The U.S. army commissioned the RAND Corporation to prepare a report on possible war with China, which advised spending billions on new military equipment and, should the need come, wage war now rather than later.
“As its military advantage declines, the United States will be less confident that a war with China will conform to its plans,” reads the report “War With China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable”—an expression borrowed from a RAND strategist that wrote on how to win a nuclear war against the Soviet Union.
The report, released last week, concludes that war with China would be long and inconclusive, meaning that the military should look into options other than immediate strikes such as expensive equipment like submarines. The U.S. is already planning to build almost US$130 billion of submarines and spends billions yearly on missile defense systems, another highly recommended investment.
Should the war be protracted, “nonmilitary factors—economic costs, internal political effects, and international reactions—could become more important.” The solution: cutting off China from military equipment, while making sure it continues manufacturing “critical products.”
Since the higher costs of fighting would come from rash military decisions, the U.S. could minimize costs by asserting “firm civilian control over wartime decisionmaking,” or orders from political rather than military officials. This would mean more “fail safe” processes to approve military actions—such as introducing more checks for launching nuclear missiles, though the report brushes off the possibility of nuclear war.
The United States should also communicate with and utilize its allies in the region, but the report assumes that none would entangle themselves in fighting and that attacks would be contained in the two countries. President Barack Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” policy has centered around “forging a broad-based military presence,” aiming to maintain 60 percent of U.S. bases in the Pacific by 2020.