforms, satellite and anti-satellite
weapons, and command and control nodes. U.S. forces could then enter
contested zones and conclude the conflict by bringing to bear the full
force of their material military advantage. One defense think tank
report, “AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept,”
acknowledges that “[t]he scope and intensity of U.S. stand-off and
penetrating strikes against tar-gets in mainland China clearly has
escalation implications,” because China is likely to respond to what is
effectively a major direct attack on its mainland with all the military
means at its disposal—including its stockpile of nuclear arms.6 The
authors make the critical assumption that mutual nuclear deterrence
would hold in a war with China. However, after suggesting that the
United States might benefit from an early attack on Chinese space
systems, they concede in a footnote that “[a]ttacks on each side’s space
early warning systems would have an immediate effect on strategic
nuclear and escalation issues.” “However,” they continue, “this issue
lies beyond the scope of this paper and is therefore not addressed
here.”7 Addressing the risk of nuclear war might be beyond the scope of
that paper, but not of a proper review of ASB. Although the Chinese
nuclear force is much smaller than that of the United States, China
nonetheless has the capacity to destroy American cities. According to
leading Australian military strategist Hugh White, “We can be sure that
China will place a very high priority indeed on maintaining its capacity
to strike the United States, and that it will succeed in this.”8 Given
this, the United States’ development of ASB will likely accelerate
China’s expansion of both its conventional forces and its nuclear,
cyber, and space weapons programs. Joshua Rovner of the U.S. Naval War
College notes that deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by
the Chinese as preemptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus
cornering them into “a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma.” That is, ASB
is prone to lead to nuclear war.9

As current U.S. technologies and force structures are unable to carry
out this hypothetical campaign, its architects urge investments in
penetrating, long-endurance ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance) and strike capabilities; aerial tankers; and forward
base hardening. Strategists have also encouraged the Navy to “develop
and field long-range/endurance UUVs [Unmanned Undersea Vehicles] for
multiple missions germane to intelligence preparation of the undersea
battle space” and recommended that the Air Force and Navy stockpile
precision-guided munitions (PGM) “in sufficient quantities to execute an
ASB campaign.”10 ASB also involves a considerable shift of budgetary
priorities from the Army and Marines to the Navy and Air Force. A review
of the FY 2013 Defense budget finds that “[t]he new budget also shifts
the balance of funding among the Services according to the new strategic
guidance, which calls for a greater reliance on air and sea power as
part of the pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.”11 While all branches face
spending cuts, the Army will experience the steepest reduction (8.9
percent); the budgets of the Air Force and Navy/ Marines shrink by 5.8
and 4.3 percent respectively. Although this force restructuring
initially led to strong protests from the Army, in late 2012 it began
carving out its role in the ASB plan.12

AirSea Battle is already beginning to shape acquisition decisions.
General Schwartz writes that, “The first steps to implement Air-Sea
Battle are already underway here at the Pentagon. In our FY 2012 and FY
2013 budgets we increased investment in the systems and capabilities we
need to defeat access threats.” 13 Admiral Greenert points to the
investments in anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare, air and
missile de-fense, and information sharing, that were included in the
President’s 2012 budget as one aspect of ASB’s implementation and notes
that the 2013 budget “sustains these investments and really provides
more resilient C4ISR [Command, Control, Commu-nications, Computers,
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] investments.”14 The New
York Times reported that the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which is
able to deftly navigate shallow coastal seas, is “central to President
Obama’s strategy of projecting American power in the Pacific.”15 So far,
two of the planned fifty-five LCSs have been completed, and the first
will be deployed in Singapore in 2013. A press report in August 2012
stated that “the Air-Sea Battle concept has prompted Navy officials to
make significant shifts in the service’s FY2014-FY2018 budget plan,
including new investments in ASW, electronic attack and electronic
warfare, cyber warfare, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the P-8A
maritime patrol aircraft, and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance
(BAMS) UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle].”16 Some point out that many of
these weapons would have been ordered even if there was no ASB, and that
some purchases merely constitute technology updates. However, it is also
true that a smaller defense budget means making choices about the
allocation of resources, and evidence suggests that the Pentagon has
made the hardware of ASB a high priority.

In addition, a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service on the
implications of Chinese naval modernization disclosed that there has
been a “redeployment of various advanced U.S. nuclear submarines and
Aegis SM-3-based missile defense vessels to the Pacific in close
cruising distance to China and North Korea. Other vessels in the Pacific
were recently moved to Guam and Hawaii to presumably cut transit time to
areas of possible conflict. All of this would be helpful if AirSea
concepts are employed.”17

Some argue that ASB is merely a limited ‘operational concept.’ However,
insofar as it is influencing the Pentagon’s ‘hardware’ purchases and is
transforming force structure, ASB is moving beyond its conceptual stage.
Moreover, even if it is merely a highly influential concept, it still
merits high-level review.

One should note that several officials also maintain that ASB is not
aimed at China. At a background briefing on ASB one Pentagon official
stated, “It is not about a specific actor. It is not about a specific
actor or regime.”18 General Norton Schwartz has said that questions
about China’s place in the concept are “unhelpful.”19 However, the
consensus of most observers is that “Air-Sea Battle is billed as the
answer to growing anti-access/area-denial capabilities generically, but
as everyone knows, specifically China,” as former Marine Corps officer
J. Noel Williams put it.20 And according to a senior Navy official
overseeing the forces modernization efforts, “Air-Sea Battle is all
about convincing the Chinese that we will win this competition.”21

Indeed, as far as one can determine, the Pentagon decided to embrace the
ASB concept over alternative ways for sustaining U.S. military power in
the region that are far less likely to lead to escalation. One such is
the “war-at-sea” option, a strategy proposed by Jeffrey Kline and Wayne
Hughes of the Naval Postgraduate School, which would deny China use of
the sea within the first island chain (which stretches from Japan to
Taiwan and through the Philippines) by means of a distant blockade, the
use of submarine and flotilla attacks at sea, and the positioning of
expeditionary forces to hold at-risk islands in the South China Sea. By
foregoing a mainland attack, the authors argue that the war-at-sea
strategy gives “opportunities for negotiation in which both sides can
back away from escalation to a long-lasting, economically disastrous war
involving full mobilization and commitment to some kind of decisive
victory.”22 In the same vein, the “Offshore Control Strategy” put
forward by National Defense University’s T. X. Hammes, “seeks to use a
war of economic attrition to bring about a stalemate and cessation of
conflict” by establishing a distant blockade and a maritime exclusion
zone within the first island chain, while dominating the sur-rounding
waters “to ensure the continued flow of trade to our allies while
tightening the blockade against China.”23 This would not bring a
decisive victory, but would allow the United States to achieve its
objectives of protecting its allies and maintaining free access to sea
lanes, while giving China space to back down.

Several defense analysts in the United States and abroad, not least in
China, see ASB as being highly provocative. Former Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright stated in 2012 that,
“AirSea Battle is demonizing China. That’s not in anybody’s interest.”24
An internal assessment of ASB by the Marine Corps commandant cautions
that “an Air-Sea Battle-focused Navy and Air Force would be
preposterously expensive to build in peace time” and if used in a war
against China would cause “in-calculable human and economic destruction.”25

Several critics point out that ASB is inherently escalatory and is
likely to accelerate the arms race in the Asia-Pacific. China must be
expected to respond to the imple-mentation of ASB by accelerating its
own military buildup. Chinese Colonel Gauyue Fan stated that, “If the
U.S. military develops AirSea Battle to deal with the [People’s
Liberation Army], the PLA will be forced to develop anti-AirSea
Battle.”26 Moreover, Raoul Heinrichs, from the Australian National
University, points out that “by creating the need for a continued
visible presence and more intrusive forms of surveillance in the Western
Pacific, AirSea Battle will greatly increase the range of circumstances
for maritime brinkmanship and dangerous naval incidents.”27

Other critics argue that ASB operates in a strategic vacuum. Hammes
maintains that “ASB is the antithesis of strategy. It focuses on the
tactical employment of weapons systems with no theory of victory or
concept linking the Air-Sea approach to favorable conflict
resolution.”28 Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institutes
agrees that, “ASB is an operational concept detached from a strategy… As
a result, the U.S. is both making commitments to Asia that it may not be
able to afford and articulating a high-risk operational doctrine that
does not answer basic strategic questions.”29

As I see it, the implied strategy is clear: ASB planners aim to make the
United States so clearly powerful that not only would China lose if it
engaged militarily, but it would not consider engaging because the
United States would be sure to win. Krepinevich holds that ASB achieves
both deterrence through denial, “designed to convince a would-be
aggressor that he cannot achieve his objective, so there is no point in
trying,” as well as deterrence through punishing, “designed to persuade
him that even though he may be able to achieve his objective, he will
suffer so much as a result that his anticipated costs will outweigh his
gains.”30 The imagined result of ASB is the ability to end a conflict
with China in much the same way the United States ended WWII: The U.S.
military defeats China and dictates the surrender terms.

This military strategy, which involves threatening to defeat China as a
military power, is a long cry from containment or any other strategies
that were seriously considered in the context of confronting the USSR
after it acquired nuclear arms. The essence of the Cold War was mutual
deterrence, and the conflict was structured around red lines that not
only the Warsaw Pact forces were not to cross (e.g., by moving into the
NATO controlled areas) but that the NATO forces were also committed to
respect by not crossing into the Soviet realm that included Eastern
Europe and East Germany. (This is the reason the United States did not
help the freedom fighters who rose against the Communist regimes in
Hungary and Czechoslovakia.) First strike (nuclear) strategies were
foresworn and steps were taken to avoid a war precipitated by
miscommunications, accidents, or miscalculations. In contrast, ASB
requires that the United States be able to take the war to the mainland
with the goal of defeating China, which quite likely would require
striking first. Such a strategy is nothing short of a hegemonic

When Andrew Krepinevich suggested that ASB is simply seeking to maintain
stability in the Asia-Pacific, he was asked if this “stability” really
meant continued U.S. hegemony in the area. He chuckled and responded,
“well, the nations in the area have a choice: either we are number one
or China [is]—and they prefer us.”31 Actually, most of the nations in
the area prefer playing the big powers against each other rather than
joining a particular camp. They greatly benefit from trade and
investment from China and, at the same time, most are quite keen to
receive security backing from the United States. And they realize that
in a case of conflict between the United States and China, they stand to
lose a great deal. (A common saying in the area: “When the elephant and
tiger rumble, the grass gets trampled.”) Most important, one must ask if
there are other strategies that do not operate on the assumption that
our dealings with China represent a zero-sum game. For instance, one
should consider if there are strategies in which the superpower pursues
its interests by accommodating a rising power—especially when this power
is mainly a regional one—by allowing it an increased sphere of
influence. This is the way Britain, once a superpower that relied
greatly on naval power, accommodated a rising upstart—the United States.

The White House and Congress

To judge by several published reports which will be discussed in greater
detail below, including those by government “insiders,” there is no
indication—not a passing hint— that the White House has ever considered
earnestly preparing the nation for a war with China. Nor is there any
evidence that the White House has compared such a strategy to
alternatives, and—having concluded that the hegemonic intervention
implied by ASB is the course the United States should follow—then
instructed the Pentagon to prepare for such a military showdown. Indeed,
as far as one can determine at this stage, the White House and State
Department have engaged in largely ad hoc debates over particular
tactical maneuvers, never giving much attention to the development of a
clear underlying China strategy. True, some individuals in the State
Department and White House pursued engagement and cooperation, and
others advocated ‘tougher’ moves that seem to reflect a vague preference
for containment. However, neither approach was embraced as an
overarching strategy. The November 2011 presidential announcement that
the United States was beginning a “pivot” from the Near to the Far East
may at first seem to suggest that a coherent stance on China had
coalesced within the administration. We will see shortly that this is
not the case.

One major source of information regarding the development of China
policy in the Obama White House is an insider’s report fully dedicated
to the subject at hand, Obama and China’s Rise by Jeffrey A. Bader.
Having served as senior director for East Asian affairs on the National
Security Council from January 2009 to April 2011, Bader reports in great
detail on how the Obama administration approached China policy. When
Obama was still a Senator campaigning in the 2008 election—the same time
the Pentagon was launching the ASB mission—his philosophy was to engage
the nations of the world rather than confront them; to rely on diplomacy
rather than on aggressive, let alone coercive, measures; and to draw on
multilateralism rather than on unilateral moves. Following his election,
the President’s key staffers report that, with regard to China,
containment was “not an option,” nor was the realpolitik of power
balancing embraced. Instead, the administration pursued a vague
three-pronged policy based on: “(1) a welcoming approach to China’s
emergence, influence, and legitimate expanded role; (2) a resolve that a
coherent stance on China eventually coalesced to see that its rise is
consistent with international norms and law; and (3) an endeavor to
shape the Asia-Pacific environment to ensure that China’s rise is
stabilizing rather than disruptive.”32

Once in office, the administration’s main China-related policy questions
involved economic concerns (especially the trade imbalance, currency
manipulation, and the dependence on China for the financing of U.S.
debt), North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and missiles, sanctions
on Iran, Tibet and human rights, and counterter-rorism. The fact that
China was somewhat modernizing its very-backward military is barely
mentioned in the book-length report. There is no reference to ASB or to
the strategy it implies as being considered, questioned, embraced, or
rejected—let alone how it fits into an overarching China strategy, which
the Obama administration did not formulate in the first term. Moreover,
Bader’s account leaves little doubt that neither the Obama White House
nor State Department ever developed a coherent China strategy. In
effect, key staff members scoffed at the very idea that such overarching
conceptions were of merit or possible (as opposed to reactive responses
to ongoing developments). The Obama team, Bader notes, “fine-tun[ed] an
approach” that avoided the extremes of, on the one hand, relying “solely
on military muscle, economic blandishments, and pressure and sanctions
of human rights,” and on the other, pursuing “a policy of indulgence and
accommodation of assertive Chinese conduct.”33 Not too hot, not too cold
makes for good porridge, but is not a clear guideline for foreign
policy. In May 2013, The Economist summarized the administration’s China
policy, or lack thereof, reporting, “First dubbed a ‘Pacific pivot,’ the
strategy was later rebranded as a ‘rebalancing.’ Vague references in
speeches by Mr. Obama’s administration have not been fleshed out by any
document (indeed [ ... ] the Pentagon has more detail on China’s
strategy than its own).”

