WASHINGTON — A U.S. Air Force general’s controversial memo predicting war with China in 2025 may reflect a growing divergence of views among U.S. civilian and military leaders on relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers. world.
General Michael Minihan’s memo began circulating on the internet over the weekend.
The general begins bluntly: “I hope I’m wrong. My intuition tells me that we will be at war in 2025.”
Minikhan leads the Air Force Airlift Command, a 5,000-man airlift unit.
In his memo, he provides no evidence to support his prediction of war between the United States and China, other than a vague assertion that the upcoming US and Taiwanese elections will give Beijing an opportunity to try to bring the autonomous island with the mainland.
In the memo, the general orders units under his command to increase their training and combat readiness in order to be ready to “contain and, if necessary, defeat China.”
Minihan’s remarks appear to contradict those of senior Biden administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Earlier this month, Austin told reporters that the United States was noticing China’s increasingly aggressive behavior toward Taiwan, but questioned the possibility of a short-term attack.
“We think they’re trying to create a new normal, but does that mean an invasion is imminent? I highly doubt that,” he said.
In a statement to media, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said: “The National Defense Strategy makes it clear that China is the defining challenge for the Department of Defense, and we remain focused on working with allies and partners to maintain a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In response to a question about Minihan’s memo, the Pentagon sent a statement from an unnamed Department of Defense official stating, “These comments do not represent the Department’s views on China.”
Michael O’Hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution, told media he thinks Minihan’s memo was a big mistake and the Department of Defense should have condemned it more harshly.
“He equates the importance of deterrence with the possibility of war, which I think is very unwise and potentially dangerous because of the possibility of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said. . – This is contrary to the policy of the US government, which does not designate China as a future adversary. He calls China “the defining challenge” or “our most important strategic competitor”. These words are carefully chosen to say that we need to think about the possibility of war with China in order to contain it. But we don’t need to think about its inevitability.”
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