No question marks or exclamation points here. Just a sober assessment of how such a conflict might proceed. I have long been worried that American military planners don't seem aware that China is a nuclear power, and nuclear powers have to be very, very, very careful about avoiding stepping on the ladder that leads to nuclear war.
A young scholar, John Speed Meyers, has an excellent piece reminding us of those dangers and drawing on some earlier history in U.S.-Chinese relations. He cites President Eisenhower's reluctance to use nuclear weapons in the 1954-55 Taiwan straits crisis, despite his general belief in the utility of such weapons.
Sixty years later, however, China has the bomb, and intervening history has confirmed that American presidents are extremely wary of crossing the nuclear threshold. Accordingly, our war planners need to assume the no first American use of nuclear weapons as a hard and fast condition.
Meyers suggests some alternatives, though I worry that any military engagement has enormous risks.