A closer reading of these lines, as well as similar statements issued by
the administration that were often fashioned as strategic positions,
reveals them to be vague and open to rather different interpretations.
They seem more like public rationales than guidelines capable of
coordinating policies across the various government agencies, let alone
reigning in the Pentagon. The overarching ambiguity is captured by
Bader, who first reports that, “[f]or China to directly challenge
America’s security interest, it would have to acquire ambitions and
habits that it does not at present display. The Unites States should not
behave in a way that encourages the Chinese to move in that direction.”
Then, just pages later, he concludes that “the United States needs to
maintain its forward deployment, superior military forces and
technological edge, its economic strength and engagement with the
region, its alliances, and its enhanced relationships with other
emerging powers. Chinese analysts are likely to consider all these
traits to be hostile to China.”34

Another book describing the same period, The Obamians: The Struggle
Inside the White House to Refine American Power, by James Mann, reveals
that although President Obama sought to engage China, his administration
was increasingly ‘irked’ by various Chinese moves, from its assertive
declarations about the South China Sea to the cyber-attacks assumed to
originate from within its borders. In response, the Obama Administration
is reported to have ‘stiffened’ both its rhetoric and diplomatic stance
towards China. For example, in response to Beijing’s pronouncement that
the South China Sea represented one of China’s ‘core interests,’
Secretary of State Clinton told an audience at the 2010 ASEAN meeting
that freedom of navigation in the seas was a ‘national interest’ of the
United States. She also delivered a speech criticizing China’s abuse of
Internet freedom and argued that such nations “should face consequences
and international condemnation.” It is reported that State Department
officials, who generally sought to avoid conflict with China,
“absolutely hated” the speech.35 If such a speech caused tensions to
flare up in the department, it is not hard to imagine the outcry that
would have followed had the administration approved ASB—that is, if it
was considered in the first place. Yet in Mann’s account of the period
under study there is no reference to either ASB or the strategy it
implies—or to what a former Pentagon official called a White House “buy

A third book covering the same era, Bending History: Barack Obama’s
Foreign Policy, confirms with much nuance what the other two books
report. It discusses the White House ‘toughening,’ its reaction to what
were viewed by many as assertive moves by the Chinese, such as its
aggressive action in the South China Sea in 2010, and President Hu
Jintao’s refusal to condemn North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South
Korean warship.37 Here again, it is reported that the White House and
State Department reacted by chang-ing the tone of the speeches. For
instance, in a thinly veiled criticism of China, Obama stated in 2011
that “prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.”38 The
administration also intensified the United States’ participation in
ASEAN and the East Asia Summit (EAS) and encouraged—but only indirectly
and cautiously—countries in the region to deal with China on a
multilateral rather than bilateral basis in resolving territorial
disputes. The Obama administration also ramped up U.S. participation in
the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a free trade agreement that
at least initially would exclude China, and is thought by many to be a
counterbalance to China’s ex-tensive bilateral trade relationships in
the region. Furthermore, the president paid of-ficial visits to both
Burma and Cambodia—two nations that have distanced themselves from China
in recent years. All these are typical diplomatic moves, some of which
have economic implications, but not part of a preparation of the kinds
of confrontational relationship ASB presumes.

In his book Confront and Conceal, David E. Sanger confirms what these
three accounts suggest: the Obama administration never formulated a
coherent, consistent, proactive China strategy and its policies were
primarily reactive.39 And, this well-placed source also lacks any
mention of a review of AirSea Battle and the military strategy it implies.

Congress held a considerable number of hearings about China in 2008 and
in the years that followed. However, the main focus of these hearings
was on economic issues such as trade, job losses due to com-panies
moving them overseas, the U.S. dependency on China for financing the
debt, Chinese currency controls, and Chinese violations of intellectual
prop-erty and human rights. In his testimony before the Senate Armed
Services Committee in February 2012, Admiral Robert F. Willard spoke of
the potential challenges posed by China’s A2/AD capabilities, but made
no sional China Caucus, wrote to Secretary of Defense Panetta in
November 2011 that “[d]espite reports throughout 2011 AirSea Battle had
been completed in an executive summary form, to my knowledge Members of
Congress have yet to be briefed on its conclusions or in any way made a
part of the process.”40 In the same month, Sen. Lieberman (I–CT)
co-sponsored an amendment to the Fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Bill
that required a report on the implementation of and costs associated
with the AirSea Battle Concept. It passed unanimously, but as of April
2013, such a report has yet to be released.41

In the public sphere there was no debate—led by either think tanks or
public intel-lectuals—like that which is ongoing over whether or not to
use the military option against Iran’s nuclear program, or the debate
surrounding the 2009 surge of troops in Afghanistan. ASB did receive a
modicum of critical examination from a small number of military
analysts. However, most observers who can spell the ins-and-outs of
using drones or bombing Iran—have no position on ASB or its implications
for U.S.-China relations and the world order, simply because they do not
know about it. A December 11, 2012 search of Google brings up 15,800,000
hits for “U.S. drone strikes”; a search for “AirSea Battle”: less than
200,000. In Googlish, this amounts to being unknown, and suggests this
significant military shift is simply not on the wider public’s radar.

The Pivot: An Exception that Proves the Rule

In November 2011, President Obama announced that, with the wars in the
Middle East coming to a close, his national security team was to make
the U.S. “presence and mission in the Asia-Pacific a top priority.”42 At
first blush it might seem that this dramatic change in strategic focus
was very much in line with the one the Pentagon has been developing
intensely since 2008. In reality, this rebalancing can be interpreted in
several ways—none of which support the conclusion that the pivot
amounted to an endorsement of ASB.

One possible view of the pivot is that it was very much in line with the
President’s long-standing view—one he expressed even before he was
elected—that Asia, as the heart of the global economy, was of growing
importance to the United States. Hence, as he was freeing the United
States from its engagement in Iraq and from Afghanistan, the time had
come to shift priorities. Moreover, immediately after declaring the
Asia-Pacific a top priority, Obama assured that “reductions in U.S.
defense spending will not—I repeat, will not—come at the expense of the
Asia-Pacific ... we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain
our strong military presence in this region.”43 At the same time, the
United States secured an agreement with Australia which provided for the
rotation of 2,500 Marines through the northern port city of Darwin and
announced that 60 percent of the Navy would be positioned in the Pacific
by 2020—up from 50 percent moves highlighting that there were indeed a
few military accouterments to the pivot.

Critics attacked this take on the pivot from two vantage points. Some
saw it as hollow, “all hat and no cattle” as one Texan military officer
put it in a private conversation with the author. Sending some 2,500
Marines adds little to overall U.S. forces in the area, which already
amount to some 320,000 troops. Some of those Marines are actually being
moved away from Okinawa to Australia—some 2,600 miles from China. The
re-berthing of a few ships does not display a significant power shift.
All the rest of the pivot was—to parrot a criticism often raised against
Obama—eloquent talk with little follow-through.

Others see the pivot as merely political maneuvering during an intense
election campaign, undertaken to fend off the GOP’s repeated charge that
the Democrats are soft on defense. The Obama administration removed U.S.
troops from Iraq, but the unstable Iraqi regime—tilting toward Iran and
refusing to allow the United States to keep bases in Iraq—made it
difficult to present the withdrawal as a victory. The great difficulties
the administration encountered in Afghanistan and Pakistan also did not
make for a compelling election picture either. Furthermore, the Arab
Awakening was looking more and more like a loss for the United States at
least in the short run. Nations that used to be reliable allies, in
particular Egypt, were (and continue to be) in a state of disarray, and
the turmoil in Syria presented the war-weary United States with only
poor options. In this context, shifting attention from the Near to the
Far East, in which the United States could throw its weight around—at
least in the short term—was a safe bet, as long as it involved only a
few new outlays and mainly the repositioning of assets already in hand
let alone the implementation of the AirSea Battle concept.

Moreover, in November 2012 during the only presidential election debate
dedicated to foreign policy, no reference was made to preparations for a
war with China. Governor Romney repeatedly stated that he was going to
be tougher on China than President Obama by declaring it a currency
manipulator on his first day in office—a hard line stance but one
focused exclusively on economic matters. President Obama cited the
increased trade sanctions bought against China by his administration and
said that his “pivot” policy sent a “very clear signal” to China that
the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.44 But no more.

In short, however one interprets the “pivot” to Asia, it clearly does
not constitute an endorsement, let alone the implementation of the
AirSea Battle concept, and the strategy it implies.

In Conclusion

I am not arguing that the U.S. military is seeking out war or
intentionally usurping the role of the highest civilian authorities.
Information about the rise of China as an economic and military power is
open to a range of interpretations. And the Pentagon is discharging its
duties when it identifies new threats and suggests ways to respond to
them. Moreover, civilians—including two Secretaries of Defense—have
endorsed ASB and arguably the strategy it implies. But while ASB should
not be dismissed on the grounds that it is merely an attempt to secure a
mission and funds for the military, there is room to question whether
the threats have been overstated and to ask if the Pentagon-favored
response is the right strategy. The time has come for the White House
and Congress to reassess both the threat and the suggested response.

Four areas ought to be considered in such a review process: (i) While
the economy of China does not by itself determine its military strength,
it does constrain its options. One would be wise to take into account
that China’s per capita GDP is far below that of the United States, and
that to maintain support, the Communist Party needs to house, feed,
clothe, and otherwise serve four times more people than the United
States—on top of dealing with major environmental strains, an aging
population, a high level of corruption, and growing social unrest.45
(ii) The military modernization of China often provokes concerns that it
is ‘catching up.’ Although it is true that China has increased military
spending, the budget for the PLA started well behind that of the U.S.
military and China’s defense spending is still dwarfed by that of the
United States. (iii) Moreover, whatever its capabilities, China’s
intentions are rele-vant. China shows little interest in managing global
affairs or imposing its ideology on other nations. Instead, China has
shown a strong interest in secur-ing the flow of raw materials and
energy on which is economy depends. However, the United States can
accommodate this core interest without endan-gering its security by
facilitating China’s efforts to secure energy deals in the global
marketplace and pathways for the flow of resources (by constructing
pipelines, railways, and new ports in places such as Pakistan)—rather
than seeking to block them. (iv) Finally, it is widely agreed that the
United States can no longer afford to fight two major wars. Hence, one
must note that the most urgent threats to U.S. security are—almost all
of which can be found in the Near and Middle—not Far—East.46

It is up to the serious media, think tanks, public intellectuals and
leaders of social political movements to urge for such a comprehensive
review, and to counter the gradual slide toward war that the Pentagon is
effecting—even if its intention may well be to promote peace through

– Daniel Tam Claiborne served as Lead Editor for this article.

*Amitai Etzioni is University Professor and Professor of International
Affairs at The George Washington University. He is the author of Hot
Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human Rights World, Security
First, and From Empire to Community. He has served as a Senior Advisor
to the White House and as President of the American Sociological
Association. He has taught at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley.


1 Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S.
Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional
Research Service Report for Congress, December 10, 2012, p. 3, available
at http://www.fas.org/ sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

2 Richard Halloran, “PACAF’S “Vision” Thing,” Air Force Magazine,
January 2009, available at http://www.airforce-magazine.

3 Kyle D. Christensen, “Strategic Developments In The Western Pacific:
Anti-Access/Area Denial And The AirSea Battle Concept,” Journal of
Military and Strategic Studies, vol. 14, no. 3 (2012), 10.

4 U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report
(Washington DC: Government Printing Office, February 2010), 32.

5 General Norton A. Schwartz, “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion
with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,”
speech, The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012, transcript available at

6 Jan Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-Departure Operational
Concept, (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International
Studies, 2010), 66.

7 Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle, 34.

8 Hugh White, The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power
(Melbourne: Black Inc., 2012), 78.

9 Joshua Rovner, “Three Paths to Nuclear Escalation with China,”
National Interest, July 19, 2012, available at http://

10 Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle, 90–91.

11 Todd Harrison, Analysis of the FY 2013 Defense Budget and
Sequestration (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International
Studies, 2012), 4.

12 Kristina Wong, “Foot soldiers march their way into new Air Sea Battle
concept” Washington Times, September 30, 2012, available at

13 Norton A. Schwartz and Jonathan W. Greenert, “Air-Sea Battle,
Promoting Stability In An Era of Uncertainty,” The American Interest,
February 20, 2012, available at

14 Admiral Jonathon Greenert, “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion
with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,”
video, The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012, transcript available at

15 Elizabeth Bumiller, “Smaller Navy Ship Has a Rocky Past and Key
Support,” New York Times, April 5, 2012, available at

16 O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization,” 92.

17 Harry Kazianis, “AirSea Battle’s identity crisis,” The Geopolitical
Conflict Report, September 13, 2011, available at http://

18 U.S. Department of Defense, “Background Briefing on Air-Sea Battle by
Defense Officials from the Pentagon,” (news brief) November 9, 2011,
transcript available at

19 Philip Ewing, “The rise and fall of Air-Sea Battle,” DODBuzz, May 17,
2012, available at http://www.dodbuzz.

20 J. Noel Williams, “Air-Sea Battle: An operational concept looking for
a strategy,” Armed Forces Journal (September 2011), available at

21 Greg Jaffe, “U.S. model for a future war fans tensions with China and
inside Pentagon,” Washington Post, August 1, 2012, available at

22 Jeffrey Kline and Wayne Hughes, “Between Peace and Air-Sea Battle: A
War at Sea Strategy,” Naval War College Review, vol. 65, no. 4 (2012), 36.

