Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The judgment of peers

With the recent victory of the Kuomintang in Taiwan, a party which may favor eventual unification with China, there's less reason for Beijing to attempt the island by force. But if they did, the US Air Force Aimpoints magazine describes how they would try to take out American forces in the region. The outlines of a hypothetical 21st century Pearl Harbor would look like this, according to Roger Cliff, a former Defense Department strategist and China military specialist.



Throw the first punch and hit hard. “Future conflicts are likely to be short, intense affairs that might consist of a single campaign,” Cliff said. “They’re thinking about ways to get the drop on us. ...

Striking U.S. air bases — specifically command-and-control facilities, aircraft hangars and surface-to-air missile launchers — would be China’s first priority if a conflict arose, according to Rand’s report.

U.S. facilities in South Korea and Japan, even far-south Okinawa, sit within what Rand calls the “Dragon’s Lair”: a swath of land and sea along China’s coast. This is an area reachable by cruise missiles, jet-borne precision bombs and local covert operatives.

China is designing ground-launched cruise missiles capable of nailing targets more than 900 miles away — well within striking range of South Korea and much of Japan, according to the report. Cruise missiles able to reach Okinawa — home to Kadena Air Base — are in development.

The Chinese would first launch “concentrated and unexpected” attacks ... Chinese fighter jets would scramble to intercept aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes sent to shuttle in fuel, munitions, supplies or troops. High-explosive cluster bombs would target pilot quarters and other personnel buildings.

But these would take out only a fraction of American combat power. Most US strength is deployed far back. Nor does it take into account the very considerable combat power of Japan and Korea, which if once deployed, would a force to reckon with. In fact, Chinese military planners have expressed the professional opinion that any such surprise attacks would be like “throwing an egg against a rock.” If so, why are the Chinese even contemplating such scenarios?

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces.

(“The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion,” according to the Rand report.) Once this hard-and-fast assault on U.S. bases commenced, the Chinese army would “swiftly divert” its forces and “guard vigilantly against enemy retaliation,” according to a Chinese expert.

Considering the rhetoric emanating from front-running US Presidential candidates, throwing an egg against a rock has a greater chance of success than it might seem. It's apparently the judgment of Chinese planners, and who knows how many other powers in the world, that many esteemed American leaders would surrender at the drop of a hat. That may not be true, but that's how foreign military planners, listening to their rhetoric, understand the words coming out of their mouths. Otherwise, no soap. From a military point of view, a surprise attack on US facilities within the "Dragon's Lair" would have little probability of eventual success.

The Strategic Security blog, citing documents obtained by Freedom of Information requests, reports that in the Dragon's Lair "China's entire fleet of approximately 55 general-purpose submarines conducted a total of six patrols during 2007, slightly better than the two patrols conducted in 2006 and zero in 2005." That means, in plain English, that China's navy hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of pulling a surprise attack off based on a purely military comparison. It's Washington politics that gives aggressors hope; paradoxically it's the desire for peace at all costs -- at any price -- that invites the reckless to roll the dice.

43 Comments:

Blogger James Kielland said...

Some big, hard-hitting conventional military assault doesn't sound like something China would do. I see China going about a conflict with the US in far more of a full-spectrum and patient approach. This would consist of economic and international political maneuvering done by getting outside of our OODA loop not through speed, but through difficult to detect slowness in attacking things that many of us would not regard as important at the time.

1/23/2008 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

In fact, I'll even suggest that China might prefer to see the US spend ever higher amounts of money in order to harden its even more elaborate, delicate, and interdependent systems. This would keep the US from investing in the more important strategic assets that will be part of a full-spectrum conflict to be the dominant power of the 21st century. A conflict that will not be fought on a kinetic battlespace, but in the world's markets.

1/24/2008 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I agree. There's no logical reason why China should attack the US, not in the least because America is one of its largest markets, it is critically dependent on Middle Eastern oil to fuel its factories and can't ship its products overseas if it runs afoul of the USN. The American hegemony has been good to China and rationally they shouldn't upset the apple cart they're eating from. Therefore the chance of a hot war between the US and China, I think, is low.

