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tv   Elbridge Colby The Strategy of Denial  CSPAN  October 30, 2021 9:02pm-10:01pm EDT

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>> good afternoon, everyone and thank you for joining us today. i'd like to welcome you to our event, "the strategy of denial: american defense in an age of great power conflict" well, for what purpose did the united states be prepared to fight and how should u.s. forces be ready to fight such wars? these fundamental questions should form the center of a new u.s. defense policy that are often skipped over foreign favorite questions like how many f-35s shall be bought or how many ships should be have in the macy's fleet? yet into and to the more funnel
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questions, answers to the specific questions would be elusive and a questionable value. the biden administration is presumably hard at work writing the national security strategy and the next national defense strategy. done correctly these would help focus the u.s. security apparatus on the most pressing threats facing the nation. the defense strategy in particular was to specifically inform efforts to shape, equip, train and posture the united states military. the 2018 national defense strategy was important as it signaled a sharp turn from the global war on terrorism to great power competition. and although it came out three years ago but three years ago the us military is to making that transition. there's no shortage of voices and opinions about what should be included in america's next national defense strategy. but no voices bobby more worthy of consideration than bridge colby, , the cofounder of a fun
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initiative, a longtime think tank scholar, former deputy assistant secretary of defense and most significantly for the purposes of today's discussion served as the pentagon's lead official for the development of the 2018 national defense strategy. he is the author of a new book released this tuesday titled "the strategy of denial: american defense in an age of great power conflict." here's the book right here. we will be placed information on how you can get your copy of this book at a special publishers discount in the chat feature of this webinar. so we'll start out with me asking a few questions and they will turn to you the audience for your questions and as a way for you to enter this question on the webinar feature at the chat box. just go there, submit your question and we'll take it and we would be delighted to put those questions to bridge. so bridge, thanks for joining us today. >> thank you.
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thanks, tom. it's a real pleasure and honor to be able to talk to you. >> so this book could not be easy to write. it's based on a ton of research. there's hundreds upon hundreds of footnotes to it. interesting to me, the use what you call in your introduction i deductive approach. you did not jump to the conclusion safe here's what bridge things. you made the case, export all the options and then came to your conclusion. what was your motivation in writing the book and do your audience for? >> that motivation was basically the sort of mismatch anything to put your finger on earlier in your remarks, between the legacy strategy we have been pursuing which has been heavily forward in multiple theaters come very high political aspiration and the reality of the geopolitical power balance and, in fact, the military balance especially with the great power rivals you mention especially china above all. as i try to live in preface we
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are in a serious mismatch. we have began the transition but in this time of transition i i think a strategy is really critical because a strategy is especially important when you can't sort of like smother problems with resources and to think that's where we were in the last 40 years. we could necessary nation built in afghanistan and iraq but most serious problems with my worry bout we could take care of with our overabundance of power and resources. that's just not true. there are more threats and problems in the world than there are resources we have to deal with. for me and this is really driven home to me in the pentagon. you had a distinguished military career and one of your many assignments i believe was as the head of the army's strategy and resources division. and the old phrase is strategy wears a dollar sign. it's easy to come up with pamphlets that express a lot of aspirations for what strategy really is is connecting dollars and sense and efforts and puts and takes with a coherent framework.