23 T. X. Hammes, “Strategy for an Unthinkable Conflict,” The Diplomat,
July 27, 2012, available at http://thediplomat.

24 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Cartwright Targets F-35, AirSea Battle;
Warns of $250B More Cuts,” AOL Defense, May 15, 2012, available at

25 Jaffe, “U.S. model for a future war.” (A reviewer of this paper from
a military think tank commented that “incalculable” was an over
statement, that such a war would be only “very destructive.” I stand

26 “Pentagon to Weigh Sending Extra Subs, Bombers to Asia-Pacific,”
Global Security Newswire, August 2, 2012, available at

27 Raoul Heinrichs, “America’s Dangerous Battle Plan,” The Diplomat,
August 17, 2012, available at http://thediplomat.

28 T. X. Hammes, “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely
Conflict,” Strategic Forum No. 258 (National Defense University
Institute for National and Strategic Studies, 2012), 2.

29 Dan Blumenthal, “The US Response to China’s Military Modernization,”
in Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge, ed. Ashley Tellis
and Travis Tanner (Washington, DC: The National Bureau of Asian
Research, 2013).

30 Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Strategy in a Time of Austerity: Why the
Pentagon Should Focus on Assuring Access,” Center for Strategic and
Budgetary Assessments, November 1, 2012, available at

31 Andrew F. Krepinevich, interview with author, December 3, 2012.

32 Jeffrey A. Bader, Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of
America’s Asia Strategy (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution,
2012), 7.

33 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 3.

34 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 147–150.

35 James Mann, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to
Redefine American Power (New York: Penguin Group, 2012), 245.

36 Andrew F. Krepinevich, interview with author, December 3, 2012.

37 Martin S. Indyk, Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy
(Wasingtonton, DC, The Brookings Institution, 2012), 38–41.

38 “President Obama Speaks at the University of Indonesia,” DipNote:
U.S. State Department Official Blog, November 10, 2010, available at

39 David E. Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and
Surprising Use of American Power (New York: Random House, 2012).

40 J. Randy Forbes, Letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta,
November 7, 2011, available at http://forbes.house.gov/

41 None of this prevented the two hawkish senators from championing ASB.
See J. Randy Forbes, “AirSea Office Must Battle Through, Or Fail,” AOL
Defense, September 13, 2012, available at
and Joseph Lieberman, “Peace through Strength American Leadership in
Asia Pacific,” speech, The Heritage Foundation’s Annual B.C. Lee Lecture
on U.S. Policy in the Asia-Pacific, November 2, 2012, transcript
available at

42 “Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” The White
House Office of the Press Secretary, Canberra Australia, November 17,
2011, available at

43 Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament.”

44 “Transcript: Presidential debate on foreign policy at Lynn
University,” Fox News, October 22, 2012, available at http://

45 For more discussion, see Amitai Etzioni, “Accommodating China,”
Survival, vol. 55, no. 2 (2013).

46 For more discussion, see Amitai Etzioni, Hot Spots: American Foreign
Policy in a Post-Human Rights World (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction
Publishers, 2012).


Bader, Jeffrey, A. Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of
America’s Asia Strategy. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2012.

Blumenthal, Dan. “The US Response to China’s Military Modernization.”
Strategic Asia 2012–13: China’s Military Challenge (2013).

Etzioni, Amitai. Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human
Rights World. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012.

Forbes, Randy, J. Randy J. Forbes to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta,
November 7, 2011, Letter. http://forbes.house.gov/

Greenert, Jonathan. “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the
Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,” lecture
presented at The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012.

Hammes, T.X. “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely
Conflict.” Strategic Forum, No. 258 (2012): 2.

Harrison, Todd. “Analysis of the FY 2013 Defense Budget and
Sequestration.” Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International
Studies, (2012).

Indyk, Martin S. Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.
Washington, DC : The Brookings Institution, 2012.

Jan Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-Departure Operational
Concept. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies,

Kazianis, Harry. “AirSea Battle’s identity crisis,” The Geopolitical
Conflict Report. ( 2011) http://gcreport.com/index.php/

Kline, Jeffrey , Hughes, Wayne. “Between Peace and Air-Sea Battle: A War
at Sea Strategy.” Naval War College Review, vol. 65, no. 4 (2012): 36.

Mann, James. The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to
Redefine American Power. New York: Penguin Group, 2012.

Obama, President Barack. “Remarks By President Obama to the Australian
Parliament.” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, Canberra,
Australia, November 17, 2011.

O’Rourke, Ronald “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy
Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research
Service Report for Congress, (2008).

Shwartz, Norton. “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the Chief
of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations.” Lecture
presented at The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, May 16, 2012.

U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, (2010).

U.S. Department of Defense. “Background Briefing on Air-Sea Battle by
Defense Officials from the Pentagon.” http://www.
defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4923 (2011).

White, Hugh. The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power.
Melbourne: Black Inc., (2012.)

Williams, Noel J. “Air-Sea Battle: An operational concept looking for a
strategy.” Armed Forces Journal. (2011). http://www.

(3) The Nukes We Need - Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press (Foreign
Affairs 2009)


The Nukes We Need

Preserving the American Deterrent

Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press

Foreign Affairs

November/December 2009  Article Summary and Author Biography

The success of nuclear deterrence may turn out to be its own undoing.
Nuclear weapons helped keep the peace in Europe throughout the Cold War,
preventing the bitter dispute from engulfing the continent in another
catastrophic conflict. But after nearly 65 years without a major war or
a nuclear attack, many prominent statesmen, scholars, and analysts have
begun to take deterrence for granted. They are now calling for a major
drawdown of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and a new commitment to pursue a
world without these weapons.

Unfortunately, deterrence in the twenty-first century may be far more
difficult for the United States than it was in the past, and having the
right mix of nuclear capabilities to deal with the new challenges will
be crucial. The United States leads a global network of alliances, a
position that commits Washington to protecting countries all over the
world. Many of its potential adversaries have acquired, or appear to be
seeking, nuclear weapons. Unless the world's major disputes are resolved
-- for example, on the Korean Peninsula, across the Taiwan Strait, and
around the Persian Gulf -- or the U.S. military pulls back from these
regions, the United States will sooner or later find itself embroiled in
conventional wars with nuclear-armed adversaries.

Preventing escalation in those circumstances will be far more difficult
than peacetime deterrence during the Cold War. In a conventional war,
U.S. adversaries would have powerful incentives to brandish or use
nuclear weapons because their lives, their families, and the survival of
their regimes would be at stake. Therefore, as the United States
considers the future of its nuclear arsenal, it should judge its force
not against the relatively easy mission of peacetime deterrence but
against the demanding mission of deterring escalation during a
conventional conflict, when U.S. enemies are fighting for their lives...

(4) Senator Joseph Lieberman endorses AirSeaBattle


Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) today delivered the following speech at
the Heritage Foundation about U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific:

  ***As prepared for delivery***

  B.C. Lee Lecture on International Affairs Heritage Foundation

  November 2, 2011

Thank you, Ed, for that kind introduction, and for your distinguished
leadership of the Heritage Foundation over many years. It is always a
pleasure to come over to Heritage.

 From the Hart Office Building where my Senate office is, I can see the
American flag that flies over this building -- a constant reminder to me
of the principled, patriotic, and important work that I know is being
done every day at Heritage.

I am grateful for the invitation to deliver the B.C. Lee Lecture on
International Affairs. Some of our country's most distinguished national
security leaders have participated in this lecture series, and I am
honored to have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. I also
want to recognize Walter Lohman, the director of the Asian studies
program at Heritage, for all his work in organizing today's event.

Over the past decade, the region of the world that has most visibly
occupied the attention of American foreign policy has been the greater
Middle East. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a day in the life of either
President Bush or President Obama during the past ten years in which the
Middle East did not play a prominent role -- whether because of the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the
Iranian nuclear program, or now the Arab Spring. The Middle East is a
part of the world that has been, and remains, the source of some of the
most direct and potent threats to our national security. It has also
been the subject of some of the most polarizing and partisan debates in
our domestic politics.

The Asia-Pacific region, by contrast, has not occupied nearly so
prominent a place in our public discourse. But as the old expression
goes, still waters run deep.

In fact, for the past several years, under both Presidents Bush and
Obama, the U.S. has been pursuing a variety of initiatives that have
deepened and strengthened America's presence and engagement across the
Asia-Pacific region.

Among the most significant of these measures have been efforts to
modernize and expand our historic alliances and partnerships in the
region; establish new strategic partnerships with rising powers like
India; foster greater trilateral security cooperation -- for instance,
among the U.S., Japan and South Korea; conduct enhanced dialogue with
China on a range of issues; and embed the U.S. in the evolving
multilateral security and economic architecture of the region.

These collective efforts to deepen our presence and engagement in the
Asia-Pacific over the past decade have been driven by several real and
powerful factors. Most broadly and fundamentally, they reflect a
longstanding, bipartisan recognition that America's own security,
freedom, and prosperity are inseparably intertwined with the future of
the Asia-Pacific region. This is a consensus that has tied together not
only the Bush and Obama presidencies, but multiple administrations of
both parties since the late 1940s.

As former Defense Secretary Bob Gates rightly put it during his final
appearance at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June, "The
commitment and presence of the United States as a Pacific nation has
been one of relatively few constants amidst the furious changes in the
region over the past half-century."

America's deepening engagement also reflects the recognition that as
countries in the Asia-Pacific region have experienced extraordinary
economic growth over the past several decades, there have opened new
opportunities for us to work together to build a freer, safer, and more
prosperous world that will benefit them and us. Having reaped the
rewards of an international system that has enabled their rise, the
successful countries of the Asia-Pacific region now have both a
self-interest and a responsibility to help reinforce and sustain that

Indeed, when it comes to dealing with a host of global challenges --
whether supporting democratic transitions in the Middle East, managing
the global economy, responding to large-scale natural disasters, or
putting pressure on rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea -- the
contributions and cooperation of countries in the Asia-Pacific region
have been, and increasingly will be, absolutely indispensable.

But America's deepening engagement and presence in Asia is also driven
by another factor -- the shifting geopolitics within the Asia-Pacific
region itself.

It's useful here to take a step back. As I noted, the extraordinary
economic growth that has characterized the Asia-Pacific region in recent
decades did not happen by accident. It was made possible because of a
particular set of international conditions. These include a worldwide
system of free and open commerce, access to the global commons by all,
freedom of navigation, and the principle that disputes among nations
should be resolved without coercion or use of force. What has
underwritten and guaranteed these rules and principles in the
Asia-Pacific region is not simply mutual goodwill among nations, but a
very specific balance of military power there.

The fact is that it has been the predominance of American military power
in the Asia-Pacific that has been the ultimate guarantor of the
international rules and conditions that have facilitated the explosive
economic growth of countries in this region, which in turn has enabled
literally hundreds of millions of people to emerge from poverty. By
providing a climate of international security and assured access to the
global commons, the U.S. military has tempered destabilizing regional
rivalries and allowed countries to focus instead on building their
economies and expanding trade -- good for them and good for us.

This was precisely the hope and intention of the wise men who, at the
dawn of the Cold War, established the American security architecture for
this region. As President Harry Truman said in 1951: "In the Pacific, as
in other parts of the world, social and economic progress is impossible
unless there is a shield which protects men from the paralysis of fear."
For six decades, the U.S. military -- through its constellation of
bases, forward-deployed assets, and close cooperation with key
counterparts -- has provided that shield.

The result has been one of the great success stories of American foreign
policy and of human history. As a consequence, the Asia-Pacific region
today is more prosperous, more secure, and more free than ever before.

The balance of power in the region, however, is also under growing
strain. Paradoxically, it has been the miraculous economic growth made
possible by this balance of power that has facilitated the rise of one
country -- China -- whose government many in the Asia-Pacific region now
fear is prepared to use its economic wealth to challenge this regional
balance of power.

Let me be clear. I do not think that a destabilizing security
competition with China is inevitable. On the contrary, the emergence of
a strong and prosperous China can be a real plus for the entire world;
reinforcing the international system that China, as much as any other
country, has benefited from. Already China's extraordinary economic
growth has allowed hundreds of millions of its own people to escape
poverty while simultaneously creating opportunities for millions more
around the world. We also should note, with appreciation and
encouragement, the contributions China has made in recent years to
international efforts to address problems like piracy off the coast of
Africa, and we should seek to engage China in more cooperative
activities of that kind.

At the same time, it is impossible to overlook the fact that -- in
comparison to just a few years ago -- there is markedly greater anxiety
today among virtually all of China's neighbors about Beijing's conduct,
capabilities, and intentions. In my personal experience, China has now
become issue number one that political and policy leaders around the
Asia-Pacific region want to discuss. That was not the case a decade ago.

Much of this uneasiness is traceable to China's continuing military
build-up -- in particular, the development of so-called anti-access and
area-denial capabilities. These are sophisticated weapons systems --
including precision-guided cruise and ballistic missiles, submarines,
anti-satellite weapons, and cyber-capabilities -- that directly
challenge the ability of the U.S. military to carry out its traditional
role as a security guarantor in the Western Pacific and thereby unsettle
the established military balance there.

