Very little headlines come out of the Middle East these days about the two-decade war the US has been fighting against terrorism. But what you hear on an increasing frequency are headlines outlining how Russia and China are the new enemies. The shift happened several years ago when the US military figured out that a great power competition was underway.
Instead of fighting unconventional enemies in the deserts of the Middle East, the Pentagon is preparing for major conflicts against Russia and China.
To do this, President Trump ramped up military spending to record amounts to prepare forces for future conflict.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are being plowed into hypersonics, fifth-generation fighters and bombers, directed energy, space, cyber, quantum science, artificial intelligence, and automation.
The realignment of the Pentagon’s crosshairs was recently confirmed by Indo-Pacific Command, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said over the weekend that US forces need to be deployed in more significant numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, to confront a rising China, reported Bloomberg.
“What I want to do is reallocate forces,” Esper said Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum when asked about slashing troop numbers in Afghanistan.
“That’s my priority theater,” Esper said. “I’m not just looking at Afghanistan,” but “all these places where I can free up troops” to bring them home or “compete with the Chinese, to reassure our allies and to conduct exercises and training.”
The Trump administration published the 2018 National Defence Strategy that outlines after two decades of fighting terrorists in the Middle East — the military must address Russia and China in a great power competition.
“Our war-fighting advantages over strategic competitors are being challenged,” Esper said. “China and Russia, today’s revisionist powers, are modernizing their militaries while seeking veto power over the economic and security decisions of other nations.”
What’s evident is that the US is falling into Thucydides’s Trap. It’s when one great power threatens to displace another, and war is always inevitable on a long enough timeline.
The Pentagon’s realignment of the enemy has unleashed an economic war on Russia and China. Washington is sanctioning Russia, while on another front, launched a trade war with China to halt its economic and military ascension.
These economic wars between the US and China and Russia have also kicked off a technology war that has morphed into an artificial intelligence arms race, which is setting the stage for heightened geopolitical uncertainties through the 2020s as the world inches closer to a shooting war.