But it's not impossible that China could act under some set of circumstances. A real drift in Washington, an economic crisis in that grips America, etc. Many conflicts start from miscalculation. The whole idea of deterrence during the Cold War was to make miscalculation difficult by maintaining an unambiguously strong position.

There's been some been a lot of praise for China's investment in "open source" warfare, using commercial systems, for example, to build its military infrastructure on. This has some merits but also some unrecognized weaknesses. For example, in defending against a network intrusion, it is often possible to deduce the characteristics of the attacking system from known signatures. As one fellow put it, 'we can tell what version of Windows, right down to the service pack' is knocking on our doors. That's because you can look up the characteristics of commercial systems on available documentation. Going the other way the vulnerabilities of the system are known, especially to the manufacturers. One of the characteristics of proprietary and classified systems is that much less is known about them.

The number of people who have been highly trained in proprietary systems is also much smaller. This does not guarantee it is impenetrable. In fact, one of the most shocking instances of cyberwarfare allegedly occured when the Israelis managed to completely blind the Russian supplied Syrian air defense system defending the mysterious nuclear reactor it just bombed. Whether the Syrians would have been better off if their information systems had been built from commercial software is an open question, but I think it "depends" to a degree on factors which I have no good way of estimating.

1/24/2008 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

WRT to Syria, you're right that there is no real good way of estimating which approach is better. But I also think that it highlights a problem faced by any small country trying to employ high tech defenses against a country with the technical depth of the United States. Small countries, irrespective of their wealth, very often do not have the depth of talent to develop their own critical systems. Whether they are buying it from Microsoft or from Russia, they are buying something they really know very little about - and it's a safe bet someone knows quite a bit more about it than they do.

As to China going to a hot war with the US, I agree that it is a possibility due to miscalculation. Most scenarios that I've heard of, like this Rand report, posit the hard hit followed by the presumed throwing in the towel by the squeamish Americans.

But there's much more to this game than the kinetic results on American forces and the consequent political results of such strikes on the American electorate. Put simply, how does the rest of the world react?

Let's imagine a highly implausible scenario: China coordinates a sneak attack of such power and magnitude that it essentially eliminates US access and capabilities to move on China conventionally for a period of month or more. Or, put another way, an attack so successful that it leaves the US in a place where it must do some serious work to continue the war.

How does the rest of the world react and what does the rest of the world do? I'm not merely talking militarily. Does a significant portion of the world boycott China? Would a significant part of the world boycott the US if the US tries to continue its war? What would the US's price be in lost influence if it didn't escalate? What would the US need to accomplish in order to declare "victory?"

1/24/2008 01:47:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Basically the world will continue to treat America the way suits treat database and network administrators the world over. "I want the system up now! Do you hear me, now! Why isn't my mouse working? What happened to my screensaver?" The perfect system is one which never has to be restarted for maintenance, provides no surprises when being upgraded or migrated, is up 24x7. It's like the air or electricity, noticed only when it's missing. Otherwise, the guys who hold up the world are part of scenery, lower than whaleshit, beneath notice.

That's the way the world has come to regard America too. Sixty years of peace is a long time. People get used to that; think it's the natural condition. Now, if something goes wrong, it's America's fault. If there's war in the Taiwan Strait, it will be because America screwed up. Didn't keep people from succumbing to their baser instincts. That's the way it has been in Iraq for a long time. "Why didn't you keep al-Qaeda from killing all those kids?" See, it's always America's fault, even when someone else is doing the bombing.

The world doesn't remember the world of 1940. They don't remember; they've forgotten that the default condition of the world is war; famine, chaos and conflict. It's been too long since they've gotten dirt on their suits. It's sad, really. But funny in a way.

