Mirski, 13 – junior fellow in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Sean, “The Context, Conduct and Consequences of an American Naval Blockade of China,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 12 Feb 2013, http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/02/12/stranglehold-context-conduct-and-consequences-of-american-naval-blockade-of-china/fowj)//eek
An American War of Exhaustion Given the presumed context of the conflict – especially the improb- ability of decisive military victory – the United States would be forced to pursue an overall ‘Fabian’ strategy as part of a war of exhaustion.14 The ultimate source of a country’s military strength lies in its national power, which is rooted in its national resources and performance.15 Thus, even if the United States completely routed China’s forces on the battlefront, China could still indefinitely generate and project new forces from the safety of its heartland. Hence, the United States would need to broaden its focus beyond just the battlefield: it would have to realize that a war of exhaustion is not won on the battlefront per se; instead, it ends only when one side’s overall national power can no longer sustain its war effort. A blockade could be a powerful way of conducting a war of exhaustion because it could directly strike at the sources of China’s national power. A blockade strategy would also allow American forces to overcome the singular challenge posed by a Sino-American conflict: the United States would have to win a great power war without the threat of invading Chinese territory, a sharp departure from past conflicts when states would accelerate the collapse of their opponents’ ability and willingness to fight by directly attacking their territory. Of course, a blockade strategy alone would be unlikely to provide either the material or psychological clout necessary to induce Chinese capitulation, so the United States would only use a blockade as part of a larger military strategy. But in conjunction with victories on the battlefront, a blockade could wear China down more quickly and efficiently than a battlefront strategy alone, which could only indirectly enervate the Chinese state. As part of a war of exhaustion, a blockade strategy would help drive Beijing to the peace table through two potential paths.16 First, it would weaken China’s ultimate ability to prevail in the military conflict to the point where eventual defeat becomes certain and an extension of the Chinese war effort is a needless waste of resources. Second, by diluting the cohesion of the Chinese state, a blockade strategy would also attempt to raise the specter of other threats graver to Beijing than a direct military loss, which could then compel China’s leaders to sue for peace. For instance, as Beijing was forced to direct resources away from its internal security apparatus, it may be confronted by the looming threat of a revolution or civil war, either of which threatens the Chinese state more than does a declaration of military defeat.
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