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that's what i wanted to lay up here. the audience is the defense establishment. uniform military officers as well as civilians and people think about that kind of stuff but also the broader public. really important to me that, and not to me but i think it's really important our military strategy, defense strategy has to be explicable and reasonable to the american people because the great power rivals with potential thinking of fighting could go to a nuclear war or could be exceptionally costly. people need to buy into it. i was conscious in the book of trying to explain that so i don't the weather of a success or not but it's too a very wide audience in that respect, people who are interested in these issues and almost all americans should be interested in these issues. >> i love the way you with all the various options and narrowed it down to get to your conclusion. a lot of these books people will just give you their conclusions upfront and you don't know why they chose that path i love that part of it. i'm going to jump to a part had
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some disagreements. >> run right into it. >> in your book you say in order to focus its scarce resources the united states should not size shape or posture its military to deal simultaneously with any other scenario alongside a war with china over taiwan. that raises two questions for me. one, all federal resources especially we speak about this at heritage foundation are constrains so there's not a a limitless supply of money. in the past the u.s. has spent 6% of its gdp on defense and that we're spending 3.4%. the 4%. the decision to spend more unless is ultimately a political one. do we have to assume where i was going to have to have scarce resources, that we can only choose one scenario? >> i think the spirit with which i what the book and hope, hopefully you've taken it and hope others is that i try to lay out a framework i call
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simplifying logic and that people can see. i don't claim to be omniscient or necessarily the expert on all the actual decisions come out of that. even such scented asia talk but whether i want is with the penny. people can reason we have different views even though i think we should. based on the factors i laid out in framework i i think you co, recently to make arguments in different directions as bob work puts it, there's a differences among strategists think it's a good way putting it. they are reasonable. you deal with uncertainty and risk. in the book what i said, the argument is look, there are three primary function we need to focus on in light of the fact our military capability and resources are not sufficient to do with all the threads. those are to deny china regional hegemony and we need to deny them to build some subordinate an ally. that's the conventional forces in it. it's to sustain a nuclear
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deterrent that can deter multiple adversaries and that never in much includes only russia but also china. also a lower-cost way doing counterterrorism mysia. there might be a few other things but those are the basics. my view is if the american people think that we should spend more on defense for the reasons you layout, then i think the next scenario to spend on would be russia, helping european nato defense itself against russia. the reason i'm not persuaded his first i think there's the threat from russia to europe is much less than china is to russia. russia will not be able to doma all of your. and might be able to break apart nato which would be a grave peril or disaster voted for us but it would not be the same league as china taking over hegemonic position in asia. moreover, the europeans are more than capable of mounting a conventional defense more or less on their own with some american assistant benefit outweigh russia in gdp and
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military power. hopefully we continue pushing them on that front. finally i think we do need to moderate our military spending. you want to keep a low so first of the reasons that private citizen should decide where to put their money but also because if you spend too much on defense they can have negative impact on the economy. if you spend to load you may end up spending too much later. we spent more and forward deployed forces before world war ii would it cost us less in the long run. that's a debate my own view and certainly given the level of resources that are currently talked about being allocated, the biden administration effectively, for the call for cut. we have to be laser focus and i can come up and think that other scenarios at the same time. >> let me pull that thread a little because there's a common argument you find a it offense strategies. it's almost i don't know how to
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describe it, it's a shortcut and that is you will say hey, we intend to do less and this particular region and we're going to count on our allies to do more. would not surprise me to that type of thinking in the euro area, but what we're finding is most of the european nations in nato are not spending for 2% of gdp on defense, despite what be has to work prodding during the trump administration. every tool in the toolbox, public humiliation, you name it, was attempted. you read about the germans and they can't agree to even arm their drones. that's just too politically difficult for them right now. is it feasible in the context and you talk about latent military power, , is a feasibleo assume, do you think your camp will do more? >> i think it is. let's narrow the problem. the europeans are spending more