1/24/2008 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Sometime ago I can not recall when or where I heard some ex-military guy (who was at most a retired mid-mid-upper level officer colonel at most) say he did not give a fig for what other countries thought of us.

This was not so much directed at those who tut-tut about how the elite of Europe view us but at those of us who are concerned the appearance of weakness, vacillation, and irresoluteness invite attack. He thought it utterly without consequence that Osama Bin Laden thought our soldiers paper tigers.

Unfortunately, what might be a good personal characteristic does not extend out to the national level.

I think there is only one Dem candidate who might have the stones to stand up for the West and now that I think about it, I withdraw that comment. The one candidate who might have those characteristics has been bought off by the ChiComs. Hsu is that? You'll have to guess. ;-|

1/24/2008 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger newscaper said...

"“The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion,” according to the Rand report."

Back then we were "led" by a pu$$y, one who was only interested in chasing same and mugging for the crowds.

It's those miscalculations that bite every one in the butt.

However, as you noted, some of the candidates are of the same mold, and even worse, openly so.

Sigh.

Speaking of shooting wars, I've always wondered about the vulnerability of Diego Garcia. We have so many assets there that a substantially damaging surprise attack there could be a strategic blow -- even if it is a bit far afield from China. I've never heard anything to indicate how(if) the based there are actively defended. The US seems to have a curious blind spot in not really protecting the baskets that contain too many of our eggs.

Wondering aloud some more... if their back was against the wall, would a China or a future, much more capable Iran risk nuking Diego Garcia, and then count on us wimping out, considering nuking bases on their home territory to be "disproportionate"?

Would they be right?

1/24/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger rodomontade said...

Wretchard, I admire a man more cynical than I am!

I'll agree that parts of the world (mostly far from China) would react in the manner you suggest. But I think it is quite certain that China's neighbors in the region would be rattled and strongly supportive of American action to restore the balance of power.

Sneering at the Americans is a cynical game played by many who depend on the security America provides. It is encouraged by America's unwillingness -- entirely appropriate in my view -- to punish those who sneer in the way a dominant Russia or China would. But it is safe to assume that the shock of a Chinese military attack (which no power other than the US could expect to respond to) would bring many around to thinking about their own interests.

1/24/2008 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

This sounds like the "Pearl Harbor Strategy." Maybe it will work out better for the Chinese. It almost worked for the Japanese in the sense that the US decided to nuke them rather than loose a half million of its sons invading. We are criticized for that decision today, aren't we?

China is an autocracy. So politics is confined to about 200 people at the top, who form networks of Patron/Client relationships. They steer benefits to their clients who in turn bring loyalty and their little load of influence to their patron's table. In China the guy who wields the most power may live is a small retirement home by the sea. In fact Deng, who took over the whole "post Mao" mess spent the worst part of the Cultural Revolution in the Hospital. Lot of people suspect he weren't that sick after all.

I think free of stress, such a system would be stable. The "two hundred" would jockey to improve their positions incrementally. When highly stressed, all bets are off. And remember, one cabal among the two hundred may see advantage is severely stressing the system.

In the late 1970's the elite saw themselves threatened by internal revolution triggered by over population. So they began the "one
child" policy. This would help control population long term but also make their people conservative in the sense that they don't have extra children to lose to revolution.

But there are demographic considerations. There will be many more old people supported by fewer young. This may explain the amassing of trillions of dollars in dollar reserves. It is a kind of retirement fund. Soon they will need to make withdrawals.

This is probably Deng's idea. Those who came after are perhaps less committed to it. But if they want war, they would no doubt prefer a war that kills the old rather than the young.

So maybe those "Chinese Wave Attacks," so feared in the past may themselves be in the past -- unless they come with walkers and wheel chairs.

1/24/2008 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger newscaper said...

"So maybe those "Chinese Wave Attacks," so feared in the past may themselves be in the past -- unless they come with walkers and wheel chairs."

But since "one child" higher stakes mean more girls are aborted/killed, there are still going to be plenty of rootless young men to play cannon fodder.

