Elbridge Colby Profile picture
Principal, Marathon Initiative. Former Pentagon, 2018 National Defense Strategy, inter alia. Author of Strategy of Denial. Views my own.
Sue Strong 🦋🌻🚜🇺🇦#StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦🚜🌻🦋 Profile picture M Farblon Profile picture BlakeNorrisBattin Profile picture Campion1581 Profile picture Magdi Shalash Profile picture 6 added to My Authors
Aug 3 15 tweets 3 min read
I'm very sympathetic to those who don't want to fight to defend Taiwan. I'm against the forever wars and generally am skeptical about the use of our military.

But defending Taiwan makes sense *for Americans' concrete economic interests, freedoms, and sovereignty*.

Why? 👇 1/ First and foremost, China's ambitions are almost certainly not limited to Taiwan. Rather, they appear to seek first hegemony over Asia and global preeminence from there. How do we know? Well, they say it pretty openly now. Plus they're building a power projection military. 2/
Jul 13 12 tweets 3 min read
I'm more and more alarmed about a PRC invasion of Taiwan. Why? It's certainly not because I have any special insight into Xi Jinping's decisionmaking. Nor is it because I have some special insight into the Chinese military. To the contrary, others know more than I about both! 1/ Rather, it's because we're heading to a situation in which it might *be rational* for China to invade Taiwan. Like: It might make instrumental sense for them to do it. *That* really worries me. 2/
Jul 13 6 tweets 2 min read
"The USAF officer responsible for contracting for the service has issued a stark warning about China’s rapid gains in defense acquisition, with the result its military is now getting its hands on new equipment “five to six times” faster than the US." 1/

thedrive.com/the-war-zone/c… "China increasingly appears to be jockeying for the lead in the development of all kinds of high-end military technologies as part of its broader drive to become a preeminent strategic power." 2/
Jul 13 4 tweets 1 min read
"Yet, while Kishida is set to make big boosts to defense spending, it will take years for Japan to reach even 2%-of-GDP annual defense allotments. Significantly more than that will be necessary to deter China and provide credible support to the U.S. military in any war..." 1/ "Japan particularly needs more longer-range missiles, submarines, and a higher level of readiness on the part of its naval and air forces." 2/
Jul 11 4 tweets 1 min read
It's a consistent position to argue for doubling defense spending. But now you should reckon with reality: that's not happening. And adapt your strategy.

"The reality is that even the $45 billion won’t change the trajectory of managed military decline."

wsj.com/articles/congr… Personally I think we should make hard choices within the defense budget and get our allies to spend more like what we spend before we saddle the American people with double the defense spending burden. But I recognize that you can think it's better for Americans to spend 7%. 2/
Jul 7 4 tweets 1 min read
What's striking to me is how FBI Director Wray talks about the Chinese threat to attack Taiwan as a given. Like it's not even something that really needs to be explained any more. That should worry us all. 1/

fbi.gov/news/speeches/… "There’s been a lot of discussion about the potential that China may try to forcibly takeover Taiwan. Were that to happen, it would represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen." 2/
Jul 3 5 tweets 1 min read
It more and more seems like the Administration is putting its chips on Europe. Any Asia pivot seems headed for remaining largely rhetorical. Deferring the pivot 10 years ago was a mistake. Now it’s a catastrophe. 1/ Why do I say this? It’s true that there are clearly elements in the Administration rightly trying to shift to Asia/China. That deserves support and credit. 2/
Jun 26 4 tweets 2 min read
Are you taking seriously the reality that the US doesn't have a two war military, and realistically won't for the foreseeable future? If you're American or an American ally, you really should be. 1/

airforcemag.com/kendall-unreal… "As Air Force @usairforce Secretary Frank Kendall looks to modernize the force, he is calling for tough decisions that will shrink the size of the fleet and make the waging of two simultaneous wars “unrealistic,” he said at an AFA Leaders in Action event June 24."
Jun 25 5 tweets 1 min read
The very strong statements from several NATO governments on yesterday’s Court decision on abortion are truly striking. I’m not sure they fully appreciate the implication, as they implicitly but profoundly cut against the trope that these alliances are based on shared values. 1/ Leaving aside the merits of the decision (which I personally believe are very sound) and the fact that the decision returns policy to the democratic process, the decision reflects the deeply-held views of a very substantial proportion of the American population. 2/
Jun 24 6 tweets 2 min read
Kevin Rudd's piece tracks with my sense.