Sometimes it is said that China's military spending is an inevitable
consequence of its rise, but the experience of other countries in the
Asia-Pacific region suggests otherwise. India, for instance, is another
Asian great power that has experienced spectacular economic growth over
the past two decades and lies outside the U.S. treaty system. But while
India is modernizing its military, it has notably not chosen to invest
in the kind of anti-access, area-denial capabilities that China has
prioritized. That is perhaps one reason why India's rise has not
provoked the sort of anxieties in the region that have become associated
with China.

These concerns have been further exacerbated over the past three years
by what has been characterized as China's "new assertiveness." While for
many years Chinese foreign policy followed Deng Xiaoping's admonition to
"bide time," "keep a low profile," and "hide one's capabilities,"
Beijing has adopted a very different approach as of late; employing
heavy-handed tactics in territorial disputes with a broad swath of its
neighbors -- from the South China Sea to Arunchal Pradesh. These actions
have raised worrying questions, not just in Asia, but around the world
about how China will exercise its influence as it grows more powerful in
the years ahead.

It is especially striking that these tensions between China and its
neighbors have ratcheted up at the same time that cross-strait relations
with Taiwan have settled down. This strongly suggests that the argument,
once quite popular in Washington, that China's rise will be free of
turbulence unless there is a flare-up over Taiwan is far too simplistic.

Now, what does all of this mean for U.S. policy?

First and foremost, it means that uneasiness about China is causing
unprecedented demand for American engagement, presence, and leadership
across the Asia-Pacific. Rather than pushing the United States out of
the region, as some predicted, China's rise is for the moment opening
new doors for Washington, militarily and economically, as countries
along Beijing's broad periphery look for U.S. help in shoring up the
regional balance of power.

In my opinion, this is a window of strategic opportunity that will not
remain open indefinitely. If the U.S. is not responsive to the voices we
hear in the region calling for greater engagement, some countries may
conclude that Washington is no longer a credible partner and either seek
accommodation with China, or pursue their own alternative balancing
strategies, which could be strategically destabilizing for the region.

To be clear, I am not talking about a Soviet-style containment strategy
of China. No one in the Asia-Pacific region wants that, including the
United States.

Nor am I advocating that we scale back our engagement with China. On the
contrary, we must continue to seek every opportunity to pursue dialogue
and interaction with Beijing; so that we can try to eliminate sources of
misunderstanding, reduce the risks of miscalculation, and offer China
the opportunity to join other responsible stakeholders in upholding and
strengthening the regional and international order that has made
possible its rise. That would include expanding on our current naval
cooperation with China against piracy and exploring joint patrols of sea

In our engagement with China, however, we must work with and through our
allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific -- putting to rest any notion
that the United States would consider a so-called "G-2" arrangement with

We must also make absolutely clear that the U.S. is committed to the
balance of power in the Asia-Pacific and to our friends and partners
there, and that we will never be pushed out of the region or into a
secondary or transient role. Indeed, this was the message delivered last
week by Defense Secretary Panetta during his inaugural visit to the
region. As he put it while in South Korea: "The United States of America
is a Pacific power... We will not only remain a Pacific power, but we
will strengthen our presence in this area. We are here to stay."

In order to make this commitment both clear and credible, I strongly
believe additional actions are necessary.

First, American power is clearly inseparable from the strength of the
American economy, and this is especially true in Asia. That is why our
friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific look upon our current federal
government's current fiscal mess with such deep concern. Indeed, it was
also lost on no one in Asia that China's new foreign policy
"assertiveness" started soon after the 2008 American financial meltdown.

Consequently, it is vital both for our own economic future and our
national security that we start tackling the structural problems that
threaten our country's long-term fiscal health, including the difficult
entitlement and tax reforms we need.

Second, hard power matters in Asia. There is no better illustration of
the potentially catastrophic consequences of deep cuts to the Pentagon
budget than the dynamic security environment in the Western Pacific,
where Ronald Reagan's dictum of peace through strength remains very much
true today.

Even under the most optimistic scenarios, however, it is also clear that
our military is going to be required to do more, with less, over the
next several years. As we weigh trade-offs and assign priorities,
ensuring that our military is able to continue to project power in the
Western Pacific and maintain the ability to deter China from acts of
aggression or coercion in that region must be at the very top of our
priority list.

In this respect, it is important to recognize that preserving a stable,
favorable military balance in the Asia-Pacific ultimately is going to
require more than just protecting investments in particular capabilities
and weapons systems -- although that is certainly important. Rather, it
will require the development of new concepts of operations, doctrine,
and strategy that tie these systems into a coherent whole.

One promising framework for doing this is a new concept being developed
by the U.S. Navy and Air Force, called "Air Sea Battle." Although still
in its infancy, Air Sea Battle has the potential to drive innovations in
our military's planning, operations, and procurement to neutralize the
anti-access, area-denial capabilities being fielded by the Chinese military.

Maintaining the military balance in Asia also demands that we find ways
to deepen, broaden, and harden our force posture across the region. That
means keeping U.S. forces in Japan and South Korea as long as the
democratically-elected governments in Tokyo and Seoul want us there. It
also means looking for new arrangements -- not necessarily permanent
American bases, but long-term access to joint facilities, more port
calls and exercises... in short, more American presence on the seas, in
the skies, and on the ground.

Finally, this is a moment to take our defense and security cooperation
with our Asian friends to whole new levels, helping to build greater
capacity and interoperability among both longstanding allies like Japan,
South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines, as well as with new
partners like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

In addition to these military measures, the U.S. also needs an
ambitious, forward-looking, and strategically-minded trade policy for
the Asia-Pacific region. While countries in the region are eager to
enjoy the opportunities created by China's growth, they also worry about
growing overly-dependent on Beijing. In this respect, the strategic
balance they seek is not only military, but also economic. As CNAS
scholar Richard Fontaine recently observed, "In Asia, where the business
of the region is quite often business, Washington's trade posture is a
key sign of its presence and continued commitment to the region."

In this respect, it is to the credit of President Obama that he
abandoned his initial opposition to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
after coming to office, and worked hard to secure its passage. This was
a very significant accomplishment, but the fact remains that the U.S.
has not yet signed a single new FTA during the Obama Administration.
According to one recent analysis, more than 300 trade agreements have
either been concluded or being negotiated in the Asia-Pacific, but none
of which include the United States.

It is not, however, too late. The Obama Administration has pledged to
push forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which would
liberalize trade with eight Pacific Rim countries. This is a promising
American initiative and must be treated as nothing less than a national
security priority, but more is also required. In particular, it is past
time for Washington to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan,
whose commerce with mainland China is arguably now more free than its
trade with the U.S. In addition, we must redouble our efforts to
conclude a Bilateral Investment Treaty with India, with the clearly
stated goal of concluding a full FTA with New Delhi before the decade is

And while we are thinking of bold new steps, we should also actively
explore the possibility of an FTA with Japan, which would be a true game
changer for the region.

In our foreign policy in the Asian Pacific, the United States also must
never shy from standing by our values. The fact is, America's leadership
in the world is guided by more than the pursuit of alignments of
commercial or security interests. It is rooted in our national values
and principles like democracy, rule of law, and human rights that we
believe are universal -- an assessment that is shared by many of our
friends in Asia.

Indeed, India's prime minister has called liberal democracy "the natural
order of social and political organization in today's world." He is
absolutely right. Consider that, sixty-five years ago, there were only
two Asia-Pacific democracies: Australia and New Zealand. Today, more
people live under democratic government in the Asia-Pacific region than
in any other part of the world. From South Korea to the Philippines, and
from Taiwan to Indonesia, the past three decades have witnessed an
extraordinary expansion of freedom's reach and rule.

On the one hand, this creates enormous opportunities to pursue
values-based diplomacy with our Asia-Pacific partners, working to
promote democracy, rule of law, and human rights, both in this region
and around the world.

On the other hand, we also should not hesitate to challenge governments
that violate these principles, including China, where human rights
conditions have notably worsened over the past two years in what appears
to be a heightened crackdown on dissent. When journalists, civil society
activists, and artists are imprisoned for exercising
universally-recognized rights, when religious and ethnic minorities are
oppressed for upholding their beliefs and culture, when rule of law is
flouted -- the United States and our partners must speak out.

Let me conclude my remarks today by returning to the place I began --
namely, the greater Middle East.

It has recently become fashionable in some quarters to argue that, in
order for the U.S. to succeed in the coming "Pacific century," we must
turn away from the Middle East, where we have spent so much blood and
treasure over the course of the past decade.

In my opinion, this is a false choice -- and a dangerous one.

To be sure, a greater share of U.S. resources and attention will be
shifting eastward in the years ahead. But as that occurs, we must
acknowledge that both of these great regions are critical for our
national security. We must be cognizant of the deep and profound
linkages that tie the future of the Middle East with that of the rest of
the Asian continent.

These linkages are not always apparent in Washington, but consider, for
instance, the view from New Delhi, where the Indian government has a
vital national interest in the outcome of the U.S.-led war in
Afghanistan and the related effort to end Pakistan's sponsorship of
Islamist terrorist groups. The notion that the U.S. might disengage from
Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to "pivot" towards Asia would be
viewed by India, one of our most important Asian partners, very threatening.

Likewise, consider the view from Beijing, where authorities earlier this
year made the sale of the jasmine flower contraband, after Tunisia's
democratic revolutionaries adopted it as the emblem of their uprising
against an autocratic regime. This illustrates the way in which the
Chinese government very much sees a connection between the cause of
democratic self-government in the Middle East and in China -- and they
are right to do so.

Finally, consider the view from any country in the Asia-Pacific region
that counts itself an ally of the United States, and whose security
therefore ultimately rests on America's pledge to come to its defense
against aggression. For these countries and their governments, America's
abandonment of an ally anywhere in the world, in the face of a tough
fight, cannot help but be a source of grave and destabilizing alarm,
raising questions about America's reliability and staying power in the
Asia-Pacific as well.

The simple truth of the matter is that American power and leadership in
the world is ultimately indivisible. That is why we cannot hope to be
effective in the Asia-Pacific if we retreat or disengage from the Middle
East. Success on one side of Asia will reinforce success on the other;
the same is true of failure. It is only by matching our principles to
our power in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific alike that we can secure
the future of freedom and prosperity that our people and the people of
Asia deserve and demand. That is the opportunity, and the
responsibility, we face as we begin the second decade of the 21st
century. We can and must seize it.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.

# # #  1:10 AM   385 Views

(5) DoD Sheds First Clear Light On AirSea Battle: Warfare Unfettered


By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on June 03, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Like the Holy Trinity or the designated hitter rule, the concept known
as AirSea Battle has been much discussed but little understood. The
Defense Department released an official and unclassified summary of the
concept for the first time this evening on a Navy website .
(BreakingDefense got the document before it was made public). AirSea
Battle would break down longstanding barriers: barriers to cooperation
among the four armed services, barriers separating domains of conflict
like submarine warfare and cyberspace, and, most problematically,
barriers that have kept past crises from escalating to greater
destruction and even, ultimately, to nuclear war.

Over a decade ago, Chinese military theorists started talking about
“unrestricted warfare.” AirSea Battle is unrestricted warfare, American
style. It’s central to a Pacific nightmare scenario with China, to
reopening the Persian Gulf if it were blockaded by Iran, and to waging
interservice budget battles in Washington. It’s been dissected by
thinktanks, criticized by Sinophile strategists, and alternately envied
and imitated by the Army. Yet unlike its acknowledged inspiration, the
Army-Air Force concept of AirLand Battle against the Soviet Union,
AirSea Battle remains more vague than vivid. Part of the problem is so
much of it is classified, part is that the idea is still evolving, but
some of the blame must fall on the Air Force and Navy, the concept’s
chief proponents, who have never articulated it all that well in public
– that is, until now:

Back in September, Rep. Randy Forbes, an advocate of AirSea Battle and
chairman of the House armed Services seapower and emerging forces
subcommittee, wrote an op-ed for us urging the services to come out with
“an unclassified version of the AirSea Battle concept.” Nine months
after Forbes’s entreaty and almost four years after then-Secretary of
Defense Bob Gates officially tasked the Air Force and Navy – joined
belatedly by the Army and Marines – to develop the AirSea Battle idea,
we finally have an unclassified explanation of what it actually is.
Better yet, with some context and a little parsing of military jargon
(which we’ll try to do here), this summary is remarkably lucid.

Start with the basics. AirSea Battle began as, and remains, an attempt
to solve the operational problem known in clunky Pentagon jargon as
Anti-Access/Area Denial or (even worse) A2/AD. In essence, anti-access
is how an enemy keeps US forces out of a region altogether, area denial
is how they bog us down once we get there, but the two inevitably overlap.

Adversaries have obviously tried to keep us out and bog us down before.
The new danger, however, is that technologies that were once an American
monopoly are now proliferating to China and then onwards to anyone who
can buy weapons from China, which is basically anybody who’s got the
cash. So after decades of US forces being able to fly, sail, and drive
more or less anywhere they wanted (even roadside bombs, for all the
casualties they inflict, never actually stopped us moving around
Afghanistan or Iraq), we increasingly have to worry about sophisticated
weapons that can reach out and touch us at long range, from “a new
generation of cruise, ballistic, air-to-air, and surface-to-air
missiles” (in the summary’s words) to anti-satellite and cyber attacks.

That said, the summary goes on, “even low-technology capabilities, such
as rudimentary sea mines, fast-attack small craft, or shorter range
artillery and missile systems” can keep us from stopping aggression “in
certain scenarios” which they decline to name. (One much-discussed
example, though, would be an Iranian attempt to close the Strait of
Hormuz to oil shipping). But it’s the high-tech threats, especially
ballistic missiles and cyberattacks, that worry strategists most, not
only because they could keep the US from intervening in a regional
crisis but because they could enable an enemy to strike the United
States itself. As the summary warns, “even the U.S. homeland cannot be
considered a sanctuary.”

