To Avoid a Security Dilemma: Complex Warfare with Japanese Characteristics
Thomas A. Drohan
Japan’s security strategy is a uniquely regarded admixture of isolation and engagement. This blend is common to many countries, but poses a stark dilemma for Japan’s citizens. Theirs is a country whose economic zone is five times the size of China’s, that is dependent on external sources for over 90 percent of its energy needs, and which is supposed to react to threats in self-defense under a constitution imposed during a postwar occupation (1945-1952). The so-called Peace Constitution (1947) forever renounces: war; the use or threat of force to settle disputes; military forces; and war potential.
How can Japan resolve this security dilemma? A security dilemma, as introduced by John Herz (1950), is when an actor seeking security from attack increases power thus rendering others more insecure. Finding solutions involves strategy: the how of avoiding relative isolation and aggressive engagement. Both extremes destroy enduring competitive advantage.
Using concepts of complex warfare explained in the SWJ article, Competing to Win: Complex Warfare with Chinese Characteristics, this article offers a solution to Japan’s security strategy dilemma. We work within current Japanese constitutional and policy proscriptions. This restraint leaves ample room for a proactive strategy involving combinations of different effects. While Japan’s use of violent conflict is constitutionally limited to self-defense, its use of non-violent competition can be quite expansive—indeed, “normal.”
In terms of the blends of complex warfare below (adapted from our previous article), Japan’s strategic options include non-violent competition that can be cooperative or confrontational—these are options 3 and 4 in the following chart. What about the other “normal” options?
Blends of Complex Warfare
Option 1, cooperative conflict, assumes agreement on the rules of violence. This blend of complex warfare is essentially cooperative in the sense that combatants abide by international humanitarian law. In Japan’s case, this cooperative conflict is permitted only in self-defense. That means absorbing an attack, or at best, having near-perfect intelligence of an attack, and using force against the threat.
Option 2, confrontational conflict, is not politically viable for Japan today because we assume Tokyo will only engage in conflict if it acquires some manner of mutual consent. Such as via United Nations resolution, alliance, partnerships, or acquisition and cross-servicing agreements.
The term “warfare” evokes distinctive challenges in Japan. It is difficult to overstate the domestic and regional sensitivity of any Japanese use of force. To appreciate this point, let’s look at the use of the word, “alliance” (dōmei).
While it’s common today to refer to the US-Japan alliance, that relationship is based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security of 1960, a contentious revision of the 1951 Security Treaty. The original treaty was necessarily linked to the San Francisco Peace Treaty that ended the state of war between Japan and most powers (Russia still refuses to sign one, having seized the Kuril islands after Japan’s surrender). At the time, allied powers would not sign a peace treaty unless Japanese militarism, assumed to be the cause of the war, was eliminated. Amazingly, postwar anti-militarism in Japan was so strong, that in 1981, Foreign Minister Masayoshi Itō was forced to resign after he described Japan’s role with the United States as an alliance. The security environment continues to change, but the Peace Constitution remains unrevised. Contending interpretations and debates still rage.
In terms of ideal-type actors of complex warfare, Japan’s postwar behavior reflects differences between non-violent idealists who seek peace by eschewing violence (options 3 and 4 above), and violent idealists who seek to enforce peace on their terms (options 1 and 2). To discern how Japan can wage effective complex warfare through cooperation and confrontation, we turn to Japan’s world view, threat assessment, and combined effects strategy.
Japan’s World View, Threat Assessment, and Combined Effects Strategy
Japan’s prevailing world view is one of unique-ism and ambivalent foreign relations.
Unique-ism is a self-image rooted in a cultivated legend of single-dynasty rule. Threat perceptions portray Japan as distinctly different, reinforced throughout history by alternating periods of isolation and engagement. Over time, a national identity of being unique emerged. Two contemporary manifestations are nihonjinron and tokubetsu sochi hō.
Nihonjinron (Japanese-ness theory) began during the rapid modernization of the 19th century. Topics include social roles, culture, identity, group and individual behavior. Tokubetsu sochi hō (special measures laws) justify policies based on distinctive groups or practices such as atomic bomb survivors, anti-terrorism, replenishment support, productivity enforcement, and employment security. The word tokubetsu (“particularly cut” or special) is deeply embedded in Japanese culture. So, in the highly legalistic context of Peace Constitution-bred security discussions, such sensitive policies require due deliberation and consensual justification. This time-consuming process becomes more conflicted by historical narratives about Japan’s foreign relations.
