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Rebalancing U.S. Forces: Basing and Forward Presence in the Asia-Pacific Hardcover – May 15, 2014
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That last, by Toshi Yoshihara of the US Naval War College and based extensively on Chinese-language sources, is quite unique. Rather than providing a broad portrait of US bases in Japan, it focuses on the doctrine of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) about using missiles to neutralize those bases (e.g., by intimidating Japan to deny the US access to them in case of conflict over Taiwan or other islands). I found this chapter quite hair-raising -- but not only because the PLA talks about firing missiles at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay in the event of a dispute with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Prof. Yoshihara shows that the PLA writings are actually quite naïve, both about the accuracy of missiles and about politics. Misunderstandings between politicians and the military in China could easily lead to escalation for very stupid reasons, with dire results. He compares the situation to the US in the post-WWII years, when America was overconfident about both its power and the correctness of its assumptions about the threats it faced. It took events like the Cuban missile crisis to make the US recalibrate; China, though, hasn't yet had to confront such "sobering incidents."
I don't at all mean to minimize the interest of some of the other chapters covering topics farther from my own backyard. The narrative of the ups and downs of US relations with some Central Asian countries (I hesitate to call them republics) is especially picaresque. I should mention that the geographic coverage isn't comprehensive: e.g. the Philippines and Taiwan are mentioned only in passing, and bases within the 50 States, e.g. in the Aleutians, aren't discussed at all. Nonetheless, a strong recommend for anyone interested in a better understanding of the geopolitical situation in East Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Very good book, yet a very easy read.