What the new document makes clear, in a way it has not been clear before
(at least to me), is how the US military intends to respond. In essence,
if an enemy can now reach out and touch us in ways and at distances they
never could before, we’re going to find all sorts of ways to reach out
and touch them back.

The document describes this as a “cross-domain” “attack in depth” using
“both kinetic and non-kinetic means.” In plain English, this means we
won’t just sit back and defend ourselves. We won’t just try to shoot
down enemy missiles after they launch, block cyberattacks once they’re
already underway, or jam sensors that are already scanning us, although
all those defensive activities are certainly necessary. Nor will we just
respond tit-for-tat, with our airplanes shooting down the airplanes that
attack us, our ships shooting at their ships, our cyberwarriors hacking
theirs, although such “symmetrical” forms of fighting remain important, too.

Instead, we’ll throw all sorts of wrenches into the enemy war machine at
every possible point, what the top officers of the Air Force and Navy,
Gen. Mark Welsh and Adm. Jonathan Greenert, called in an article they
co-wrote “breaking the kill chain.” Of course you should try to shoot
down the enemy missile once it’s launched. But it’s much better to blow
up the launcher before it actually launches, or to blind the radar
that’s trying to find you, or, best of all, crash the enemy
communications network that is orchestrating the attack in the first
place, whether by blowing up their headquarters, jamming their wireless
datalinks, or hacking their computers. Instead of trying to shoot down
an enemy satellite, just bomb the ground control station to which it’s
transmitting data, or better yet hack into that data stream to feed the
enemy false information.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, in other words, throw water on it,
or sand. As the summary puts it, “cyber or undersea operations can be
used to defeat air defense systems, air forces can be used to eliminate
submarine or mine maritime threats, or space assets can be used to
disrupt adversary command and control.”

Here’s where it gets difficult, of course. All these capabilities answer
to different commanders in the theater. Back home, they are all
organized, trained, and equipped by four different armed services, each
one further subdivided into its own stovepiped fiefdoms.

Overcoming these barriers even partially has been a decades-long
struggle for what the military calls jointness. It took 20 years, for
example, just to get Air Force and Navy aircraft to work properly
together. Back in the 1991 Gulf War couriers had to fly the strike plans
between airbases ashore and carriers at sea because the two services’
transmission systems were not compatible. Since the 1980s debacles of
Desert One and Grenada, which prompted Congress to pass the 1986
Goldwater-Nichols Act over the objections of Defense Secretary Caspar
Weinberger and Navy Secretary John Lehman, there has been tremendous

In the current conflict, Army and Marine ground troops have worked
together closely in Afghanistan, and Air Force and Navy planes provided
close air support to both. But that’s still a long way from, for
example, a Navy pilot over the West Pacific needing an enemy radar shut
down in a hurry and getting an Army signals officer at the National
Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland to hack into it for him, on
demand in a life or death situation. Yet that seems to be precisely the
kind of thing that AirSea Battle envisions.

“The purpose of ASB is not to simply conduct operations more jointly,”
the summary says sweepingly. “Commanders, whether defending or
attacking, must have ready access to capabilities, no matter what domain
they reside in or which commander owns them.” (The staggeringly
infelicitous term the document uses to describe this concept is
“networked, integrated forces capable of attack-in-depth to disrupt,
destroy and defeat adversary forces (NIA/D3).” Let’s all pray that one
never catches on; anti-access/area denial is bad enough).

That kind of intimate cooperation can’t be imposed by the joint theater
commanders on their own, and it needs more than just better
communications networks. It requires, instead, new “procedures [and]
authorities” to let those operational commanders reach across
traditional lines of jurisdiction and bring in capabilities they need.
(The document doesn’t say, but such changes would require new Pentagon
policies and perhaps new laws, developments we’ll be watching for and
writing about).

This new jointness also must reach all the way back into the core of the
armed services’ jurisdictions, into how troops are trained, units
organized, and equipment developed and procured. The services need
“mutually developed capability gaps” – i.e. a shared official analysis
of the problem – and “integrated solution sets” – i.e. a shared official
program to solve it. That kind of coordination would require require
changes in how the services train to fight and could affect every
defense contract for items more complex than combat boots.

As awe-inspiring as the ensuing turf wars will be, however, they’re not
nearly as scary as the real wars. Tit-for-tat, unimaginative
“symmetrical” combat – my planes dogfight your planes, my subs hunt your
subs – is not a particularly effective way of winning conflicts. But it
is at least modestly effective at controlling escalation. Both sides
know, more or less, what to expect: If we do X, the other guy will
probably do Y or Z, and Z is pretty bad, so maybe we don’t want to do X,
after all.

Predictable, symmetrical responses are a big part of why the Cuban
Missile Crisis, for example, did not lead to war. The Soviets put
missiles in Cuba, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised bombing the
missile sites, but Kennedy realized Russians would strike back. So
instead we used our ships to stop their ships that were trying to bring
more missiles in. It was a near-run thing, but it worked, and no one got
blown up. Conversely, using new weapons and tactics can provoke people
to retaliate in ways you don’t expect. The Germans thought a
proportionate response to the Royal Navy’s blockade of German ports
would be for U-boats to sink every ship bound for Britain, including
neutral ones, but Woodrow Wilson disagreed, which is why the US ended up
entering World War I.

In the future AirSea Battle, that “cross-domain attack in depth using
both kinetic and non-kinetic means” makes the old rulebook irrelevant.
If, during some crisis over Taiwan or the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands,
for example, missile launchers on the Chinese coast threaten our ships
in the Western Pacific, the Chinese would certainly expect us to try to
shoot down any missiles when and if they’re actually launched. But if a
missile launcher is about to fire on our ships and we preemptively bomb
it, is that proportional use of force or irresponsible escalation? If we
strike a missile site on the Chinese mainland to protect our ships,
should we expect the Chinese to retaliate against our Pacific Fleet or
against Los Angeles?

Or what if, instead, we neutralize the missile threat before it ever
launches, let’s say by hacking the Chinese satellite in orbit that spots
our ships or the Chinese computers in Beijing that coordinate the
attack? Does such a cyber-offensive count as an escalatory, inflammatory
threat against the core of their national command-and-control system?
Or, since nobody got hurt and nothing blew up, is it not even an act of
war? If you want a chance of keeping a conflict from escalating, each
side had better understand what the other considers escalation – and the
fight for cyberspace has, by some measures, already begun.

It is unnervingly unclear how thoroughly the people working on AirSea
Battle have thought this out. Admittedly, they’re only four years into
it, and it took us much longer to work out nuclear deterrence in the
Cold War.

“The argument goes both ways,” wrote one Navy officer, who’s read the
classified version of the concept, in an email exchange with me today.
“[You can argue either] because we are more capable (with ASB), we have
a better deterrent and can avoid conflicts, or, because we are more
capable, the adversary is forced to resort to nuclear weapons sooner.”

“The ASB concept assumes nuclear deterrence holds (which I know some
think is a poor assumption),” the officer acknowledged. That means hard
thinking about the risks of escalation “may not be as prominent in ASB
discussions as some would like.”

None of this is to say that AirSea Battle is a bad idea, or inherently
escalatory, or even primarily about fighting China. “The Concept is not
an operational plan or strategy for a specific region or adversary,” the
summary insists, as Pentagon officials have for years. When I asked Rep.
Forbes and his staff about escalation, they agreed: “Air-Sea Battle is a
limited operational concept; it is not a doctrine, a military strategy,
or a warfighting plan” against any particular country, Forbes responded
in an emailed statement.

While people may laugh behind their hands at these denials, there is
some truth in them. We do need to think about fighting China, because
the People’s Liberation Army is the forcing function, the cutting-edge
example of an anti-access/area denial threat. But while it is unlikely
we will ever go to war with China, it is very likely we will have to
fight someone, somewhere who has imitated China and even bought their
equipment and learned from Hezbollah’s battles with Israel. It’s similar
to how we fought Soviet-equipped armies in Iraq and Vietnam without ever
fighting the Soviets themselves. We put tanks and planes and missiles in
Western Europe, organized according to the AirLand Battle doctrine, not
to provoke the Soviet Union into attacking but to deter it.

The ideal for AirSea Battle would likewise be to deter conflict, not to
escalate it. “As for escalation, the potential is there in any conflict,
but I don’t see the ASB concept as directly affecting the chances either
way,” the officer went on. “The sensitive game of ‘know your enemy,’
strategic posturing and messaging, and calculated risk-taking still
apply as always.”

To play that game, of course, it helps for both sides to know the rules,
which is precisely why official documents like this one matter. They
don’t just lay out AirSea Battle for the benefit of Washington pundits.
A key audience for this document is the Chinese political and military
leaders. It helps inform Iranian, North Korean, and other foreign
policymakers as well.

“The ongoing confusion about the actual scope of ASB is exactly why it
is so important for DoD to carefully articulate the limited nature of
this concept,” Rep. Forbes told me. “I have consistently argued that the
success of ASB will depend not just on its implementation within the
Department of Defense, but also our ability to effectively communicate
its true intent to both allies and adversaries alike.”

(6) AirSea Battle for Dummies


June 17, 2013

By Harry Kazianis

With the AirSea Battle Office's recent document laying out in greater
detail this important operational concept, one would think most would
have a good grasp on this important topic.

For the last several years, debate has raged in a variety of national
security circles. Various pundits have argued against the concept as
highly escalatory risking even greater tensions in the U.S.-China
relationship. Despite ample disclosures from the U.S. military and the
scholarly community, there still seems to be confusion concerning what
AirSea Battle (ASB) is, what it is not, and its possible effects on the
future of modern warfare.

First, let's clearly state what ASB is: an operational concept (as
pointed out by M. Scott Weaver), not a battle plan or a blueprint to
fight a war or even conduct a military campaign. According to Milan
Vego, an operational concept "is used to refer to the application of
military power within a certain framework, regardless of the objective
to be accomplished. It does not pertain to a specific level of war, and
is generic or universal in nature." So while ASB would predominately be
a guiding operational concept targeting the Anti-Access/Area-Denial
(A2/AD) capabilities of states like China and Iran, it certainly would
never be a fully conceptualized battle plan. AirSea Battle would be used
in various scenarios to gain and maintain access to a contested combat
zone or theatre of operations. Other military objectives as part of a
larger battle plan would call for other tactics, fighting likely across
multiple domains (land, air, sea, cyber and space), utilizing various
plans or strategies. Simply stated: ASB is only one piece of a larger
puzzle when it comes to 21st century warfare.

Second, ASB must be understood as a reaction to a unique military
problem -- but not all problems U.S. forces may need to confront in the
future. Just as the revolution in military affairs (RMA) brought about
the age of smart bombs, stealth fighters, network-centric warfare and
combat forces that can communicate and wage battle with an ever
increasing level of "jointness," a counter-revolution has also been
building. Nations who find themselves at odds with the U.S. have looked
for ways to compete asymmetrically with Washington's impressive military
power. Many have come to the conclusion that denying access or creating
a challenging environment for U.S. forces to operate in across multiple
domains thanks to the proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles,
ultra-quiet conventional submarines, sea mines, and cyber warfare is the
only way to compete with the arsenal of a superpower. This is the
challenge that ASB seeks to negate.

Cleary though, A2/AD is not the only challenge America will face in the
years to come. Domestic and international terrorism, climate change
challenges, natural disasters, and hostile non-state actors must all be
part of U.S. military contingency planning.

Third, since we do not have access to the classified version of ASB, we
will never know for sure how this operational concept will be rolled
into a battle plan. However, one of the main critiques of ASB, that it
could allow for airstrikes on mainland China with the possible threat of
a conflict going nuclear, must be looked at through the prism of modern
war. Yes, there is a possibility that American planners in various
scenarios could advocate for such strikes. However, equally frightening,
many scholars who study China's A2/AD strategy see the possibility of
Beijing launching massive conventional ballistic and cruise missile
strikes against U.S. and allied bases in Okinawa, the home islands of
Japan, and possibly Guam and others in a first strike in various
scenarios. Simply stated: any conflict between China and the United
States where A2/AD and ASB go head to head would be a frightening affair
-- with ghastly consequences globally that should not be taken lightly.

Fourth, and perhaps most important of all, cyber will eventually become
the most important domain of modern warfare, and an area where ASB must
link all domains together to create the ultimate advantage over
asymmetrical competitors. With the modern battlefield interlinked
together like never before, losing control over cyberspace on any level
could create a situation where a would be aggressor puts in play all
other domains of the modern battlefield. If an opponent were able to
strike U.S. command and control (C2) with malware or a virus that
cripples the ability to communicate between combatant commanders and
their superiors or took away the ability to track enemy movements, the
damage to combat operations and lives lost would be incalculable. In the
years to come, cyber will be the most important domain for competing
forces to control as it will have vast influence over all others. For
ASB to be an effective strategy, the proper resources, training, and
staffing must be ensured so cyber does not become a domain of doom for
U.S. war fighters. Thankfully, the latest ASB document clearly makes
cyber a top priority.

Truthfully, an operational concept cannot cover all contingencies and is
never perfect. Yet, ASB's goal is to solve the problem posed by A2/AD
allowing battlefield commanders to gain and maintain access and achieve
wider military goals. There is no gentle way to solve such a challenge
as nations crafting anti-access strategies have developed strategies
that attempt to keep parties away from contested areas. Fighting the
U.S. symmetrically would be suicide. A2/AD is an attempt to level the
playing field -- but we must remember what ASB is and its limited scope
of operations. ASB is a response to a unique challenge that is already
before us that is not going away, like it or not.

Harry J. Kazianis is a non-resident WSD Handa Fellow at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, PACNET. He has previously served as
Editor-In-Chief for The Diplomat.