This second aspect of a Japanese world view, ambivalence in foreign relations, is arguably a product of four historical experiences. Let’s take a brief look at each, from a perspective of relative isolation and engagement.
Isolation and Engagement
1. In the 3d century the Yamato clan, perhaps first to claim divine rule, expanded into an agricultural maritime kingdom that raided present-day Korea. Defeats there and rebellions at home forced Yamato to retreat. While precious ties with Chinese and Koreans enriched Japanese civilization (Chapter 1), it was geographic insularity that allowed rulers to colonize Japan and fend off external invasions.
2. In the late 16th century, warlord and one of three “great unifiers” Toyotomi Hideyoshi led two massive invasions of the Korean peninsula, ultimately turned back by Korean persistence and Chinese assistance. Over 200 years of controlled access to and from Japan (so-called sakoku — closed country) then enabled Tokugawa warlord rulers to consolidate Japan’s unification.
3. In 1853 US Commodore Matthew Perry’s arrival forced Japan to expand trade beyond China and the Netherlands. This act and follow-on treaties of similarly coerced extra-territoriality moved Japan’s elites toward a consensus for change. The result was the Meiji Restoration in 1868, an ambitiously successful series of reforms and modernization that fueled Japan’s disastrous imperial expansion.
4. In 1945, Japan’s defeat in its Daitō Sensō (Greater East Asia War) devastated the country until a multilateral peace treaty and bilateral security treaty enabled re-engagement with the world community. We shall examine in some detail Japan’s subsequent demilitarization and democratization, and arguable re-militarization, in the next section on threat assessment. In terms of world view, Japan’s postwar peace-and-security synthesis is one of continuity and change. To understand how this uniquely ambivalent dynamic works, consider the prevalence of insider-outsider distinctions in Japan.
There are many such contrasts: soto - uchi (outside - inside); honne - tatemae (true sound- constructed face); and ura - omote (hidden side - visible side). This type of comparison is more than a respectful construction of social distance. The framing provides a common context for harmonizing different viewpoints. This yields extremes too. Foreign policy options framed as reactions to “foreign pressure” (gaiatsu) can produce decisions that isolate or engage Japan too uniquely, especially in retrospect.
For instance, consider Japan’s response to South Korea’s recent Supreme Court ruling that responsible Japanese corporations pay reparations to their forced-labor victims during the Empire of Japan’s colonization of Korea (1910-1945). The Government of Japan’s response? Retaliate with economic sanctions against South Korean semiconductor firms. Such engagement further isolates Japan from the geo-strategically important South Korean public in the face of a rising China and a nuclear North Korea.
Japan’s world view helps explain security policies that engage the world with reactive strategies. The predicament becomes acute as the security environment changes. It’s difficult for any state to be proactive in competitive arenas under a national constitution that truncates normal use of force.
Ambivalently put, Japan’s unique dilemmas include: to engage China’s territorial coercion and North Korea’s missile intimidation with reactive self-defense forces; or to revise the Constitution to engage threats proactively in a region with concession-seeking neighbors.
Imperial Japan’s treatment of its neighbors during and after periods of aggression complicates resolving such dilemmas. Despite efforts to address wartime issues, still simmering are: the previously mentioned compensation for forced laborers (including Korean and Chinese sex slaves); national narratives that ignore or distort the truth; and territorial disputes with the Koreas, China, and Russia.
The persistence of these issues reflects lingering distrust and different assessments of threat in the region. In the long shadow of Japan’s world view, a postwar security bargain between Japan and the United States sought to transform threat assessment. The effort built upon Japan’s prewar experience with liberal democratic thought (5-6). We examine this continuity and change next.
