President Barack Obama said during the visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in February that “we welcome China’s peaceful rise [and] we believe that a strong and prosperous China is one that can help bring stability and prosperity to the region and the world.” Few presidents have made statements so stunningly disingenuous as this. For as he was speaking, Obama was presiding over a shift in military doctrine whose central tenet is that China is, and will be, the main military threat to the United States for at least the next generation.
Weeks earlier, in November 2011, the Pentagon conducted an unusual rollout of a new military unit called the Air Sea Battle Office. Three senior officers briefed reporters on what until then had been a secret program known as the Air Sea Battle Concept. The concept calls for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to integrate forces and other capabilities to defeat what the Pentagon has labeled “anti-access and area denial weapons”—high-technology arms that can prevent or deter the United States military from operating in certain areas.