Read further here:
It has been bubbling around out there, but if you haven’t been paying close attention, you might have missed the issue:
THIS is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don’t be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu islands. And don’t assume the war would be contained and short.
Of course we should all hope that common sense prevails.
It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world’s three richest countries – two of them nuclear-armed – would go to war over something so trivial. But that is to confuse what starts a war with what causes it. The Greek historian Thucydides first explained the difference almost 2500 years ago. He wrote that the catastrophic Peloponnesian War started from a spat between Athens and one of Sparta’s allies over a relatively insignificant dispute. But what caused the war was something much graver: the growing wealth and power of Athens, and the fear this caused in Sparta…
China is feeling its oats and, also, with grave economic, political and demographic problems, striking out in a foreign adventure might appeal to a Chinese ruling class which has no legitimate basis for its continued rule but which has so far proven unwilling to set in motion steps to create a legitimate government in China. Japan, on the other hand, is rich and happy and not wanting to fight, but also fears that if they let China get her way on this then China will forever push Japan around. The United States, on the other other hand, cannot afford to let China push Japan around because that would undercut our entire position not just in Asia, but the entire western Pacific…no one would rely on us if we left Japan in the lurch and everyone would scramble to make the best deal with could with China. Certainly, there are the ingredients for war.
But there won’t be one. At least, not right now.
China is in much the same position as imperial Germany was early in the 20th century – feeling stronger and frustrated that their growing strength has not led to their dominance of the globe. Back then, Germany felt that Britain – governing one quarter of the earth’s surface but viewed by Germans as increasingly flabby – was the block in the road. And, so, Germany wanted to challenge Britain – but couldn’t because the German army couldn’t get at Britain while the German navy wasn’t sufficient to beat the British navy (then, by far, the largest navy in the world). China might want to make some nationalist hay over the Senkakus but when push comes to shove, they are islands and the Chinese navy is simply entirely inferior to the United States navy (and probably couldn’t even beat the Japanese navy, either). A Sino-American war right now would only have one very swift result – the destruction of China’s navy and a return to the status quo ante (there is zero chance that any American government would sanction sending an American army to mainland China). Unless the rulers of China are the most monumentally stupid people in the world, they know this and so as long as the US and Japan remain firm (but polite and willing to provide a face-saving solution) then the Chinese will ultimately back down.
China is, of course, aware of her naval weakness – and so has built one aircraft carrier and looks to build more, while also steadily upgrading their other surface and submarine forces. As absolutely no one threatens China’s sea communications the only possible use China can have for a first class navy is to challenge the United States. And as a matter of fact, all of China’s military build up indicates only one thing: at some future point, the government of China envisions war with the United States. Not a war to the death like the World Wars, but a war to kick America out of east Asia and the western Pacific (China has asserted that their sphere of influence includes the Marianas Islands – a commonwealth of the United States, but also including the US territory of Guam). We’ll have to see how that comes out and US diplomacy should be geared towards solidifying our alliances in the area while military preparations should work on destroying the Chinese navy and blockading the Chinese coast. But, meanwhile, not much to worry about. For the moment.
From Strategy Page:
…During the recent fighting in Libya, the rebels complained of encountering government troops armed with new Chinese weapons. Accusations were made that China was selling weapons to the (Gaddafi) dictatorship despite a UN embargo. A little investigating found that this was indeed the case, and that Chinese arms merchants had approached the Libyan government earlier in the year, offering to sneak the weapons in via Algeria and South Africa. The last shipments appear to have arrived in July…
Why? Because the Chinese government is a corrupt, inhuman dictatorship which simply does not care about human suffering. If there was a dollar to be made and some influence to be bought, China is right there…acting the rogue while we pretend they are a rational member of the community of nations.
Until the Chinese government is destroyed, this sort of thing will just get worse and worse. Remember that – and we must start demanding that our leaders treat China as the standing threat it is.