1/24/2008 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

The Chinese should know history well enough to remember how Pearl Harbor turned out.

A surprise attack, a la Pearl Harbor or 9/11, is absolutely the best way to guarantee an infuriated American public that will unite behind an agressive response.

America has trouble with long wars with no clear purpose. A short one, fought conventionally, primarily by air and sea, is exactly what we're good at. It's insane for the Chinese to add public fury to that mix. Such fury would allow tactics, like blockade, that we normally would be reluctant to implement.

Their best bet is to wait until circumstances favor them. They may get a weak American leader, or the US may be distracted elsewhere. Then, they should invade Taiwan without attacking us. That puts the decision to enter the war on the American leadership. A surprise attack would make that decision for us. That's critically important. Then the media, peace protestors, etc. would lay the dead at the feet of the American leadership, not the Chinese.

1/24/2008 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

I should add that just because a strategy is insane does not mean it won't happen. Japan and Al Qeada both attacked us.

1/24/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

The surplus of young men in China may lead to a lot of cannon fodder. I suspect it will most likely lead to a 21st century diaspora of Chinese men seeking wives from abroad.

But this could be just the kind of invasion the Chinese may most benefit from. Moving cultural and economic operatives into place around the world. ". . .A conflict that will not be fought on a kinetic battlespace, but in the world's markets."

1/24/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

John,

I agree. The Pearl Harbor strategy is the most foolish way to engage in conflict with the United States. Beyond the considerably domestic political pressure, the United States' obligations and standing in the world would demand that it respond with extreme ferocity. To not do so would likely result in a complete collapse of US influence in the world.

1/24/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Their best bet is to wait until circumstances favor them. They may get a weak American leader, or the US may be distracted elsewhere. Then, they should invade Taiwan without attacking us. That puts the decision to enter the war on the American leadership."

Exactly right. Look at the Iraq war...umpteen reasons were given for entering that fray, and the president gets beaten about the head and shoulders for years by his political opposition because ONE of those reasons turned out (seemingly) not to have solid backing, even though it was based on intelligence that was the consensus of the world. The ChiComs were probably watching that and thinking "hey, after this, we can do a lot of mischief with Taiwan and the US leadership won't be able to respond."

Plus, the Chinese are good at patience. It's a key part of their makeup. Once they have us over an economic barrel well enough, we'll be pretty helpless to help our allies even during an invasion.

I'd sell any property I owned in Taiwan about now, after reading this thread and realizing how things seem likely to go.

1/24/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Andrewdb said...

Wretchard -

Note the comments about China's large activities in Africa in this article by T.X. Hammes:

http://tinyurl.com/2g56uo

1/24/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Shropshirelad said...

Although I agree the Chinese would be insane to instigate a hot war with the US, I think we have to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. My own feeling is that if the Chinese really want Taiwan, they are probably willing to wait until the Taiwanese elect a pro-unification government, or until they can buy the island from the Democratic Party with a promise of eternal Peace, or a few other bright baubles.

Still, I think we are wrong to see the US and China as the only players here. If push comes to shove, I wonder how the Chinese would dispose of the problem of Japan? Japan would be harder for the US to sell out than Taiwan. Would China use nuclear intimidation on Japan? And how would nuclear intimidation play in the only country ever to be attacked with nuclear weapons--and survive.

As an aircraft carrier, the Japanese archipelago is pretty hard to sink. And unless the Chinese were capable of interdicting naval traffic in the Pacific, or willing to exterminate the Japanese people utterly, I have a feeling the Celestial Empire would see a brand new frighteningly nationalistic nuclear power rising to their east within a few minutes of bombs falling on Kadena Airbase.

