Part 1: Consequences of the loss of America’s war on China, by Austin Bay


In July, The National Interest published an essay titled “Can America Lose to China?” written by Kishore Mahbubani, Fellow of the Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore and former UN Ambassador to Singapore.

The essay focuses on Sino-US political, economic and social competition. Mahbubani begins with an observation: Americans believe that “an open society like America has many natural advantages” over Chinese autocracy. Assuming an inherent advantage, “the Americans cannot even conceive of the possibility of losing to China.”

That may be true, but not quite in the way he poses the problem.

I disagree with several of Mahbubani’s following points. He thinks that the United States should reintegrate its economy with that of China. Of course, trade is good, but America’s over-reliance on China is a strategic mistake. Fair trade does not exist when dictatorial whims rig contracts and court decisions.

Sometimes he describes Beijing as relatively benign and misunderstood. He says the United States can come to an agreement with China as long as it “doesn’t disrupt the world order.”

The disruption is Beijing’s business. China has encroached on the Philippine Maritime Exclusive Economic Zone. (See the 2016 Hague Arbitration Court ruling.) Vietnam has repeatedly faced Chinese oil rigs and “sea militia” boats invading internationally recognized Vietnamese waters. Indian and Chinese forces clash in the Himalayas and have been doing so since 1962.

Prominent Americans have considered losing economic and political competition with China, resulting in a loss of wealth and diplomatic clout. Mahbubani clearly despises former President Donald Trump. Perhaps the varsity club virtue report blinds him to an obvious truth: Trump saw and still sees the possibility of losing to China.

Yet the Ambassador deserves credit for having recognized his inability to envision uncomfortable alternative futures. I put it this way: The majority of the American public and national leaders have yet to reflect on the consequences of losing a major war against China.

The Pentagon is focused on military deterrence and, failing that, on victory in combat. For seven decades, American and Allied planners have played war games by examining the “what ifs” of conflict in the Taiwan Strait and other scenarios in East Asia.

Over the past decade, several games have examined a shooting war (kinetic) in the western Pacific and the Asian coast between the United States and its allies against China. Occasionally, Russian forces cooperate with China.

The Pentagon acknowledges having conducted several classified war games in 2020. In March 2021, Yahoo News discussed one of them, a US Air Force war game in the 2030 period. The storyline began with “Chinese biological weapon attack that swept through US bases and warships in the Indo-Pacific region.” A Chinese military exercise camouflaged “the deployment of a massive invading force”, which launched a “lightning assault on the island of Taiwan”.

Chinese missiles hit “US bases and warships” across the region.

Yahoo quoted US Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote: “The definitive answer (of the game) if the US military doesn’t change course is that we’re going to lose quickly. Hinote added, “Over a decade ago our war games indicated that the Chinese were doing a good job investing in military capabilities that would make our preferred model of expeditionary warfare, where we push our forces forward and let us operate from relatively secure bases and sanctuaries. , Harder and harder.”

Hinote did not discuss America’s loss of ships and planes and the personnel killed, injured and captured. But it is clear that America lost the mock military campaign.

If China took Taiwan, then it would have achieved a major goal of the CCP, with horrific military, diplomatic, economic, and territorial consequences in the real world.

It is foolish to believe that an intense war involving China and the United States would be confined to the Taiwan Strait and end with the loss of Taiwan. In the scenario, the missiles strike US regional bases, i.e. Japan, South Korea, Guam, possibly Australia, Singapore and Hawaii.

Go a little further. What is preventing this Western Pacific War from escalating into a war for national survival?

Next week’s column will examine several very uncomfortable consequences of the loss of the US war on China. In one scenario, war breaks out before the 2024 U.S. national election.

To learn more about Austin Bay and read articles from other Creators writers and designers, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Photo credit: PublicDomainImages to Pixabay

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