James Traub over at Foreign Policy has an interesting article about how the United States should deal with China. While acknowledging that China is rapidly becoming powerful, Traub downplays any aggressive intent on China’s part, while also discounting any muscular, American response to China. The only really good thing I can say about the article is that it at least is an acknowledgment that China has to be dealt with in some fashion…for too long we’ve been blinded by an idea that all China wishes to do is make money, or that they were in some manner a strategic partner of the United States. But I do believe that Traub is not quite understanding what the Chinese government will do.
Tyrants cannot hold still – they must continually advance, or they will fall. In Churchill’s trenchant phrase, they ride to and fro on the backs of tigers, and the tigers are getting hungry. The tyrants of China made a de-facto deal with the Chinese people post-1989: let us be in power, and we’ll let you get rich. This has, in fact, worked out to only a select few getting rich, mostly by ripping off the broad mass of the Chinese people…but the growing prosperity has kept dissent down in the cities while the army and security forces have proven capable of keeping dissent down in the countryside (though there are plenty of tales of riot and rebellion in the backwaters of China). The problem for China is that they have advanced about as far as they can under their current system. They can advance further – but only by bringing rural China in to the economic mainstream, and by freeing up the political system so that corrupt (which eats like a cancer at the Chinese economy) can be fought. Neither course of action appeals to China’s Ruling Class.
But they can’t stand still – they can’t do what is necessary to make the next step forward economically, but they also can’t just let things stagnate…what is already bound to be a Chinese recession will become a very hard landing unless China changes internally…or finds some external means of deflecting attention. The recently aggressive behavior of China in foreign affairs is not a reflection of China’s actual might – they don’t have that sort of power as of yet. Won’t have it, really, for 20-30 years, if ever (China’s coming demographic decline may rob China of the sinews of power just when the infrastructure if finally there). They are blustering…hoping to grab what they can, and preparing for a foreign confrontation which will (in the Ruling Class’ view, at least) cement the loyalty of the Chinese people and serve as the excuse for the coming bad economic times.
The bottom line for us is to get prepared for this – by forging a rock-solid alliance with India, making a defense arrangement with Vietnam, and re-founding our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. It is a certainty that China will try something – what it will be remains to be seen. I suspect a move against Taiwan in conjunction with a Chinese-inspired, North Korean attack on South Korea and/or Japan (ie, draw off American power to northeast Asia while China moves in the South China Sea…we can’t be everywhere at once, and Taiwan for most Americans would be a doubtful proposition for a full scale war…it shouldn’t be, but it would be). But as we can’t know for certain, better to be prepared for all eventualities…and if this takes some increases in naval and aerial strength, then we’re going to have to bite the bullet and do it (as an aside, the really good thing about alliances and agreements with India and Vietnam is they provide ample land power without the United States having to deploy millions of troops).
The most important first step is to recognize that China is an enemy State…that we must not have close economic and military relationships with the Chinese. That we must inform them that any attempt to change the status quo in Asia and the Pacific will be met with a forceful American response.
You know the destination – from Strategy Page:
Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy, because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.
Which, then, will eventually find their way in to products used by Americans because we import so much from China…and there is no way to separate out that bit of mineral inside your electronic gadget which was obtained in the Congo. We have very much shot ourselves in the foot…as well as shot the poor people of the Congo, while at the same time given even more power and wealth to our enemies in China. Good job, well-intentioned sob-sisters.
God gave us reason and He expect us to use it. In a rather confusing world where there is always conflict, we are supposed to thread our way carefully. Before we take a step we should be thinking about what may come after – will it have the effect we want? If it does, will it also have some bad effects? Will the good effects equal or outweigh the bad? It is hard to get people to look even an inch in to the future…but it must be done. If we go off half-cocked an allow emotion to rule our decisions, then we are bound to get it wrong…emotions have their place, but only as a spur to action…the action, itself, must always be in accord with the best reason we can muster.