Much of the civilized world may have forgotten what happened in the 1940s, but I think it would be a grave tactical error to lump the Japanese into this group. There are signs of remembrance everywhere: the debate over revising article 9 of the constitution, the stubbornness of Japanese officials when it comes to history text books, visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, and there are other subtler things. One of the most popular movies in Japan in recent years was called, “Yamato,” (http://www.yamato-movie.jp/), a biography of a ship, another time, and something more…

This idea of historical amnesia is an illusion. The Pax Americana may have forced a few politicians to be slightly politer to one another in public, but nobody anywhere has forgotten anything.

As we shall probably discover.

1/24/2008 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Annoymouse said...

If such a first strike scenario should occur, I agree that the Chinese would employ a full spectrum attack including trying to damage the US satellite constellations, cyber attacks, and broad area attacks with immense propaganda suggesting that it was done strictly to defend against US aggression and hegemony. They would make a strategic alliance with the Russians who could bolster the Chinese and, particularly their Navy. But the obvious US response would be to embargo and blockade China. This would bring 1.2 billion pissed off people to bear against the lonely 200. IF we were instead to provoke that’s 1.2 billion man rabble, all bets would be off.

1/24/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

First. I have sever doubts about the Chinese will ever act aggressively towards the US. We are after all their biggest customer. Also we owe them almost a Trillion Dollars. That is a lot of money. If they get testy, we will cancel the debt.

The surplus young men are a problem. The solution cannot be fighting the US. Russia, Iran, and Arabia are all more tempting targets. Their women would not mind leaving their worthless men and economically distressed societies, and China could corner a lot of Oil and minerals in the bargain.

Finally as to Taiwan itself, I will risk repeating myself. Given the relative success of the Hong Kong experiment and the astounding economic growth of the mainland, I have wondered why the Taiwanese were not pursuing a reunification deal.

The PRC should be willing to give them good terms, maybe better terms than they gave HK. What does PRC get? They get technology, capital, a well trained work force and, what is most important to them, the honor of reuniting China.

What does Taiwan get? Access to markets and labor and relief from maintaining a large military establishment, and what is going to be very important, reunification with families and ancestral homes.

The deal would be stretched out over a very long time. The first steps would be cultural and economic.

I would be looking for an announcement before the Olympics and a united Olympic team as the first tangible step.

1/24/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodriver said...

rotomantade,
"But I think it is quite certain that China's neighbors in the region would be rattled and strongly supportive of American action to restore the balance of power. "

Even if it meant the risk of Chinese attacks on their territory? I think that they would be very cautious about "real" support.

1/24/2008 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodriver said...

shropshirelad,
"but I think it would be a grave tactical error to lump the Japanese into this group. There are signs of remembrance everywhere:"

The Chinese certainly haven't forgotten, either. They still have a "personal" score to settle with the Japanese.

1/24/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

James Kielland said:

"I see China going about a conflict with the US in far more of a full-spectrum and patient approach."

The Chinese are intelligent and rational. They have a very strong culture. Their obvious tactic is to absorb us slowly like a starfish eating an oyster.

Keep in mind, the Chinese are more concerned about Japan (their traditional enemy) than the US. If China were to knock the US out in a Pearl Harbor style attack, Japan would immediately convert their consumer based economy over to a military focused one. China is smart enough to see this scenario and avoid it.

Newscaper said...

"I've always wondered about the vulnerability of Diego Garcia. We have so many assets there that a substantially damaging surprise attack there could be a strategic blow"

Diego Garcia is in the middle of the Indian ocean. The bad guy would have to use an ICBM to attack it. If they're going to use ICBMs, why screw with Diego Garcia when they could attack us directly?

Rodomontade said:

"Sneering at the Americans is a cynical game played by many who depend on the security America provides."

Much of the world sees only the Hollywood image of America. We're incorrectly seen as cowardly moonbats or debauched drug addicts. This represents one of the few advantages in having moonbats, i.e. it fools potential adversaries into thinking we are much weaker than we really are (Hitler fell into that trap). The downside is some adversaries may see us as being so weak that we're easy targets, e.g. Osama bin Laden might have watched "Black Hawk Down" and then gave the launch order for 9/11.

