What are we to make of all these recent revelations about emerging Chinese nuclear capabilities? Is China about to lob a nuclear weapon at the US? No. But context is everything, and the context here is worrisome. THREAD 1/6
China has been engaging in both quantitative nuclear expansion (e.g., new silos) as well as qualitative improvements (e.g., being able to deliver nuclear across more diversified platforms). Not surprising given PRC power. More surprising it hadn’t already happened, actually. 2/
BUT improvements to China’s nuclear arsenal today come against a backdrop of worsening relationship with US and other powers, threatening behavior toward neighbors esp Taiwan, and tremendous growth in Chinese conventional forces. 3/
China is not gearing up for some kind of bolt from the blue nuclear strike against US. But it looks a lot like China wants to be sure that US can’t use nuclear weapons to coerce China in a conventional crisis or war that China might start or stumble into. 4/
China is working to entrench US in a deeper state of mutual nuclear vulnerability, which is a concern if China then challenges the status quo at the CONVENTIONAL level. 5/
Under deep nuclear stalemate, the conventional balance of power & balance of resolve will determine outcomes. And those prob favor China in future conflict. Hence, China does not have to be plotting to lob a nuke at LA for recent developments to be concerning & consequential. 6/6

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More from @ProfTalmadge

13 Aug
For everyone thinking about Saigon in '75, I'll just say that what is currently happening in Afghanistan is, in purely military terms, MUCH more dramatic. The Taliban is significantly outperforming what the North Vietnamese army did. Short thread 1/4
Let’s remember the North Vietnamese army was a highly skilled, ARMORED force capable of complex, combined arms operations. It was backed by a SUPERPOWER. Taliban is formidable but doesn’t have these advantages. 2/4
Also, size of South Vietnamese army in 1975 and current Afghan national security forces both around ~300k. North Vietnamese army in final campaign was ~200k, whereas Taliban is maybe half that or less. Yet Taliban is winning in a country 3-4x size of South Vietnam. 3/4
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