How a 'major Indo-Pacific war' with China would have a 'profound impact' on the US: defense expert

Image via Creative Commons.

During a Sunday, February 26 appearance on NBC News' "Meet the Press," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Chinese officials could make the war in Ukraine even worse if they decided to give weapons to Russia.

Sullivan explained, "We have not seen China yet provide military equipment to Russia for purposes of fighting in the war in Ukraine. We haven’t seen it yet…. I think it would alienate them from a number of countries in the world, including our European allies…. Their weapons would, in effect, be used for the slaughter of people in Ukraine."

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the worst fighting in Europe since World War 2, but critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin fear that the conflict could grow even worse if Russia were to attack a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) country or if Mainland China were to somehow get involved on the side of Russia. A global conflict in which Ukraine, the United States and NATO members were on one side and Russia, Belarus and Mainland China were on the other side could, military experts have warned, escalate into World War 3.

READ MORE:Taiwan: The world's other nuclear flashpoint

But even without China getting involved in the Ukraine/Russia War to that extent, a conflict involving the U.S. and the People's Republic of China would be a global disaster.

In an op-ed/essay published by the New York Times on February 27, Australian defense expert and author Ross Babbage lays out some reasons why U.S. involvement in an "Indo-Pacific war" would be a nightmare.

"A major war in the Indo-Pacific is probably more likely now than at any time since the Second World War," Babbage warns. "The most probable spark is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan…. As president, Joe Biden has stated repeatedly that he would defend Taiwan. But leaders in Washington also need to avoid stumbling carelessly into a war with China because it would be unlike anything ever faced by Americans."

Babbage adds, "U.S. citizens have grown accustomed to sending their military off to fight far from home. But China is a different kind of foe — a military, economic and technological power capable of making a war felt in the American homeland."

READ MORE: Why Xi Jinping may not need 'the use of force' to 'assault' Taiwan: national security expert

Babbage is quite blunt in his op-ed/essay, emphasizing that if the government in Mainland China were to invade Taiwan and the U.S. responded militarily, things could get ugly in a variety of ways.

"Taiwan is slightly bigger than the state of Maryland," Babbage explains. "If you recall how quickly Afghanistan and Kabul fell to the Taliban in 2021, you start to realize that the takeover of Taiwan could happen relatively quickly. China also has more than 1350 ballistic and cruise missiles poised to strike U.S. and allied forces in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and American-held territories in the Western Pacific. Then there’s the sheer difficulty the United States would face waging war thousands of miles across the Pacific against an adversary that has the world’s largest navy and Asia’s biggest air force."

The Australian defense expert warns that in a U.S./China conflict, China would pose a threat not only militarily, but also, technologically and economically.

"If war were to break out," Babbage notes, "China can be expected to use this to disrupt communications and spread fake news and other disinformation…. These operations would most likely be accompanied by cyber offensives to disrupt electricity, gas, water, transport, health care and other public services…. China could also weaponize its dominance of supply chains and shipping. The impact on Americans would be profound…. The U.S. economy is heavily dependent on Chinese resources and manufactured goods, including many with military applications, and American consumers rely on moderately priced Chinese-made imports for everything from electronics to furniture to shoes."

READ MORE: Top Air Force commander fears the US and China will be at war by 2025: report

Read Ross Babbage’s full op-ed/essay here (subscription required).

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