There were reports that Japan was considering developing a long-range missile system, which caused applause and anxiety. This move will be a major change in the country’s capabilities and shocked many Japanese. They believe that the acquisition will change their country’s military image and may destabilize the country and the region, while many others in the entire East Asia region People are also worried about this.  But in the American security community, the main response is cheers and celebrations. This is not surprising: Washington has long urged Tokyo to make more defense efforts and acquire capabilities that enable it to make greater contributions to regional security. The news also received strong support in the United States, because the Japanese government’s unexpected and disappointing decision was due to high costs, technical issues and public opposition to cancel the plan to purchase the US-made missile defense system "Aegis". -Including the local chapters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-in cities where the system will be deployed.
Is this the reason to celebrate? Our answer is a prudent and qualified "yes." From the perspective of the United States, the allies’ option for an offensive strike can only be deployed within the framework of the alliance and under the appropriate guardrails, and through consultation and cooperation with allies and partners. No allies have proposed to develop and deploy these capabilities without contacting the United States, but it is not clear how to manage these capabilities and the impact on regional security in the context of the alliance.
There is still a long way to go from the "enemy base attack capability" proposed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s National Defense Policy Committee to the deployment of missile strike systems. Moreover, Japan has long been considering developing such capabilities. This idea emerged in the 1950s, gradually faded thereafter, and fell into a debate on legitimacy and appropriateness taking into account resource constraints and public sentiment.
However, in recent years, Tokyo has regarded this option as a more serious consideration of North Korea and China’s missile threats. Therefore, in this threat environment, development and deployment are very likely. However, it is too early to celebrate Washington at least-recall, for example, that the Liberal Democratic Party conducted a review in March 2017 but did not reach a consensus on this issue.
Washington should also be cautious, because the ability to strike is not a non-alloy commodity. It can strengthen regional defense and deterrence, but it can also damage or even undermine cooperation and coordination between the United States and its allies.
If Japan does acquire missile strike capability, it will not achieve this achievement in isolation. If not more, it will largely depend on how these new capabilities are acquired, deployed and used, and under what conditions. Use in context. Recently, Washington agreed to substantially expand the range and payload of South Korean missiles. This change will allow Seoul to attack the entire North Korea and certain areas of China. Just last July, Washington also agreed that Seoul was approved to develop solid fuels for space launch vehicles. A few months ago, Australia promised to purchase long-range strike weapons. This decision was triggered by Canberra’s growing concerns about China. In short, several US allies, not just Japan, are gaining strike capability.
The United States will benefit greatly from these developments, but Washington has potential risks and costs that cannot be ignored.
At first glance, the benefits to the United States are obvious. The missile threat from North Korea and China is growing rapidly, and Washington’s relations with the two countries are rapidly deteriorating. In this environment, the United States will have more capable allies that can help the United States deal with these growing threats. Although some people may think that such changes are trivial relative to the threat, the key calculation is whether they will complicate the opponent’s decision-making, introduce or increase the uncertainty of the outcome, and force the opponent to shift what may be used elsewhere. Resources. This is the logic of Andrew Marshall’s competitive strategy method. He developed this method to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but it applies to China today: it needs to think and act to improve the long-term Relative status.
The most optimistic is that the joint efforts of the United States and its allies on strikes may encourage their opponents to negotiate: first confidence-building measures, then restraint, and then (probably later) an arms control agreement. However, the current main goal is to regain the initiative and put the opponent on the table, which has made important progress in recent years in terms of strategic concepts and capabilities.
Fighting against the threat of Chinese missiles is particularly urgent: Beijing’s growing ability to prevent the U.S. military from entering the "first island chain" and maneuvering in and around it has been the main reason for the United States since the 1950s. The first geographic barrier beyond the East Asian continent of defense. For example, the report on China’s military and security developments just released by the Pentagon estimates that Beijing has deployed about 200 medium-range ballistic missile launchers and more than 200 DF-26 missiles. This is an impressive growth: The 2019 report estimated that Beijing had deployed 80 medium-range ballistic missile launchers and 80-160 DF-26 missiles, while the 2018 report estimated that China had about 16-30 launchers. And missiles. The DF-26 is called the "Carrier Killer" or "Guam Killer" because of its range and accuracy, and can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.
If the allies develop a strike system that can regain control of the first island chain, then the United States should promote these acquisitions. Equally important, these developments are consistent with recent efforts by the United States to encourage allied governments to shoulder greater burdens of defense and deterrence. As stated in the "Indo-Pacific Strategy Report" of the Department of Defense, "The United States hopes that our allies and partners should shoulder the responsibility and jointly defend against common threats."
In theory, in theory, the missiles of its Asian allies The acquisition and deployment should be supported by the United States. These developments not only help to establish a more favorable balance of power with its opponents, but also promote responsibilities and burden-sharing between Washington and its allies.
On closer inspection, there are still real problems. First, opportunity costs: These systems are expensive, and when fiscal austerity is tightening, it is not clear whether they must be a priority tool for strengthening defense and deterrence capabilities. Their price tags and deterrence effects should be weighed against systems that cannot be purchased due to budget constraints. For example, they may sacrifice their efforts to enhance their ability to withstand the challenges of a gray area that may be more pressing.
