The changing balance of power in Asia could lead to another missile crisisby Robert Fry / June 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
These are busy times in defence ministries and security think tanks around the world. Terrorism in Western European capitals, hybrid warfare on Eastern European borders, civil war in the Middle East and an old-fashioned great power confrontation in the Western Pacific make a strategic mix more complex than at any time since 1945. Throw in the increasingly tense nuclear relationships in East and South Asia and you have a situation potentially more dangerous than the Cold War.
We have weathered confrontations like the Cuban missile crisis: a face-off between two nations with well-established hotline communications, a comprehensive understanding of each other’s military doctrines and sophisticated nuclear inventories. But we are now presented with untried and likely unstable conditions: simultaneous multilateral deterrence between nations with relatively crude nuclear inventories.
The first flashpoint is the relationship between China and the United States. The press has reported on the contested ownership of islands in the South and East China Seas and the mutual provocations that have arisen. Less well covered are the growing complications of the countries’ nuclear deterrence strategies. North Korea, effectively a Chinese client state, is continually testing missiles and warheads. In response, earlier this year the US has announced plans to deploy its…