Japan’s post-Pacific War threat assessment may be understood in terms of changes made to key institutionalized agreements (56-69). Consider the following main five, established during the Occupation of Japan:
1. Constitution of Japan (1947): Article 9 prohibits war, threat or use of force, war potential
2. Ashida Memoranda (1947-1948): Japan assumes internal security; US accepts external security
3. Ikeda Proposal: Japan offers US bases in exchange for US guarantee of Japan’s external security
4. Dulles-Yoshida Dialogues (1950-1951): US pushes demilitarization; Japan insists on economic recovery
5. Peace Treaty and Security Treaty (1951): readmits Japan into world economy without offensive threat
At the time, Washington’s first priorities were the demilitarization and democratization of Japan, which ran quite counter to European and Soviet desires to punish Japan economically. Ultimately, American leaders decided on rebuilding Japanese trade and industry (5-6). General Douglas MacArthur became Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan. His staff drafted the Peace Constitution after Prime Minister Kijūrō Shidehara’s committee failed to meet the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Japanese leaders had no choice but to accept the postwar security bargain, which consisted of the following exchange of desired effects: Japan’s demilitarization, democratization, and economic development in exchange for a US military guarantee of Japan’s security. The latter permitted the basing of US forces in Japan.
Under these conditions, Japanese leaders resisted persistent US pressure to rearm in the face of communist threats, even before North Korea’s invasion of the South. Economic recovery was paramount. Resistance to rearmament enabled the protectionism of Japan’s surviving industries. Actions to counter external military threats took decades longer.
Under a vague consensus of “comprehensive security” various forms emerged — economic security, food security, human security and a host of public works projects. The broadened concept of security was uneven. Slowly, first-ever types of adjustments to the founding bargain began to admit realistic military (“self-defense”) security, too. Each change in threat assessment exacted a domestic political price.
Changes to the Postwar US-Japan Security Bargain
1. First came a comprehensive adjustment, the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. This replacement of the 1951 Security Treaty clarified the US commitment to Japan’s external defense and removed any internal security role for US forces. Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi problematically forced a snap-vote to pass the treaty and resigned following massive demonstrations. Demonstrators were largely mutual consent non-violent idealists (option 3, in our ideal types of complex warfare) who wanted to abolish the security treaty and keep the Peace Constitution.
2. In 1981 the Reagan-Suzuki Communique specified how to actually implement promises made in the first-ever US-Japan Defense Guidelines (1978). The change was an expansion of the Japan Self-Defense Force role: secure maritime energy routes. This noticeable shift in the bargain occurred as the Soviet Union strengthened its Far East forces and China developed nuclear weapons. As previously mentioned, Foreign Minister Itō resigned after uttering “alliance.” Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki, for his part, finely denied that US-Japan security relationship had any military meaning.
3. In 1988 the first co-development of a major weapon system, the FS-X fighter aircraft, occurred amidst modernizing Soviet and Chinese capabilities, North Korean terrorism, and three decades of over-dependence on US military technology. Because Japan did not succeed in independently developing an indigenous fighter, a Self-Defense Force colonel resigned. Colonel Yoshida’s dutiful action was not in vain. The deal lead-turned an expanded alliance via new defense guidelines in 1997 and 2013.
4. In 2016 the Shinzō Abe administration interpreted the right of collective self defense: “when an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan occurs and as a result threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn people’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” (166). The US-Japan alliance apparently had arrived. Defense of Japan 2016 (2-3) described the nation’s security context in terms of: surrounding interstate conflicts; North Korean nuclear capability; strengthened, non-transparent, and illegal Chinese activities; international terrorism; and gray-zone situations.
What was the price for adjustment this time? Precisely the expectation noted in the original 1951 Security Treaty: ...that Japan will increasingly assume responsibility for its own defense...while avoiding any armament which could be an offensive threat or serve other than to promote peace and security in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.
Japan’s generic threat assessment today is that its security environment is increasingly uncertain, and so justifies new Self-Defense Force capabilities. They include air, surface and anti-submarine operations; anti-terrorism activities; logistics support of overseas combat operations; missile defense; integrated command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C2ISR); amphibious rapid deployment; and defense of space, cyberspace and electromagnetic domains.
Consistent with Japan’s world view, these capabilities have engaged threats such as maritime intrusions, air intrusions, armed agents, cyber-attacks, and of course, natural disasters. The only lethal use of force so far was the sinking of a North Korean spy boat in December 2001. Since 2009, Japanese destroyers and reconnaissance aircraft have deterred piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and soon, in the Gulf of Oman. By reactively engaging threats in a globalized security environment, Japan operates within its unique Peace Constitution.
In a proactive sense, Japan has managed numerous visible contributions to international security since 1992. In reaction to not being able to support combat operations following Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the Diet passed the International Peace Cooperation Act. Since then, Japan has participated in thirteen UN peacekeeping operations.
A desperately isolated Japan does not appear in sight, except as a desired effect of Chinese strategy designed to counter Japan’s combined effects.
Combined Effects Strategy
In reference to the combined effects model introduced in a previous SWJ article, the following diagram depicts the eight basic effects at play in the information environment. These effects are cooperative (dissuade, persuade, secure, induce) and confrontational (deter, compel, defend, coerce). Given Japan’s constitutional and policy restraints, it’s important to note that each desired effect may be brought about using any instrument of power (diplomatic, informational, military, economic, social).
In contrast to the 17 cases of Chinese combined effects since 1954, we identify four Japanese cases of contemporary complex warfare:
1. Chinese intrusions of the Senkaku islets (Diaoyutai)
2. Russian occupation of Northern Territories (southern Kuriles)
3. North Korean nuclear and conventional threats
4. South Korean occupation of Takeshima (Dokdo)
Of these cases, we will summarize the first two, reserving the last two for an upcoming article on the Koreas.
Few officials in Tokyo will refer to any aspect of Japanese security strategies as “warfare.” Recall our universal definition of complex warfare includes violent conflict and non-violent competition, both of which involve confrontation and cooperation. This complexity enables us to analyze warfare broadly...the way it is actually being waged. We do simplify each case here, however, by confining the analyses to Japan and one other major actor.
Each example includes: historical background; a combined-effects strategy for each major actor; and comments about the interacting strategies.
Senkakus (Japan, China; 1971-present)
Japan claims the Senkaku islets as part of the larger Ryukyu island chain recognized by post-Pacific War treaties as Japanese territory. Tokyo’s claims are based on Japanese surveys conducted in 1885 and subsequent annexation of the Senkakus before the end of the Sino-Japanese War (1895). China claims the same islets based on Ming and Qing dynasty records indicating their tributary status before Japan’s forcible annexation. The San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951) that ended the Pacific War transferred the Senkakus to a trusteeship under US administrative control. As a result, when the US reverted Okinawa Prefecuture to Japan in 1972, the Senkakus were included (a Japanese perspective may be found here). The islets became a prominent issue in 1968, when a United Nations survey indicated the probability of oil reserves in the vicinity.
Japan’s Combined-Effect Strategy
Persuade Japanese and American public opinion to support Japan’s sovereignty; induce US military activities that support Japan’s position; and defend and deter against China intrusion and occupation of Senkaku territory.
China’s Combined-Effect Strategy
Persuade American public opinion and decision makers of its claims, and Japanese public opinion against Japan’s use of force; dissuade and deter US military support of Japan; induce Japan to recognize existence of a dispute; and compel and coerce Japan into humiliating inaction or the use of force.
In the battlespace of public opinion, China seeks to isolate Japan from US influence, while Japan seeks to retain a credible US commitment. Beijing’s information campaign is unrelenting, unprecedented in scope, and backed by a warfare of laws (lawfare). Domestic controls and Party-paid trolls spew massive disinformation.
By comparison, Japan and US audiences are porous, and government persuasion and inducement efforts minuscule, ad hoc and post hoc. A US joint concept for operating in the information environment recognizes physical, informational and cognitive aspects of warfare, but the cultural dominance of “operations” as (if) distinct from “information”subverts combining diverse effects.
In the vicinity of the Senkakus, China seeks to humiliate Japanese forces via the latter’s inaction or by manipulating Japanese forces into an independent use of force. The latter will be exploited. This strategy is vulnerable to being exposed in the international media and to well-executed, proactive deterrence and defense by the US-Japan alliance.
Northern Territories (Russia; Japan, 1945-present)
The Treaty of St. Petersburg (1875) resolved conflicting claims by ceding the Kuriles to Japan and Sakhalin to Russia. After Japan’s Russo-Japanese War victory, the Portsmouth Peace Treaty (1905) ceded southern Sakhalin and adjacent islands to Japan. The USSR acceded to Atlantic Charter (1941) and Cairo Declaration (1943) promises of no territorial gains, but at the Yalta Conference (1945) agreed to declare war against Japan if the Kuriles were returned. The Potsdam Declaration (1945), a surrender ultimatum, limited Japan to its main islands and unspecified minor islands. After Japan’s surrender, Soviet forces seized the Kuriles (Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai, Shikotan). Japan renounced claims to Sakhalin and the Kuriles in Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951)—not signed by the USSR. In 1956, US objection (3-4) prevented the return of two islands to Japan. As a result, a joint Japan-USSR declaration ended the state of war, reestablished diplomatic relations, and promised a partial transfer pending a peace treaty. Subsequent meetings have produced promises in 1993, 2001, 2003, and 2019.
Japan’s Combined Effect Strategy
Persuade Russian elites that returning the disputed islands will produce strategic benefits; induce Russian business interests in Japanese investments in technology, natural resource and infrastructure development; secure access to international fishing grounds and defend maritime and air routes to and from Japan.
Russia’s Combined Effect Strategy
Coerce Japanese elites into accepting Russian control of the southern Kuriles and persuade them to regard US forces as a liability; deter US-Japan military exercises and secure Japanese investment to develop infrastructure; compel Japanese despair regarding Etorofu and Kunashiri and induce beliefs that Habomai and Shikotan are negotiable.
Russia’s three-part strategy of stirs up mutually reinforcing effects among Japanese policy elites, public, and businesses. Japan can contest these.
First, Russian military control messages a feckless US-Japan alliance that is a liability to negotiating a peace treaty. Japan’s defense of far-flung communication routes can undermine this message by perceptibly demonstrating Self-Defense Force relevance to global security in international space.
Second, Russian deployment of offensive weapons amplifies risks of US-Japan exercises, particularly in the eyes of potential investors. Multilateral exercises involving Japanese leadership can convert this risk into two opportunities: (a) broader commitment to freedom of navigation, trade and commerce; and (b) normalizing Japanese defensive operations to protect business ventures.
Third, Russian attacks on Japanese hopes and expectations for the disputed islands stoke interest in negotiations and investment. Japanese activities can subsume this effect by visibly defending routes and leading exercises that cultivate international confidence. Security partnerships essentially de-isolate Japan consistent with global norms, mitigating residual perceptions of Japan as a threat.
There are several combined-effect advantages Japanese security strategy can apply to the Senkaku and Northern Territories problem sets. Each case shares two goals consistent with Japan’s world view and threat assessments:
1. Prevent being isolated and unsustainable engaged
2. Cooperate and confront to create synergistic effects
To realize these two goals in the Senkakus, we explain five primary objectives, each supported by a combination of two desired effects.
Objective 1. Engage to win the information competition with China. China seeks to decouple Japan from US support. Japan’s combined effect would be to out-persuade and out-dissuade Communist Party of China propaganda. The recently established Japan National Security Council (2013) seems to be an appropriate entity, subject to executive and legislative oversight, to integrate the authorities and actors for information-sharing.
Objective 2. Prevent significant political and economic tension with the US. This aim is vulnerable to linkage politics (agriculture, autos, etc.) and changes in foreign relations (breakthrough with Russia?). The combined effect would be to secure and induce priority relationships. Open communication can achieve compromise. When it doesn’t, connections among rule-based democracies thicken relations and create opportunities to integrate new mechanisms for engagement.
Objective 3. Exploit Beijing baiting of Japanese forces. Mutually reinforcing effects are: (a) unified command and control (see Detailed Recommendation #4) to secure timely and accountable decisions; and (b) a whole-of-government complement to the Diplomatic Blue Book to counter Chinese disinformation. Instead of integrating command and control technology into decision processes, the reverse—integrating decisions into technology—is more timely and productive.
Objective 4. Enhance Senkaku sovereignty with domestic, allied, and partnered support of claims. The combined effect would be: (a) persuade with facts in a persistent social media campaign; and (b) induce US and other partner activities that legitimize and could support Senkaku operations. The US regards attacks on Japan-administered territory within the purview of the US-Japan alliance, which enables a de facto integration of “persuade” and “induce.”
Objective 5. Strengthen territorial integrity. Combine credible deterrence with active defense. These effects should be operationally inseparable. For instance, collective self-defense is also collective self-deterrence. The reverse, however, is not automatic. Deterrence needs to be integrated into defense operations with timely authorized permissions. This feat requires superior: C2ISR; precision strike (anti-ship, anti-submarine, anti-aircraft, anti-nodes); analysis and synthesis, and decision making.
