Book Review: Entering the Dragon’s Lair: Chinese Antiaccess Strategies and Their Implications for the United States
Andrew S. Erickson, review of Roger Cliff et al., Entering the Dragon’s Lair: Chinese Antiaccess Strategies and Their Implications for the United States (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2007), Naval War College Review, 62.1 (Winter 2009): 150-51.
The authors have produced the first major study that evaluates comprehensively the specific antiaccess methods being discussed by Chinese military strategists. They bring to bear a wide variety of relevant doctrinal and analytic materials (many of which they themselves have translated) and explain clearly their relative authority. The authors’ conclusion is sobering: in the unfortunate event of a Taiwan Strait conflict, China’s military may consider launching a rapid surprise attack. Such a first strike could damage and render ineffective a wide variety of U.S. military platforms (aircraft carrier strike groups–which are described as having special vulnerabilities–and assets at regional bases). This could deny U.S. forces effective “access” to sea and air space to China’s east, leaving Taiwan vulnerable to military coercion and testing American resolve. The authors term this growing zone “the Dragon’s Lair.” While the United States would retain significant military forces regardless of the outcome of such a conflict, China might be able to achieve specific military and political objectives at America’s expense.