1/24/2008 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Regarding
"Diego Garcia is in the middle of the Indian ocean. The bad guy would have to use an ICBM to attack it. If they're going to use ICBMs, why screw with Diego Garcia when they could attack us directly?"

I'd be more worried about submarine launched missiles. Do we actively maintain ASW pickets of some sort in the surrounding ocean? Does our base there have Patriot batteries 24/7?
As to your second reply, its ignoring my question about whether a tactical nuclear attack on an isolated facility might be risked based on the possibly faulty calculation that further escalation might be avoided (after all not an attack on US soil).

1/24/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger |3run0 said...

You Americans tell me if I'm wrong or oversimplifying, but my impression is that if thousands of Americans were killed in an unprovoked surprise attack the American public would demand an overwhelming response, just as in 9/11. I remember that then, even regimes very hostile to you, such as Syria, NK or Sudan, practically hid under the bed whimpering 'it wasn't us!'. Because they knew that if 91% of the American public wanted country A plastered, country A would be be plastered.

Also, the American government (as well as the general public) would rightly view a Chinese attack (as opposed to Al Qaeda's) as a credible and immediate threat to the US status as a superpower, a status you are not likely to give up without a fight.

Lastly, such a war would probably not be fought under the same restrictions all other post WWII American wars were fought, such as limiting the conflict (e.g. Korea and Vietnam), ruling out attacks against economic targets and taking pains to avoid civilian casualties. Short of nukes, it would be total war, the like of which we haven't seen a major power undertake since 1945. It is a scary thought, but doubly so for the Chinese.

The US armed forces underpin the security arrangements of practically the entire eastern pacific basin around China. Unless it seemed likely the US would either lose or give up, S. Korea, Japan, Australia and Singapore (not to mention Taiwan) would probably come strongly on the US side. With these allies, the US would have little trouble imposing a blockade on China, and their forces and economies are hardly insignificant on their own.

Russia would probably support Chine just for kicks, but would stop short of joining the fray. I have no idea what India might do, but it should give the Chinese pause too.

Also unlike previous post WWII conflicts, the parties would probably transition to a full war economy (having no other choice, since the current interdependence of their economies mean they would be thrown immediately in a deep recession as soon as the war started). Having the modern US and China spend 25% of GDP on guns is a very scary thought indeed.

On absolute terms, of course, this war would be a disaster for all involved, and the for the world economy in general; starting it would serve no strategic purpose. I can't imagine it happening in circumstances other than a long series of miscalculations by both parts. But as things stand I seriously doubt the Chinese can hope to win it.

1/24/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

Fat man said:
What does Taiwan get? Access to markets and labor and relief from maintaining a large military establishment, and what is going to be very important, reunification with families and ancestral homes.

What do you think is the major source of the Chinese economic boom? Last ten years or more, Taiwanese money and manufacturing completely went to invest in China. They already have access to Chinese markets, they need the cheaper Chinese labor and much cheaper land for manufacturing capability, for the rest of the world’s markets. The rest of the world only started investing in China after that first wave of investment.

The reunification with families is another thing already happened. My father went to China in 1996, had already visited with his family. I am indifferent to be “reunited”, but I am already “Americanized”.

So what does Taiwan get for the deal? If you can call the Hong Kong Experiment “successful”, I guess you will go for it. Remember: Before Hong Kong was turned over to China, a huge wave of immigration out already happened, and Hong Kong did not have a choice to “not join” China. Taiwan is a totally different case.

1/24/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Unless and until Mainland China can build a blue water navy there is almost no possibility of a major dust-up.

The USN, more than any other single institution, makes global trade possible. If it did not exist somebody else's navy would have to replace it. As the US did with the Brits.

It's far cheaper for the Chicoms to finance the USN by buying US debt than it is to duplicate the reach of the USN.

Also, if you were the Japanese PM would you willingly cede the Pacific to the Chinese?

1/24/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

This
is a Google search for 'april 2001 china hostages.'

