Trudy Rubin: the war in China will be different | Chroniclers


Trudy Rubin the Philadelphia investigator

WASHINGTON – The world is changing faster than our lazy political leaders – let alone the public – can handle.

The COVID-19 virus and climate change are evolving much faster than the international community, as we saw at the G-20 in Rome and the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Back home, rapid social changes are causing many Americans to embrace the scammers who promise to save them. The urgent need to improve our unraveling democracy is blocked by opponents of the GOP and the infighting of the Democratic Party.

Above all, science is advancing at high speed as we humans move forward at the speed of mud, too oblivious to recognize that the changes we are retreating from now will be eclipsed by those of the next five or ten years.

This reality was underscored by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.

The general spoke of the uniqueness of the Chinese challenge, fueled by Beijing’s desire to outdo the United States in cyber capabilities and space. His real message was the need to recognize the urgency of this moment.

“We are witnessing one of the greatest geopolitical power shifts the world has seen,” the general said. He was of course referring to China, which over the past four decades has grown from a peasant economy and peasant army to the world’s second-largest economy with sophisticated capabilities in space and cybersecurity – on land. , at sea, in the air and underwater.

The general stressed, however, that these changes have occurred as part of a “fundamental change in the character of war” spurred by broad technological changes. “The last great [shift, between World War I and World War II] was the introduction of the plane, mechanization and radio. Today you see robotics, artificial intelligence… and a wide variety of other technologies.

“If we, the US military, do not make a fundamental change ourselves in the next 10 to 20 years, we will be on the wrong side of a conflict.”

What the general was talking about involves more than a vague speech about a new cold war between two unequal superpowers. The Soviet Union was a self-isolating country with a lousy geography and a failing economy, whose power rested on a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and its reserves of energy.

The new “tripolar war”, as the general called it, involves competition between the United States and a Chinese economic giant seeking technological supremacy with America, dragged by a Russian economic dwarf still defined by oil, the gas and nuclear weapons.

Again, rapid advances in science are the key to defining the new era we live in. “By adding all the technologies that are coming to us very quickly,” the general said, “we are entering a potentially much more strategically unstable world than in the past 40 to 70 years.

Space and cybernetic capabilities are the big new concern. As Milley pointed out, our economy, our country and our military are completely dependent on space and satellites that provide local and global connectivity.

We are increasingly familiar with the chaos that cyber hackers – government and criminals, or working in tandem – can cause on our systems, from banks to energy supplies to hospitals.

And we think we know about space wars because we’ve been watching them for years in the movies. But a real space war, which would KO the military and commercial satellites (which animate our daily life), would have nothing to compare with Darth Vader.

“Space today is a new area of ​​more conflict,” the general said. “We don’t want to have a conflict in space. I would say we are the first country on Earth to have space capabilities, but other countries are following close behind. Space is becoming a hotly contested area for the United States, and a lot of work remains to be done. “

Yet the progress made in carrying out this “work that needs to be done” – in the political, military, health and environmental spheres – has fallen short of the speed that is demanded.

Yet our political system seems unable to improve its game. GOP leaders deny science and denounce immigration while focusing on the “big lie” – even though Tuesday’s election shows it is not. fatal for the GOP to distance itself from Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden and his team grasp the need for speed but are thwarted in its application.

“It’s a different world from cyberspace,” said the general. The new world and China will not wait for us to speed up our response.

Trudy Rubin is a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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