tv Elbridge Colby The Strategy of Denial CSPAN November 26, 2021 8:55pm-9:48pm EST
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anytime booktv.org. >> good afternoon and thank you for joining usnk today. i'd like to welcome you to our event the best defense strategy for america on the strategy of the nile. what purpose should the united states be prepared to fight? how should u.s. forces be ready to fight such words? these questions should forms the center of any youth u.s. defense policy often skipped over in favor of questions. like how many at 35's should we buy our shipsnd should we have n the navy fleet? until you answer the fundamental questions, answers the specific question will be of questionable value. the biden administration is presumably hard at a work writig national security strategy in the next national defense strategy. these strategies would help focus u.s. security apparatus
and pressing threats facing the nation. this in particular was informed for efforts to shape, equipped from a training ' united states military. the 2018 national defense strategy was important signaling a sharp turn from the global war on terrorism to great power competition. although it came out three years agogo, u.s. military is still making that transition. there's no shortage of voices and opinions about what should be included in america's next national defense strategy. probably more worthy of consideration and bridge coping. the counter of the initiative, longtime think tank scholar, former deputy assistant secretary of defense and most significantly the purposes of today's discussion served as pentagons lead official in the
department of the 2018 national defense strategy. author of a new book is this tuesday title strategy of denial, america's defense age of great power, competition. here is the book here. information on how you can get your copy and special bushes discount in the chat feature of this webinar. how start by asking a few questions and then returned to the audience for your questions and there is a way for you to answer questions, submit your question and will take it here. we are delighted to put those questions in. thank you for joining us today. >> thank you, it's a real pleasure. >> think you're. this book could hot have been easy to write. it's based onf a ton of research from hundreds upon hundreds of footnotes. interesting to me to use what you call a seductive approach,
he didn't jump right to the conclusion and say here's what bridge things, he madee the case and export the options and then came to the conclusion. what was your motivation in writing the book, who is your audience for it? >> i think the motivation was basically a mismatch i think you put your finger on earlier on in your remarks between the legacy strategy we've been pursuing which has been heavily forwarded in multiple theaters, high operation the reality of that balance in the military balance especially the power privacy mentioned especially in china so as i try to lay it out, we are in a serious mismatch and we have become this transition but in this period of transition, i think a strategy is vertical because strategy is especially important when you can't smother problems with resources and i think that is where we were, we can't do everything but mostly
>> . >> but i think it is to a very wide audience in that respect from people who are interested in these issues as most should be. >> i love the way in the book you go through all the various options and narrow that that down to get your conclusion. i love that part of it. >> i will jump to the far right have some disagreements. we may run into a conflict and in your book you say that in order to focus united not just united states last year simultaneously with any other
scenario alongside a war with china and taiwan that raised questions. all federal resources they are considering as high as many that in the past you is 60 percent of gdp now it three.four so now the decision is. so dong we have to assume that we will have to have scarce resources that we can only choose one scenario? >> this is a great point the spirit which i wrote the book and it seems like you have taken it and i hope others did but i tried to lay of the framework and i don't claim to be omniscient or the expert on the actual decisions coming out of that such as as whether
taiwan is worth defending that people can have different views. similarly based on the factors that played out i think reasonably you can make those arguments with that different direction these are differences among strategists. >> you are dealing with uncertainty and risk. >> so in the book the argument is there are three primary functions with the week sufficiently to expand those those are to deny china and germany and then to have that ally. that is the conventional forces scenario. that they can actually deter multiple adversaries and now very much it is not only russia but china and also counterterrorismde there may be a few other being here or they are but with the american
people think we should spend more on defense than i think the next scenario would be russia helping. the reason why am not persuaded at this point is first i think the threat from russia to europe russia cannot dominate we might be able to break apart nato which would be a very brave disaster that's not the same league as china taking over hegemonic position in asia. moreover the europeans are more capable to be wireless on their nation. and i hope to continue to push on the front. finally i think we do need to moderate our defense spending the paradox of military spending you want to keep it low so citizens decide where
to put their money but if you spent much with defense have a negative impact on the economy. he spent too little you may much later. so again my own view given the level of resources that are currently talked about to be allocated to cut the defense budget we f have to be focused on the one scenario and not get caught up in thinking about other scenarios. >> there is a common argument to find strategies. it is a shortcut and you will sayhi we did you lesson this particular region we will count on allies to do more that would not surprise me to hear that type of thinking in
the era period. but what we are finding is european nations are not on defense and with the trump administration with every tool in the toolbox and the germans agreed. that is to politically difficult. you can or will do more? >> first off the europeans, many of them are spending more is a spending well over 2 percent and end the pandemic to increase defense spending and that is
what those responsible which is not only damaging but also morally rock that is progress. the second thing is this continues this will be a game of chicken to say if we are faced with choices with the decision we going to detriment from that you will just venting china from dominating the largest target area because you are being themselves delinquent about spending they were first choice on his behalf to make that right choice on asia first. in world war ii we had in europe for strategy to make the best decision for our interest.