Same here:
http://tinyurl.com/3dan4u

Why did Chinese 'leaders' escalate so much back in 2001. The command and control there is not fully sane.

1/24/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wretchard:

That's the way the world has come to regard America too. Sixty years of peace is a long time. People get used to that; think it's the natural condition. Now, if something goes wrong, it's America's fault.

There are some places where America really isn't the system administrator. Congo. The "Democratic Republic of Congo" has become the military playground for armies throughout Africa and a victim of blatant colonialism. But because the colonizers are other African states, we don't hear much leftist ranting against African blood getting spilled over controlling the manganese ore.

And just think, back in the days of Mobutu, there were Zairean dissidents who were begging for Americans to take over the place. Just think, even if American intervention had happened and been worse than Vietnam for us, it would have been an improvement for the Congolese over the green hell Congo has become.

Nowadays, there are probably Zimbabweans who desperately wish that American troops could save them from Robert Mugabe. Where is the Left in denouncing Zimbabwe's man-made catastrophe? Where are the slogans like "No Blood For Copper"? Of course, there are no such slogans because no white guilt is at stake.

I think America is looked at hopefully and fondly by those who do not rely on America for their welfare, and hated by those who resent their own good fortune.

1/24/2008 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger albertzs said...

Assuming the KMT wins the upcoming presidential election, it could be China's version of 'be careful what you wish for'. The KMT supports 'one China'. Beijing offers 'one country, two systems'.

The KMT should loudly proclaim 'one country, one system'. If Chinese in Taiwan can elect their president and representatives, why can't Chinese on the mainland or Hong Kong?

The freely elected Taiwanese president can ask, "Who voted for Hu?" More Chinese voted for him than Hu. Heck, more Chinese (Americans) voted for G. W. Bush than Hu.

The party in China rationalized their power as necessary to lead the country to its communist future. But that hasn't been its direction for years. Since Tianamen Square their only rational has been 'we have guns and you don't'.

The PRC is vulnerable to an attack on the legitimacy of its mandate to govern. As long as the economy booms the questions are in the background, but no boom lasts forever.

1/24/2008 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Polybius said...

Fat Man:

That assumes that the HK reunification is a success. The Beijing regime has shown a total inability to keep their hands off. They are constitutionally incapable of letting anyone else control anything. In short, they are the ultimate control freaks.

Since 1997, they have used indirect influence on HK businessmen operating in China, HK media institutions, and their power of appointment to maintain a pro-Beijing business oligarchy in HK. The political/business elite in HK are being systematically absorbed into the Beijing elite structure. Many people believe that Beijing only maintains a formal separation of HK and the mainland in order to convince Taiwan to re-enter the fold.

In other words, Beijing has tried to keep up appearances of one country, two systems. But its authoritarian nature keeps peeking through.

With regard to convincing Taiwan to accept one country, two systems, Beijing has a major credibility problem. No one really believes they'll keep their end of the bargain once Taiwan has laid down arms. And who in the world would object to any mistreatment after Taiwan formally accepts absorbtion, no matter what the initial terms?

1/24/2008 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Don Meaker said...

Don't forget the third Chinese nation. Singapore.

Once Formosa is occupied, the ruling elite will need something else to promote unity and distract their version of Sheeple.

The straits of Malacca are a key strategic chokepoint. Nearly all the oil for Japan and Korea go thru there. Korea and Japan were invaded by China previously.

Nations have no friends, and no enemies, only interests.

1/24/2008 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Whether or not HK is a success is up to the HKers to determine. The only indicator I have is that my brother works in the China export trade. His company employs a lot of people in HK. Before the anschluss, they all bought apartments in Vancouver and took out Canadian papers. But, since them they seldom come to North America.

1/24/2008 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

Ah Wretchard, your comments remind me why I keep coming back to this site.

China is a dictatorship. The rulers have no effective feed back mechanisms to curb their stupidity. What would tell the Chinese rulers that their ideas are foolish? Their own wisdom? Not reassuring.