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and some of them are reaching, for instance, the pulse for frontline state are spending 2%. a number of the scandinavian countries like finland and sweden are spending more. the french spend a good amount, and others. if we know the problem, part of this problem is in germany which is frankly delinquent on its responsibilities which is not only damaging but i think morally wrong. send this to them directly. there has been progress with nato. the second thing is ultimately if this continues and particularly from the germans this will become a game of chicken, which is to say if we are faced with the choice of the american people with the decision of army going to prejudice or decrement from our ability to serve our primary joe political interest, which is preventing china from dominating the world largest market area, a cousin of the europeans are being themselves delinquent
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about defense spending, if they're going to force the choice upon us what to make the right choices which is focusing asia first. think back to world war ii we will make the best decision for our enlightened interests and so forth. the europeans will bear the cost and the risk which is too bad but they will ultimately be the ones to do that. this is why it's critical we not over reassure our allies. i think we can be constructive and sort of polite but also be firm and tough. that's sort of a difficult balance that it think how to do this burden sharing thing well is one of the great things we need to think about more going forward. if we over reassure our allies and tell them every commitment is sacred and will always be there, we're not doing them for ourselves any service. we need to be candid. things to move. japan has been, it's almost been a sacred item of the japanese political system that they wouldn't spend more than 1% on
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defense. now in in a race to succeed prime minister sugar talk to even doubling it. >> excellent. i'm going to dive into some of the core issues in his book and in the book you advise the u.s. should focus on china's best military strategy versus maybe the most destructive or them most likely and there's a lot of writing in this town that you hear people say china doesn't want war, china will never go to war, they prefer to achieve their means through much less kinetic and so we should, the united states should focus its efforts on gray zone warfare. that's a huge cottage industry in this town. you don't agree with that in this book. why should the u.s. focus on china's best military strategy and what do you think the best military strategy is for the? >> i was a fundamentally to put the case positively the reason
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is because the best military strategy is one that's most gainful for them. the most destructive ministry strategy, they could launch a nuclear attack that would be insane because we would do the same to them so doesn't make sense. that's a real issue because if we spend all the money on national defense we will lose in the primary data. similarly the likelihood of thing, there's an arrogance and that, a hubris because it presumes the chinese would never think they could beat the americans. if they think they can beat us why would they either precipitate in conflict or just threaten one and it would know how to resolve? people who say the chinese would start a war, to meet a wouldn't risk a major war remind the people who sit for 2008 there could never be another depression. that is the very statement and thinking along those lines that makes it more likely. that will lead us to be unprepared for high-end military conflict. the critical point is a highly military conflict, direct
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application military force, it sounds old-fashioned but there's a better way to coors somebody than to hold a gun to their head. all this gray zone stuff is like by definition is not that dangerous point take taiwan. the people in taiwan to want to be part of the prc. they don't want to be run by xi jinping and his police, security police apparatus, descendents, metaphorically. so china is likely to be able to calm them into giving up. if china is serious about it then they would think about the direct use of military force. >> and that is china's best military strategy? >> i think china's best, it's best overall strategy if it wants to become dominant in patients what i call the focus and sequential strategy which is taking off parts of this coalition that's going to try to balance can fake that only u.s. but japan, india, south korea hopefully, taiwan, , china will pick off those parts of that
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coalition so the rest of the coalition gets the idea this coalition is just a hollow shell and many minimal collapse n will be dominant. the truth in what you were saying earlier, alluding to is china does want to start a huge war allah world war ii. and once to do what bismarck did. bismarck took pressure from one state among many in europe in the space of about ten years to a war with denmark austria and france radical change that you political map of europe. in some ways we still live with it. that's what china is best strategy would be. best military strategy if you're thinking i would take down these vulnerable part of the coalition is fed a complete. which is again the don't want to start a huge war. they want a small focused war and then we and the rest of our partners and l is this a good side where going to limit it. i grant the version of what the
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russians did incarnate. it's possible we and others might decide to live with that. so there's more than just facebook post it sounds like. >> that's right. >> in your book you talk a lot about allies and really like the discussion because there's a lot more granular than we normally get about the norm the argument allies are someone pulls out a winston churchill come very handy i forget which it about allies many people say more allies you have the better, in the discussion could you ever advise a more nuanced approach talking about especially in the western pacific about how some alliances could carry on with them entanglements, potential costs. could you give us more of your thinking on how you think about alliances especially in that neck of the woods? >> i share your view. i look at alliances aware of the cut everything in this perspective. i think people like you and i, i
