October 3, 2020


Potential Biden Administration Defense Pick Outlines Pentagon Priorities for Next Decade (Steven Stashwick, October 02, 2020, The Diplomat)

In an interview this week, former senior U.S. defense official Michele Flournoy discussed the  [...]

Her assessment of the Trump administration's strategy towards China is blunt. Asked if it was working, she replied "Right now? No." She criticized the administration's narrow focus, in practice, on trade and tariff issues and pursuing policies mostly bilaterally, instead of building broad coalitions of partners and allies.

She recognizes the risks and threats China poses. In an essay earlier this summer, she captured attention with the proposal that being able to "credibly threaten to sink all of China's military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours" would help deter China from attempting a fait accompli in the region.

Still, she rejects terms like primacy when discussing the military balance that the United States should pursue in relation to China. Instead she believes that the U.S. military needs only "enough of an edge" to deter China from threatening vital U.S. interests in the region - something that she believes need to be articulated more clearly - either by being able to thwart their effort, or making it too costly to be worthwhile.

For that reason, she is keen to find cost savings in the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal, which the Trump administration has proposed modernizing and expanding at enormous expense. She believes that instead of focusing on a nuclear competition with China, savings need to be invested in conventional deterrence and capabilities for competing in the low intensity "gray zone," where most of the strategic interaction between the two countries is likely to take place.

Posted by at October 3, 2020 7:18 AM