Article | Defensive Defense: A Better Way to Protect US Allies in Asia

Author: Eugene Gholz

US strategy in East Asia is defensive—seeking to maintain the territorial status quo and to preserve open trade and investment. The military component of that strategy largely involves helping allies defend their territories against China as the PRC grows richer and spends more on its military. But current US military operational plans in service of that strategy are largely offensive: in case of war, they would send US military assets close to China and launch conventional strikes against the Chinese homeland.1 This “offensive defense” is more expensive, more dangerous, and less effective than an alternative: “defensive defense.” 2 In principle, either offensive or defensive military operations can support a defensive strategy such as the one employed by the United States. Defensive operations aim to keep adversaries out while acting from areas controlled by friendly forces, while offensive operations aim to disarm or punish adversaries by forcibly entering areas controlled by those adversaries. Read full article