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look at my job as trying to work for the american people. i don't collect the federal paycheck but they should make sense. the strategy should make sense for the american people, in an enlightened way that can be positive but basically that's why there's a tendency especially in the beltway to talk about alliances as if they are like marriages were some kind of religious back to whatever. to me there more like business. more like the long term business partnership. it should make sense for both sides. sometimes it may need to be equitable, sometimes not but should always be in her interest in people and weight about how our allies -- this got a great deal and we willing to go along with that because with other things were interested in that it's not going to work anymore. the only way they can balance china and address the other threats in will is if we all lean in in the way we are best suited for doing. the issue of alis is critical in the pacific in particular because the paradox is we need
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an anti-hegemonic coalition that's strong enough to stand up to china. but if we bring into many countries we risk getting entangled in a work that's not going to go well. many people watching, , i had family involved in vietnam, it was a tragedy and at the end of the day it's fair to say it was not worth the cost. with all due respect for those who served their. if we have been able to draw that defensive perimeter in a different way maybe would have spread that and still won the cold war. in the sense of vietnam hovers over my thinking in this book because we need to be tough and assertive and help others protect themselves but not go too far where -- that's both a moral commitment to the american people's interest but also strategic because after vietnam would almost pulled out of europe entirely. the whole thing could a fallen apart. that's critical. what i basically say it is our defensive perimeter which is as a the states we really committed to come basically a should trace
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along the first island chain, with all due respect to our distinguished army retired general officer i think our strong suit is aerospace, maritime warfare. that's our wheelhouse, and if countries like japan, taiwan, philippines, australia, maybe in the future indonesia where china has to use maritime force at an air force is to get there a project ssd military power, there i think we can do a good job especially the japanese have a good air force and navy as well. that's going to be dependent on how much of the countries are willing to do. if japan is not willing to step up we may need others to tercel of which would be more interest and may be more like vietnam. what happens if china threatens vietnam? the idea to put a finer point on this, , if we can develop a military strategy that can allow students in those countries
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forward with what had to do crazier things later that we do more costly and risky. >> excellent. one of the central themes in your book and you talk about it to the point where you must have even gotten tired of writing it is about the anti-hegemonic coalition, and you suggest that it is perhaps the key to defeating a chinese. can you talk about the dynamics and helping manage such an anti-hegemonic coalition? >> it's basically the idea that china is too strong for us to balance the loan or anybody individually and asia. china is the half the total power of agent if you use conventional metrics like economic size and that kind of thing. so standing alone that say japan stands up to china. china will beat them around. we are too far and sore interests are attenuated and our ability to project power. we need countries to work together. the question is what does it look like? i don't have a fixed view of what exactly is going to look like. i don't think weaknesses show deed need an asian nato.
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and nation -- asian nato may be counterproductive. this is something looser, this anti-hegemonic coalition. a country like india, a relationship right now is pretty good. where able to do more and more but in the pulse a lot of its own weight, not interested in being a tributary of the united states. great. in fact, my view is we should outsource and empower them. there will be of the places won't have to more formal relationships and particularly alliances that i think of alliances as formal commitments as a steal and the spine of the collision. that's like japan, effectively tie one in my view, south korea, philippines australia, that's the front line. if the chinese are going to get out there going to push out through the maritime approaches. if we can hold them there, speaking of churchill one of my favorite quotes is, he said before when the decisive battle in the primary theater, we can
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set everything else right again after. if we can hold china at the first island chain or thereabouts, we can deal with africa, south america, asia, we'll get a ratchet because we will be in an advantageous position. but if we lose in the first island chain we will be imperiled everywhere else. >> i would remind our audits to submit your questions. we are taking questions and we'll get to those in just a moment and i would also, i'm going plug the book again, "the strategy of denial," information how to get your copy is on a a webinar tab. this anti-hegemonic coalition, how would china think that taking the apart like a can opener? >> exactly. i think if it kind of like short-circuiting. the focus and sequential strategy is basically you don't want to catalyze the whole coalition to fight you. the mistake the germans and japanese made in world war ii was basically get everyone to fight against them.
