The security and wellbeing of the US are at a greater risk than at any time in decades, a report has said, acknowledging that China presents a "daunting" challenge to US' supremacy as Beijing coerces American allies like India and Japan to exert its "illegitimate" influence.
The security and wellbeing of the US are at a greater risk than at any time in decades, a report has said, acknowledging that China presents a “daunting” challenge to US’ supremacy as Beijing coerces American allies like India and Japan to exert its “illegitimate” influence. A congressionally mandated panel tasked with examining and making recommendations with respect to the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC) said the rivals and adversaries are challenging the US on many fronts and in many domains.
Observing that America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt, the report said that if the US does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.
“The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority — the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security — has eroded to a dangerous degree,” the NDSC said.
Established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the US is a panel of bipartisan national security experts appointed by Congress to make recommendations for the nation’s defence strategy at the outset of an administration.
The 12-member Commission, tasked with reviewing the current national defense strategy of the United States, including the assumptions, missions, force posture, force structure, and risks associated with the strategy, concluded that powerful authoritarian rivals — China and Russia — see the US leadership as a barrier to their ambitions.
“These countries seek to overturn existing regional balances of power and re-create spheres of influence in which they can dominate their neighbours’ economic, diplomatic and security choices. They are also seeking to project power and exert influence beyond their peripheries,” it said. “The challenge China presents is particularly daunting,” the report said.
It is natural for China to exert greater influence as its power grows, and the rise of China would present challenges for America and the world even if Beijing pursued its interests through entirely legitimate means, it said.
“Unfortunately, China is increasingly exerting influence in illegitimate and destabilising ways. China is using military, paramilitary, and diplomatic measures to coerce US allies and partners from Japan to India; contest international law and freedom of navigation in crucial waterways such as the South China Sea; undermine the US position in East and Southeast Asia; and otherwise seek a position of geopolitical dominance,” the report said. It alleged that China was using predatory economic statecraft to weaken its rivals, including the US, and give it decisive strategic leverage over its neighbours.
Meanwhile, China is reaping the fruits of a multi-decade military buildup. Beijing has invested in systems designed to counter American power-projection and thereby prevent the US from protecting its allies, partners, and economic interests. “China is also modernising its nuclear forces, developing sophisticated power-projection capabilities, and undertaking the most thoroughgoing military reforms since the founding of the People’s Republic,” the report said.
“China already presents a severe test of US interests in the Indo-Pacific and beyond and is on a path to become, by mid-century, a military challenger the likes of which America has not encountered since the Cold War-era Soviet Union,” reported the NDSC. Russia, too, is pursuing regional hegemony and global influence in destabilising ways, the report said.
Russia is seeking to create situations of military strength vis-a-vis America and its allies, and despite its limited resource base, it is having considerable success, said the report. The Commission warned that the US risks facing military defeat at the hands of China and Russia in the case of a war. US competitors and adversaries – particularly Russia and China — are increasingly contesting American control of the maritime, space and cyber commons and improving their ability to strike the US homeland, it said.
“If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat,” it said. These two nations possess precision-strike capabilities, integrated air defenses, cruise and ballistic missiles, advanced cyberwarfare and anti-satellite capabilities, significant air and naval forces, and nuclear weapons — a suite of advanced capabilities heretofore possessed only by the United States.
According to the commission, the US military would face daunting challenges in establishing air superiority or sea control and retaking territory lost early in a conflict.