and europeans will bear the cost which is to that but ultimately they will be the ones to do that. that's why it is critical we don't over reassure our allies. but i think active and also to be tough that is a difficult balance is one of the great things we need to think about going forward but if we over reassure our allies why not do them or ourselves the service? japan for instance is almost a secret item of the japanese politicaln' system they may lose more than 1 percent of defense so we can make progress. so the us should focus on
china's best military strategy and then you hear people say china doesn't want more they will never go to war. united states advocates is efforts is a huge cottage industry in this town. but you don't agree with that in this book. why should us focus on the best military strategy? >> and i would say fundamentally the reason is because the best military strategy is the one that is most painful for them. they can't launch a nuclear attack that would be insane because we would do the same to them so that doesn't make. that is real issue because of his all her many a national
missile defense we lose in the primary theaters we have to get to the right level and then the likelihood there is some arrogance and hubris and that because it presumes the chinese would never think if they think they can be does why would they that precipitated conflict people who sayay to the chinese would not start a war or risk a major war there would never be another depression that is actually the very statement thinking along those lines that make them more likely. because that would lead us to be unprepared for a higher military conflict and the critical point is that his direct application sounds old-fashioned but there is no better way to coerce somebody that is again —- oligarchs there had it is not that dangerous. people in taiwan that want to
be rabbi president xi the security police apparatus metaphorically. china i cannot but then that direct use of military force. >> and as part of military strategy. >> yes. that is thehe overall strategy was to become dominant in asia is the focus in sequential strategy to take off parts of the coalition not only us-japan south korea and taiwan and will take off those parts of the coalition so the rest of the coalition get the idea it is just a hollow shell that will collapse because the truth of what you are saying earlier or alluding to start a huge world war ii.
no. wants to bismarck did with unification of germany. and with more with denmark austria france changed the geopolitical map. in that is the china strategy military in that context that we take down the vulnerable parts of the coalition again they don't want to start a huge war. the small focused more and then the rest of the partners decide we live with it. a grander version of what the russians did in crimea and then it's a really good strategy and it's very possible we and others might decide to live with it. >> there is more to fear than just a facebook post. >> b i really like that
discussion because it is more granular. somebody pulled out a winston churchill quote i forget what he said about how i. >> so that are in the discussion with you want to especially in the western pacific howan some alliances to carry the entanglements so can you give usor more of you think about alliances and not neck of the woods? >> i share your view of get alliances the way i look at all everything. i look at my job to work for the american people. but this should make the american people in the only way. but basically it's in their
interest there is a tendency in the beltway maybe a little bit more but maybe a long-term business partnership. it should make sense for both sides and should always be in our interest allies have gotten a great deal we are willing to go along with that the only way we can balance china to address the other challenges is ifre we all lead in in the way we are best suited. the issue is critical in the pacific in particular because the paradox is needed and i had to monitor coalition strong enough to stand up to china. but if we bring into many countries we risk getting entangled in a war that will not go well. i have him involved in vietnam
but if we draw that defense perimeter in a different way maybe we still in the cold war so with vietnam hovers over my thinking in this book because we need to not go too far that is a moral commitment to the american people's interest but also strategic because after vietnam we almost pulled out of europe entirely. so that is critical. so i basically say our defense perimeter and with all due respect with that distinguished army number strong suit is aerospace warfare. and that's our wheelhouse
countries like japan and australia and inre the future where china has to use maritime forces in there we can do the job. never did army and navy air force as well. but that will be dependent on how much other countries are willing to do. if japan is that willing to step up we may need others maybe from vietnam. what happens of china threatens vietnam? so the idea to put a finer point if we can develop the military strategy in those countries we don't have to do crazy things later that would be more costly. >> and that point we really got tired is the anti- hegemonic coalition talk about
the dynamics and how we have such an anti- hegemonic coalition? >> basically the idea china is too strong to balance alonea anybody individually it is half the total power if use conventional metrics like economics. >> so standing alone but we are too far. >> we need countries to work together so what does that look like? then to beto counterproductive it could have toonv much commitment with anti- hegemonic coalition so a country like india is pretty good we can do more and more of india pulls a lot of its
own weight notte just being a tributary of the united states and other places to have more former all formal relationships and formal commitments and i south korea and philippines that is that frontline because of the chinese get out they will push out those maritime approaches and world war i and if we win that decisive battle that we can set that right again after that we can deal with africa south america south asia we would be in an advantageous position i if not then we are
weaker and imperiled everywhere else. >> i will remind our audience to submit your questions. we are taking questions. we'll get to that in just a moment. strategy of denial. >> it is like short-circuiting you don't want to catalog the whole coalition and basically to get everyone to fight is not what you want to do you want to have a series of sharp force that convinces everyone that basically it will not work. in particular if china goes after taiwan and then the philippines will get the message so it's credibility is
important in particular way and the ramifications that is catastrophically to handle the people can tell a difference and taiwan but if you are in japan i what he was a neighbor. >> i think you can see this from taiwan and vice versa. if the americans basically say we cannot do well enough to have taiwan because the chinese are too strong, then how does that apply to japan? that is what china wants. instead of fighting everybody take down a few and then the message goes around you will be put under the hot microscope they will talk to gain but let you go so cut a deal. it's better to cut a deal with the chinese. that's a very real possibility
>> that given how far they have from taiwan that strategy because it asked less of us in terms of suffering and devices but punishment strategies usually don't work as well if you inflict punishment on somebody that is one thing if they cannot put that back on you but china does in a big way. they can impose sanctions or turn off tiktok but also launch conventional missile strikes on their homeland andct also nuclear strikes because we have learned from admiral richard they are dramatically expanding and accelerating from what we can tell. >> if we start punishing them what will they do? they will punish us back.
so the best strategy is to block the invasion to invade taiwan to create a new reality until the coalition falls apart so if we can block them from that peak territory from our allies then china has a decision can say we live to fight another day or try to escalate this philosophy media battle they can have some thinkers in the middle east that will not matter that much where they could say launch nuclear strikes in america but then we will really be angry. but context, they will be the ones that are bearing the burden of escalation they will seem like the aggressor and the bad guy and as fdr talked about the flashing sword of
anger. so that mixture is right strategy for the american people and primarily what is important but not existential we cannot have a strategy that relies on existential risk without thinking about how we get there. >> we will go to audience questions next. so your thoughts on a binding strategy with ann anti- hegemonic coalition. so the ideal here is if we could say think the chinese fleet and then kill or capture the forces that will land on
taiwan undo in a way that is relatively limited so china bears the burden of escalation is the deal as i am so laser focused. >> because the japanese are too strong that is a reality. even if we make a good effort. in that case what happens if they are so strong they have to wage a much larger war to defend taiwan or philippines or mean we have to recapture them. so the big question do we have the willpower to do it that's an interesting and those that are existential so in that sense what ie alluded to earlier we have to figure out a way where our resolve and
others will see that. so basically what we should be doing is our strategy should deliberately be posturing in a way but if china wants to imply. >> and then they have to kick off everybody else and make them all angry to do the things they needxa to do. the concrete example december 9h 41 i don't know theel polling data but that the vast majority of americans were completely not interested in engaging in a war with japan but like what happened. two months later after pearl harbor and malaya, singapore, with the fdr point we were angry, we
were engaged we went to put the chinese in a position where in order to even try to have to start a larger war that means spreadingng the force to work with more allies and partners and posture is less brittle they have to hit us harder. and if the chinese see what they cannot keep the were small they will be deterred as a junior officer the later part of the cold war i think that's what this was really about. hopefully we can do better than this later into the cold war with those soviet bloc forces but it was strong and resilient and capable and
credible of the soviets invaded they knew they would start of work we would be willing to go the distance and in the end it's enough that we should aspire toward. >> so if you look at their size. every need a nation has a contribution. >> and then in a sense the russians could ignore them. >> it has to be enough more like the forces that really have to fight through and deep strike. because that is more like they can't just ignore them like a symbol because with the tripwire the presumes on the other example i like to use
historically is lincoln. i'm sure the army did suggest they withdraw the troops from fort sumter but lincoln understood that intelligently that was the first 75000 volunteers for the federal or. >> now we will go to audience questions. >> thank you tell me think the quote was only thing worse going to war with allies than going to war without them. literally we have so many coming and i have to group them together i like to call out names but i cannot do that but on taiwan, what are the odds of china doing this? what time frame more of a numbers thing and another one
that it seems to be in a position are religious thingiw on the part of beijing to take taiwan so keep in mind time frames can the west outlast another said is it china just bluffing and then the taiwanese say this is just a bunch so to group that together the livelihood timeframe is that up left. >> the chinese really do want to reunify with taiwan so forcibly but whether they do so it will depend on the cost that is a big benefit but the chinese know they will fail but didn't have the hope to get past the seven fleet so he never tried and avoided that issue that calculus is
critical so that's that the chinese have been laser focus and have a lot of money to put on it. so i like to say china is a long-term problem if you don't take care of in the near-term we don't get the long-term any issue is there military monetization program is already in this decade but, in the meantime we are slow to move. at the national defense strategy the precursor that frankly it's going to slowly for my taste. for the situation. and that 22 budget request seems to long-term focused so
tough with that operation and then if the chinese failed that is catastrophic and then the regional say they are dangerous they are willing to use force and that is the worst outcome from a country like china and safely resistant so we can do the siding. >> . s >> in the south china sea wasn't the case that china had failed complete and also this
sort of thing so international arbitration with the philippines that had won a casebo against china with intrusions that china did not care and did what they wanted to do anyway which implied that they can do these things to achieve their objectives but then related to that and then focusing too narrowly on china with the military approach if it's not power projection and then the garden reserve sort of thing. is it really about war? are you to focus militarily speaking on china?
