Posted 13 января 12:11

Published 13 января 12:11

Modified 13 января 12:54

Updated 13 января 12:54

Foreign Policy: How the West is going to use its lessons to contain China

13 января 2023, 12:11
Leading military and political analysts discussed the course of hostilities in Ukraine in relation to the potential conflict between the West and China.

The influential American magazine Foreign Policy has published an interesting article in which twelve of the largest experts in the field of military policy, international and nuclear security analyzed the lessons of ten months of hostilities in Ukraine. Contrary to everyone's expectations that the rapid development of telecommunications technologies, the total use of drones and other innovations will play a decisive role in new conflicts, while clashes on the battlefield will remain accompanying and little decisive episodes, in fact, everything turned out exactly the opposite way: there are large-scale battles with digging trenches and using firepower of different generations while innovative weapons and technical means play a concomitant role. In addition, the hopes that economic interdependence would put insurmountable barriers to the emergence of military conflicts between modern powers turned out to be futile. The deterrent potential of the doctrine of guaranteed mutual nuclear destruction is also being questioned.

The main part of this analysis was devoted to the lessons that the West needs to learn in order to prepare for a possible future Chinese attack on Taiwan, which, according to experts cited by the online publication Re-Russia, will have even less predictable and more catastrophic consequences for the world. 

Now the doctrine of guaranteed mutual cyber-destruction is relevant

The main lesson of the last ten months of the Russian special operation is that nuclear weapons still matter and are a fundamental force in shaping relations between great powers.

Opening the publication of Foreign Policy, Graham Ellison, professor of public administration at Harvard Kennedy School, believes that the claims that the Russian nuclear arsenal is inoperable, Putin's officers may refuse to follow orders, and the risk of radiation spreading to Russia is considered unacceptable by the Kremlin, are wishful thinking.

The MAD (mutual assured destruction, guaranteed mutual destruction) doctrine developed during the Cold War remains the foundation of the global security architecture. However, it makes particularly vulnerable countries that do not have nuclear weapons and are not members of nuclear alliances. Therefore, the main legacy of the war in Ukraine should be the replacement of the MAD strategy with MAC (guaranteed mutual cyber destruction), says Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America. If bombs destroy the "material" infrastructure, then digital weapons destroy the information one. If it is used, banks will stop working, production will stop, supplies to pharmacies and shops will stop, water and light will disappear in homes. But it will be much safer than a full-scale nuclear war.

Rose Gottemoeller, a lecturer at Stanford University and former deputy Secretary General of NATO, writes that the world needs a Russia that does not play with nuclear escalation and does not threaten a nuclear catastrophe. Under the current course, the West will be dealing with a very large rogue nuclear state with thousands of warheads and missiles to deliver them. Therefore, the main goal of US policy should be to "distract Moscow from rattling nuclear weapons and force it to return to the more responsible role it played in controlling nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation after the Cuban missile crisis of 1962."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO and founder of the Alliance of Democracies, believes that in the absence of formal agreements, words should be carefully treated. Thus, Putin's statements about the impossibility of a separate and independent existence of Ukraine from Russia were not taken seriously enough and literally. This is a mistake, and it is also a mistake not to take literally similar statements by China regarding Taiwan. The prevention of war will fail if the potential aggressor is not sent strong and unambiguous signals about what consequences await him before the conflict begins. Putin's calculation was that developed countries would not be able to agree on sanctions and present a united front; if he had a convincing warning about how events would develop, this could have prevented an armed conflict.

The West's break with China could turn into an economic version of a nuclear war

The second most important lesson is that technological advantage is the key factor.

Therefore, the United States needs to expand measures to curb China's technological development. The economic and technological advantages of the United States over China give the democratic world a significant military advantage today, Rasmussen summarizes.

In addition, the democratic world should not allow authoritarian regimes to establish new borders by force, as it was in 2014. For the same reason, it is impossible to allow Russia to get a new territory now and establish a new status quo. Finally, the conflict has shown the importance of armaments. Taiwan must turn into a bristling porcupine so that it becomes clear to the Chinese authorities in advance how high the price of invasion will be.

The key issue in preparing for war is time, echoes Rasmussen Lee Hsi-ming, former chief of the General Staff of the Taiwanese Armed Forces. The first Russian attack in 2014 played an important role — Ukraine could realize the reality of the future and start preparing for it. Without the reforms carried out in the military sphere and the development of a military strategy to repel the attack, Ukraine would have been broken. China will not give the same temporary advantage to Taiwan, so it is necessary to prepare for a full-scale invasion right now, considering its probability as a basic scenario.

Maria Shagina, a researcher on sanctions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, believes that the experience of this conflict indicates the need for a much more thoughtful sanctions strategy than the one that was applied in the case of Russia. China's integration into the world economy is much higher than Russia's, and the imposition of sanctions will be extremely painful for the West itself. Severing ties with China can turn into an economic version of a nuclear war — guaranteed mutual destruction, in which everyone will lose, writes Shagina.

Therefore, the West needs to realize its vulnerabilities right now and develop ways to reduce risks. China, in turn, is also actively working to reduce such vulnerabilities on its part, seeking to reduce the role of dollars in its economy and international trade. For the first time since 2010, Beijing began to own US Treasury bonds worth less than $1 trillion. Five state-owned enterprises were voluntarily excluded from listing on the New York Stock Exchange, including energy giants PetroChina and Sinopec. The Communist Party banned its officials from having foreign accounts and other property abroad. Beijing has been actively promoting the digital yuan, which can be used independently of the existing international payment system. Only an extensive and newly thought-out sanctions coalition can deter China from a possible attack in the future.