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Europe faces security threat from the rise in Chinese military power

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During the Cold War, the European allies of the United States were overwhelmingly focused on the strategic threat posed by the Soviet Union. When it came to the Middle East, the European powers had ceded responsibility for maintaining stability there to the United States following the 1956 Suez Crisis. Similarly, when it came to East Asia, China could be an irritant, but Beijing breaking with Moscow and the American web of security ties in the region meant Europe had little to be concerned about as a security matter when it came to the Asia Pacific arena.

Today, that has all changed. Although Russia remains a strategic problem, the European powers are now deeply enmeshed in the power plays of the Middle East. China, once thought of as mostly an untapped market into which Europe could invest and to which it could export, has also become a matter of strategic concern. Last week, on a visit to Australia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview that, while there were many reasons for the alliance to be in conversation with its Asian partners, there was a specific “need to assess the security consequences for all of us of the rising military power of China.” He added that this was not about NATO expanding its military presence in Asia, but rather about dealing with the fact that China was “coming closer” to Europe.

Stoltenberg is right that the rapid growth in Chinese military power has consequences for NATO and Europe more generally. At a fundamental level, a rising and ambitious China must be deterred from undermining the security and stability of the Asian Pacific region. With security pledges and ties throughout the region, doing so falls mainly on the United States. The reality is, with Chinese military advancements, the ability to carry out that deterrent task is no longer a sure thing. For the Trump administration to successfully carry out its national security strategy, the United States will need to beef up its military presence in Asia and to modernize its forces to deal with the complicated array of defensive and offensive weapons that China has been putting in place since the late 1990s.

The problem is that the United States military is only scaled in size and capabilities to handle a single major contingency, with little left over if that crisis becomes a conflict. For NATO, this means a fight in the East leaves the United States with no surge capacity to handle at the same time a Russian threat. Given the improving but still underperforming conventional capabilities of most of the major European NATO allies, this has created a strategic “black hole” that should worry military planners both in the Pentagon and at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

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The problem is that the United States military is only scaled in size and capabilities to handle a single major contingency, with little left over if that crisis becomes a conflict. For NATO, this means a fight in the East leaves the United States with no surge capacity to handle at the same time a Russian threat. Given the improving but still underperforming conventional capabilities of most of the major European NATO allies, this has created a strategic “black hole” that should worry military planners both in the Pentagon and at NATO headquarters in Brussels.





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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !