Naval War College Review


Robert Ayer


In spite of some early signs of a hardening attitude toward People’s Republic of China (PRC) provocations in the South China Sea, the Trump administration thus far has not articulated a vision of how it intends to deal with what is, in many respects, the sorest spot in U.S.-Chinese relations. Hal Brands and Zack Cooper, in “Getting Serious about Strategy in the South China Sea,” analyze the broad strategic options facing the United States and make the case that a carefully calibrated combination of deterrence and “offsetting” actions holds the most promise. They argue that the Chinese have shown some willingness to pull back if challenged sufficiently by the United States, and hence that such a strategy, in spite of obvious risks, is not bound to fail.