Back in January, Executive Intelligence Review published an article providing evidence that the 91-year-old Andrew Marshall, the director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment since 1973, was the guiding force behind President Obama's so-called Asia Pivot, with the ultimate objective of a nuclear showdown with China. This was, in part, based on the fact that the public discussion of Air Sea Battle, a component of the Asia shift, has been guided by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington, D.C. think tank founded and largely made up of retired officers who were indoctrinated in Marshall's office at some point during their military careers. This morning's Washington Post carries an article by military reporter Greg Jaffe, that not only confirms that EIR's thesis was correct, but also documents the push-back against Marshalls policy. Jaffe notes, among other things, that Marshall's office has spent the past two decades planning for war against an aggressive and heavily armed China (though no one knows how such a war might start) and that Marshall has spent the past four decades building a network of co-thinkers and allies in the Pentagon, in Congress, in the defense industry, and in the think tank community in Washington that amounts to a permanent Washington bureaucracy.
Jaffe notes that Air Sea Battle grew out of Marshall's interest in the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) going back to the 1980's, but while the RMA died in the dust of Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Sea Battle goes on. Senior military leaders go out of their way to say that Air Sea Battle is not about China, even though Marshall has been obsessed with a non-existent Chinese threat for the better part of 20 years. Privately, however, military planners say they're concerned about China's military modernization, and the steady growth of its defense budget in recent years. "We want to put enough uncertainty in the minds of Chinese military planners that they would not want to take us on," one senior Navy official overseeing the Air Sea Battle effort told Jaffe. "Air Sea Battle is all about convincing the Chinese that we will win this competition," he said.
Saner observers reject this entire approach, however, as Jaffe also recounts, and as was seen at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this morning, during a discussion on Obama's Asia Pivot. The old joke about the Office of Net Assessment is that it should be called the Office of Threat Inflation, Barry Posen, director of Security Studies at MIT, told Jaffe. They go well beyond exploring the worst cases. They convince others to act as if the worst cases were inevitable. Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution called the scenario of a Chinese attack absolutely fraudulent, and, Jaffe further notes, other defense analysts warn that "a US attack on the Chinese mainland carries potentially catastrophic risks and could quickly escalate to nuclear armageddon."
Speaking at CSIS this morning, Michael Green, Senior Advisor and Japan Chair at the CSIS, cited the Washington Post article and said, "If you're in Beijing and you read that, you think U.S. policy and strategy is to prepare to go deep and bomb Chinese cities." Green, along with David Berteau, the director of CSIS's International Security Project, are the co-authors of a just-published 110-page page comprehensive critique of the Asia pivot that was mandated by the 2011 defense authorization act. When asked later about the Chinese reaction to the CSIS report, Green noted that there has been considerable reaction from Chinese scholars and commentators on the Air Sea Battle concept, put forward by CSBA, because it has maps of targets in China and so on. "I think it would be much better to have a dialogue about some of the ideas in this report because it's looking at all of the dimensions of how, strategically, the U.S. would manage its interests and alliances and, at the same time, build a more cooperative relationship with China." Green added that a candid dialogue about each other's comprehensive interests and strategy would be much better than focusing on this one military concept, which is still being debated and developed.