(7) Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart


By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on July 09, 2013 at 3:35 PM

PENTAGON: In intellectual terms, Air-Sea Battle is the biggest of the
military’s big ideas for its post-Afghanistan future. But what is it,
really? It’s a constantly evolving concept for high-tech, high-intensity
conflict that touches on everything from cyberwar to nuclear escalation
to the rise of China. In practical terms, however, the beating heart of
AirSea Battle is eleven overworked officers working in windowless
Pentagon meeting rooms, and the issues they can’t get to are at least as
important as the ones they can.

“It’s like being a start-up inside a great, big, rigid corporation,” one
Air-Sea Battle representative told me in an exclusive briefing last
month. The Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO) has just 17 staff: those eleven
uniformed officers, drawn from all four services, plus six civilian
contractors. None of them ranks higher than colonel or Navy captain.
Even these personnel are technically “on loan,” seconded from other
organizations and paid for out of other budgets. But those 17 people sit
at the hub of a sprawling network of formal liaisons and informal
contacts across the four armed services and the joint combatant commands.

“Air-Sea Battle has left the building,” said a second officer at the
briefing. “We’ve reached the grass roots, and we’re getting ideas from
the grass roots.”

So the good news is that the Air-Sea Battle Office isn’t just another
big Pentagon bureaucracy, let alone the anti-China cabal it’s sometimes
of accused of being. Instead, in essence, it is an effort to develop
compatible technologies and tactics across all four services for a new
kind of conflict: not the Army and Marine-led land war against low-tech
guerrillas we have seen since 9/11, but an Air Force and Navy-led
campaign against “anti-access/area denial” forces that could fry our
networks, jam GPS, and hit our planes, ships, bases, and even satellites
with long-range missiles. China is the worst case scenario here, but not
the only one.

The bad news is, precisely because ASBO is not a big bureaucracy, the
smart, earnest, small staff of the “start-up” can only really focus on
existing weapons and organizations. They are deluged by the near-term
nitty gritty of getting existing organizations and weapons programs to
work together in a future war. That leaves little time to explore
potentially revolutionary new technologies not already embedded in the
Pentagon’s seven-year plan, the Program Objective Memorandum (POM). That
also leaves them little time to think through the often scary strategic
implications of how the next war will be waged.

In fact, the ASBO was very carefully set up not to handle war planning,
strategy, or high-level policy. By design, it is only a collaboration
between the four armed services – originally just the Air Force and
Navy, but now joined by the Army and Marines. It is deliberately
distinct from the Joint Staff and the joint combatant commands. “That’s
not to say we’re divorced from the Joint Staff, [let alone] fighting
against each other,” said one officer, but “the benefit for the service
chiefs is they can reach right down to us,” without going through joint

That leaves the Air-Sea Battle Office to focus on the services’ Title X
responsibilities to “train, organize, and equip” the force, while
leaving how, when, and why to use the force up to the joint world.
“We’re working on making sure that a rifle has interchangeable magazines
and ammunition,” another officer said, as an analogy. “We’re not worried
about how it’s going to be used. Those policy decisions are not really
what this office considers.”

It’s not that they’re blind to those bigger issues. Originally, “when
the concept was written, we put a boundary on it and we said, ‘hey,
we’re not going to address nuclear weapons,’” said another officer.
“Since then we’ve realized, ‘hey, we do need to deal with nuclear

Most military officers are as reluctant as the rest of us to contemplate
nuclear war, and since the Berlin Wall came down, they’ve largely been
able to ignore it as we fought relatively low-tech foes. But Air-Sea
Battle is driven – though few will say so on the record – by threats
from Iran, which may soon have the bomb, from North Korea, which has had
it since 2006 and is working on fitting nuclear warheads into an ICBM,
and from China, which has had nukes since 1964 and already has a sizable
arsenal of nuclear missiles. Air-Sea Battle envisions a clean campaign
of precision non-nuclear strikes, but, paradoxically, the more effective
such conventional operations become, the more likely a hard-pressed
adversary is to resort to nuclear weapons in response.

China, Iran, and the US itself are also all increasingly aggressive in
cyberspace, a brave new war whose ramifications are as little understood
today as nuclear radiation was in the early 1950s. Unlike nukes, cyber
operations – both offensive and defensive – have been at the heart of
Air-Sea Battle from the beginning, since it envisions future warfare as
a clash not just between missiles, ships, and aircraft but between the
computer networks linking them. Why shoot down planes or satellites one
at a time when frying the enemy’s network can neutralize all his
hardware at once?

Even here, however, the Air-Sea Battle Office keeps its approach
carefully and consciously constrained. Wargames have explored what kinds
of cyber capabilities might be useful in what scenarios and how quickly
military decision makers need to be able to react. But there remain huge
unanswered questions about who has the legal authority to do what in a
cyber conflict. ASBO makes recommendations, said one officer, but “who
makes the decision, ultimately, to authorize the release [of a cyber
weapon such as a virus] is not in this office’s wheelhouse.”

Nor has anyone worked out what counts as escalation or provocation in
cyberspace. In the nuclear and espionage arenas of the Cold War, the
equivalent questions took academics, strategists, and diplomats decades
to work out. Cyber conflict is at least as complicated, but if anyone’s
working out the game theory, it isn’t the Air-Sea Battle Office.

“We’re providing the capabilities for the combatant commanders so the
president has options,” said one officer. “Escalation is a policy decision.”

Unrestricted Warfare

What ASBO does deal with is scary enough. Air-Sea Battle is typically
depicted as a doctrine for long-range exchange of missiles with China in
the troubled Western Pacific or with Iran in and around the Persian
Gulf: US air and sea forces try to push their way in while battling
enemy “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD) forces trying to keep us out.
But that’s just part of it.

To start with, it’s nigh impossible to keep such conflicts safely
contained “over there,” in some distant war zone. Any enemy that wants
to defeat US forces at its front door must attack the global networks
that support them, especially the worldwide “Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance” (C4ISR) system, whose backbone is satellites in orbit.

“There’s no range associated with cyber and space effects,” said one
officer, “and the longer and longer range of the sophisticated
technologies drives you to be ready when you deploy.” That’s actually an
understatement, however. An enemy savvy enough to hack our global
computer networks – or just send a suicide bomber to, say, the Navy base
in San Diego – can bring our forces under attack before they deploy.

Even in the foreign war zone, US forces won’t start outside the reach of
enemy weapons and work their way in, as they did in the Pacific and
European campaigns of World War II. Modern cruise and ballistic missiles
are so long-ranged that our forward forces may well be inside the
enemy’s A2/AD defense zone when the bad guys turn it on.

So even if Iran can’t hack our global networks, our ships in the Gulf
and our ground bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar may be in missile
range as soon as the shooting starts. They’ll be under threat and quite
possibly cut off. The same holds for US ships in the Western Pacific and
for forces based in South Korea and Japan in a conflict with China. So
the opening phases of an Air-Sea Battle may look a lot less like Douglas
MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign, with US forces advancing across the
Pacific, and much more like MacArthur’s doomed defense of the
Philippines, with US forces unprepared, under siege, and fighting for
their lives.

This, incidentally, is where the ground forces come in to Air-Sea
Battle, not just as targets but as the first line of defense. The Army
is responsible for land-based missile defense, so Patriot and THAAD
batteries will play a crucial role in defending the Air Force’s forward
bases. Even Navy ships at sea may well find it advisable to fall back
towards friendly shores so they can augment their own Aegis anti-missile
systems with the Army’s land-based defenses. Just getting all these
systems to work together is a major technical challenge.

(There’s also a significant minority that wants the Army to revive the
offensive intermediate-range ballistic missile capability that it had
during the Cold War, albeit this time with non-nuclear warheads, to give
missile-shooting enemies a taste of their own medicine).

The Marines don’t do missile defense, but they do provide short-ranged
airpower, especially airpower that doesn’t depend on long runways or
full-sized aircraft carriers. V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors might rescue
downed Air Force and Navy pilots, while F-35B jump jets can operate from
roads, parking lots, and other ad hoc airfields too numerous and
low-profile for the enemy to easily target, offered one officer.

Both Army and Marine ground troops may also be essential to defending
forward bases and missile-defense batteries against terrorist-style
strikes, seaborne raiders, or even conventional ground attack. US ground
troops may stage their own amphibious strikes to seize sites for new
forward bases, which was their main role in the Pacific in World War II.
Special operators may slip ashore to pinpoint targets for long-range
strikes and to inflict damage and confusion behind the enemy’s front lines.

So while Air-Sea Battle may be mostly about the air and sea, one officer
said, “it’s going to interlink with land throughout. You can’t think of
a place where you’re going to fight where there isn’t going to be a
single atoll, peninsula, or some form of a land mass” that can serve as
a forward base for one side or the other.

The trick, of course, will be surviving. Big US bases in Afghanistan and
Iraq were immune to anything but harassing fire from the insurgents, but
being a large, stationary target in range of sophisticated missiles is
another matter. “In Gulf War I [in 1991], we had the SCUD… a land-attack
ballistic missile,” said one officer. “We were worried about those, but
we weren’t very worried because they weren’t too accurate.” (That said,
a single lucky SCUD strike on a US barracks in Dhahran killed 27
soldiers). “With the advances in technology, these systems are now
becoming more precise and more lethal.”

As a result, there’s real anxiety among some allies who live inside the
range of, for example, Chinese missiles that the US will simply pull
back and fight from a safer distance. “One of the questions you commonly
get from the Japanese [about Air-Sea Battle is] they wonder if it’s
about moving back to a defensible perimeter, withdrawing from the
Japanese islands, withdrawing from forward positions,” one officer said.
“We’ve told them actually it’s quite the opposite, it’s about being able
to maintain forces forward deployed under a threat.”

If we get Air-Sea Battle right, it will reassure friends and deter
adversaries. If we get it wrong, though, it will unnerve friends and
provoke adversaries instead. The problem is that getting it right
depends on much more than tactics and technology – and it’s not clear
who, if anyone, is answering the crucial strategic questions.

Edited 6:45 pm

(8) Air-Sea Battle and the Challenge of Access


David W. Kearn

Jul 02, 2013

In recent years, U.S. defense experts have focused on the growing
"Anti-Access/Area Denial" (A2/AD) challenge from the Peoples Republic of
China (PRC). China has developed and deployed military capabilities that
undermine the U.S. capacity to project power into China's littoral
areas. These include advanced ballistic and cruise missiles, quiet
modern submarines, extensive air defenses, and potentially decisive
offensive cyber-warfare applications. In a potential worst-case
scenario, a highly-coordinated first-strike by China could essentially
disarm Taiwan, and also knock U.S. forward bases in the Western Pacific
off-line. Because U.S. naval vessels would also be at risk within a
contested zone extending off China's coastline, the United States
response would be severely limited.

To address this challenge, thinking within some quarters of the Pentagon
has seemingly centered on a new operational concept called Air-Sea
Battle (ASB). Analogous to the Air-Land Battle concept that envisioned
close coordination between U.S. airpower and ground forces to defeat
numerically superior Soviet armored forces in Western Europe during the
1980s, ASB would integrate elements of U.S. air and naval power to
maintain and expand the capacity of the United States to project power
around Taiwan and in China's littoral regions. The Pentagon is quick to
assert ASB is an operational concept; not a specific strategy or battle
plan focused on any specific nation. However, it is expected to shape
and inform the way the Pentagon invests in research and development,
procures and deploys new weapons systems, and reconfigures force
structures and manpower requirements over the longer-term. As a
component of larger U.S. approaches to executing critical missions that
address threats to U.S. security interests, ASB would maintain access in
contested zones in important regions. It is asserted that this capacity
would deter China from future provocation, reassure Taiwan and America's
allies in the region, and enhance stability in the event of a political

As it is presented, Air-Sea Battle is not without potential problems.
First, in reality it may be difficult to develop cost-effective
technological solutions to overcome China's geographic "home field"
advantage vis-à-vis Taiwan. Certain ideas, like ringing China's
periphery with new conventional ballistic missiles would seem highly
provocative, potentially destabilizing in the event of crisis (both
sides may have incentives to strike first), and both excessively costly
and diplomatically controversial. The United States is currently
prohibited from developing or deploying these types of missiles under
the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, which is
similarly constrained. Other programs like a next-generation penetrating
bomber to replace the B-2 would also be costly, but may provide the
United States with more flexible capabilities and contribute to a
wider-range of missions.

Second (and closely related) is that almost any alternative operational
approach that seeks to improve U.S. deterrent capabilities is predicated
on destroying targets on the Chinese mainland. This, in and of itself,
is highly problematic and fraught with danger. Once targets on Chinese
soil are hit, the potential for escalation would increase significantly.
Under conflict conditions, it may be difficult for Beijing to know what
the United States may be targeting and why. If Chinese leaders thought
that its own nuclear forces might be at risk or that the United States
was committed to regime change, there could be strong incentives to
escalate, even to nuclear weapons.

Third, at a fundamental level, China values Taiwan more highly than the
United States does. Even if the Pentagon was completely unconstrained in
terms of resources and could acquire and deploy all of the components of
an Air-Sea Battle approach, neither the expectation of significant
punishment nor the potential failure to achieve its maximum political
objectives would realistically deter China from launching a punitive
campaign against Taiwan in the event that Taipei unilaterally declares
independence. The nature of deterrence in the event of a cross-Straits
crisis is thus quite different from the challenge confronting the United
States and NATO forces in Europe during the Cold War. Air-Sea Battle may
be an important starting point in the development of a clearer, more
comprehensive understanding of what the United States may require to
deter China from attempting to impose its preferred resolution to the
status of Taiwan. However, it seems to be a "maximal" approach which is
likely to be costly, risky in terms of escalation, and perceived as
highly threatening and provocative by Beijing. The United States must
develop alternatives to enhance its abilities to deter China while also
reassuring Taiwan and U.S. regional allies, and avoiding the dangers of
provocation and escalation in the event of a crisis.

