The reinforcement of strategic partnerships enforcing the freedom of the seas and the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes by international law sets the foundation for success in the South Pacific.
An appropriate grand strategy, one that has a regional focus on deterrence, trade, and values will go a long way towards the peaceful management of the balance of power in the Pacific. Green’s work is timely, and decision makers, practitioners, or students of grand strategy and statecraft would do well to add it to their reading list.
Our analysis is built on a foundation of sand. We offer bold proclamations and precise policy proposals designed to cajole, convince, or coerce a hostile nuclear power whose decision making process is utterly opaque to us. We theorize much, and assume more, but we still do not know why the Chinese do what they do. Most critically, we do not know how to find the knowledge we lack. This is an intellectual challenge we have not begun to meet. Understanding Zhongnanhai is a wonderful methodological puzzle—but a puzzle with nuclear stakes. Until we solve this puzzle, I doubt any number of policy prescriptions will be enough to ensure peace in the West Pacific.
In the midst of unassuming jobs where sustainers pack the next container full of munitions, distribute fuel, police the streets, feed the force and perform an immeasurable amount of other invaluable support tasks—the importance of their craft often gets lost in the fog of plans and policy at the national level.
In essence, the Hiroshima site visit had little to do directly with the South China Sea, an Asia Pivot, or multilateral deals with China. As Press Secretary Josh Earnest said of the trip a week earlier, it was going to be about “sending a signal of his ambition for realizing the goal of a planet without nuclear weapons.” So, while Asian leaders were watching, Obama’s message was far more global. As the only nation on Earth to have utilized nuclear weapons in war, America’s leader was willing to stand in the only nation on Earth to have been on the receiving end of a nuclear weapon and declare that they should never again be used for conflict.
Few people, save avid students of the U.S. war in the Pacific, have ever heard of the small island group called New Georgia. Yet, in the summer of 1943, the island was the scene of some of the most brutal fighting of the entire war. It was on New Georgia where the 43rd Infantry Division experienced the highest number of cases of neuropsychiatric casualties (variably known as combat fatigue, shell shock, war neurosis, or post-traumatic stress disorder) casualties in any division during one operation in the entire war. For two of the three Army divisions on New Georgia, it was their baptism of fire, and one that they would never forget. While the capture of New Georgia was vital to the strategic and operational success of the Solomon Islands Campaign, the battle itself is a supremely interesting study in small-unit tactics, joint Army-Navy operations, logistics operations, and the trials of a joint command.