Pelosi’s visit could accidentally start a war with China — and America would lose
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely headed to Taiwan as early as Tuesday night EDT, meaning US-China tensions are about to boil over, bringing the two superpowers closer to conflict than they’ve been in decades.
And China wants us to know just how angry it is. Beijing’s media mouthpieces have already advocated shooting down her plane, starting what would probably be World War III if the Communists ever did such a thing.
But history tells us China loves to talk tough and do little when confronted, just like any grade-school bully. While the Chinese dragon’s fire will likely be hot air and no military action if Pelosi does head to Taiwan, though, that doesn’t mean an accident couldn’t start a crisis that sets off a chain of events sparking a war between Beijing and Washington.
To be frank, thinking through a path to war is pretty straightforward. What if a missile test off Taiwan’s coast goes bad and hits the island nation? Or what if a Chinese pilot gets too close to the fighter escorts Pelosi will undoubtedly use to travel to Taipei safely?
That happened in 2001, and the Bush administration had to bribe Beijing to get the pilots and EP-3 surveillance plane that bumped a Chinese fighter back to US soil.
One thing is clear to me. In various simulations, I have fought nearly 20 different US-China wars since 2013, and there is always one constant: Washington loses nearly every conflict with Beijing. That means America is no longer the world’s global superpower, and China reigns supreme.
History tells us why. Thanks to the Obama-Biden defense cuts of the 2010s and the Biden administration today having no military strategy for China, Beijing has built a military ready to win the scenario we potentially face — a showdown over Taiwan.
If the dogs of war did run wild, China has a clear plan for how it would try to decimate US forces in Asia.
First, Beijing would attack all the ways US forces communicate and share information across the globe, the real but unsexy reason America is a superpower. China would unleash a massive cyberattack on the US military’s command-and-control assets, communications nodes and military bases worldwide. If the US military is blinded, it cannot fight or see what is coming next.
At the same time, China would destroy US commercial, spy and military satellites in orbit using sophisticated anti-satellite weapons it’s been developing for years and has demonstrated. The US military would then be blind and mute — unable to relay orders to forces to strike China back effectively.
Here’s where it gets even more dangerous. Beijing has built up a massive arsenal of cruise, ballistic and now hypersonic missiles to attack and destroy US bases and warships across the Indo-Pacific region. China would attempt to deploy all its military assets all over the region in one giant attack. We would see countless bases destroyed or rendered useless for weeks, aircraft carriers and cruisers sunk and tens of thousands of US servicemen killed in what would be minutes.
In effect, China’s armed forces would expose the mistakes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden in less than an hour.
This bolt from the blue would happen all at once, all done to deter the United States and the American people from thinking about escalating matters further — to sap the will of any US president.
Think of it this way: If America has no operable bases to send forces to, if much of its Navy is at the bottom of the Pacific rusting away and the rest would have to fight its way across thousands of miles of ocean to strike back at China, at what point would Team Biden quit the fight like Afghanistan?
You know how this story goes: Joe Biden hands Asia to China. And Putin will see it as a green light, of course, to do whatever he wants in Europe.
The good news is that a war with China over Pelosi’s grandstanding visit seems pretty unlikely. History, however, tells us that conflicts can happen when you least expect them and can start over what seem to be minor events or accidents.
And unfortunately, if America and China were to come to blows for any reason whatsoever, the US military would lose that conflict.
Harry J. Kazianis is president and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national-security think tank. He is the author of “The Tao of A2/AD: Beijing’s Asymmetric Strategy to Defeat the United States on the Battlefield.”