Days after U.S. warships made a provocative passage through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, further making already strained tensions between the Washington and Beijing — currently in the midst of a trade war — even hotter, the former top commander of the US Army in Europe has predicted the United States and China will likely be at war in 15 years.
Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges made the bombshell and alarming comments at a Warsaw security forum on Wednesday where he urged European allies to do more in preparing their own defenses against Russia while Americans focus more on the Pacific.
Gen. Hodges said, according to the Military Times:
I think in 15 years — it's not inevitable, but it is a very strong likelihood — that we will be at war with China. The United States does not have the capacity to do everything it has to do in Europe and in the Pacific to deal with the Chinese threat.
This statement is hugely remarkable in that it signifies the thesis has just left the domain of academic international relations theoreticians and has now become a guiding assumption of military commanders with years of experience on the ground.
Hodges served as US Army commander in Europe during 2014-17, which makes his warning especially noteworthy, and he's now an analyst with the Center for European Policy Analysis. He addressed an ongoing policy debate among policy and defense official circles over whether it's a mistake for Washington to focus its defense efforts on "threats" like Russian and Iran.
Meanwhile international relations theorist John Mearsheimer, recently drew controversy by expressing publicly at a policy conference that the United States should cool its rhetoric on Russian and Iran — and even work with the two countries — in order to focus on curtailing the true long-term threat of China.
And interestingly, Steve LeVine writing at Axios early this week posed the question long on the Western public's mind: what are the chances of a US-China war?
While both Gen. Hodges and John Mearsheimer shocked audiences by saying war is almost inevitable on the current trajectory of soaring US-China tensions, Harvard professor and author agrees with them, and further explains just how this scenarios would come about.