Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The New Cold War

Vast Right Wing NegroCon Zionist Conspiracy

Months past its due date, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China's military power is a mix of sugary talk, grasping strategic musings, and sobering facts. This analytic confusion explains the divergent news accounts of the report when it was released on July 19. The New York Times, for example, reported that the Defense Department had concluded that "China has not yet built the military power to have full confidence it can achieve its political objectives regarding Taiwan." In contrast, the Washington Post led with "Chinese Buildup Seen as Threat to Region," and focused on China's expanded ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons.

The one thing that is clear is that publication of this year's Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China was delayed while its more alarming conclusions about China's strategic intent were toned down. You have to think that some or all of the higher-ups in the Bush administration's foriegn policy team had a hand in glossing over the reality of the situation.

The resulting muddle is captured in the report's first substantive section ("Understanding China's Strategy"), which begins: "The EP-3 incident in April 2001 damaged U.S.-China relations. Thereafter, the United States developed a cooperative and constructive relationship with China in which the United States has stressed the values of candor and transparency."
That and two bucks and twenty cents might get you a gallon of gas, but it ain't gonna get shit in the way of strategic cooperation from the Chi-comms.
The report goes on to note China's role in the Six-Party talks with North Korea, its participation in talks to deal with its WTO compliance problems, the soon-to-begin, new "senior dialogue" between Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and China's vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo, and expanded military-to-military exchanges.

Putting aside for a moment the dubious choice of begining a discussion of China's larger strategic intentions with the forced downing of an American spy plane more than four years ago, the list of supposedly constructive developments is itself revealing. It shows how hard the administration has to search for good news, and even then, the list it comes up with is undenyably short.

A more accurate picture would take note of China's dramatic increases in military expeditures, its noncompliance with its pledges to the World Trade Organization, its failure to use its leverage with North Korea to end Pyongyang's game of nuclear Russian roulette, its continuing refusal to abide by human rights and refugee conventions it has signed, its slightly-better-than-Hitler's nonproliferation record, its use of Chinese nationalism to browbeat Japan and demonize the US, its refusal to cooperate with the other great powers in the Proliferation Security Initiative, its obstructionist policies on Sudan, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Burma, and of course its repeated threats to use military force to unify Taiwan with the mainland--and, if need be, let loose a hail of neclear missiles to prevent the US from intervening to stop a forcible reunification.
Strangely enough, these facts were not given the weight they deserved in the report.

What is new in this year’s report is the finding that China's military buildup has begun to have serious implications not only for the cross-strait balance of power but also for the region as a whole.

The People's Liberation Army possesses a growing fleet of nuclear and diesel submarines, has 650-730 mobile ballistic missiles, and is working on aerial refueling for a significant percentage of its 2,600 combat aircraft. Toss in new and improved command, control, and communication systems and over-the-horizon targeting capabilities, and the picture that emerges is a China with military capabilities that are not just geared toward Taiwan, or southeast Asia, for that matter. They have their sites set on superpower status and they're getting there quicker than anyone imagined they could.

The report suggests that these capabilities "could pose a credible threat to other modern militaries operating in the region . . . over the long term, if current trends persist," and blah blah blah. They're fucking communists! Not schoolyard bullies wadding up a particularly slimey spitball, they're commies and they have nukes aimed at us. Jebus.
They make it sound like China has gotten where it is purely on accident rather than through years of exponential spending increases on their military, spying on and in US facilities, and funding three successive democratic presidential candidates. That shit ain't cheap.
When Chinese ships and subs begin surfacing in Japanese home waters--as they have--the signal being sent to Japan and the region is as clear as the botox in John Kerry's face.

What's not new in the report is China's increasing military capacity to bring Taiwan to its knees. Last year's report judged that China could force Taiwan to accept unification with the mainland under certain conditions: "The campaign could succeed--barring third-party intervention--if Beijing were willing to accept the political, economic, diplomatic, and military costs that an invasion would produce." The point here is that Beijing does not believe a full-fledged invasion would be necessary to accomplish its goal. Rather, the PLA leadership, according to their own statements, think a combination of ballistic-missile, special-operation, and aerial strikes would be sufficient to shock Taiwan's population and leadership into accepting Beijing's version of "one China."

For similar reasons, China is working hard to develop the capacity to blockade Taiwan. The submarine modernization program that the report details is extensive. Chinese naval journals indicate a deep interest in blockading operations, and pay close attention to the vulnerabilities of Taiwan's island economy.

Such scenarios, of course, raise the question of what role the US would or would not want to play in turning back Chinese aggression. Here, too, the answer is clear as the nose on Michael Jackson's face: China's military knows that it must be able to prevent, or at least severely complicate, the US Navy's use of its aircraft carriers. To this end, China's antiship cruise missile force is growing by leaps and bounds. It has begun to field high-end, supersonic and subsonic cruise missiles on its new destroyers, attack boats, and submarines. The report alledges that China is in the mid to late stages of developing maneuverable, multiple-entry warheads, capable of eluding any anti-missile defense systems we currently employ, to hit our carrier battle groups.
9-11 was bad, but imagine losing an aircraft carrier and its crew of 3,000 to 6,000 sailors under enemy fire in a skirmish to defend Taiwan. 50% of Americans couldn't point Taiwan out on a map of Taiwan.

