Atlantic Council Senior Adviser Harlan Ullman writes for the Daily Times on the validity of US threat assessments and evaluations regarding China:
Many years ago, a former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff provided me with an interesting insight in dealing with senior civilian political appointees. The retired admiral recalled that after meeting a general or admiral for the first time, many civilian appointees formed an instant judgment as to that person’s fitness. The admiral would commend these civilians for being so much smarter than he admitting that “I have known this officer for 30 years and have not made up my mind yet!”
Too often, US assessments of the risk and danger posed by a threat are formed on criteria not dissimilar to the ones mocked by the admiral’s rejoinder. Likewise, politics too often applies extreme arguments in favour of or against a particular issue in order to sell that case irrespective of objectivity. The US’s entrapment in Vietnam and decades later in Afghanistan and Iraq reflected these characteristics.