(9) AirSea Battle - from Air Force Magazine


Air Force Magazine

2,010 No. 882,010

AirSea Battle

A new operational concept looks to prepare the US and its allies to
deter or defeat Chinese power.

By Richard Halloran

After three Air Force C-130 pilots and crews from Yokota Air Base in
Japan finished an exercise called Cope West 10 in Indonesia in April,
they wrote up evaluations of Halim Air Base and other airfields from
which they had operated, assessing the condition of runways, reliability
of electrical supply, safety of fuel storage, and adequacy of parking ramps.

Until now, that would have been a routine report to prepare for the next
time American airmen might use Indonesian air bases. With the emergence
of a joint Air Force-Navy operational concept called AirSea Battle,
however, intelligence on airfields has taken on new significance.

A critical element in the concept is to identify alternate airfields all
over Asia that Air Force and Navy aircraft might operate from one day.
US aircraft can be dispersed there, making life hard for a potential
enemy such as China to select targets. Dispersed bases simultaneously
would make it easier for an American pilot needing an emergency landing
site to find one if his home base had been bombed.

AirSea Battle looks to prepare the US and its allies to deter or defeat
China’s rising military power. It envisions operations of USAF fighters,
bombers, and missiles coordinated with Navy aircraft flown from carriers
and land bases—plus missiles launched from submarines and surface ships.
Nuclear war plans will also be folded into the AirSea Battle operation.

A question, however, has arisen over who will control the joint war.
USAF expects the 613th Air and Space Operations Center of 13th Air Force
at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, to be assigned that task, but the Navy has
traditionally been loath to give up control of its carrier air wings.

Moreover, the Navy has organized Maritime Operations Centers that would
need to be meshed with USAF’s AOCs, and Air Force and Navy sensors and
communications gear that are not now compatible need to be made so.

At US air and naval bases in Japan, South Korea, and Guam, the evolving
AirSea concept calls for hardening command centers, communication nodes,
hangars and repair facilities, fuel tanks, electrical generators,
warehouses, shipyard machine shops, and just about anything else that
can be protected from missile attack. For runways and ramps that can’t
be protected, RED HORSE engineers are to be posted in protective
shelters nearby from which they can swiftly emerge to repair damaged areas.

The plan even calls for developing new materials that will harden in far
less time than ordinary concrete to make a damaged runway operational again.

Further, AirSea Battle will incorporate an "active" defense, employing a
variety of measures to destroy enemy aircraft and missiles or to reduce
the damage of such attacks. Active defense relies on aircraft, air
defense weapons, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. In
particular, AirSea Battle calls for greater emphasis on the development
of ballistic missile defenses.

The purpose of AirSea Battle is clearly to deter China, with its rapidly
expanding and improving military power, from seeking to drive the US out
of East Asia and the Western Pacific. If deterrence fails, AirSea
Battle’s objective will be to defeat the People’s Liberation Army, which
comprises all of China’s armed forces. The Obama Administration and the
Pentagon contend that war with China is not inevitable, which may be so,
but a memo outlining the purpose of a previous AirSea Battle wargame
left no doubt that the US is preparing for that possibility.

"The game will position US air, naval, space, and special operations
forces against a rising military competitor in the East Asian littoral
with a range of disruptive capabilities, including multidimensional
‘anti-access’ networks, offensive and defensive space control
capabilities, an extensive inventory of ballistic and cruise missiles,
and a modernized attack submarine fleet," the memo read. "The scenario
will take place in a notional 2028."

There is only one "rising military competitor in the East Asia
littoral," and that is China. Long term, China offers the only real
potential threat to US national security, far more than Iraq,
Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea.

In perhaps the most remarkable expansion of military power since the US
geared up for World War II, China has relied on its surging economy to
provide double-digit annual increases in military budgets. The Chinese
are fielding an array of advanced jet aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles,
radar, anti-air and anti-submarine ships, and minelayers intended to
deny US air and naval forces access to Chinese skies and nearby waters.
They are building a blue-water Navy to project power eastward toward
Alaska, Guam, and even Hawaii and south into the South China Sea and the
Indian Ocean.

Coordinated Requests

AirSea Battle is not conceived as a "go-it-alone" initiative but one
that will rely on allies in the Pacific and Asia, notably Japan and
Australia, as US forces seek to overcome what is known in this region as
the tyranny of distance. Americans who haven’t traveled the Pacific
often have no notion of how far apart things are. For example, it is
twice as far from Tokyo to Sydney, Australia (4,921 miles), as from
Washington, D.C., to San Francisco (2,442 miles).

In addition to Japan continuing to host American forces, AirSea Battle
calls for greater integration of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces with US
forces stationed in that country, particularly in intelligence and
warning systems. Japan would be asked to continue contributing to the
development of ballistic missile defenses and to increase its own air
defenses. AirSea Battle would call on Japan to expand its anti-submarine
barriers down through the Ryukyu Islands in southwestern Japan and into
the Sea of Japan. Political turmoil in Tokyo today will make that
coordination difficult, to say the least.

In contrast, the alliance between Australia and the US, resting on a
foundation laid down during World War II and continuing ever since, is
less likely to be affected by political changes in the government. Thus,
AirSea Battle would have the Australians develop anti-ship cruise
missiles and to erect long-range radar that would improve coverage in
the southern hemisphere. The Australians take a special interest in the
Southwest Pacific region that can be helpful to the US. Overall,
Australia provides the alliance with strategic depth.

AirSea Battle calls on the Air Force and Navy to devise a division of
labor to eliminate duplication in resources and equipment. The two
services, for instance, have begun planning for a new joint air launched
cruise missile to replace the aging AGM-86 and BGM-109 Tomahawk. So far,
only relatively small change has been spent for wargames and research.
Those engaged in AirSea Battle say that coordinated requests will go
forward in the Fiscal 2012 budget. A good portion of that will go into
joint training and robust wargames.

Even as the Pentagon is contemplating AirSea Battle to deter or defeat
China, the US has been seeking stable, working military relations with
the PLA. At the annual Shangri-La gathering of Asian and Pacific
military leaders in Singapore in June, Secretary of Defense Robert M.
Gates said the US wanted "sustained and reliable military-to-military
contacts at all levels that reduce miscommunication, misunderstanding,
and miscalculation. There is a real cost to the absence of
military-to-military relations. I believe they are essential to regional
security—and essential to developing a broad, resilient US-China
relationship that is positive in tone, cooperative in nature, and
comprehensive in scope."

At the same time, Gates has been publicly supportive of the AirSea
Battle venture. In the Quadrennial Defense Review published in February,
he said the Pentagon was directing "more focus and investment in a new
Air-Sea Battle concept, long-range strike, space and cyberspace, among
other conventional and strategic modernization programs."

The precedent for AirSea Battle was AirLand Battle, an Army-Air Force
effort in the 1980s to dissuade the Soviet Union from striking through
the Fulda Gap in Germany and seeking to drive to the English Channel.
Gen. Colin L. Powell, onetime corps commander in Germany and later
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said the US might resort to
nuclear arms if NATO could not stop the first two waves of the Soviet force.

No Fait Accompli

The concept of AirSea Battle is being forged in a collaborative effort
of Pacific Air Forces, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments, and the Pentagon’s influential Office of Net Assessment.

AirSea Battle was begun under the former PACAF commander, Gen. Carrol H.
Chandler, now vice chief of staff of the Air Force. CSBA is a Washington
think tank with close ties to the Pentagon, two of its chief
researchers, Jan M. van Tol and Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., having worked
in the Office of Net Assessment, while Mark A. Gunzinger was engaged in
drafting the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guidance and Jim Thomas toiled
on the Quadrennial Defense Review. The Office of Net Assessment, often
labeled the Defense Department’s internal think tank, has been led for
nearly 40 years by Andrew W. Marshall, considered to be among the
nation’s foremost strategic thinkers.

Over the last three years, the collaborators have staged a half-dozen
wargames to scope the tasks of AirSea Battle and have sent their
findings to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton A.
Schwartz, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead.
Schwartz and Roughead signed a memorandum of understanding in September
to proceed on AirSea Battle. Each appointed a team of four O-6s to draft
tentative doctrine to govern AirSea Battle.

The draft doctrine will undoubtedly be sandpapered for many months
before an agreement is reached.

Based on PLA writings, researchers at CSBA have discerned a likely
Chinese strategy for seeking to drive US forces out of the western
Pacific, a strategy they say "mimics the Imperial Japanese strategy of

The Japanese mounted the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,
1941, intending to destroy the US Pacific Fleet. Simultaneously, the
Japanese Army invaded the Philippines and broke out of northern Vietnam
to transit across Thailand into what is now Malaysia and on to
Singapore. They took what is now Indonesia, critical islands in the
South Pacific, and threatened Australia, then marched to the Gates of
India. Japan intended to present the Western powers with a fait accompli
and sue for peace. That strategy, however, failed.

China, say the researchers, may be planning a pre-emptive missile strike
intended to destroy US air bases at Osan and Kunsan in South Korea;
Misawa, Yokota, MCAS Iwakuni, and Kadena in Japan; and bases on the US
island of Guam, plus US naval bases at Yokosuka and Sasebo in Japan.
South Korean and Japanese forces would be attacked. Chinese missile,
naval, and air forces would try to keep other US forces out of range, to
disrupt US command lines, and to block logistic resupply.

"The overall strategy may be to inflict substantial losses on US forces,
lengthen US operational timelines, and highlight the United States’
inability to defend its allies," the CSBA analysts wrote. "Once this is
accomplished, the PLA could assume the strategic defense and deny
reinforcing US forces access to the theater until the US determines that
it would be too costly to undo what would, in effect, be a fait accompli."

If the Chinese attack, AirSea Battle would have US forces begin an
active defense, disperse aircraft and ships, and rely on hardening and
resilience to ride out and to recover from the assault.

The US and its allies would initiate a "blinding campaign" to knock out
Chinese reconnaissance aircraft, surveillance satellites, and
long-range, over-the-horizon radar. B-52 bombers and Ohio-class
submarines, both armed with conventional cruise missiles, would seek to
suppress further Chinese missile salvos and aerial assaults.

Gradually, the US would gain the initiative in the air, on the sea’s
surface, and in the undersea domain, relying on the better quality of US
aircraft, ships, and submarines and the superior training of airmen,
sailors, and submariners.

American forces from the continental US would begin to flow into the
Pacific to enter a protracted campaign. A "distant blockade" against
Chinese shipping would be started in the East and South China Seas and
the Strait of Malacca and other passages, as Chinese industry is heavily
dependent on imports. That would be easier than a close blockade just
outside Chinese ports.

Basing Options Abound

A sustained logistic flow from the US into the Pacific would be built
up, and industrial production of weapons, equipment, and especially
precision guided munitions would be stepped up.

A complicated aspect of AirSea Battle will be identifying alternate air
bases such as the one the C-130 crews operated from in Indonesia and
then gaining long-term access to them. For many bases, the State
Department may be required to negotiate agreements permitting US
aircraft to fly in on short notice. That may stir diplomatic trouble as
some nations worry that the Chinese will object.

In addition, funds may be required to bring the condition of some
airfields up to snuff.

High on the list of basing possibilities are air bases the US has used
in the past, such as Clark Air Base in the Philippines, dating back to
1903. The Philippine government and the volcanic eruption of Mount
Pinatubo caused the US to leave Clark in 1991, but the base’s runways
have been scraped off, and the airfield is occasionally used by US
forces passing through the Philippines.

In the Northern Marianas, airfields on Saipan and Tinian were built by
naval construction battalions (Seabees) during World War II. Airfields
at U Tapao and Korat in Thailand were built by the Thais but upgraded
and expanded by the US during the war in Vietnam.

Air bases in northern Australia have been used for joint exercises.

An intriguing possibility might be Tan Son Nhut, the airport near Saigon
(now Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam, built by French colonials in the
1930s and expanded by the US during the war in Vietnam. It is now the
major civilian airport in southern Vietnam.

Similarly, the Vietnamese port at Cam Ranh Bay, the finest in Southeast
Asia, was a stopping place for a Russian fleet on the way to disaster at
the hands of the Japanese in the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. Japan used
it to prepare for its drive into Southeast Asia during World War II, and
the US enlarged it during the Vietnam War. Whether the Vietnamese, who
don’t much like the Chinese but see no need to anger them, would allow
US warships to use the port is open to question.

US military leaders have been cultivating Indian military leaders for
several years and might ask for access to the many airfields there. In
Pakistan next door, the US used a military airfield at Peshawar, in the
Northwest Frontier province, as a base for U-2 intelligence flights over
the Soviet Union for three years until Francis Gary Powers got shot down
in 1960.

Although AirSea Battle has China in mind, American political leaders
have publicly maintained that the US is not seeking to contain China.

An American aviator, however, pointed to a map marking air bases from
Osan in South Korea, to Korat in Thailand, to Peshawar in Pakistan, and
asked: "It does sort of look like a picket line, doesn’t it?"

Who Controls AirSea Battle?

A key player in executing AirSea Battle would be Adm. Robert F. Willard,
who leads US Pacific Command from his headquarters in Honolulu. After
taking command last fall, Willard set up five focus group to examine
PACOM’s strategy toward China, India, and North Korea, treaty partners
and friends from Japan to Singapore, and transnational issues such as
terror, piracy, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.