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you want to have a series of short sharp wars which convince anybody else this coalition is to connect one to work. particularly china goes after taiwan and then maybe goes after the philippines, , people are going to get the message. i think credibility is important in a particular way. i think we can get, can deal with the ramifications of the catastrophically handle withdraw from afghanistan. i think we can do with the because people can tell the difference between afghanistan state and say japan. taiwan is a neighbor. i think it's within, i think you can see it from taiwan a vice versa. this is a much different thing and if americans basically say we can't do well enough to taiwan because the chinese are just too strong. how does that apply to japan and the philippines? that's with china want is a kind of like instead of fighting everybody basically taken a few of these guys and the message goes around look, sometimes
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you're going to be put under the hot microscope and it will go poorly for you. the americans will talk a big game but magical. it's better to cut a deal. that's a very real possibility. at cutting remark about the ties fairly or not but he said they bend before the wind blows. it's an expression that applies to almost pre-much every country, which is they will see where the wind is going and if they think they're going to be left out to dry a will cut a deal. >> so, as the united states puts its strategies together to determine that kind of attack, deterrence theory, which i'm not a scholar, canada divides itself into these thoughts about deterrence by punishment, applying as more punishment than it at you can withstand and get them to deter, and then deterrence by denial. denying an objective, , the objectives of the enemy. your book especially with its
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title "the strategy of denial" seemed to come down fairly strong in favor of a strategy of denial. can you talk about that? >> denial is better if you can get away with it or you can make it work. because denial acyclic takes the weapon out of the other side hands or essentially negates its power. then the deterrent effect is because you may have a bow and arrow but i've got a perfect shield and you never get through so you are never really going to think it's worth doing. these are not mutually exclusive. the book i do we punishment of the highest levels for reasons i will get into but denial is much better and it particularly import when you don't have an advantage and resolve. the problem we face is we are fighting 10,000 miles over there but taiwan, china thinks, is part of its own country. the philippines 100 miles from taiwan. vietnam is neighbor, et cetera. in a vacuum chinese probably will care more than we are.
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that somebody talk about, we can actually manipulate that and we should so that we do end up caring more. but the word manipulate is not right. we should plant in a way that makes it more in our favor. given how far we've talked about and most americans never been taiwan, probably don't know anybody from taiwan, a strategy of denial is that it because it asks less of us in terms of our suffering and sacrifice as hopefully. denial is about taking a sort of do the other guys hand. punishment strategies usually don't work as well because people often will resist giving up something they really care about even under pressure. but also because if you inflict punishment on somebody, that's one thing is he of the guy have the ability to inflict on the back on you but china does in the big way. they can impose sanctions, they could turn off tiktok if they can launch conventional missile strikes and launch nuclear
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strikes on homeland. as we learn from admiral richard and general hyten their genetically expanding their nuclear forces and probably accelerating get from what we can tell. if we start punishing them what are they going to do? they will punish us back. how does that and? i think unlikely to be in our favor. the best strategy is we use denial to block the invasion if he can. china's best strategy is to invade taiwan and think it over and create a new reality and then rinse and repeat for the philippines and other coalition falls apart. if we can block them from seizing and holding the key territory of one of our allies we deny that they are complete. then china has decision. i can say i'll give up to live to fight another way or i can try to escalate this. they lost in the immediate battle and they can do that, they could blow some tankers in the middle east but have probably not matter that much. or they could see launch nuclear strikes in america in we're really going to be angry and we
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can impose costs back on them by then that context it will be the ones are been what i think of as the burden of escalation. they are going to seem like the aggressor and the bad guy and we will be, fdr talked about our righteous might or the flashing sort of anger or vengeance i should say. that's not going to end well for them either. that kind of mixture is the right for emphasizing to his right strategy plus the right strategy for the american people. we can't have a strategy that relies on acceptance risks with a think about how we would get there. >> we're going to go to audience questions next. i want to hit you with one more because of one mature we talked about and that is your thoughts on it binding shaji indus at the hegemonic coalition. >> this is one of the hopefully more novel aspects in the book. so the binding strategy is
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basically the idea, what do we do if we can't make a focus day i'll work? the idea is if we could say think the chinese fleet, shoot down the air armada and kill or capture the forces or eject the forces that lands on taiwan before they can seize it and do it anyway that's relatively limited. ..