We want to ensure that evil people do not profit off the sweat of poor, working people. That is an admirable goal…a completely Christian goal. But before we take an action designed to thwart evil we’d better be sure that it (a) thwarts evil and (b) doesn’t cause even more problems for the poor people we’re trying to help. Some poor man in the Congo who breaks his back mining the goods of the earth deserves first priority on the benefit of those goods…how are we to get the benefit to him? By cutting him off? By making his primary customer the People’s Republic of China? Come on, think clearly!
Perhaps instead of cutting off the Congolese mineral exports to the United States we should, instead, have put a tariff on it and plowed the proceeds back into to efforts to improve the lot of the miners? Give them some schools and hospitals? Just an idea…something to think about; and thinking is what we most need in the world…and it is what we have so little of these days.
I realize that thinking can be hard work – I further realize that the more we think, the less liberalism we’ll have. This is why liberals are so opposed to thought and so insistent upon adherence to a party line. Start thinking about what we want and what steps might get us there and all of a sudden there’s not much room for appeals to raw emotions which lead to stupid, counter-productive policies. And just where would liberalism be then? But I do believe it is a risk worth taking – we can become a rational world again. We can recover the traditions of the Judeo-Christian West and start to think, and apply human reason to the problems of human life. It has been done in the past, and it can be done again…just takes a little bit of courage.
Part of the problem with getting slip shod and thinking that the world has changed is that those who are determined and know it hasn’t changed can steal a march on you – China is doing this. From the Washington Times:
China is expanding its nuclear forces with a new multiwarhead mobile missile and keeps its strategic stockpiles in deep underground bunkers, the Pentagon disclosed in its annual report to Congress on the Chinese military.
China is thought to have up to 75 long-range nuclear missiles, including hard-to-find, road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), according to the report, which was released Wednesday. China also has 120 intermediate- and medium-range missiles…
The additional information that China has developed a massive underground network to protect its nuclear force indicates that China is reaching for a first class nuclear force – something which will give China the strategic ability to start wars, and then retreat behind a nuclear umbrella if the war does not go in China’s favor. While the United States maintains sufficient nuclear force to destroy the Chinese population, we may lack means to strike hard a China’s nuclear force. And massacring Chinese is not making war – no decent American government would ever contemplate doing that except in the extremity of the Chinese government massacring the American people via nuclear war.
While China is building a 21st century nuclear force, the United States has not produced a nuclear weapon in 20 years – and recent (asinine) nuclear agreements require us to reduce our aging force to 2,200 warheads or less – none of which, I’ll bet, are capable of penetrating China’s very hardened nuclear sites. While the Strategic Defense Initiative will increasingly protect us from an “out of the blue” nuclear strike, the fact that we lack “first strike” capability (ie, the ability to hit it so hard that any response would be suicidal on China’s part) gives China immense strategic flexibility.
They can use this flexibility to start wars – on their own or via proxies like North Korea – with impunity. If we fight and lose, China is happy – if we fight and win, we can’t fight it to a finish because China can retreat behind a nuclear umbrella and threaten a massive attack against the United States if we go for total victory. We must redress this strategic balance.
First and foremost must come the most aggressive possible deployment of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Technology is advancing so fast that we may soon have the capability even of thwarting a massed attack upon the United States. This will go far towards curbing any Chinese nuclear-armed ambitions. But crucial to a balanced nuclear strategy is the ability to wipe out all or most of China’s nuclear force in a first strike. This will take new types of warheads designed for deep penetration, as well as the most advanced targeting systems to ensure we hit the target squarely.
It is time to wake up from the 1991 false hope that strategic nuclear thinking was obsolete. We live in a world of nuclear weapons, and those weapons are simply going to spread, and more and more nations will develope the capability of hitting the United States. As in all things military, the safety of the United States lays in maintaining an overwhelming qualitative edge. In 1991, we easily had that over China – we very likely still do, but we won’t have it for long, if we don’t start rebuilding our nuclear force. This is not a plea, necessarily, for more warheads than we have now but, instead, a plea that the warheads we have be of the latest technology, and fitting for our needs…and our need right now is to be able to destroy deeply buried nuclear sites (and not just in China – Iran and North Korea also deeply bury their nuclear forces).