"This is what combatant commanders across the globe should be attending
to," Willard said in an interview. Most American military leaders are
comfortable with day-to-day operations, he said, but needed "more of a
focus on alignment with our national strategies and policies and more of
a focus on understanding the strategies and policies of our regional

Elaborating later, Willard seemed cautious about how AirSea Battle would
fit into his vision for PACOM. He said he had been briefed on the
concept, and "I expressed some issues with what I heard, especially with
regard to their ability to adapt whatever their concept derives to the
ground forces." Willard contended that "the AirSea Battle construct will
unquestionably need to integrate with what our Marine forces bring to
the game," and because the battlespace "includes the littorals, what the
Army brings to the game is important, too. So there is a great deal of
work yet to do to see if this concept really reveals something that will
be useful."

Willard, a naval aviator (as is the Pacific Fleet commander, Adm.
Patrick M. Walsh), was asked who controls AirSea Battle. "It’s
presumptive to get into the command relations debate now when the
concept is in fledgling development," he said.

"I need to see where and how it’s intended to be adapted, and then we
can talk about the command relations," he added.

Richard Halloran, formerly a New York Times foreign correspondent in
Asia and military correspondent in Washington, D.C., is a freelance
writer based in Honolulu. His most recent article for

Air Force Magazine, "China Turns Up the Heat," appeared in the April issue.

(10) Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies at Aspen Security Forum - Max

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <pdeburgh@harboursat.com.au> Date: Sat, 27 Jul
2013 16:10:48 +1000


Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies by the People Running America's
Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit

Security Forum participants expressed total confidence in American
empire, but could not contain their panic at the mention of Snowden.

Max Blumenthal

July 25, 2013

Seated on a stool before an audience packed with spooks, lawmakers,
lawyers and mercenaries, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced recently retired
CENTCOM chief General James Mattis. “I’ve worked with him and I’ve
worked with his predecessors,” Blitzer said of Mattis. “I know how hard
it is to run an operation like this.”

Reminding the crowd that CENTCOM is “really, really important,” Blitzer
urged them to celebrate Mattis: “Let’s give the general a round of

Following the gales of cheering that resounded from the room, Mattis,
the gruff 40-year Marine veteran who once volunteered his opinion that
“it’s fun to shoot some people,” outlined the challenge ahead. The “war
on terror” that began on 9/11 has no discernable end, he said, likening
it to the “the constant skirmishing between [the US cavalry] and the
Indians” during the genocidal Indian Wars of the 19th century.

“The skirmishing will go on likely for a generation,” Mattis declared.

Mattis’ remarks, made beside a cable news personality who acted more
like a sidekick than a journalist, set the tone for the entire 2013
Aspen Security Forum this July. A project of the Aspen Institute, the
Security Forum brought together the key figures behind America’s vast
national security state, from military chieftains like Mattis to
embattled National Security Agency Chief General Keith Alexander to top
FBI and CIA officials, along with the bookish functionaries attempting
to establish legal groundwork for expanding the war on terror.

Partisan lines and ideological disagreements faded away inside the
darkened conference hall, as a parade of American securitocrats from
administrations both past and present appeared on stage to defend
endless global warfare and total information awareness while uniting in
a single voice of condemnation against a single whistleblower bunkered
inside the waiting room of Moscow International Airport: Edward Snowden.

With perhaps one notable exception, none of the high-flying reporters
junketed to Aspen to act as interlocutors seemed terribly interested in
interrogating the logic of the war on terror. The spectacle was a
perfect window into the world of access journalism, with media
professionals brown-nosing national security elites committed to secrecy
and surveillance, avoiding overly adversarial questions but making sure
to ask the requisite question about how much Snowden has caused
terrorists to change their behavior.

Jeff Harris, the communications director for the Aspen Institute, did
not respond to questions I submitted about whether the journalists who
participated in the Security Forum accepted fees. (It is likely that all
relied on Aspen to at least cover lodging and travel costs). CNN
sponsored the forum through a special new website called CNN Security
Clearance, promoting the event through Twitter and specially
commissioned op-eds from participating national security figures like
former CIA director John McLaughlin.

Another forum sponsor was Academi, the private mercenary corporation
formerly known as Blackwater. In fact, Academi is Blackwater’s third
incarnation (it was first renamed “Xe”) since revelations of widespread
human rights abuses and possible war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan
threw the mercenary firm into full damage control mode. The Aspen
Institute did not respond to my questions about whether accepting
sponsorship from such an unsavory entity fit within its ethical guidelines.

'Exterminating People'

John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General who prosecuted the war on
terror under the administration of George W. Bush, appeared at Aspen as
a board member of Academi. Responding to a question about U.S.
over-reliance on the “kinetic” approach of drone strikes and special
forces, Ashcroft reminded the audience that the U.S. also likes to
torture terror suspects, not just “exterminate” them.

“It's not true that we have relied solely on the kinetic option,”
Ashcroft insisted. “We wouldn't have so many detainees if we'd relied on
the ability to exterminate people…We've had a blended and nuanced
approach and for the guy who's on the other end of a Hellfire missile he
doesn't see that as a nuance.”

Hearty laughs erupted from the crowd and fellow panelists. With a broad
smile on her face, moderator Catherine Herridge of Fox News joked to
Ashcroft, “You have a way with words.”

But Ashcroft was not done. He proceeded to boast about the pain
inflicted on detainees during long CIA torture sessions: “And maybe
there are people who wish they were on the end of one of those missiles.”

Competing with Ashcroft for the High Authoritarian prize was former NSA
chief Michael Hayden, who emphasized the importance of Obama’s drone
assassinations, at least in countries the U.S. has deemed to be Al Qaeda
havens. “Here's the strategic question,” Hayden said. “People in
Pakistan? I think that's very clear. Kill 'em. People in Yemen? The
same. Kill 'em.”

“We don’t smoke [drug] cartel leaders but personally I’d support it,”
remarked Philip Mudd, the former deputy director of Bush’s
Counterterrorism Center, earning more guffaws from his fellow panelists
and from Herridge. Ironically, Mudd was attempting to argue that
counter-terror should no longer be a top U.S. security priority because
it poses less of a threat to Americans than synthetic drugs and child

Reflection was not on the agenda for most of the Security Forum’s
participants. When asked by a former US ambassador to Denmark the
seminal question “This is a great country, why are we always the bad
guy?,” Mudd replied, “They think that anything the U.S. does [in the
Middle East], even though we helped Muslim communities in Bosnia and
Kuwait, everything is rewritten to make us the bad guys.”

The clamoring about U.S. invasions, drone strikes, bankrolling of
Israel’s occupation, and general political meddling, could all be
written off as fevered anti-Americanism borne from the desert canyons of
the paranoid Arab mind.

And the wars could go on.

Delusions of Empire

Throughout the three days of the Security Forum, the almost uniformly
white cast of speakers were called on to discuss recent geopolitical
developments, from "Eye-rak" and "Eye-ran" to Egypt, where a military
coup had just toppled the first elected government in the country’s history.

Mattis carefully toed the line of the Obama administration, describing
the overthrow of Egypt’s government not as a coup, but as “military
muscle saddled on top of this popular uprising.”

Warning that using terms like “coup” could lead to a reduction in U.S.
aid to Egypt, where the military controls about one-third of the
country’s economy, Mattis warned, “We have to be very careful about
passing laws with certain words when the reality of the world won’t
allow you to.”

Wolf Blitzer mentioned that Egypt’s new military-imposed foreign
minister, Nabil Fahmy, had been a fixture in Washington during the
Mubarak days. “These are people the West knows, the U.S. knows,” he said
of the new cabinet in Cairo. “I assume from the U.S. perspective, the
United States is so much more happy with this.”

Later, one of the few Arab participants in the forum, Al Jazeera DC
bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, claimed that the Arab revolts were
inspired by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “The iconic image of Saddam being
pulled out of a hole did something to the dynamic between ruler and
ruled in the Arab world,” Foukara claimed.

With the revolts blurring the old boundaries imposed on the Arab world
during the late colonial era, former CIA director John McLaughlin rose
from the audience to call for the U.S. to form a secret,
Sikes-Picot-style commission to draw up a new set of borders.

“The American government should now have such a group asking how we
should manage those lines and what should those lines be,” McLaughlin
told the panelists, who dismissed the idea of a new Great Game even as
they discussed tactics for preserving U.S. dominance in the Middle East.

ABC’s Chris Isham asked Jim Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq,
why, with a recession on its hands and Middle Eastern societies
spiraling out of control, should the U.S. remain militarily involved in
the region. Without hesitation, Jeffrey rattled off the reasons: Saudi
Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and “world oil markets.”

“What could we have done better?” Isham asked the ambassador.

“Probably not too much.”

NSA Heroes, Saving Lives of Potential Consumers

While participants in the Security Forum expressed total confidence in
American empire, they could not contain their panic, outrage, and fear
at the mere mention of Snowden.

“Make no mistake about it: These are great people who we’re slamming and
tarnishing and it’s wrong. They’re the heroes, not this other and these
leakers!” NSA chief General Keith Alexander proclaimed, earning raucous
applause from the crowd.

Snowden’s leaks had prompted a rare public appearance from Alexander,
forcing the normally imperious spy chief into the spotlight to defend
his agency’s Panopticon-style programs and its dubious mechanisms of
legal review. Fortunately for him, NBC’s Pete Williams offered him the
opportunity to lash out at Snowden and the media that reported the
leaks, asking whether the "terrorists” (who presumably already knew they
were being spied on) had changed their behavior as a result of the leaks.

“We have concrete proof that terrorists are taking action, making
changes, and it’s gonna make our job harder,” Alexander declared,
offering nothing to support his claim.

Alexander appeared in full military regalia, with colorful decorations
and medallions covering his left breast. Casting himself as a stern but
caring father who has the best interests of all Americans at heart, even
if he can't fully disclose his methods, he turned to the crowd and
explained, “The bad guys…hide amongst us to kill our people. Our job is
to stop them without impacting your civil liberties and privacy and
these programs are set up to do that.”

“The reason we use secrecy is not to hide it from the American people,
but to hide it from the people who walk among you and are trying to kill
you,” Alexander insisted.

Corporations like AT&T, Google and Microsoft that had been compelled to
hand over customer data to the NSA “know that we’re saving lives,” the
general claimed. With a straight face, he continued, “And that’s good
for business because there’s more people out there who can buy their


So who were the "bad guys” who “walk among us,” and how could Americans
be sure they had not been ensnared by the NSA’s all-encompassing spying
regime, either inadvertently or intentionally? Nearly all the Security
Forum participants involved in domestic surveillance responded to this
question by insisting that the NSA had the world’s most rigorous program
of oversight, pointing to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) courts as the best and only means of ensuring
that “mistakes” are corrected.

“We have more oversight on this [PRISM] program than any other program
in any government that I’m aware of,” Alexander proclaimed, ramming home
a talking point repeated throughout the forum.

“I can assure these are some of the judges who are renowned for holding
the government to a very high standard,” John Carlin, the Assistant US
Attorney General for National Security, stated.

But in the last year, FISA courts received 1,856 applications for
surveillance from the government. In 100 percent of cases, they were
approved. As for Congress, only two senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall,
demanded the NSA explain why PRISM was necessary or questioned its
legality. Despite the fact that the entire regime of oversight was a
rubber stamp, or perhaps because of it, none of those who appeared at
the Security Forum to defend it were willing to consider any forum of
independent civilian review.

“You have to do [domestic surveillance] within a closed bubble in order
to do it effectively,” Dennis Blair, the director of National
Intelligence conceded under sustained grilling from the Washington
Post’s Barton Gellman, one of the reporters who broke Snowden’s leaks
and perhaps the only journalist at the Security Forum who subjected
participants to tough scrutiny.

When Gellman reminded Alexander that none of the oversight mechanisms
currently in place could determine if the NSA had improperly targeted
American citizens with no involvement in terror-related activity, the
general declared, “we self-report those mistakes.”

“It can't be, let's just stop doing it, cause we know, that doesn't
work,” Alexander maintained. “We've got to have some program like [PRISM].”

The wars would go on, and so would the spying.

Reinstituting Public Confidence

During a panel on inter-agency coordination of counter-terror efforts,
Mike Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center
(NCC), suggested that one of the best means of preserving America’s vast
and constantly expanding spying apparatus was “by reinstituting faith
among the public in our oversight.”

Even as current NCC director Matthew Olsen conceded, “There really are
limits in how transparent we can be,” Leiter demanded that the
government “give the public confidence that there’s oversight.

Since leaving the NCC, Leiter has become the senior counsel of Palantir
Technologies, a private security contractor that conducts espionage on
behalf of the FBI, CIA, financial institutions, the LAPD and the NYPD,
among others. In 2011, Palantir spearheaded a dirty tricks campaign
against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including journalists,
compiling electronic dossiers intended to smear them. Palantir’s target
list included progressive groups like Think Progress, SEIU and U.S.
Chamber Watch.

In the friendly confines of the Aspen Institute’s Security Forum, Leiter
did his best to burnish his company’s tarnished image, and do some
damage control on behalf of the national security apparatus it depends
on for contracts. Like most other participants, Leiter appeared in smart
casual dress, with an open collar, loafers, a loose-fitting jacket and

“Just seeing us here,” he said, “that inspires [public] confidence,
because we’re not a bunch of ogres.”

Max Blumenthal is the author of Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books,
2009). Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

(11) Gorbachev comment: At stake is whether US will police a “Pax
Americana” - a recipe for disaster - or partner with other nations

{this book seems to take a Chomskyist line - Peter M.}


The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter
Kuznick (audiobook, mp3, June 4, 2013)

“Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick provide a critical overview of US
foreign policy during the past few decades. There is much here to
reflect upon. Such a perspective is indispensable…At stake is whether
the United States will choose to be the policeman of a “Pax Americana,”
which is a recipe for disaster, or partner with other nations on the way
to a safer, more just and sustainable future.”(President Mikhail Gorbachev)

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