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Yeah, Fighting Kaiju is Important, But What about China?

(The following post is from 2029 in a world where kaiju threaten the globe. However, the debates about kaiju’s and jaegers contains some similar themes to the old debates about counter-insurgency the United States had in the 2010s, which may be when we first wrote it and recently uncovered it.

The following post contains massive spoilers for the film Pacific Rim. We haven't seen Pacific Rim 2 yet.

And again, it's supposed to be from 2029.)

Despite the fantastic news out of Hong Kong that the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps closed the inter-dimensional rift between the Kaiju homeworld and Earth--seemingly winning the war with the Kaiju in a single mission--some national security experts are already asking, “What’s next?” Notably, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Tag Romney bemoaned the state of the U.S. Navy in fighting conventional sea wars. I expect this chorus of anti-Jaeger-ism to become louder than ever.

We can’t afford to go back down this path again.

After the first Kaiju attack on San Francisco, the world’s governments didn’t prepare for the Kaiju threat. Only after the destruction of more cities and the deaths of tens of thousands more civilians did Earth’s militaries unite to fight the giant underwater, alien invaders.

(The failure of world governments to tackle this supremely obvious national security threat is only more amazing considering the massive U.S. reaction to 9/11, which didn’t involve monsters rampaging across multiple cities.)

Fortunately, the invention of Jaegers turned the tide. Younger military officers raised on video games and manga, created a new form of warfare based on giant robots and adopted the nomme de guerre of “Jaeger-meisters”, after the alcoholic beverage. Writing in mobile blogs, on the Big War Journal and the Google Brain Sphere, Jaeger-meisters advocated building gigantic Mecha to fight the Kaiju, believing that only size beats size, as opposed to conventional weapons like planes, helicopters, tanks and so forth.

Newly-built Jaegers quickly proved their efficacy. Destroying countless Kaiju in dramatic fashion, we started winning.

Apparently nothing beats giant alien monsters like giant robots.

Yet some influential national security thinkers disagreed. Led by Colonel Gene Gentle (a current fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations) and John East (a former Marine Corps officer), these theorists have been dubbed “Kaiju-naughts” for their skepticism of giant robots. While they don’t dismiss the Kaiju threat, they dislike Jaegers.

Colonel Gentle, for example, wrote a fictional history of America that warned of an over-emphasis on Jeagers on an economics blog:

“In 2070 historians analyzing the reasons for the disastrous defeat of the United States Army at the hands of the Chinese and Russian militaries in 2032 over the fate of Mongolia seem to have reached a consensus that it was due to nearly 15 years of deployments to the Pacific to fight monsters in giant robot Jaegers that had so depleted the Army’s material, moral, and organizational capacities that it simply lost the ability to fight against a sophisticated enemy.”

The New York Times described John East’s opinion on Jaegers as:

“In Mr. East’s view, Jaeger strategy in the Pacific is a simple, video game theology that is turning the United States military into drones and undermining its “core competency” — state-on-state war.”

Think tanks from the Brookings Institute to the American Enterprise Institute have raised similar alarms. The Brookings Institute--which has been warning about the spectre of war with China since at least 2010--believes that spending the last ten years training for, preparing for, and even fighting with Kaijus has left our military depleted. Jaegers would, of course, be useless in a conventional war; a handful of cruise missiles would tear the them apart.

They want to prepare for a possible war with China, Russia or North Korea, as if one of those countries would try to fight a state-on-state war in the midst of the Kaiju invasion. Kaiju-naughts warn that “China is rebuilding its navy!” as if the U.S. and China wouldn’t collapse their economies by starting a needless war with one another.

This is silly.

The world hasn’t seen a state-on-state war since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (and hasn’t seen a war between nuclear powers since the Korean war). Yet Kaiju-naughts want America to prepare for this rare form of war, ignoring all the lessons of the last dozen years. Jaeger-meisters--like myself--don’t want the U.S. to make the same mistake of the past. Sure, we closed the portal once, but will it stay closed?

(Most likely it will stay closed for about ten years. Then what else could happen?)

I can’t help but point out the obvious parallels to counter-insurgency warfare in American history. After Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the U.S. strove to forget the lessons of irregular warfare. This was especially glaring after Vietnam and the outbreak of an insurgency in Iraq. Kaiju-naughts want us to make the same mistake when it comes to Kaijus.

Let’s not forget the lessons of the Kaiju-Jaeger wars.

(Lt. Colonel Michael C. is an intelligence officer serving in the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps. He definitely considers himself a Jaeger-meister. He produces the podcast Spec Media, a parody podcast that spoofs popular podcasts by re-imagining them in science fiction worlds. If you like this blog, you’ll like that podcast. His blog On Violence is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.)