US Military: Divided Forces, Divided Attention


There’s no doubt that the US military is the most powerful force in the game these days. However, unlike in the Cold War when it was laser-focused on one strategic threat, its forces must now face two major threats – China and Russia – and a host of smaller but nagging problems. China and Russia may not seek global domination (in China’s case, not yet), but they are being aggressive in their own neighbourhoods, and they have the luxury of focusing their forces and mischief in one or two regions. Both are pushing their own agenda in their self-defined spheres of interest. But because the United States has allies and commitments all over the world, its attention is drawn everywhere. Not only does it have to be ready to fight conventional war against peer competitors, it has to be ready for fight hybrid war, terrorism, cyber-war and everything else. The United States faces a dilemma: does it ignore aggression and incursion in some places, for example letting China have its way in Africa and allowing Russia to make the rules in Syria and Crimea, or does it stretch its forces to fight all the fires? The US military may be big, but it may not be big enough to do everything.

See an interesting commentary by Peter Apps, “The Truth Behind the U.S. Show of Force in Asia,” Reuters, 13 November 2017 at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-military-commentary/commentary-the-truth-behind-the-u-s-show-of-force-in-asia-idUSKBN1DD20A

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