China has yet to encounter a serious economic downturn since opening their markets. The US has, can and will weather a bad year or decade with it's institutions intact. Can china? And if all hell is breaking loose, what better way to unite the people and cement your importance than starting a war. Again, not reassuring.

Derek

1/24/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

derek kite:

The Chinese Communist Party had better have excellent engineers because the CCP's legitimacy hinges on Three Gorges Dam. If Three Gorges Dam goes, there goes Humpty Dumpty.

Sadly, America's security may also hinge upon Three Gorges Dam. China wouldn't dare attack major strategic targets in the United States lest America retaliate in kind. However, if Three Gorges Dam blows, the Chinese Communist Party would have little incentive to refrain from starting an outside war to shore up its domestic legitimacy.

1/24/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Is there anyone in this comment area that actually believes the poisoned pet food from China was accidental?

Please raise your hands...

(...participants in the comment stream lean toward their monitors straining to hear the subtle whisper of air movement and rustling fabric as a few arms are tentatively raised ... somewhere... ??... anywhere??? okay, some dufus in Berkeley just ruined it... anyway...)

The U.S. can be criticized for many things: frivolity, obsession with celebrity game shows, Oscars, SAG awards, Golden Globes, any words uttered by a former Sex-Addict-In-Chief or his wife, whom J-Lo is dating or which drug Brittney abused this week. While those highly meritorious activities keep a large segment of the population out of trouble, a significant fraction of the remainder actually can add columns of several three-digit figures in their heads, read without moving their lips, and figure out which way the open end of the drinking glass faces during filling operations.

Our enemies need to watch out. We're not as dumb as we look.

(I'll expand on this when I sober up.)

1/24/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Polybius said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/24/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Yes I think it was an accident. China is a big country filled with essentially gussied up gangsters running the place. Now and then bathtub gin will kill the Customers. No worry, there will always be more.

1/25/2008 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger deepinjuncountry said...

Army's plan. That's what they get paid for. The real question is how likely is it that the PLA goes off the reservation. The Chicom military has always behaved itself with regard to allowing "civilian" control, while maintaining considerable power. One notable and relevant exception of course is the PLA intervention in the Cultural Revolution to restore some semblance of order. I assume that, with China some kind of bastardized commie/capitalist (National Socialism, anyone?) economy and culture, the moorings securing the military are loose. Communism is free of ambiguity, except for the whims of the dictator. In what do they indoctrinate their officer classes?

To cut to the chase, yes, an attack is possible.

1/25/2008 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

China can kiss my @$$!!

When they decide to fight, they'd better bring their dresses because they will be balling like little girls when we smash their little toys.

Why do so many world powers think Americans will just roll over and cry for mommy?

The US government answers to the voters. If they don't get some spine, we'll find some leaders who will.

The number one American sport is full contact football. UFC and MMA is all the rage. Fight clubs are a major growing sport across the USA.

The Chicoms need to get a clue.

1/25/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Andrewdb said...

Red River -

I would like to think that is the case, but I also recall McArthur's advice about not fighting land wars in Asia.

1/25/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Don - We're not quite a chinese nation, though we're very close to it in demographic terms. In terms of cultural influences and ideology, we're still closer to the Anglosphere than the Sinosphere.

Any aggressive move by China will be carefully monitored by Singaporean leaders, and though we're a tiny red dot with an inconsequential population, China can't really afford to piss us off either. We can easily turn off the oil tap to China from our position too. Not to mention that all of Asean would be pretty pissed at China for upsetting the apple cart just because it wants one of the juiciest ones.

Unless China can conclusively prove that it has the ability to project power over the Asian continent, Singapore(and ASEAN in general) will still back American-imposed stability.

War is bad for our business.

1/26/2008 02:50:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Arther Dent = Trojan, do not click

1/26/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Greg, could it be your machine? My link went to a google search.

1/27/2008 09:10:00 AM  

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