- American Suspension of INF Treaty is Aimed at China
by ANATOLY KARLIN, https://www.strategic-culture.org/
… However, it is with respect to the balance of power in the West Pacific that the restrictions imposed by the INF on the US – but not on China – come into play. While consensus expert opinion holds that the US still retains dominance in the South China Sea vis-à-vis China, its margin of superiority is shrinking year by year. In a 2015 report, the RAND Corporation estimated that the number of US air wings required to defeat a surge of attacking Chinese aircraft over Taiwan increased from just a couple in 1996 to 30 by 2017. In a subsequent report released in the following year, we see the balance of power in potential China-US conflict scenarios shift from a terminal Chinese disadvantage in 1996, to parity over Taiwan by 2017 (though they believe that the US still holds a decisive advantage in a conflict over the Spratly Islands). Even so, it is especially notable that the only two categories in a conflict over Taiwan in which RAND now considers China to hold an advantage – “Chinese attacks on air bases” and “Chinese anti-surface warfare” – are both spheres in which intermediate-range ballistic missiles would play an important role. This is not just my supposition. In another 2016 RAND report, tellingly titled “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable”, this consideration is stated openly and forthrightly: “US land-based missiles from 500 km to 5,500 km are prohibited by the INF treaty, whereas the Chinese missiles are not, giving China a significant advantage.”
It has long been obvious that the US (correctly) regards China as the real long-term threat to its global hegemony. Meanwhile, Russia is a mere nuisance, a “dying bear” that is ever approaching collapse, in the wake of which Moscow will have no choice but to sign up to America’s China containment project. (Sure, this sounds like a crazy ideological narrative, and it is – but the US policy of alienating Russia and drawing it into a quasi-alliance with China is even crazier – just ask Kissinger). But like it or not, this really is how the American elites think, and it can’t be denied that there is a certain logic to it. In this context, withdrawal from the INF Treaty – with Russia’s alleged violations as pretext – is just the logical next step to the military component of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, one that the US is entirely happy to continue and follow through with. It really is as banal as that.