Chuck Spinney: Pivotng to China — Criminally Insane, Business as Usual

Commerce, Corruption, Government, Media, Military
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

The attached report by Greg Jaffe in the Washington Post (from 1 August 2012) is an excellent case study of the inside-the-beltway networking by the players in the Military – Industrial – Congressional Complex (MICC).  Jaffe shows these networks build a consensus to keep defense spending high when wars end and a terrifying peace dividend threatens to break out. At the center of Jaffee's report a an influence peddling network orchestrated by an ancient artifact of the Pentagon, a futurist named Andrew Marshall, nicknamed Yoda.

Most of the ideas surrounding the all seeing – all knowing – deep-strike precision guided attack systems portrayed in Andy Marshall's so-called Revolution of Military Affairs (its most recent incarnation is the Air – Sea Battle described by Jaffe below) have been around in various forms for a very long time, dating at least from McNamara's electronic line the Viet Nam war, but some of these ideas have conceptual roots in World War II (e.g., the wide area surveillance and close control command architecture of the British air defense system as well as the “precision” weapons programs developed by the US and Germany during WWII).  In fact, readers with a sense of military history will quickly realize that Marshall's ideas are basically a rehash of America's traditional mechanical conception of attrition warfare, especially those ideas underpinning the critical-node theories of strategic bombardment (begun in the 1930s at the Army Air Corps Tactical School), albeit masked by new fancy sounding acronyms.

Readers with a sense of history will also recall that Obama's pivot to China is hardly a new idea.  It was first floated in the early 90s and promoted  by Senator McCain, among others, in the early maneuvering to keep defense spending high despite the collapse of the Soviet Union. (That maneuvering succeeded, because as the chart below shows, the post-cold war budgets never dropped low the levels of the Eisenhower Administration during the height of the Cold War.)  McCain's maneuvering also led to the law mandating the Quadrennial Defense Review, which to date has produced a series of totally useless reports (as I explained here and here) but nevertheless provided rhetorical justifications for continuing Cold War boondoggles like missile defense, the Virginia class nuclear attack submarine, the Army's future combat system, and that turkey of turkeys, the Joint Strike Fighter.

McCain's China gambit did not take root in the early-to-mid 1990s, but fortuitously the civil wars in Yugoslavia, together with Madeline Albright closely related theory of the U.S. being the world's indispensable power, intervened to help keep the defense budget from plummeting in 1990s.  This was followed by the wars on terror in the first decade of this century, which, triggered by 9-11, provided cover for continuing cold war business as usual in the Pentagon's base budget (remember, the war itself was funded off line via supplemental appropriations).  But now, with the emotive power of Iraq and Afghan distractions winding down, the China threat is rising again, like a Phoenix, to fill the vacuum, thanks in part to the networking skills of Marshall and his proteges, as detailed by Jaffe.

The China pivot is crucial to the MICC's plan to turn Mr. Obama into the biggest base-budget spender since Ronald Reagan, as shown in the figure below (the effects of inflation have been removed):

In contrast to Viet Nam and Korea, the so-called war on terror has been funded by supplemental appropriations (added to the base (i.e., non-war) budget. These supplementals are depicted by the lightly shaded areas above the solid bars, which represent based budget totals).  In terms of base budgets only, this chart shows that Obama's four past base budgets plus the next four years of his planned base budgets would exceed those of any president, including George W. Bush (who to be fair, pave the way for the Obama cornucopia), with the sole exception of President Reagan.

Justifying far higher budgets than those averaged the Cold War is the central function of the China pivot.

Jaffe's report provides a good window into how a network of inside-the-beltway interests among players in the Pentagon, Congress, and so-called think tanks that have already convinced the ever malleable Mr. Obama into falling for the China Pivot. The next steps will be hype the politics of fear to sell it to the American people by inflating the China threat to convince them to  pay for the Revolution in Military Affairs by sacrificing a big part of their social safety net, because many the same people are telling us that uncontrolled federal spending is also threatening to destroy the United States.

Chuck Spinney

U.S. model for a future war fans tensions with China and inside Pentagon

Greg Jaffe

Washington Post, 1 August 2012

When President Obama called on the U.S. military to shift its focus to Asia earlier this year, Andrew Marshall, a 91-year-old futurist, had a vision of what to do.

Marshall’s small office in the Pentagon has spent the past two decades planning for a war against an angry, aggressive and heavily armed China.

No one had any idea how the war would start. But the American response, laid out in a concept that one of Marshall’s longtime proteges dubbed “Air-Sea Battle,” was clear.

Stealthy American bombers and submarines would knock out China’s long-range surveillance radar and precision missile systems located deep inside the country. The initial “blinding campaign” would be followed by a larger air and naval assault.


The concept, the details of which are classified, has angered the Chinese military and has been pilloried by some Army and Marine Corps officers as excessively expensive. Some Asia analysts worry that conventional strikes aimed at China could spark a nuclear war.n the Pacific islands of Tinian and Palau.

  • They built bomb-resistant aircraft shelters and brought in rapid runway repair kits to fix damaged airstrips.
  • Stealthy bombers and quiet submarines waged a counterattack.

The allied approach became the basis for the Air-Sea Battle.

. . . . . . . . .
Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) inserted language into the 2012 Defense Authorization bill requiring the Pentagon to issue a report this year detailing its plans for implementing the concept. The legislation orders the Pentagon to explain what weapons systems it will need to carry out Air-Sea Battle, its timeline for implementing the concept and an estimate of the costs associated with it.

Read full article.

Phi Beta Iota:  Andy Marshall is not insane, nor a criminal, but he is out of touch with reality and being used by unscrupulous corporate, financial, and legislative figures as a theatrical prop.  The USA cannot handle the logistics of Afghanistan, and those people don't wear shoes or have the degree of manpower and financial and other reserves the Chinese do.  Vastly more serious — vastly more ethical — vastly more in touch with reality, are Robert Steele's ideas as outlined below.

See Also:

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on the Next Four Years — Eradicate “Distortions,” Get the Truth on the Table, and Focus on Free Energy

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on Reform 2.2 Numbers for 30% DoD Cut over 2-4 Years

2012 Robert Steele: Reflections on Healing the Americas

2012 Robert Steele: Reflections on the US Military — Redirection Essential — and a Prerequisite to Creating a 450-Ship Navy, a Long-Haul Air Force, and an Air-Liftable Army

2012 Robert Steele: Addressing the Seven Sins of Foreign Policy — Why Defense, Not State, Is the Linch Pin for Global Engagement

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