February 12: A Book Talk on Stealth War with Brigadier General Robert Spalding (Ret.)

February 12: A Book Talk on Stealth War with Brigadier General Robert Spalding (Ret.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM


Event Description

The Global Taiwan Institute is pleased to invite you to a book talk with Brigadier General Robert Spalding (Ret.) on Stealth War. The media often suggest that Russia poses the greatest threat to America’s national security, but the real danger lies farther east. While those in power have been distracted and disorderly, China has waged a six-front war on America’s economy, military, diplomacy, technology, education, and infrastructure–and they’re winning. It’s almost too late to undo the shocking, though nearly invisible, victories of the Chinese. In Stealth War, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Spalding reveals China’s motives and secret attacks on the West.

Doors will open at 11:30 am, and the event will begin at 12:00 pm. Kindly RSVP by February 10. A light lunch will be provided. The book, Stealth War, will be available for purchase. Please direct your questions or concerns to rsvp@globaltaiwan.org.

*Reminder: This public seminar will be live streamed on our Facebook page at @globaltaiwaninst. 

**Media: Please contact rsvp@globaltaiwan.org if you would like to bring additional crew members or equipment, so that we can be sure to accommodate you.

The Author

Brigadier General Robert Spalding (Ret.) is a national security strategist and a globally recognized expert on Chinese economic competition and influence. He retired from the US Air Force as a brigadier general. He is a former pilot of the B-2 Stealth Bomber, as well as former director for strategic planning at the National Security Council in the White House. He was the chief architect for the widely praised National Security Strategy. Rob has lived in Mainland China, both as an Olmsted Scholar and as the senior defense official at the US Embassy in Beijing, and traveled extensively throughout Asia. He is fluent in Mandarin. During the 2016 UUV Incident, Rob averted a diplomatic crisis by negotiating with the Chinese PLA for the return of the UUV, without the aid of a translator. Rob is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.

Event Summary

On February 12, 2020, the Global Taiwan Institute held a book talk on Stealth War with Brigadier General Robert Spalding. GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao began with a question: What would inspire a military man like Spalding himself, to write a book that does not actually talk much about military issues? In response, Spalding introduced three military strategists—Clausewitz, Jomini, and Douhet—and their respective theories, which portray warfare as using violence to attain political outcomes. Although this interpretation appears to be in line with contemporary history from the American perspective, the book reveals fundamentally different ways to look at strategic competition. Indeed, as Spalding notes, politics itself is war by other means. In the case of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), controlling ideology and suppressing political activism is the main strategy to pursue competition.

Spalding then highlighted key tenets of Stealth War, noting that the CCP has gained tremendous international influence at the expense of the United States without using force. The CCP has systematically exploited the strengths of US governance, such as democracy, openness, and freedom, into vulnerabilities. Hence, implementing this strategy of “unrestricted warfare” has become a special preoccupation of the CCP. That is, unleashing a narrow set of freedoms and wealth within the society to grow capability of the CCP to become a global leader in strategic areas. All the CCP cares about is the end results; the means to that goal are open to interpretation by the people.

Stressing the importance of nationalism and state-owned industries in the PRC, Spalding disagreed with the description of the Chinese economic model as a “capitalistic” model. Such a misunderstanding can be largely attributed to the system’s opaqueness. Thus, the United States tends to overlook differences and look for mirror images instead. Spalding also challenged the applicability of modernization theory in the context of China. Rapid growth and the evolution of the internet has given the CCP digital means to control the population efficiently and effectively, so that the assumed transition could not occur. This strict censorship suppresses sensitive information, which limits the Chinese people to hear only one version of history and see one version of the world.

In terms of the impact, one example can be found in how the United States adopts self-censorship to treat discourse. As the CCP successfully intertwines itself with the Chinese people, separating the two entities is difficult. The CCP’s strategy to be viewed as inseparable from the Chinese people is very effective due to America’s ignorance. Spalding finally pointed out that innovation in technology, talents, and capital are strengths for both the United States and Taiwan, but they drive the CCP to attain power through globalization in the meantime.

Spalding concluded that if we do not break the cycle that incentivizes each sector to maintain close economic and financial ties with China, then there is no hope. As goes Taiwan, so goes the free world.

This summary was written by GTI Spring 2020 Intern Ines Chung.

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