By: Elena Grace Flores
It is believed that even under such desperate conditions, resorting to nuclear weapons would not be China’s only option – the other one is to surrender if it can accept defeat, because U.S. nuclear retaliation would not only destroy the country physically but will collapse everything in it.
Then the Chinese would be accusing America for destroying their country, and they will take the beating, capitulate, and accept the national humiliation of submitting to the superior force of the United States. This is however an assumption as the US is preparing to deter the possibility of a “limited” “conventional” US attack that would pose an existential threat to the regime as surely as a nuclear fusillade.
However, this assumption of Chinese restraint, is not convincing – but the United States could make it lower still by exercising great care with regard to the extensiveness of homeland attacks and by avoiding altogether targets that the Chinese could interpret as critical to their deterrent.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force has decided to go ahead with the B61-12 “smart” a.k.a. guided nuclear bomb with dialable yields up to 50 kilotons. It is expected to be ready in 2020.
It is assured however that the U.S. initiation of nuclear war with China, is somewhat far-fetched as well. It is not even an option with the Soviet threat to NATO that is considered existential, whereas the Chinese threat to U.S. allies and interests in East Asia is not. The current U.S. declaratory policy concerning use of nuclear weapons also makes no allowance for first-use in the event that war with China really happens.
The US is deemed as trying to contain as a conventional exchange into a nuclear exchange, one that has the potential to inflict unacceptable costs on US allies and maybe even on the US homeland. Nevertheless, a direct US-China war could plausibly blow up into a nuclear confrontation but is cynically carrying water for the Navy and Air Force in their desire to fund an epic conventional buildup. It just wanted to tell China that the US has a road map for escalation that counters all scenarios of nuclear war, so better not start anything like that!
The US is indeed ready to accept a high level of tension with all of its allied forces from Japan to South Korea to Australia to the EU and UK and the Philippines rather than take an “off ramp” and surrender its pretensions in the South China Sea – but the thing is, battle ground for this confrontation will be in Asia.