Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, is a confounding character. A warrior whose many battle wins secured the victory of a unified China, Qin masterminded projects to cement that unification, including the rebuilding and connecting of defensive walls into what ultimately became the Great Wall. But further attempts to control and protect his unification plan were tyrannical and included the destruction of ancient records and Confucian writings. Qin’s search for immortality led him to order the construction of a huge personal mausoleum beneath the hills of Xi’an with a magnificent terra cotta army to guard and serve him through the afterlife.
Qin’s army graces this issue’s cover: a symbol of the uncertainties that surround China. Presenting the 2008 Defense Department Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, David Sedney, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said China’s military buildup was characterized by opacity.
Our cover story authors illuminate some of the key issues of China’s rising naval, space and air power.
Also featured this month is a thesis by retired Air Force colonel Chet Richards, author of several monographs for the Straus Military Reform Project. Chet argues that winning without fighting is best (and may sometimes be possible).
Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Peter Layton is on the faculty of the U.S. National Defense University. An F-111 pilot, he nevertheless makes the case for more unmanned combat air vehicles as the ideal affordable hedge against major power threats.
Barbara Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. Her account of Israel’s failures in the 2006 Lebanon war, based on the damning Winograd Report, offers lessons for commanders and leaders everywhere.
1st Lt. Brian Drohan and Lt. Col. John Nagl co-author the first of two Perspective columns, calling for a new adviser force structure.
And Air Force Lt. Col. Edith Disler wins this month’s prize for straight talk, delivering a jab at the Airman’s Creed and a service she says is insecure in its femininity.