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US military minds still stuck in Pearl Harbor mentality

“What would Winston Churchill say?,” protested China hawk Michael Pillsbury when Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, asked him what he would do if China sank a US aircraft carrier. I reported the exchange in a November 3 analysis, “Sleepwalkers in the South China Sea.”

More relevant is what Churchill actually said just before the war. Like most of the Allied leadership, Churchill refused to believe that Germany could bypass France’s Maginot Line, or that the Japanese could roll up British forces in Asia in a matter of weeks. Hitler and Hirohito both threw the British into the sea, respectively at Dunkirk and Singapore.

With 350 intermediate-range missile launchers and DF-21 and DF-26 ship-killer missiles, China can sink American carriers as surely as Japanese torpedo bombers sank Allied battleships in World War II.

Allied leaders refused to believe that battleships were sitting ducks. Churchill and his cabinet were mental giants compared to the counterinsurgency soldiers who now lead the American military, but they got it terribly wrong. The Americans now may do worse.