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we may have to recapture them all of world war ii in the pacific which would be the worst outcome but in that case the big question will be are going to have a world power to do it that's not obvious when we talk about our interest being essential so in that way we have to we need to figure out a way where our results will be catalyzed and we will see our efforts and risk do it and also in a way that our allies will see that so basically what we should be doing is our strategy should deliberately be posture in a way our forces be postured and what a way so that if china wants to apply its best military strategies, they will actually have to basically pick off everybody else and make us all angrier so we will be willing to do the things we need to do to be done. the concrete example, in december 6, 1941, the vast majority of americans working on interested in engaging in
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a war with japan and not only were they not interested, they weren't interested in a war with japan like what happened . two months later after pearl harbor, the american people were fdr's point about the righteous mind. we were angry, we were engaged so we want to put the chinese in a position where in order to try, they will have to try to start a larger war and that's working with more allies and partners. that's where the australian move is positive and these kind of things are posture is less brittle. i think if the chinese see that, see that even though they just want maybe two oh one-sided fight againsttaiwan but they can't keep the war small they will be deterred . i think as obviously the junior officer but in the later part of the cold war this is what it was really about .
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hopefully we can do better than this but into the later part of the war we thought we would lose the conventional war in europe but our fourth was credible enough that if the soviets had invaded they knew they would start a war that would go up to the nuclear level and in the end it was enough >> this reminds me of the nature of italian strike groups we have in the baltic, if you look at the size there almost meaningless, 1000 people but avery every nato nation has a contribution. >> the problem i have isthere kind of a tripwire . in a sense the russians could just ignore them. it's got to be enough and more like the forces along the interim border, these are the forces that will have to be strike and blow up a lot
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of things because then it's like they can't just ignore them like a symbol. the problem with a tripwire is it assumes things are issue that need to be resolved and the other example i like to use historically is lincoln. the army did suggest that they withdraw the troops from fort sumter to lincoln i think adroitly understood intelligently that to open the software first, $75,000 for the federal army. >> we're going to go to audiencequestions and dick will ask is what we've got . >> i think the quote was the only thing worse than going to war with allies is going to war with them. so we have literally so many come in and have going to have togroup some things . i just can't do that but on taiwan what are the odds of
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china actually doing this and what time frame? that was one of the first questions. we're rolling into the larger taiwan another one is to say, the question seems to be a near holy obsession or a religious thing on the part of beijing to take taiwan so with that kindof commitment , given my time frames, west outlasts that business and another questioner said isn't china just bluffing? they have colleagues intaiwan they talk to and the taiwanese say who ? so grouping them together, likelihood, timeframe, is it a bluff and can we outlast this objective? >> the chinese do want to unify with taiwan and they're prepared to do so forcibly. but whether they actually do so is going to depend on the cost and risk of doing so so
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obviously there's a big benefit but what are the costs and risks. mao was obsessed about taiwan but he knew he didn't have a hope of getting past the seventh fleet so he never tried and he avoided an issue after the1950s . >> the calculus is the same so it's a calculus that's critical and that's what we need to affect. the problem is the chinese of laser focused on this and it got a lot of money to put on it and what i like to say is china has a long-term problem in the way part disease is a long-term problem, if you take care of it in the near term you'll never get the long-term . >> the issue is that their military modernization programs already coming into the force already and right now in this decade. meantime we've been slow to move. tom mentioned and i went to the national defense strategy, the third offset is
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a precursor that started the focus and it's built on that so it's going frankly too slowly for my tastes. not for my tastes, for this situation. and i think that fy 22 but the request is also it seemed to long-term focused. the long-term is a problem and so is the short-term so this combination of factors makes me think that maybe the chinese leadership may do something before 2027 which is what admiral james and former admiral said. maybe not tomorrow or next year but sometime in the 2020s they're going to say we're looking good. who knows what the future holds economically and so forth with china. americans are finally getting their act together but forces are going to be ready until 2030 orafter . for taiwan and japanwhich has lagged but are behind . if you look at why the germans led the war in 1914 and look at why the germans went to war in 1939, it was often for this kind of window
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of opportunity perception so i think this is why it's critical that we focus on the near-term as well. and try to patch together a sufficient deterrent that speaks to that calculus. that says you're going to fail because the good thing we have going is it's an island . people don't want to live under the chinese and it's 100 miles across water which is the germans couldn't get across 26 miles. i think is the english channel and the second is if the chinese fail after they tried to invade that is catastrophic so they may bring up the pcp leadership on the one hand but also the region is going to say these guys are dangerous because they're willing touse force . but their resistive all that's the worst outcome for a country like china is if people think you're bad and dangerous but also your safely resistant and so that means their probability level is has probably got to be pretty high we shouldn't take solace from that but we can do this i think.
