Alan W. Dowd is a Senior Fellow with the American Security Council Foundation, where he writes on the full range of topics relating to national defense, foreign policy and international security. Dowd’s commentaries and essays have appeared in Policy Review, Parameters, Military Officer, The American Legion Magazine, The Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, The Claremont Review of Books, World Politics Review, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Jerusalem Post, The Financial Times Deutschland, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Examiner, The Detroit News, The Sacramento Bee, The Vancouver Sun, The National Post, The Landing Zone, Current, The World & I, The American Enterprise, Fraser Forum, American Outlook, The American and the online editions of Weekly Standard, National Review and American Interest. Beyond his work in opinion journalism, Dowd has served as an adjunct professor and university lecturer; congressional aide; and administrator, researcher and writer at leading think tanks, including the Hudson Institute, Sagamore Institute and Fraser Institute. An award-winning writer, Dowd has been interviewed by Fox News Channel, Cox News Service, The Washington Times, The National Post, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and numerous radio programs across North America. In addition, his work has been quoted by and/or reprinted in The Guardian, CBS News, BBC News and the Council on Foreign Relations. Dowd holds degrees from Butler University and Indiana University. Follow him at


Scott Tilley is a Senior Fellow at the American Security Council Foundation, where he writes the “Technical Power” column, focusing on the societal and national security implications of advanced technology in cybersecurity, space, and foreign relations.

He is an emeritus professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. Previously, he was with the University of California, Riverside, Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, and IBM. His research and teaching were in the areas of computer science, software & systems engineering, educational technology, the design of communication, and business information systems.

He is president and founder of the Center for Technology & Society, president and co-founder of Big Data Florida, past president of INCOSE Space Coast, and a Space Coast Writers’ Guild Fellow.

He has authored over 150 academic papers and has published 28 books (technical and non-technical), most recently Systems Analysis & Design (Cengage, 2020), SPACE (Anthology Alliance, 2019), and Technical Justice (CTS Press, 2019). He wrote the “Technology Today” column for FLORIDA TODAY from 2010 to 2018.

He is a popular public speaker, having delivered numerous keynote presentations and “Tech Talks” for a general audience. Recent examples include the role of big data in the space program, a four-part series on machine learning, and a four-part series on fake news.

He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Victoria (1995).

Contact him at

Preventing War with the PRC

Monday, March 8, 2021

Categories: The Dowd Report

Comments: 0

By Alan W. Dowd, ASCF Senior FellowMARCH 2021—“Can the United States win a war with China?” Scores of publications are asking some version of this question. But given what a U.S.-China war would unleash, a far better question is this: Can the United States deter Xi Jinping’s regime and prevent a war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC)?Ugly and IntenseOur starting point is something too many Americans forget or never learned: Waging war is far more costly than building and maintaining a military capable of deterring war.

In the eight years before entering World War I, the United States devoted an average of 0.7 percent of GDP to defense. During the war, the U.S. spent an average of 16.1 percent of GDP on defense—and sacrificed 116,516 dead to turn back the Central Powers.In the decade before entering World War II, the United States spent an average of 1.1 percent of GDP on defense. During the war, the U.S. spent an average of 27 percent of GDP on defense—and sacrificed 405,399 lives defeating the Axis.During the Cold War, by contrast, Washington spent an average of 7 percent of GDP on defense. Those investments didn’t end all wars, but they did deter the Soviets and prevent World War III.Yet by 2000—nine years after the collapse of the USSR—defense spending would fall to just 3 percent of GDP. Then came 9/11, and defense spending spiked above 4.5 percent of GDP. But then came the Great Recession of 2008 and the bipartisan gamble known as sequestration, and defense spending cratered again to around 3 percent of GDP. Is it a coincidence that just as sequestration took a guillotine to America’s deterrent military strength, China began annexing the South China Sea, and Russia lunged into Ukraine and Syria? (At $740 billion, the U.S. defense budget for FY2021 is around 3.5 percent of GDP, although that’s a deceptively high share of GDP because of the economic effects of the government-ordered COVID-19 lockdown.)   

The destructiveness and vastness of modern war—especially hostilities between two great powers such as the U.S. and the PRC—counsel against crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Unlike the wars America has fought since 1945, a U.S.-PRC war would not be confined to some faraway desert or jungle. Nor would it be fought sole