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The 5 Eyes - An alternative to NATO? A Match for China

Humphrey Bogart

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I had an interesting discussion with a colleague the other day concerning China and its rise in the world.  We talked about how eventually... next 30 years, China will most likely be able to match the United States economically if not militarily; however, matching the 5 Eyes is an entirely different story. 

The thing that intrigues me the most about this is that realistically The US, Great Britain, Canada,  Australia, and New Zealand share remarkable similarities and for the most part have common interests in this world.  One of the biggest problems with NATO is the fact that there is a growing fracture among members into factions within the alliance.  On top of this the primary reason behind NATO's creation no longer exists.  The Soviet Union is no longer a state and the Russian Federation, no matter how much they pretend to be, are not the Soviet Union. 

So to start the discussion here, do the members of army.ca view the relationship between the US, Canada, the UK and Australia/New Zealand as increasingly important and is the 5 Eyes a realistic alternative to NATO in the future?

 

Sythen

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Just curious why you call ABCA and New Zealand the "5 Eyes"?
 
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aesop081

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Sythen said:
Just curious why you call ABCA and New Zealand the "5 Eyes"?

It is a commonly used term. Example of context is something classified secret eyes only CAN/US/UK/AUS/NZ will be refered to as "Secret 5 eyes".
 

Sythen

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CDN Aviator said:
It is a commonly used term. Example of context is something classified secret eyes only CAN/US/UK/AUS/NZ will be refered to as "Secret 5 eyes".

Thanks. Never heard it before, so was just curious.
 
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aesop081

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Sythen said:
Thanks. Never heard it before, so was just curious.

Another example for the CF is some EW work, that is shared within only CAN/US/UK/AUS/NZ.....it is often referred to as the "5 eyes community". There are many other applications of the term but always refers to these countries.
 
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aesop081

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As far as the question goes, i don't think we should consider this as a "Leave NATO, focus on ABCA". Both have their uses and both have their drawbacks.

In the Pacific, 5-eyes is dominated by the US just like NATO is. The other 4 countries don't have that much to offer in opposing China. Canada's military is not very large and lacks many assets needed to influence the region, New Zealand is in the same boat ( even lacks fighter aircraft of any sort) and UK military forces are shrinking fast.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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CDN Aviator said:
As far as the question goes, i don't think we should consider this as a "Leave NATO, focus on ABCA". Both have their uses and both have their drawbacks.

In the Pacific, 5-eyes is dominated by the US just like NATO is. The other 4 countries don't have that much to offer in opposing China. Canada's military is not very large and lacks many assets needed to influence the region, New Zealand is in the same boat ( even lacks fighter aircraft of any sort) and UK military forces are shrinking fast.

Potentially maybe the creation of a broader new Alliance is in order then?  Lets say one that includes Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, AUSNZ (I group them together because realistically they operate together), the UK, US, Canada etc.  I don't think eastern europe or even some countries like Spain and Portugal have even remotely the same values or strategic objectives that we do and I am thinking more in terms of 30 years from now.  I think our future and the US future lies not with Europe but with South east Asia and we need to re-orient our focus there.
 

dapaterson

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Too large a group and you risk paralysis and inaction, or hamstrung coalitions with wildly varying degrees of national caveats.

Regular meetings to exchange ideas?  Good.

Coming together with ad hoc groupings as required?  Fine as well.

Standing alliances?  Look around Southern Afghanistan, see which NATO members are present, and then we can talk.
 

Webgear

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I believe you will see more focus place on ABCA and the New Zealand in the future. I understand that certain elements of the military are shifting their OUTCAN positions to reflect this change for the 2012 APS.
 
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aesop081

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Stymiest said:

Japan would be a key partner but it is politicly difficult. Remember that they do not actual armed forces and who they can play with at this time is limited. Bilateral cooperation between the US and Japan is one thing, multilateral cooperation or even military cooperation with single other nations is more sensitive.
 

kawa11

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Stymiest said:
I had an interesting discussion with a colleague the other day concerning China and its rise in the world.  We talked about how eventually... next 30 years, China will most likely be able to match the United States economically if not militarily; however, matching the 5 Eyes is an entirely different story.
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the PLA already 50% bigger than the USAF - with the potential to "conscript" a military equal to the entire US population?

I always thought China was the last remaining "Super power."
Their economy is one of the biggest in the world, their workforce [I believe] is the biggest. Tonnes of farmers, commercial prospect, low taxes and a strangle hold on precious metals used in electronics..
They export whatever they don't use and import very little.
 
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aesop081

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kawa11 said:
a strangle hold on precious metals used in electronics..

Not quite. While China certainly has a hold on current production of Rare Earths, it does not have a stranglehold on supply. Rare Earths are far from "rare" and many nations have plans for their own production.
 

kawa11

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CDN Aviator said:
Not quite. While China certainly has a hold on current production of Rare Earths, it does not have a stranglehold on supply. Rare Earths are far from "rare" and many nations have plans for their own production.

[quote author= Wikipedia]Despite their name, rare earth elements (with the exception of the radioactive promethium) are relatively plentiful in the Earth's crust[/quote]
Damn misleading titles.

I used the example based on recent news stories about how China will begin building their own stockpiles over the next few years and everyone else is scrambling to find ways to extract it efficiently.

