Thursday, November 17, 2022

Happy Talk and Arrogance to China Isn't Helpful

There are occasions where even the most rah-rah supporters of all things DOD need to pause and wonder, “Are we really getting our best where they need to be?”

At the very top of the list of dysfunctions in the American officer corps is the culture of happy-talk. From FITREPS to Decision Briefings, the layer on top of layer of not telling hard truths bleeds over into areas that are not just irritating, but dangerous.

Regulars here are familiar with our almost two-decades long series “The Long Game” but for the new folks lets pull out one of the defining reason the series even exists; for reasons of economic greed, political expediency, historical ignorance, and even national self-loathing, The Smartest People in the Room™ have for decades downplayed the challenge from the People’s Republic of China and have left the USA flatfooted as she reaches regional parity.

At its worst in the 1990s when we helped them with their aerospace, through the Bush malaise, to the Obama peaceful rise - it wasn’t until the Trump Administration that we saw any realistic appreciation of what the PRC was. With the Biden Administration there is a mixed bag towards the PRC, but surprisingly remains clear-eyed towards the threat than regressing to the Obama years, however … speaking of the Trump Administration; the man the Trump Administration placed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, USA, continues to prove that he has spent too much time studying “White Rage” and not enough time … well … understanding the world.

This is the guy who oversaw the greatest national humiliation since the fall of Saigon with the negotiated retreat from Afghanistan and the disgraceful fall of Kabul. The advice coming from The Pentagon prior to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was equally worthy of resignation.

And yet, he persists in a job – one he remains serially unsuited for.

Here is another data-point you can put down as one of the most historically, statistically, and strategically inept statements by a head of a military in … well … pick a moment.

As reported by Lucas Tomlinson, BEHOLD!

One should not be shocked being that his Pentagon has insisted for years that the PRC was a “pacing threat” when they were a gaining or surpassing threat. Equally clear is a lack of humility or historical perspective. There is a bit of a whiff of MacArthur’s misreading of China back in 1950/1 and could bring equally bad consequences.

Such talk as Milley’s must be bluntly confronted. If the PRC is not a threat, then why spend money on more of a Navy? Why on more of an Air Force? Just do more of the same and we’ll be OK? See how this works?

It is a recipe for sleepwalking into strategic failure. 

“…but the Chairman does not see China as a threat as you do…” – you can hear it now.

At the inflection point at the start of greatest threat of a new conflict with China, our uniformed leadership seems hellbent to ensure that we are not prepared, and the PRC is emboldened. 

Pray for peace.

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