By: The Editorial Board – wsj.com – October 18, 2021
Most Americans believe the U.S. has the world’s most dominant military, but that dominance is ending. The report that China has tested a new hypersonic missile should alert the country to the growing danger.
“China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target,” reports the Financial Times. Hypersonic missiles are harder to track and destroy than ballistic missiles and could evade U.S. missile defenses.
The hypersonic news follows the discovery this year of hundreds of new missile silos in the Chinese desert, almost certainly for nuclear missiles. This isn’t the behavior of a nation merely interested in defending its sovereignty. China has global ambitions, and they include projecting military power as a way to assert its political and commercial interests.
This is important to understand because the next major war won’t look anything like the last one. The U.S. homeland was spared from most of World War II’s destruction. But the next conflict will feature cyber attacks, hypersonic missiles, and unmanned vehicles using artificial intelligence that put the U.S. at risk of attack from afar. Hiding behind fortress America won’t be possible, if it ever was.
It’s also alarming if the reports are correct that U.S. intelligence was caught off-guard by the hypersonic test. The U.S. has intelligence agencies precisely to prevent surprises like this. The Intelligence Community is made up of some 18 organizations that received $85.8 billion in 2020. Congress should investigate what we’re paying for and what we’re getting.
It would also be helpful to stop assisting the People’s Liberation Army. The Chinese firm Phytium Technology, for example, works with the PLA to conduct research on hypersonic flight, according to the Washington Post.
“While the Biden administration rightly placed Phytium on the Commerce Department’s Entity List, it has not applied the Foreign Direct Product Rule that was successfully used to counter Huawei,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) said in a statement. As such, he added, U.S.-derived technology produced by theTaiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company still enables Phytium’s research.
None of this is to say that war with China is inevitable, much less imminent. The point is that the post-Cold War era in which the U.S. could assume it had the military edge is over. Regional powers like Russia and Iran are already using asymmetric weapons like cyber to attack the U.S. And China is building similar capability as well as a blue-water navy and anti-satellite weapons.
As the U.S. builds a cradle-to-grave entitlement state while shrinking the military, the world grows more dangerous.
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