Furthermore, from Wiki:
[quote author= Wikipedia]China now produces over 97% of the world's rare earth supply, mostly in Inner Mongolia[/quote]
 

Journeyman

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dapaterson said:
Too large a group and you risk paralysis and inaction, or hamstrung coalitions with wildly varying degrees of national caveats.
Agreed.
Hell, why not re-create SEATO? It didn't work the first time; much like the League of Nations failure was re-created as the equally useless UN.

Individual national interests seldom translate well into effectively functional standing organizations (in the absence of a clear and common threat).
 

CougarKing

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Journeyman said:
Agreed.
Hell, why not re-create SEATO? It didn't work the first time; much like the League of Nations failure was re-created as the equally useless UN.

Individual national interests seldom translate well into effectively functional standing organizations (in the absence of a clear and common threat).

Isn't there already a lot of cooperation among the aforementioned nations in this thread through military exercises without the need for a formal alliance? Isn't the latest article below an example? What about annual the CARAT and Cobra Gold exercises in the Pacific?

Granted, aside from the now defunct SEATO, you have the ANZUS pact (US, Australia, NZ) and then you have the Five Powers Defence Agreements (FPDA, which includes the UK, Australia, NZ, Malaysia and Singapore) as other examples of alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

But would a bigger multilateral organization offer significant advantages over these alliances or even over bilateral security agreements that the US already has with Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea?

US, Japan, Australia plan West Philippine Sea drill

Agence France-Presse
7:47 pm | Friday, July 8th, 2011


TOKYO—The US, Japanese and Australian navies will Saturday hold a joint drill in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)—most of which China claims as its maritime territory—Japan’s defense ministry said.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will send destroyer Shimakaze to join a US Navy destroyer and a Royal Australian Navy patrol boat for communications training and other drills off Brunei, the defense ministry said Friday.

It will be their first joint military exercise in the West Philippine Sea, most of which an increasingly assertive China claims as its maritime territory, but where the Philippines and several other Southeast Asian nations have competing claims.


“The exercise is aimed at enhancing tactical skills of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and strengthening relations with the participating navies,” the ministry said in a statement.

Tensions in the strategic and resource-rich West Philippine Sea have escalated in recent weeks, with the Philippines and Vietnam voicing alarm at what they say are increasingly forceful Chinese actions there.

They include accusations of Chinese forces opening fire on Filipino fishermen, shadowing an oil exploration vessel employed by a Philippine firm, and putting up structures in areas claimed by the Philippines.

Vietnam voiced anger after a Chinese vessel in May cut the exploration cables of a Vietnamese survey ship.

The West Philippine Sea includes the Spratlys, a chain of islands believed to sit on vast mineral resources.
 

Journeyman

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For some insights from an Australian perspective, their journal, Security Challenges, is available online. The Winter 2010 edition in particular has a series of articles on tensions in the South China Sea.

As noted by John Hemmings in a recent RUSI Journal article,1 the Aussies are between the rock and the hard place having to balance their key security ally (USA) and their largest trading partner (China).

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1. John Hemmings, "The Potential for Sino‐US Discord in the South China Sea," Royal United Services Institute Journal, Vol. 156, No. 2, April/May 2011, 90–95.



[/academic geekness]  ;)
 

a_majoor

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This idea has also been floated under the term "Anglosphere", which I encourage you to look up both here in Army.ca and on Google.
 

cobbler

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Stymiest said:
Potentially maybe the creation of a broader new Alliance is in order then?  Lets say one that includes Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, AUSNZ (I group them together because realistically they operate together), the UK, US, Canada etc.  I don't think eastern europe or even some countries like Spain and Portugal have even remotely the same values or strategic objectives that we do and I am thinking more in terms of 30 years from now.  I think our future and the US future lies not with Europe but with South east Asia and we need to re-orient our focus there.

Just have to put my 2 Aust Cents here: All those countries operate together. But none of the others you group together. Because they are all different nations, with different militaries, governed by different governments, with some markedly different diplomatic approaches.
Just as all the others mentioned in this thread, Australia and NZ are not one conjoined state.
 

Edward Campbell

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The premise, that China and some US led 'grouping' need to 'match' one another militarily is, in my opinion, faulty.

China will, likely, become the world's dominant single economy - but not until after it has overcome some serious domestic, structural problems. China will, during and after that rise, want to compete with all comers (America, Europe, India, etc) in a variety of arenas: economic, social, political and, to some degree, militarily. But, in my view, the Chinese are following a fairly long term, strategic plan which has Soft Power as its centrepiece. (Unlike e.g. Canada in the Trudeau/Chrétien era, China understands what soft power is and how it works - they especially understand, as Pink Lloyd Axworthy and his Liberal colleagues never did, that soft power exists only when it grows on a firm base of hard, military power.) Thus, China will continue to expand and improve its hard power, but not, I think, in any way attempting to 'match' the USA. In fact, my guesstimate, China wants the USA to continue to spend wildly on defence - every dollar the USA spends on being the world's unchallenged policeman, wanted or not, is a dollar that cannot be spent on the areas where China does intend to surpass the USA: politics, economics and culture.

We, the entire non-Chinese 'world' need to make ourselves ready to cope with the inevitable rise of a huge, increasingly well educated, entrepreneurial and sophisticated nation: China. We will not be challenged militarily but China will aim to defeat us with their soft power.

Our main weapons are our banks, movie studios, symphony orchestras, universities and so on - all supported from a firm base of enough hard power to do more than just a fair share of preventing the chaos that infects so many countries, today. But we need to force the Chinese to share that burden; that, not more aircraft carriers will disrupt their master plan.
 
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