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Commentaries by Joan Johnson-Freese

Joan Johnson-Freese

Professor, US Naval War College

Joan Johnson-Freese is a Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.
  • Jul 11, 2017

    The danger that flows from Trump being an Active-Negative regarding U.S.-China relations is Trump’s propensity to take a wrecking-ball approach to past policies and approaches aimed toward maintaining a precarious regional stability. Yet now more than ever, the need to work well with China is critical given North Korea’s successful July 4th ICBM test.

  • May 02, 2017

    If the past is any predictor of the future, then whatever capabilities the U.S. develops, other countries will as well. This has reinvigorated the current security dilemma that has long plagued space strategy based on technology defending technology, particularly in the case of the U.S. and China. It is in every country’s interest to pursue ways to enhance communication and clarify expectations of responsible actors in space with as much vigor as they do contingency warfighting plans and the development of new warfighting technologies. That, unfortunately, has not been the case, even though the last two years have seen more progress in diplomatic space efforts through the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space than any other time prior.

  • Nov 18, 2016

    Single women over 27 in China are stigmatized, called “leftover women.” They are considered a disappointment to their families and failing the needs of the Chinese government. Facing pressures from both, educated Chinese women are slowly beginning to take their fate into their own hands, though not without trepidation and often guilt. Nevertheless, they will increasingly be a social and economic force to be reckoned with in China.

  • Oct 25, 2016

    The article details the history and hopeful future of the Chinese Space Program which will likely soon include a manned lunar mission. The program overall has, to some degree, emulated the step-by-step approach of the Apollo program; but, key differences, partnerships, and planning have shaped the slow growing but ultimately successful program. The Chinese space community learned a great deal from Apollo, including how not to get politically backed into in a corner as the U.S. did in its Cold War quest to “beat the Russians” in space.

  • May 19, 2016

    Whereas aircraft carriers have long provided the U.S. naval primacy as floating islands, China is creating its own artificial islands, complete with deep channels, harbors, berthing areas and airfields, all manned by thousands of troops, to counter that primacy. The consequences of a military clash could easily be disastrous and must be avoided. The politics of keeping the overall U.S.-China relationship on track is a particular challenge in the U.S. during a presidential election year, when candidates are posturing to an unexpectedly populist electorate.

  • Apr 15, 2016

    The incident between Admiral Harris and the Obama Administration, if there was one, centered on policy. Effectively engaging China at the Nuclear Security Summit was seen much more productive than confronting China with U.S. military might. Offering counsel and then potentially having to implement policy that goes against that counsel is difficult, but a fundamental premise of civil-military relations.

  • Oct 09, 2015

    The U.S. and China just held a dialogue on space, mostly in secret to avoid the sensationalist ire of politicians and pundits. Working cooperatively could enable scientists in both countries to do more with their limited funds, exchange data and scientific discovery, as well as improve Global Navigation Satellite Systems.

  • Sep 21, 2015

    If China can be nudged to align various policies to be more in line with U.S. interests in a way that allows China, too, to save face and claim its required victories at home, this summit will have been worthwhile, and better than having not met at all.

  • Jul 21, 2015

    Given the accepted narrative of the space environment as congested, contested and competitive, the U.S. has been told to deter, defend and defeat Chinese challenges in space. This rhetoric wrongfully assumes challenge and elides preemption with prevention.

  • May 22, 2015

    While the U.S. and China understand that military confrontation is in neither nation’s interest, leaders are not willing to budge from actions they consider key to protecting vital national interests. The U.S. has interest in the shipping lanes and its regional allies, while China is unshakable in its desire to safeguard regional sovereignty.

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