They bring out an absolutely critical component of the Long Game with China: messaging.
Read it all - but every single USN CAPT "in the bucket" for Flag needs to look to RADM Jeff Harley, USN and say to themselves, "Oh, that guy. I'm not going to be that guy."
Sorry Shipmate ... but Jerry and Bryan over at DefenseOne are spot on;
...from Central Europe, where Russian aggression has illegally occupied the Crimea and other regions of Ukraine, to the Middle East where ISIS seeks to destroy every aspect of stable order, to the western Pacific where China is attempting to bully other nations into accepting its historically unfounded claims of sovereignty over international waters, that system of governance is under constant attack. Hence it was a disappointment to read that Rear Adm. Jeff Harley said this about the South China Sea: “There is room in the maritime realm for multiple powers, really all powers”, even as a Chinese admiral on the same stage said, “The South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China.” The contrast between the two voices could not have been more stark — or ominous.Boom.
From the Middle East to Europe and Asia to Africa, the reputation of the United States and the global system of governance based upon the rule of law, individual liberty, and free trade is under challenge. Authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia, Castro’s Cuba, and Xi’s China have taken advantage of the current era of passivity and accommodation to gain and hold territorial acquisitions, a military phenomenon that many thought extinct in the modern era of statecraft. The complicity of military leaders in this approach is unfortunate.
Having a two-star admiral say “we can all get along” while standing on the stage in London with a Chinese three-star admiral who says “we can get along if you totally agree with me” is foolish and arrogant at once. It suggests an ignorance of the current security climate, as well as the assumption that our advantages are so great we can appease the enemy without fearing the consequences. These statements also reveal a growing willingness by some in the military to acquiesce to the wishes of political leaders. This is troubling when considered alongside recent news that the Pentagon Inspector General is investigating allegations by intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command that their estimates had been altered by senior civilian and military officials to better support administration policies and desired political outcomes. Let us be clear: military officers, especially flag and general officers, are not political appointees. Their oath and duty is to the Constitution and the people whose sovereignty it embodies. The rising unwillingness to provide realistic assessments and strategies to protect American national interests is truly disturbing.
I also feel the need to put one more pull quote out of the article as this is a concept that is at the center of what we do in service to our nation.
This is serious stuff ... and these words mean things.
What is expected and required are dispassionate statements of U.S. resolve to uphold concepts such as free navigation of the commons, the right of nations to be free from outside bullying and intimidation, and the rule of law backed by mutual agreements on defense. It is these ideas that have served as the bulwarks of the international system that emerged out of the Enlightenment and liberated millions of individuals from the weight of authoritarian tyranny. These people, most of whom are not American citizens, look to the United States to defend the principles it has upheld.
UPDATE: The authors have revised and extended their remarks after a 1-on-1 with RADM Harley. Bryan has the details over at ID.
Hat tip Raymond.