"Russian military and economic challenges in Ukraine will not affect Xi’s goal. Rather they are likely to compel him to double down on ensuring that the PRC military is fully prepared to take Taiwan by force." 1/

project-syndicate.org/onpoint/chinas… "After Russia’s military ran into significant and unexpected challenges early on, a line of analysis emerged suggesting that China has now been significantly deterred from ever attempting to take Taiwan. Both of these views are superficial, misleading, and just plain wrong." 2/
Jun 24 12 tweets 2 min read
A key paper from David Ochmanek on where we stand vis a vis China and Russia.
Key takeaway: "Neither today’s force nor the force that will exist in 2027 have all of the capabilities called for by the emerging joint operating concept that [I] outline." 1/

rand.org/pubs/perspecti… "U.S. forces will need significant new investments in platforms, weapons and munitions, forward posture, concept development, and training to enable what appears to be an appropriate approach to
deterring and defeating aggression by the nation’s most
capable adversaries." 2/
Jun 8 8 tweets 2 min read
Exactly. There are actually multiple reasons to think China may see a window of opportunity. I personally find the military reasons the most compelling, but there are others. 1/ The military window of opportunity analysis argues that China's relative ability to act could well be greatest in the 2020s. Much U.S. force modernization will only bear fruit in the 2030s, & Japan and Taiwan are moving slowly. Meantime the PLA aims to be primed to go by 2027. 2/
Jun 8 4 tweets 1 min read
Here's the really disturbing thing about this excellent article: There's increasing agreement that there is an "acute threat" of a war over Taiwan. Yet do the things the Administration is doing seem like the kind of drastic change needed to keep ahead of the PLA? Clearly not. 1/ "Some analysts doubt Davidson’s date. But one year on from his testimony, government and military officials in both Taipei and Washington say the window from now to 2027 is a genuine threat." Um yeah. Except we have no time to dither and just spent a year admiring the problem. 2/
May 20 5 tweets 1 min read
There’s a very real chance of a major war with China in the coming years. Everyone with influence should be asking themselves: Did I do *everything* I could to deter it? And make it less costly for Americans if it does happen? 1/ This cuts both ways: Is it worth saving a few bucks and paying with lives and much more money later, if we’re not ready and don’t deter China? 2/
May 19 5 tweets 2 min read
There could very well be a war over Taiwan in the coming years. Does this sound like the United States is moving heaven and earth to avoid/deter one? Doesn't to me. Sounds like business as usual.

wsj.com/articles/biden… "“Attention is the scarcest resource in any government and the White House’s forceful response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has inevitably distracted from other priorities,” including articulating a more robust strategy against China. 2/
May 18 5 tweets 1 min read
There's an interesting incongruity in today's national security debate. Hawkish defense advocacy should lead, if unmet, to dovish foreign policies. Meantime, dovish defense advocacy should lead to hawkish foreign policies. Yet that's not what we see at all. 1/ For years, defense hawks have argued we need very robust missile defenses, a two war force planning standard, and massively higher military spending. They've argued only those steps would enable us to exercise our power in the world without fear of coercion or retaliation. 2/
Mar 13 12 tweets 3 min read
Has world politics fundamentally changed? I don't think so. Thus a foreign policy of crusading liberalism is still ill-suited. I bring this up now because there's a line out there that Russia's abominable invasion of Ukraine has changed everything. 1/

washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/… This article from @ewong and @michaelcrowley states "The war in Ukraine has prompted the biggest rethinking of American foreign policy since Sept. 11, infusing the United States with a new sense of mission and changing its strategic calculus." 2/

Mar 13 14 tweets 4 min read
An insightful piece from excellent reporters @ewong and @michaelcrowley but I think there are a lot of claims in here that are either questionable or don't stand up. The bottom line is that I think things are far more in flux than this - or much ascendant wisdom - suggests. 1/ Is it true that "the United States has a new sense of mission and [has] changed its strategic calculus with allies and adversaries alike"? Does that mean the US is prioritizing Russia, not China, now? If so, that's very troubling news. But that seems up in the air in reality. 2/
Feb 24 4 tweets 2 min read
We face a two front challenge from China and Russia *right now*. Any credible strategy for dealing with them both *must* reckon with the scarcity of our power and the challenges of geography and time. We can't dominate everywhere.

foxnews.com/world/taiwan-c… I lay out 👇 an argument why we should prioritize our ability to defend our allies against China in Asia. I also argue we can plug gaps in NATO Europe by pushing greater European defense effort while maintaining a narrower direct military contribution. 2/

Feb 19 7 tweets 2 min read
It was a great pleasure to contribute to @SZ.

My argument: Germany holds the key to and bears unique obligations for Europe’s future. If it steps up, Europe should be secure, free, and prosperous. If it does not, it will bear unique responsibility for the consequences. There is a crisis in German-U.S. relations. The fact is that the US must shift much more of its resources – military, but also diplomatic capital and political attention – to Asia. This will leave a vacuum in Europe. Neither US nor Europe has an interest in such a vacuum.
Jan 20 7 tweets 2 min read
Americans and our allies need to grapple with the reality: We don't and won't have a military big enough to increase commitments in Europe *and* have a chance of restoring our edge in Asia against China. We *must* prioritize. Arguments that don't reckon with that are misleading. We should look for ways to deter Russian aggression into Ukraine. But reflexive calls for bigger US military commitment to NATO can't be part of it. We know we're on a losing trajectory in Asia unless we sharply focus there. The solution: Europeans taking up their own defense.