Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, a former US Army commander in Europe, said on Wednesday that the United States is likely to be at war with China within 15 years.
Speaking before a large audience at the Warsaw Security Forum in Poland, Hodges said that European countries will have to do more to secure their own defenses in the face of the “resurgence of Russia” because the US will need to focus more attention on defending its interests in the Pacific.
“The United States needs a very strong European pillar. I think in 15 years – it’s not inevitable – but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China,” Hodges told a packed room at the Warsaw Security Forum, a two-day gathering of leaders and military and political experts from central Europe.
“The United States does not have the capacity to do everything it has to do in Europe and in the Pacific to deal with the Chinese threat,” Hodges said.
However, Hodges reiterated that the US commitment to NATO is “unshakable,” saying that although Trump questioned the usefulness of the Alliance, Washington still sees Europe’s security as one of America’s top interests.
“So you’re going to see us continue to invest here in Europe, continue to train, to practice rotational forces, as well as permanently assign forces for the eventuality that in 10 or 15 years we’re going to be having to fight in the Pacific,” Hodges said.
According to the military, signs of an imminent war between China and the US include tensions in the South China Sea, Beijing’s “constant stealing of technology” and Chinese control of overseas infrastructure, financing projects in Africa and Europe. In Europe, in particular, China already owns more than 10% of seaports, Hodges said.
Hodges was the commander of the US Army in Europe from 2014 to 2017. Today he is a strategic specialist at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington-based research institute.