Sunday, February 14, 2010

America Through China's Eyes: Afghanistan Looks like Vietnam

If You Could See America Through China's Eyes | TPMCafe

This sounds like VFP comparisons. I see someone else is paying attention to history, but of course they are not Americans.

By Steve Clemons - February 13, 2010, 9:09AM

"Several years ago, I met with the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning staff of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and I asked him what he was working on -- and what China's grand strategy was.

His reply: "We are trying to figure out how to keep you Americans distracted in small Middle Eastern countries."

It's pretty memorable when one can joke and be truthful at the same time. China has had opportunities throughout the world open up to it easily -- mostly because of systemic American inattention to much else beyond its war slogs. The Obama administration, which in its first year in office, has managed high level presidential and cabinet level face time with leaders around Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East has done a lot to correct the impression from the G.W. Bush years that America has completely checked out from the rest of the world -- but there still is a sense that American pretensions in the world are more veneer than real.

Now read in full a short, brilliantly written report titled "Strategic Contraction Replaces Arrogance: Chinese Analysis of the Quadrennial Defense Review" by Li Shuisheng at China's Academy of Military Science on the Pentagon's recently released Quadrennial Defense Review.

This is a very sobering "offshore perspective" on American power.

I offer you 3 excerpts here - follow the link above for the entire document.
"Against the background of being deeply mired in "one crisis and two wars", this year's report somewhat restrained the usual "arrogant style" appearing in the previous QDR reports, epitomized the more pragmatic defense policy pursued by the Obama administration, manifested the trend of the United States' strategic contraction to a certain extent. The report also revealed some noteworthy new changes in the US military building."

"Prevail in the Current Wars, Move Out of the Strategic Adversity

The report, for the first time, mentioned that winning the currently ongoing wars was a priority task for the US military, and also the top priority in the consideration of the US Department of Defense on the defense budget, the defense policy, and military modernization. To stress the importance of winning the current wars, the report took this as the primary objective of the US defense strategy."

At the End comes the comparison to Vietnam:

"Strengthen the Capabilities of the Partners, Create Conditions for Force Withdrawals

The report took the "strengthening of partner state's security capability" as one of the six core capabilities of the US military, and held that developing the capability of the partner states was one of the major risks in the military operations in the near term, and was also the key to whether the United States could prevail in today's wars. The report came up with following measures for elevating this capability: Strengthen and institutionalize the capabilities of the general-purpose forces for helping the security forces of the partner states; enhance the linguistic, regional, and cultural ability of the forces, with $47 million being allocated by the Department of Defense for this purpose; strengthen and expand capabilities for training partner aviation forces; strengthen capabilities for training regional and international security organizations.

While Nixon took office in January 1969, the Vietnam War had been fought for eight years. Nixon came up with a plan of "localizing" the Vietnam War, staging a force surge, and then withdrawing the US forces. Forty years later, in January 2009, the Afghanistan War had dragged on for seven years and the Iraq War had lasted nearly six years, when the Obama administration took office. At present, the United States is facing an international environment similar to that in the Nixon period at least in three points: Multiple power centers appeared in the world; the United States was deeply mired in two wars; the US economic status continued to decline amid the crisis.

For this reason, in the whole report, the term "partner" appeared 180 times; "partnership" 38 times; and "alliance" 148 times. Such words averagely appeared nearly four times every page. The fact that the US military attached such great importance to the strength of the partner states indicated that the Obama administration seemed to have an idea about "localizing" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its policy of force surge and force withdrawal looked the same as that of the Nixon administration."

-- Li Shuisheng, Academy of Military Science

We know all too well how that ended.
Mary Bahr

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