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>> we've got a lot coming in here so i'm going to try to group together for . one is in the south china sea wasn't it the case that china had a favor, a leader in the obama administration. how did kind of related to that is almost this work. kind of thing, so in international arbitration disputes the philippines actually won the case against china about the intrusions and yet china didn't care. they went on what they wanted to do anyway which kind of implied they could do these things to achieve their objectives and in this gray zone kind of this or that without going all military. related to that is are you focusing too narrowly on china in this military approach and if it's not a power projection like they've done in the past then their implications for the us
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military so whenyou've got a shift from active duty , large standing to more of a guard reservedsort of thing , so it's is it really about work or are you to focus militarily speaking on china. and arts their implications to that and then related to it is robert gates famously said we've never gotten our forecasting or predictions right ever. so are we going down for the question we're looking at going down a path where taking too many promises and you might have consequences. >> there was a lot there, let me try to narrow it inreverse order . i had the honor of being in a fellowship named after him were a number of years. i think he's wrong about that. we have been right in our forecast and theforecasts are contextual and dependent inside the market .we've prepared for it and it never came to be so we were wrong in our forecast, we were accurately reporting,
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accuracy is not correct or. we were putting down insurance against a potential future which did not come to pass. we would never be able to defend it but i certainly think we were over preparing in the cold war as a general principle and the soviets spent a lot of money on the military . likewise am i overemphasizing the questionon the military over the gray zone ? they took these disputed features, these are literally things that come above water and they put huge treasures there and created new islands . it's almost like they didn't seize anybody's territory. in the kind of sense. they didn't take something where it's a populated area as partof an established country . they were operating on almost beyond the edge of what essentially was the country and it's difficult to project power for a country like the philippines in the waters of the southchina sea so the gray zone can matter in these ungoverned spaces .
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but the chinese are going to be able to raise on their way into teasing the island of luzon and coercing the philippine government into exceeding to their will. the reason i focused so much on the military is not because the military is or was a war on peace are the most valuable part of human affairs. to the contrary as i ended what we want here isa decent piece . but if you don't get, it's a little bit like the police. if you have a neighborhood that doesn't have law and order and it has crime forget about commercial development. forget about schools. they're not going to want to be there so first you got to take care of the police and once you get to that position you don't think about the police that much. it's kind of on autopilot. if you lived in new york in the 90s you were always thinking about crime under giuliani and bloomberg prime
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was down. it wasn't a big deal, nobody thought about the police but if you don't get the military balance right china is going to have an incentive and this is because of actually paradoxically because it the gray zone doesn't work because economic sanctions don't work with the australians. the chinese are blasting them with economic sanctions and they're saying stop it. which is good day. and kudos to our mates down under but that's good but it's also paradoxically increases the owner of the military instruments for china. so that's why we've got to be and it gets back to if we can get it to the chinese don't see an advantage in using military force like the soviets did in europe, then we can shift the competition and one thing i worry about with this administration is they have this tendency to imply that this is going to be a political economic technological composition of china. the gateway to that is making
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sure the military balance is adequate and i'm not convinced they are paying enough attention there as my colleague and good friend roger said were going to have to have a split to get. that's the way we think about the last point on the force structure i tried to make a virtue of my ignorance about the specifics of reserve active guard. which are very important. by concentrating in a way that i think tommy wood is suggesting that the framework level and i don't pretend to have all the answers in any stretch but i think here over focusing we are better off over focusing becausewe're not over focusing . and be, you can see china is by far the most powerful country in the world. okay, if venezuela gets risky or cuba gets frisky and how much they can do and we always have since we can use in the back-and-forth or call up from the guard or reserve these because they're not going to develop a debt get
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freight or something. so we got to make realistic assessments and investments based on wherethe danger is with students clearly . from china and asia. >> we have one more. but let me say this, i appreciate in your book that the second to last chapter was not here's colby's recipe for turning china. we need drones block blowing up aircraft carriers and we need more acoustically superior summary. i love that you pull back from that and just show this framework. showed that there is the last living there. you have to do this with these anti-coalition things whether it's mining strategy and if you're picking g.i. allies are you in the group or out of the group? it comes back to this are you assuring allies for over assuring and making so many promises related to that. we now have this new
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trilateral agreement between the uk, us and australia with submarines so if you could go back to this approach to picking and choosing allies and if somebody's not in the club does that present a problem or if you're in the club you must be really important so are you overpromising and over committee? the that is where we will probably spend the rest of our time. >> it was one of the harder aspects to think about was this differentiation between the anti-hegemonic coalition which is vague and a little bit shifting . i think it is part of the anti-hegemonic coalition but i don't know if they agree. are they behaving in a way where china has directed them as standing up to them and in one way or anotherworking with others to do so.then there's alliances which is we put our credibility on the line to defend this country .
