As that task force notes, for durable reductions in such spending to become feasible, this country’s leadership would have to take a more realistic view of the military challenges posed by both China and Russia.
In recent years, the regime in Beijing has indeed been increasing its military spending, but when it comes to an armed presence in the Pacific region and the ability to make war there, the United States remains staggeringly stronger. As a start, it has an arsenal of nuclear weapons five to six times as large as China’s (though, of course, using it would mean a planetary Armageddon). And while Beijing’s influence is primarily focused on its own region, the U.S. military has a historically unprecedented global reach, deploying nearly 200,000 troops overseas garrisoned on at least 800 military bases scattered across continents, and maintaining 11 aircraft carrier task forces to patrol the global seas. In reality, the sort of “arms race” with China now being considered will be costly and unnecessary, while only increasing the risk of war between those two nuclear-armed powers, an outcome to be avoided at all costs.
China’s real twenty-first-century challenge to this country isn’t military at all, but political and economic in nature. Its leadership has focused on increasing that country’s power and influence through investment programs like its ever more global Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. Despite many problems,