Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sizing Up the Next Commander-in-Chief

Photo: Ken Fallin
Neither candidate has seriously addressed how he or she thinks about the military or the use of force.
You wouldn’t know it from the presidential campaigns, but the first serious crisis to face our new president most likely will be international. The list of possibilities is long—longer than it was eight years ago.
Here is the world the new president will inherit at noon on January 20—a range of challenges for which neither candidate has offered new strategies or paths forward.
Every aspect of our relationship with China is becoming more challenging. In addition to Chinese cyberspying and theft of intellectual property, many American businesses in China are encountering an increasingly hostile environment. China’s nationalist determination unilaterally to assert sovereignty over disputed waters and islands in the East and South China Seas is steadily increasing the risk of military confrontation.
Most worrying, given their historic bad blood, escalation of a confrontation between China and Japan could be very dangerous. As a treaty partner of Japan, we would be obligated to help Tokyo. China intends to challenge the U.S. for regional dominance in East Asia over the long term, but the new president could quickly face a Chinese military challenge over disputed islands and freedom of navigation.
Dealing effectively with China requires a president with strategic acumen and vision, nuance, deft diplomatic and political skill, and sound instincts on when to challenge, when to stay silent and when to compromise or partner.
On this most complex challenge, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has said or done much to give anyone confidence. All we really know is Mr. Trump’s intention to launch a trade war with a country holding over $1 trillion in U.S. debt and the largest market for many U.S. companies; and Mrs. Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which she helped to craft and the failure of which would hand China an easy political and economic win.
Read the rest from Robert Gates HERE.

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