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in effect i would say taiwan is recorders ofthat i would call it a quasi-life . the point is always to think back only achieving a goal which is balancing china. that's basically are we strong enough together that if they did want to go at the end of the day to abig war we would be able to win together . the ultimate criteria because war and violence are the ultimate forms of coercion. if you want to persuade somebody power comes from the barrel of a gun. if they know if they escalate to the max level that is not going to work well they will be checks. they won't necessarily be contained or they will do what we want but they will have to respect a decent degree of our interests. this is going to be the statecraft that's going to be really puts the creativity that will need to be so important and i don't promise to have the answers of what that looks like but i think the question about over
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reassuring is very on point. we've gotten to a mode where we over reassure our allies and i think we talk about our allies in this sort of romantic sense. but we really need to think about if they have apurpose for us . which is to deny china hegemony or any state like russia over one of the key regions. that's also their interest. it's not falling in love, it's more like a business partnership but that's a sounder basis for an agreement. one of the things i sometimes rudely say in these international discussions i'm part of is we talk about shared values and i love our country immensely but i grew up in japan to bring shared values in some ways and not in others it's a different political culture in a lot of ways. there are most important ally in the world because nobody is stronger and more by china. that's a rationale. we know they need to spend more . and whether we like it or not so i think that's how we
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should think about it and we should mix assurance and pressure. our allies should know if they don't step up a will be angry sure but that's not enough. there's always the possibility we won't be able to do it . i was encouraged taiwan's announcement they're going to spend a lot more ondefense . they are in the real risk of defending but there are a lot of people i respect quietly or not it's not worth it and it's not a dumb argument. to me it's 7030. taiwan in one way is in its own camp so what they did the other day is important and theyshould continue in that direction . the other thing is we can defend countries indifferent ways . during the cold war we were going to defend west germany because we liked west germany but also because west germany was the strongest economy in europe we were going to let the soviets take it over and our plans depended on what thewest german state . if they did nothing we're going to drop a lot.
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we told them that and they didn't want that. they wanted to to fully defend at the border using not using weapons all over the federal public so not coincidentally they developed a very robust. the germans to our earlier conversation had 12 active divisions when they were a country of two thirds that size. they can do better. and they should do better and we should pressure them to do better so one of the things i'm saying right now is our relationship are too good with germany. because we care about your so this is the way that it's not , it's we should not vacillate between overly top and personalizing things on the one hand but then reassuring and seeing everything's going to be hunky-dory. in a sense the biden administration tripped up by its own approach on this i think the australia deal is a triumphant way but then the shrimp french should be i mean, i probably should have done better of diplomacy but
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also how surprising is this, obviously asia is a priority and this is the kind of thing that's going to happen . but we're only going to get altogether in ways that are going to be suited for our differentalliances and partnership relations if we're candid . and just to close that's what i tried to do with this book is provide a framework. how exactly our relationship with france and germany and vietnam should evolve i don't know. i have thoughts but they're very fallible but i hope we provide a framework thatwill allow people to have a more focused discussion . >> this is been wonderful and unfortunately we are out of time. i will say we've only scratched the surface of what's in the book so please do not listen to this podcast for youtube video to say i got the book because you do not . you just have the thinnest layer of it and i want to thank the audience for joining us today. if you work on the hill or another think tank please
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contact us using the information on the screen and you're going to get the survey at the end of this and i hope you fill that out.
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