A recent report produced by military top brass in the United States suggests that Russia and China are the biggest threats to the security of the nation. A gloomy report, released Wednesday by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks of a growing possibility of the United States fighting a major conflict with one or both of the two superpowers.
United States, Russia and China tension
The report in question suggests that the consequences of such a war could be “immense”. This is something of an understatement considering that the United States and Russia are the two largest nuclear powers in the world, and it is also thought that China has in the region of 250 nuclear weapons.
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In addition to this existing nuclear context, the report also suggests that growing technological challenges and increasing global instability will contribute to the stand-off between the United States, China and Russia. The study produced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff paints a picture of China and Russia as aggressors that threaten United States’ security interest. Certainly this last assertion is one that will be contested by many who are critical of the US foreign policy, as well as unquestionably the hierarchy of Russia and China themselves.
However, according to the 2015 National Military Strategy, Russia in particular has repeatedly demonstrated that it fails to respect the sovereignty of neighbors. The reports here is, of course, euphemistically referring to the situation in the Ukraine, in regard to which the United States has already played an active role. The opinion of the report is that Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces, and that this is something of which the United States should be acutely aware.
United States falling behind technologically
In addition to the existing military situation, the report also suggests that numerous states around the world are developing technology that will place the United States at something of a disadvantage. The US has been able to rely on A significant military advantage throughout the 20th century, but the report suggestS that this is beginning to dissipate.
The diffusion of technology in the military field is challenging advantages that were taking for granted by the United States, with the report suggesting that early warnings and precision strikes are developing particularly quickly, and leaving US technological preparedness behind.
Iran and North Korea join the fold
In addition to the threat posed by the allies of China and Russia, the paper in question also suggests that Iran and North Korea are security concerns to the United States. Both of these nations have ballistic missile capabilities, and considering the lack of political stability in North Korea in particular it is opined that the nations pose serious security concerns to the United States and its immediate allies.
This latest report follows on the back of a previous national military strategy study that was published four years ago. In reporting on the publication of this report, Dempsey suggested that global disorder had trended upwards, while the comparative advantages of the United States had eroded significantly. It is notable that the 2011 edition of this report barely mentioned Russia at all.
While Russia has been involved in a conflict in the Ukraine, its major ally China has also been involved in military manoeuvres. China has been building up forces in the South China Sea in an effort to reclaim land, and the documents produced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff also suggest that this is a threat to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Although the Chinese military and civilian presence in the region is now significantly increased, it is also notable that this may not be such a priority to the United States due to logistical issues.
Regardless of the legitimacy or otherwise of the thinking of this report, it is undoubtedly a study that will be cited in the context of the US military budget. There is no doubt whatsoever that the United States possesses the strongest military on the planet, and its annual defence budget is by far the largest in the world. The $600 billion that the US spends on defense every year is several times that of any other nation on the planet, but the gap to nations such as China and Russia is nonetheless closing.
China overtakes US GDP
With China having recently overtaken the United States as the country on earth with the largest Gross Domestic Product, it is ensured that the United States views the East Asian nation as a natural rival and even enemy. Not only does China now have the largest economy, but it is also the most populous nation on the planet, with a population in excess of 1 billion people.
It was predicted many years ago that the United States and China would eventually come to geopolitical blows. Thus, the current situation would not be hugely surprising to military and geopolitical analysts. But this will be seen as a call to arms from more hawkish aspects of the United States government, suggesting that the annual defense budget of the nation should be significantly increased.
Whether this can really be justify considering that the US already has an enormous military budget of over $600 billion is obviously debatable. It could be pointed out that there are 50 million Americans in receipt of food stamps, and that there are more valuable federal programs to invest in than the already vast military of the United States.
However, advocates of an increase in the military budget will argue that non-state adversaries such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State requires a multi-polar solution that necessitates a significant increase in military expenditure.
This debate is likely to rage on in the future, but what is certain regardless of its outcome is that the rivalry and rhetorical conflict between the United States, Russia and China will continue throughout the remainder of the 21st century and possibly even beyond.