America Chooses a Navy: Competition with China for the Global Future

USSRonald

George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”

This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.

su-closeup

One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China.

Today the Chinese have one primitive aircraft carrier built from a hull bought from Ukraine. Greenert says China is about ten years away from beginning to construct a seriously large and capable carrier with excellent aircraft — by which time, optimists hope, China will accept the need for orderliness on the seas over which passes 90 percent of the world’s trade (by volume) and beneath which, through cables, passes 95 percent of international phone and Internet traffic.

Greenert’s Navy, which has fewer (290) but much more capable ships than the Navy had during the Reagan buildup (594), can still move nimbly to put anti-missile ships near North Korea or F/A-18s over the Islamic State. But cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy…(read more)

National Review Online



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