The Northern Territories, unlike the Senkakus, are not administered by Japan. To realize Japan’s two goals, we explain three objectives supported by two combinations of existing desired effects, and a new effect.
Objective 1. Out-compete Russia with more extensive diplomatic, defense, trade and financial ties. Combine “persuade and induce Russian elites...” and “Russian business...” by leveraging: (a) a long-term professional view of the US-Japan alliance; and (b) security ties among European Union and Association of Southeast Asian Nations members. This type of integration is external: subsume Russian activities in the Northern Territories with broader relationships that can create future possibilities.
Objective 2. Assert sovereignty and counter Russian deployments. Combine “secure access to international fishing” and “defend maritime and air routes.” Main-island movements of anti-missile and anti-ship defenses demonstrate capability and counter Russian military deployments. Patrolling international waters counters crime and increases safety, coupled with multilateral exercises that broaden Japan’s positive impact. Networked assets integrate what otherwise might be separate Coast Guard and Self-Defense Force efforts.
Objective 3. Develop coercive informational resilience. Japan’s need to counter disinformation, neutralize electronic warfare, and defeat cyber attacks requires both deterrence and coercion. Use of information can achieve the same effect as use of force. This flexibility can integrate effects where use of force is not appropriate. Contexts might include: exposing Russian disinformation and state-sponsored transnational crime for diplomatic leverage; gaining and training with intelligence on frequency signatures for self-defense; and finding software flaws for zero-day exploits. All of these require proactive all-domain defense.
Overall, considerations of world view, threat assessment, and combined-effect strategies reveal and inform development of superior approaches to complex warfare. Actually deciding and specifying what to prevent and what to cause is the key to combining effects so they can be integrated into holistic strategies.
In addition to the preceding, there are other arenas of cooperation and confrontation that Japanese strategists might enter and carefully engage to avoid relative isolation. Most significant are those driven by demographics, economics and technology. Why? Because such trends present enduring challenges. Such as Russia’s chronic need for credit, China’s growing need for energy imports, and Japan’s now-urgent need for labor.
The competition for credit, energy and labor is cooperative and confrontational. For instance, Russia needs foreign capital. And we know that Russia wields “oil power” and sows corruption against energy-dependent states throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltics to coerce and induce foreign investment, among other goals. Chinese activities may be more subtle, but are just as brutal and combine personal profit with state goals. In this context, China and Japan have capital that competes for favorable Russian terms of investment. So what’s happening?
China’s military exercises with Russia aim to compel and coerce Japan, and induce Russia to provide cheap energy on demand. Note the Power of Siberia pipeline. Moscow’s message to Beijing, with even broader exercises, is that Russia is the dominant military partner as it seeks a greater share of the Chinese market. Orchestrating such cooperation and confrontation requires linking diplomacy, military and economic activities.
In the same manner, Japan’s territorial dispute with Russia is a source of leverage for Moscow in negotiating joint ventures with Tokyo. How can Japan also exert such linkages to combine countervailing or superior effects? As a start, Japan’s alliance with the US, which increases the risks of Chinese and Russian probes in disputed territory, can help secure financial markets and trade...to the degree Washington and Tokyo can agree on such matters.
From these examples and the combined effects discussed previously, we conclude that actors who are able to link diplomacy, information, military, economic and social issues can create advantages that those who will not make such linkages, cannot.
The US-Japan security relationship writ large meets the macro-requirements: diverse economies with sustainable growth, which enables superior military technology; extensive diplomatic and private networks; political will; and high quality decision making processes supported by advanced analysis, and C2 ISR (command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance). Political will tends to be reactive, but democracies can be more proactive with better strategy.
In particular, the ability to shape the information environment and achieve advantages in any domain — land, maritime, air, space and cyberspace — are indivisible strategic imperatives. Doctrinal distinctions between the information environment and the operational environment make little sense in East Asia. Instead of theoretical thrashing over which office or speciality is supported and which is supporting, which sub-culture and platforms merit combat medals and so forth, East Asian strategists seem quite focused on creating superior effects. And in a holistic environment perceived by world views, filtered by threat assessments, with actors waging complex warfare using combined-effect strategies.