As the battle for democracy in Myanmar rages on at the doorstep of China, Myanmar’s women will continue to stand on the front lines to prevent the triumph of authoritarianism. It is a tall order for them to reach a tipping point against the heavily armed military—which enjoys the support from authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia—without some substantive international assistance beyond encouragements and statements. The battle for democracy in Myanmar has become a symbolic contest between democracy and authoritarianism at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region. It will be in the best interest of the most prominent exemplars of democracy to assist Myanmar’s women achieve the tipping point to defeat the military regime. The failure to restore democracy in Myanmar will have reverberations throughout the Indo-Pacific. “The international community must recognize the courage of the women of Myanmar and stand with them in their fight for democracy.”
Taking the position that the Tatmadaw is an essential institution ignores two fundamental realities: its own record of fostering conflict and division, mismanaging and subordinating the country’s interests to its own obsession with power; and the near unanimity with which the Myanmar population despises the armed forces and will no longer live peacefully under its control. The February 2021 coup sparked a national uprising of a magnitude that should have everyone questioning long-held assumptions about the centers of power in the years ahead.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to aggressively seek a return to international prominence and has increasingly amplified its presence as a global power. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made it abundantly clear that it has plans to reshape the world order more to Beijing’s liking. Within the Indo-Pacific, the PRC has strategically crafted its international policies through its signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), designed to gain advantage and leverage Beijing’s growing economic and military might. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, President Xi Jinping’s vision includes “creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings, both westward—through the mountainous former Soviet republics—and southward, to Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia.” Through this framework, four observable tactics have emerged: the use of debt diplomacy, border disputes with neighboring nations, the general disregard for agreements and international norms, and, more recently, Beijing’s undermining actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arguably, an objective observer could consider the PRC’s international policies to be subversive and, at a bare minimum, have the potential to impact the entire Indo-Pacific region.
The new Arctic has already changed the dynamics of international commerce, the search for raw materials, access to the Far North, and military presence. History has shown that when America is slow to react to global challenges, the nation may find itself in a game of catch-up with the nations that acted quickly. However, the realities of US global commitments make it impossible to focus on the Arctic without accounting for the other regions of global competition. Only by thoughtfully executing, evaluating, and improving the nation’s Arctic security strategies will the nation be able to achieve the allocation and sharing of critical resources that secure US national Arctic interests to better guarantee the Arctic’s future as a secure and stable region.
The following is a transcript of an interview with Brig Gen Leonard J. Kosinski, Vice Commander, Fifth Air Force, and Director, Joint Air Component Coordination Element–Japan, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The transcript is based on a 15 March 2021 interview by Jessica Jordan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Regional and Cultural Studies (Asia), Air Force Culture and Language Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Dispersed operational maneuver and sustainment enabled by bases, places, and faces ensures People's Republic of China (PRC) decision makers can have little confidence in being able to completely, or even sufficiently, prevent US, ally, and partner forces from remaining viable even during a PRC onslaught.
As Beijing continues to assert itself through malign operations, activities, and investments in the economic, political, and military realms to undermine the international rules-based order—ironically the very rules-based order that has enabled China’s rise and which has rescued tens of millions from tyranny and lifted billions out of poverty—the United States must retain a robust, interoperable, and forward-present force that assures America’s vast array of allies and partners and deters China from undermining the free and open Indo-Pacific.
Current ally and partner capabilities are especially appropriate within the umbrella of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and processes. While ISR is integral to war fighting, it is also the capability that is absolutely critical during competition as well as Phase 0 and Phase I shaping and deterring operations. While America needs strong ally and partner war-fighting capability, the ISR realm allows for close work in areas that prevent and predict conflict or provocation.
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