China’s top general complimented the US military last week in such a fawning manner that many in the military and in elected federal positions likely took those compliments as a sincere assessment from an impressed and dissuaded foe, rather than clever and mendacious comments delivered by an ingenious and guileful enemy. Make no mistake, this was an international head fake done with skill and with the specific intent of getting us to relax our guard.When General Chen says "What I'm trying to say is that we do not have the capability to challenge the United States.", he’s not saying that China does not want to challenge the United States. He is not saying that China is going to suspend all of its weapons programs because he was so impressed that China is now deterred for the next millennia. He is not saying that they now have a good reason to cease development and production of their stealth fighter. And he is certainly not asking for hands across the water and a long chorus of Kum By Ya.
He is simply saying that they have not matched our capabilities yet, and that he really, really hopes that the US will let its guard down while the Chinese make leaps quantum leaps necessary to match their armed forces against ours. The specific intent of his blunt statements, which were not made by someone ready to give up his sword and sign capitulation papers, were to get the US to reduce our military budgets, reduce our reconnaissance of their coast line, and to lull us into ten years of stagnation while they blow past us like they did in Olympic diving.
The Chinese are acutely aware of our penchant for overspending and keeping ourselves on the precipice of budgetary crisis, as they hold a preponderance of our debt. General Chen was planting a seed that sends the perfect message to liberal money-grabbers; we can cut defense spending because we are soooo far ahead of the Chinese, we can relax for a few years in weapons development. There will be no listening to conservative think-tanks that see this for the Bangalore torpedo that it is. We will be urged to believe our new, good friend General Chen and his frank honesty in assessing the true state of military affairs in the world. We should all give a thumbs up and in chorus say, “Mission accomplished.”
Don’t look to the top layers of the Pentagon to put up much of a fight. It is natural for the many narcissists at the top of the military to take these compliments as validation of a lengthy and laborious effort, but because of their egos, they will miss the covert nature of Chen’s message. Over the objections of the real operators, who recognize this as a disinformation campaign, the top brass will be smoozing for their next assignments by bringing out accounting like assessments showing cost benefit curves proving that we can stay ahead of the Chinese with little or no spending over the next ten years or so. Liberals will latch onto the brass’ acquiescence as the roadmap to substantial budget cuts in an effort to turn the table on Republicans. Republicans will be pinned between their budget cutting efforts and General Chen’s statements, and they will lose the fight in trying to sustain or extend weapons programs and operational spending, and consequently our tactical and strategic advantages over the Chinese.
Admiral Mullen is obviously buying it, "I think part of the discussions, and General Chen spoke to this, is his view of how far ahead the United States is technically." What follows that kind of talk is budget cuts.
One of Chen’s direct goals is to get the US to reduce its coastline surveillance of China. Our fortitude combined with our technology here is key to keeping the Chinese from achieving their longest standing objective, the re-taking of Taiwan. Chen’s comments “As a matter of fact, the reconnaissance activities along China's coast by U.S. military aircraft and vessels are seen in China as deterrents.", are specifically designed to try to get the US to relax its efforts in order for China to begin to develop a window in which to launch a campaign to restore Chinese “unity.”
With statements like, “As it is known to all, the United States is a super-power in the world today; how can China easily have the ability to challenge it? That is simply not part of Chinese culture and we do not have that capability. We would strive for world peace, civility and development and well being of the whole humankind...The United States has far more advanced weapons and equipment." General Chen may take Miss Congeniality at the next Miss World pageant.
World peace is not a stated goal of the Communist Chinese government, expansion of their version of communism is.
We Americans have been suckered into complacency more times than we can count, and we only overcame years of neglect and narcissism (post WWI, post WWII and pre-Korea, post-Korea, the Carter years) on our guts and the shear will of the individuals in the military (Guadalcanal, Pusan perimeter are striking examples).
We should not be led down a path of complacency and neglect by someone who has read Sun Tsu more times than most of us have read the Sunday comics. This is part of the Chinese national strategy, don’t be fooled.
You don’t have to be a former military officer and Asian history major to receive General Chen’s message loud and clear.