In the context of the United States withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the capabilities of Confederate missiles are also developing. Washington hopes to deploy long-range missiles in the region. The United States has asked allies to accept American missiles on their territory-their response was contradictory at best. However, the US deployment will avoid many of the opportunity costs associated with domestic development, encourage greater partnerships in the defense industry, and-it should be noted-help reduce trade imbalances by promoting joint purchases of US defense equipment.
The deployment of American missiles can also solve another issue that the United States rarely pays attention to: Allied countries may entangle the United States in conflict. Many American strategists worry that a coalition will be inspired by the missile system and act in a way that may lead to unnecessary or avoidable conflicts with North Korea or China. Fear of gangsters among Asian allies is deeply rooted. Washington chose bilateral alliances in the 1950s, mainly to ensure US control of partners that could destabilize.
Of course, times have changed, and Washington now wants to empower its allies and provide greater agency power for their national security and destiny. However, some concerns still exist, especially with regard to the acquisition of weapons that can produce strategic consequences for the allies.
Allies with greater military capabilities and freedom of movement also face other problems for the United States. Because of deep-rooted and unresolved historical grievances, this could exacerbate tensions between already high allies.
In private discussions, Japanese strategists pointed out that South Korea’s long-range missiles not only threaten North Korea and parts of China, but also put Japan within range.
A small group of South Korean strategists quickly noticed that their worries about Japan are the same as their worries about North Korea or China. South Korean experts also warned that since its constitution defines the Korean peninsula as a country, the Japanese attack on North Korea will technically be an attack on the South. Although South Korean experts said in a private meeting that their government might accept Japan’s attack on North Korea under certain circumstances, they also made it clear that this would cause great controversy, because legally, it would mean The attack on the Korean nation.
In short, the risk is that missile capabilities may cause tensions between US allies and undermine defense cooperation and the deterrence it generates.
Finally, these capabilities can encourage allies to choose to help themselves and give up the United States through the development of independent nuclear weapons. For example, when reflecting on Australia’s recent decision to develop a long-range missile, an analyst explained: “This possibility is now far from the shadows.” If one ally decides to go this way, others may follow-this A development may undermine the US alliance system and overshadow the role of the US as the guarantor of Asian security.
Fortunately, allies interested in missile strike systems have discussed them. Within the framework of an alliance with the United States. For example, the latest report of the Track-1.5 US-Australia-India-Pacific Deterrence Dialogue pointed out that allies have been constantly making various deterrence requirements within the framework of these long-term arrangements, rather than outside or opposed.
In addition, allies are pursuing complementary systems. For example, Japan hopes to expand its ballistic missile defense system to prevent the enemy from launching attacks on its own territory. The goal is to reduce missiles as much as possible before launching them and shooting down survivors in the air, while relying on the United States for a more comprehensive defense. South Korea and Australia are also discussing missile projects with the United States to a certain extent, and to ensure that they improve the defense and deterrence of the entire alliance.
But crucially, the allies seem to be more inclined to develop and deploy "their missiles over American missiles, largely because they believe they will have more control over these capabilities." Obviously, the allies feel the need to deal with a potentially unpredictable United States.
Washington should ensure that the allies embark on the development and deployment of missile strikes within the framework of its alliance. This is essential for Washington because these weapons can Produce strategic effects, and therefore have strategic consequences. This requires that before making an acquisition decision, it must be considered in the context of the alliance. The United States and its allies should thoroughly evaluate the benefits, risks and costs of the decision. Opportunities should also be discussed. Cost, and consider how the Confederate missile system will complement the U.S. system planned to be deployed in the region. Ideally, the Allied acquisition of the strike system will fill a gap (that is, it will provide a coalition solution to the alliance problem).
In addition, Arrangements should be made to ensure that these systems are only used in certain situations. In this case-preferably with mutual agreement, or at least with prior coordination-consultations between allies should also take place. This "compulsory function" (Forcing the United States and its allies to systematically think about goals and means, as well as new decision-making procedures to better balance responsibilities and capabilities) may be the most valuable part of obtaining a strike system.
Security in increasingly competitive Asia In the environment, the United States will benefit from allies with stronger military capabilities. But Washington should not ignore the potential risks and costs. It should work with allies to mitigate risks and costs. In fact, the United States and its allies should not take this task. As a challenge, it should be seen as an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
David Santoro is the vice chairman and director of nuclear policy at the Pacific Forum. He An edited book on the impact of the US-China strategic nuclear relationship and the multipolar background is being completed (Lynne Rienner, 2021). You can follow him on Twitter at @ DavidSantoro1 .
Brad Glosserman is the deputy director and visiting professor of the Tama University Rulemaking Strategy Center, and a senior consultant (non-resident) at the Pacific Forum. He is the author of Japan Summit: The Ambitious End (Georgetown University Publishing House, 2019).
Picture: US Navy