The Realistic Path to Deterring China

The Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine Long March 11 takes part in a naval parade off Qingdao, China, in 2019. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
U.S. strategists are caught between denial and defeatism — but there’s a better way forward.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE C hina’s accelerating military modernization has spurred a growing fatalism among some defense experts, maintaining that Taiwan is undefendable and the United States should save face by competing elsewhere with Beijing. Strategists on the other side argue that the deteriorating cross-strait military balance demands a near-wartime mobilization to prevent an invasion of Taiwan and subsequent collapse of U.S.-led alliances. Unfortunately, both approaches are likely to fail due to the changing character of military confrontations, and focusing on them will divert resources away from a realistic path to deter China that stokes uncertainty and nullifies the benefits of aggression.

The autocracy that enables

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