2034: A novel by Stavridis and Ackerman visualizes how the United States and China can go to war


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Long-range cyber attacks cast a shadow on the United States’ ability to act strategically. Conventional wars and naval battles lead to heavy losses for both sides. A host of other countries are drawn into a conflict in which strategists see resorting to the most dangerous measures. In the end, no one really wins.

The scenario may be speculative, but it is entirely true, says Admiral James Stavridis, the former NATO supreme commander who imagines these events as co-author of a book.2034: narration of the next world war,Published Tuesday. The book, written with novelist and veteran warrior Elliot Ackerman, is what Stavridis describes as a “cautionary tale,” exploiting a rich tradition of telling Cold War stories – think John Hackett’s book “The Third World War” or Stanley Kubrick’s book “Dr. Strangelove “- that illustrated the horrific catastrophe that the war between the Soviet Union and the United States would represent.

“Part of the reason we never got to drop nuclear weapons at each other during the Cold War is that we imagined how terrible it was, how it affected and destroyed society,” Stavridis told Today’s WorldView.

Stavridis hopes it can fuel public recognition of the dire consequences of the Sino-U.S. Escalation. Its pages are turned – “clearly written and fast-paced,” as The Washington Post review describes this – Includes a movie cast of characters: A sphinx-like Chinese defense accessory who loves to munch on M & Ms; The three-toed Ashkar Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; An American dissident fighter pilot aroused with nostalgia for WWII; The weary US Deputy National Security Adviser in the White House, whose family ties to the motherland affect the course of the war.

Beyond imagination, however, there is a roadmap for war that can be easily translated into the real world. “The novel lays out a plausible ladder of escalation that goes from a conventional attack to a second conventional attack to a third conventional attack on America’s decision to withdraw and use a tactical nuclear weapon,” Stavridis said. “This is more real [a prospect] Than I wish it was. “

Events take place in “2034”, 15 years after Stavridis and Ackerman began writing the book, a framework for the future that allowed them to “create a world in which technology is nearly the same, but the underlying tensions will come,” said Stavridis, acknowledging “the timetable for China’s progress, its army, and its capabilities in The field of artificial intelligence, and its electronic capabilities. “

In their narrative, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative has expanded from Its network of infrastructure and economic deals Into an important geopolitical project that includes strengthened security relations with countries such as Iran. Meanwhile, in the United States there is a female president whose name has not been mentioned and who is interestingly not affiliated with either of the traditional political parties. The post-party administration it leads still cannot avoid the miscalculations and blind spots that see a maritime conflict exploding in a devastating global war.

At the National Security Institute in Washington, DC, there is a growing collection of policy papers and think tank reports Similar terrain scheme. Inexorable The decline of the military superiority of the United States In the Asia-Pacific region will lead to a more tense confrontation. Both sides will be – or are actually seen as – Drawing “red lines” He transformed a range of interests, from freedom of navigation in the South China Sea to Chinese claims to Taiwan. You may feel the United States It has had to republish more of its strategic assets Next to China, while China may become more insecure as Washington strengthens its security cooperation with Asian allies.

As strategists plan a thriving big game in the hemisphere, they also calculate the risks of escalation. General Charles Q Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Reporters last year Conflict with an adversary like China will now see “combat attrition and risks… closer to the World War II era than the undisputed environment we have become accustomed to” in recent decades.

“While planning to win a war with China remains necessary, it is no longer sufficient.” A 2016 report from Rand Corp warned. “The United States should also think about how to reduce the war and its costs.”

US and Chinese officials insist that they have no interest in fomenting conflict or pitting one another in a new Cold War. But the arrogance of the great powers has often been the cause of disaster. “Nations are like people, and they can become overconfident in ways that lead them to make bad choices,” said Stavridis. “Certainly this has been the case for the United States on many occasions.”

He added that the disastrous Sino-American war was not “destined,” referring to moments in the novel “when either side could pull the keys out of the car.”

“Big doors can swing on small hinges,” said Stavridis.


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