Hal Brands, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Strategic Planning and lead writer for the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, released an important and somewhat contrarian new book this week arguing that China is likely to try to invade Taiwan within the next five years. Danger Zone lays out the case that far from being a rising power, China is a peaking power due to the convergence of a variety of serious demographic, economic, and geopolitical constraints, a situation that tends to make countries more reckless. "When you think about revisionist powers - so that's just a fancy political science word for countries that want to change the way the world works; they're dissatisfied with the existing order. They tend to become most aggressive, most rash, not when they are very confident about the future, when they think that things will be better a decade from now than they are now, but when they worry that their window to change the system is closing. That, either because their economy has stalled or they're becoming encircled by their enemies, or sometimes both, that they have a closing window of opportunity to achieve their objectives. And when that is the case, they become more prone to use coercion, to use violence, to use force to get what they want while they can still grab it. That's been the case historically in a variety of instances, from ancient times up to the 20th century. And it's the trap that we worry that China may be falling into today. ... [A] lot of the tailwinds that propelled China to where it is today have now become headwinds. Assets have become liabilities, so to speak." The book makes the argument for China's status as a peaking power and details what the U.S. and its allies can do, now, to head off possible Chinese aggression in the Pacific. (Quote from Brands' interview with the "Intelligence Matters" podcast: www.cbsnews.com/news/hal-brands-on-potential-of-future-conflict-with-china-intelligence-matters/.)
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