Hedge strat­egy

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Michael Pills­bury, a Pen­tagon con­sul­tant on China, said re­cently that the U.S. strat­egy of “hedg­ing” against an emerg­ing mil­i­tary threat from Bei­jing by build­ing up U.S. forces in the Pa­cific likely will con­tinue whoever is elected pres­i­dent in Novem­ber.

Mr. Pills­bury made the com­ments dur­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at a Jane’s U.S. De­fense Con­fer­ence and noted that a key part of the strat­egy is the U.S. buildup of forces on Guam. The re­cent de­ploy­ment of ad­di­tional U.S. forces there prompted some “hys­te­ria” from the state-run Chi­nese news me­dia, he said.

The hedge strat­egy, Mr. Pills­bury said, re­mains be­low the pub­lic radar, how­ever, with Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials say­ing it is not di­rected at China. How­ever, so far none of the cur­rent pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates has sought to re­pu­di­ate the strat­egy, he said.

Mr. Pills­bury quoted a se­nior Navy civil­ian as say­ing the new Pa­cific game plan is needed be­cause “hope is not a strat­egy,” mean­ing the hope that China’s rise will be peace­ful.

The hedge strat­egy is the Pen­tagon’s grand de­sign to beef up mil­i­tary forces in the Pa­cific and up­grade al­liances in the re­gion to be ready to counter a hos­tile China, that is rapidly de­ploy­ing ad­vanced nu­clear and con­ven­tional mis­siles, sub­marines and other naval forces and more mo­bile ground forces, but will not dis­close the ex­tent or tar­get of the decades-long buildup.

Some pro-China aca­demics and of­fi­cials have sug­gested the hedge strat­egy, first de­vel­oped un­der De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld, never ex­isted or if it did, it ended with Mr. Rums­feld’s res­ig­na­tion in 2006.

That no­tion was dis­pelled by re­cent tes­ti­mony from David Sed­ney, deputy as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary for East Asia, who told a con­gres­sional China com­mis­sion hear­ing last month that the hedge strat­egy is a re­sponse to ex­ces­sive Chi­nese mil­i­tary se­crecy.

“Hedg­ing is go­ing on ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing here in the United States,” Mr. Sed­ney said. “And hedg­ing, the need to hedge against the bad pos­si­ble out­comes [of China’s de­vel­op­ment] is, in many ways cre­ated by that opac­ity, that lack of trans­parency, lack of un­der­stand­ing of China’s strate­gic in­ten­tions.”

Mr. Sed­ney also said hedg­ing is “go­ing on with ev­ery coun­try around China as well.”

“And the de­gree to which peo­ple hedge is, I think, de­ter­mined by the de­gree of threat to which they feel they might be sub­ject to in the worst-pos­si­ble out­come,” he said.

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