The real world goes on, whether we will or no…time get back in to it as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.
Asia Times has a bleak report about the ability of Taiwan to fight off an attack from China – the bottom line of it being that by 2020 China may have the capability to force a Taiwanese surrender.
The growth of Chinese military sophistication and China’s continual build up of weapons systems designed to counter American power is increasingly leaving Taiwan in a strategically untenable position. If Taiwan cannot count on rapid and powerful American support, then resistance to any Chinese attack would be exceptionally difficult, and very likely doomed if China deployed all its power. In the end, all a really firm resistance by the Taiwanese can accomplish – absent US support – is to make a graveyard of Taiwan (while also killing some hundreds of thousands of Chinese in payment). So, what does Taiwan do? And what does America do about it?
It is still some years before China can feel certain that a sea-borne invasion of Taiwan could be carried out in the face of US naval intervention – both in the air and undersea, the Chinese military is not even close to being able to stop us from blocking a move to Taiwan. They can rain down death and destruction, but that is not what China would prefer to do. Taiwan is very wealthy and China would like to capture it intact (Taiwan’s 23 million people produce $35,700.00 in GDP per person, China’s 1.3 billion produce $7,300.00 in GDP per person). Raining down death and destruction (or threatening to) can get Taiwan to make a huge amount of concessions…but only a credible threat to leap across the sea and invade would convince Taiwan’s government to surrender. That, as I said, is some years away…so Taiwan and the United States have a window of opportunity to make plans to deal with this.
The best way to deal with it, in my view, is to make Taiwan a nuclear-armed power. Taiwan, un-aided, will forever lack the ability to defend itself in conventional war against China – the population disparities are so great that if China attacks, then Taiwan is ultimately doomed, even if they do put up a spirited fight and make the Chinese pay a usurious blood price for conquest (and, of course, the Chinese government is never chary with the blood of the Chinese people…sacrificing a million of them to gain prestige may be seen as all in a day’s work by the Chinese leadership). Taiwan, aided by us, wins the war against China. But can Taiwan really count on US aid? Suppose we have a flabby President at the time? Suppose our military has been hollowed out by budget cuts to preserve free birth control? Suppose China’s cat’s paw in North Korea is ordered to engage us in war there just before China attacks Taiwan? Counting on us is not something Taiwan can do. So, self defense – but that is only possible for a small State like Taiwan via nuclear weapons.
Taiwan has the wealth and the technical capacity to build nuclear weapons, install them on missiles and deploy those missiles on submarines. A force of four or five “Dolphin” class submarines, like those Israel has, armed with nuclear-tipped missiles would be sufficient for Taiwan to retain at sea a credible nuclear deterrent (you need four or five so that you can always have two or three deployed). Israel would probably even be willing to help out, and we can provide clandestine assistance as well, though Taiwan would have to be on its own as far as nuclear weapons development due to our treaty obligations on non-proliferation. Taiwan, right now, has just enough time to do this before China becomes powerful enough to enforce a surrender. Faced with the prospect of a dozen or so nuclear weapons being detonated over Shanghai, Hong Kong and other major Chinese cities, the Chinese government simply would not attack – not ever: it would never repay the cost (monetary, I mean, not blood…as I said, I doubt much that the Chinese government cares how many people die).
The choice is ultimately Taiwan’s – do they wish to be free? I, for one, will always back coming to Taiwan’s aid because my view is that the United States can never afford having a free people be conquered by external tyranny. Even at the cost of World War Three, we should fight China if China ever attacks Taiwan. But Taiwan simply cannot count on my view holding majority support in the United States…or, even if it does, count on the American government at the time being able and willing to assist. If Taiwan’s people wish to remain in freedom, then their choice is clear…build nuclear weapons and count on the ability to destroy China as their assurance against Chinese attack.