Peer-Rivals and Deterrence

  • S. Mahmud Ali


President George W. Bush, critical of past policy, promptly ordered changes. DoD would execute his vision of U.S.-China relations. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would review all contacts with the PLA. Having chaired national security-related commissions in 1998 and 2000, he viewed China with unease. However, Washington could not operate ab initio. Rumsfeld’s predecessors had initiated reviews of America’s Asian and global strategies; these provided the context in which China policy evolved. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998 triggered several studies. One ordered by Cohen arrived just before Rumsfeld reached DoD. It claimed China had over 100 nuclear warheads, was “increasing the size, accuracy and survivability” of these, and threatened to expand its missile inventory in response to America’s BMD initiatives. China’s missile force held “a significant portion of the US population at risk in a retaliatory strike.”5 Other DoD studies reinforced this theme. A USAF review of military interests in Asia initiated after the Indian-Pakistani tests identified “the emergence of China as a rising power, its military modernization program, and its enhanced role in the East Asian region” as entailing “substantial implications” for U.S. strategy and force posture. Premised on “continued American global leadership” requiring “political, technological and military investments to ensure its global pre-eminence,” the study noted the following three objectives:
  • Prevent the rise of a regional hegemon undermining U.S. interests

  • Maintain the stability that has helped spread prosperity

  • Manage Asia’s transformation by influencing events and ensuring control6


Chinese Firm Ballistic Missile Operation Iraqi Freedom Cruise Missile Operation Enduring Freedom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© S. Mahmud Ali 2008

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  • S. Mahmud Ali

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