Asymmetric Dialogue

Is the U.S. Military Machine Losing Its Innovation Edge to China?


America has far outstripped its rivals when it comes to defence innovation, but there are signs that this seems to be slowing and could possibly be in danger of stalling altogether, a situation that could open the door to China.

Innovation has been central to the US war machine since the end of WWII, and, by implication, to the success of the rules-based system that has governed international relations over the same period too. American advances in nuclear weapons technology in the 1950s made possible the ‘first offset strategy' nullifying the Soviet superiority in conventional numbers, and when Moscow narrowed the gap, heavy ‘second offset' investment in emerging stealth and smart weapons technologies ensured the US lead remained through the 80s and 90s.
But what of the decades since?