and then robert gates saying that we never got our forecasting or predictions right. >> without the respect to secretary gates in a fellowship in a number of years but forecast are contextual within the market. and with the soviets being a threat we were not wrong that accurately but accuracy is not the right term. we were putting insurance against the potential future which did not come to pass you cannot tell definitively but i think we were not overbearing and the cold as a principal. but likewise in my overemphasizing the military?
it works very well the chinese took these disputed and then they put those in their to create new islands. didn't seize anybody's territory in that intuitive sense. they didn't take something as a populated area it was almost beyond the edge of it was a country. but then the marginal and ungoverned spaces but the chinese when they sees that island and then coerce the philippine government but the reason i a focus on the
military and to the contrary. you have a neighborhood that doesn't have law and order and crime free about commercial development or schools they don't want to be there. first you have to take care of the police and once you get to that position you don't think about the police that much. it is autopilot you lived in new york in the nineties you were always thinking of crime under giuliani and bloomberg. so similarly looking at the military balance china will have an incentive and this is particularly paradoxically because they don't does not work andrk economic sanctions don't work look at the
sanctions the chinese are blasting it was sanctions in the australian say stuff. good day. kudos to our mates down under. that is good butta it is paradoxically increases the allure of the military instrument for china. and then it gets back if we can get to where the chinese don't see the advantage of using military force like the soviets did in europe then we can shift the competition. what i worried about this administration is they have a tendency to say or imply this to be a technological contribution but the gateways to make sure the military balance is adequate. as my colleague put that we have to have a sprint to get to america and then the last point.
and then concentrating that i don't pretend to have all the answers by any stretch but teover focusing actually because we are not and also you can see that china is by far the most powerful country inng the world.kk if venezuela gets frisky or cuba gets frisky there's not much they can do and we always have forces we can use to handle these because they cannot develop a death ray men to make realistic assessment of what the danger is most acute. from china and asia. >> so i appreciate in your
book but then with the aircraft carriers and we need more acoustical summaries i love that you pulled back from and to show us the framework. >> and then to deal with the's coalitions or the binding strategy. if you pick the key allies if you are in the group or out of the group. it comes back to are you assuring allies are over assuring? with that new the trilateral agreement.
is somebody is not in the club does that present a problem? if you are in the club then you must be really really important story overpromising and over committing? >> that's a great question so this differentiation between the anti- magic on —- hegemonic coalition i think it non- is part of the hegemonic coalition but i don't know they agreed that are they behaving in a a way that china effectively has back and then to stand up to them and in one way or another to do so? meanwhile there is a alliances we put our credibility on the line to defend this country but in effect i would say taiwan is like that because i outlined. >> i think the point is always to think back are we achieving the goal to balance china?
are we strong enough together that at the end of the day to go to a big war that is the ultimate criterion because war and violence are the ultimate forms of coercion. if you really want to persuade somebody if they escalate to that mass level that will work well for them then they will be checked they won't necessarily be contained or do it we want but they will have to respect the decent degree of our interest this is the state craft to the creativity and the intelligence to go forward. i don't promise to have the answers of what that looks like that the question of over reassuring is on point have gotten into a point where we over reassure our allies and we talked about our allies in this romantic sense but think about it they have a purpose for us which is to deny china
or germany in the key regions but also their interest is not falling in love is like a business partnership is like a basis for an agreement and then to release a in these international discussions with shared values. i love our country immensely that growing up in japan and has shared values in some ways in others and most important ally in the world because nobody stronger and more threatened by china. that is the rationale. we need to spend more we're in it together we like it or not. that so we should think about it if they don't step
. >> it is their duty to do better in a should do better and we should pressure them to do better so one of the things right now is it relations are too big with germany there should be a lot of tension in the relationship because we care about europe. this is the way that not vacillating between overly tough and personalizing things on the one hand this is just the beginning that and ways that will be suited for a different alliance if we are
candid and realistic. that is what i'm trying to do in this book to give a framework how does that with france or germany or vietnam? i don't know. i have some thoughts but hopefully i provided a framework to have people have a more focused discussion. >> this is been wonderful. we are out of time. we've only scratched the surface you do not just the thinnest layer. thank you to the audience for joining us here today if you have questions please contact us using the information on the screen you will get a survey at the end of this i hope you fill it out thank you so much this was wonderful and audience members thank you for joining us and we look forward to at the next heritage