China still lags behind the American military's ability to project force on a global scale. But, in truth, when it comes to China's close-in waters, no serious American naval planner believes it would be safe sailing for American surface combatants, even as things stand today, much less at the end of yet another decade full of 12% annual military spending increases on the part of China. As one PLA general remarked: "We have the ability to deal with any US carriers that dare to get into our range of fire."
Well maybe they do and maybe they don't. The crux of the China problem is that we really don't know. The report is full of numbers, but they're all estimates or, even worse, they rely on what the Chinese are telling us. If they tell us they increased military spending by 12% it could have really been a 20% increase. They could be shoveling cash into the hungry mouths of genetically engineered superchinkers and we'd never know it thanks to Clinton's zeal for slashing the intelligence budget.

The report also details China's programs to upgrade its intercontinental ballistic missile force with new solid-fuel, road-mobile missiles and new sea-based, submarine-launched systems. Thanks again to Bill Clinton for selling China the super computers that enable Chinese warheads to be accurate enough to hit your front porch, but leave your noisy neighbor's house standing.
The net effect will be more survivable, more accurate, and more lethal nuclear and conventional capabilities--aimed primarily at the United States.
As General Zhu Chenghu, dean of China's National Defense University, not so subtly reminded American visitors last month: "Should the United States intervene in a conflict between China and Taiwan, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of their cities will be destroyed by Chinese nuclear weapons."
Try finding that quote in your fortune cookie without shitting yourself.

Combine the PLA's fascination with "carrier killing," its ability to degrade severely the operational utility of U.S. air bases in Japan through missile strikes, its aggressive pursuit of space and counterspace capabilities, and its upgraded nuclear arsenal, and you have a military that believes it has or is close to having the means to make any American president think twice before going to Taiwan's rescue. Especially a president presiding over a large US force in Iraq, enduring lackluster public support for his foreign policy, and dealing with a hostile media. Bush could fart in Taiwan's general direction and Ted Kennedy would be calling him a drunken murderer without a hint of irony.

Lazily, the U.S. government has accepted the Chinese propaganda line that these trends in Chinese military modernization are first designed to deter Taiwan "from moving toward defacto "independence.'" Never mind that only a small minority in Taiwan supports taking that step. China almost certainly would not be seeking these military capabilities to support a policy of mere deterrence. A few hundred missiles aimed at Tiawan could do that.
Obviously, China is interested in deterring Taiwan from declaring independence, but, more significantly, it is interested in pursuing its stated goal of "reuniting" Taiwan with the motherland--and it is in relation to this goal that the PLA's actions and plans make sense.

The Chinese communist leadership has made clear time and again that it will not tolerate a prolonged separation of Taiwan from the mainland, and it has tasked the PLA, as earlier Pentagon reports indicated, with providing real military options. As this year's report notes (and as China's recent adoption of the Anti-Secession law essentially codifies): "The Chinese communist party came to power on its credentials as a defender of Chinese sovereignty; its leaders appear to see progress--or perhaps, the absence of failure--on the Taiwan issue as affecting the legitimacy of their rule."

But rather than face the facts presented in the report about the character and scope of China's military buildup, the tendency among our elected leaders is to wash over them with sound bites about our relationship with China being "good but complex." Or worse, a "strategic partnership."

The day after the report was issued, in response to a question about the cross-strait military balance, Marine general Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said, "There's lots of countries in the world that have the capacity to wage war, but very few have the intent to do so. . . . There's absolutely no reason for us to believe there is any ill intent on China's part."
Absolutely? Positively? Once again: They're fucking communists! There's lots of bloated fatasses right here in this country that have the capacity to take a foul smelling shit...but do they intend to?
Lets all hang out in their toilet with a wait and see attitude, shall we?

For one thing, as these annual Pentagon reports have repeatedly pointed out, China shrouds its military plans and senior decision-making in secrecy. But what we can observe could hardly lead anyone with a working brain cell to think that we should be so confident about China's intentions. After all, this is the country that now ranks second in the world (behind the US) in overall defense spending, and the one that has increased its military budget fastest over the past two decades, with growth in military expenditures outpacing even China's own remarkable growth in GDP. General Pace had better hope his statement doesn't go down in history alongside George Tenet's now infamous, "It's a slam dunk, Mr. President."

One theme that was added to this year's report is that China is at a "strategic crossroads." It faces one path leading to peaceful integration with its region and the world, the other to competition with the other significant powers in the region and with the United States.
In one respect, this is quite true: Theoretically, any power, at any time, can choose to alter its relationships with the outside world. But the data at the heart of the Pentagon's report suggest that China is not at any crossroads; rather, it is already headed down a path previously taken by other autocratic, rapidly rising national powers.

In reality, it is more accurate to say that the United States is at a strategic crossroads when it comes to China. With our plate full around the globe, we are understandably reluctant to raise publicly the prospect of a new great power competition. Nevertheless, the administration is doing quite a bit to contain Chinese military power--our upgraded relations with India, Vietnam, Singapore, and Australia are cases in point as is our eagerness to see Japan rearm. But reluctance of our leaders in Washington to admit this publicly to us or to our allies, and their rosy rhetoric about our "constructive" relationship with Beijing, leave us at a disadvantage as China ratchets up the competition. As a practical matter, this attitude often leaves us a day late and a dollar short when it comes to facing down adversaries.

Nor is our position sustainable. Beijing is not blind to our reaching out to the powers in the region. For China, the competition began long ago. The Pentagon's report provides ample evidence that this is the case, but then ducks the obvious conclusion in favor of a sugarcoated version of reality.

This is the new cold war.

I'm done.


Blogger DSDunlap said...

Well said! It strikes me as suicidal to think that China is NOT a threat to the United States, or to China's own neighbors. Vietnam is so afraid of China that they're making noises about a military pact with their former American enemies. Watch and we shall see what develops from that...

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Laffs said...

VERY well said! I hear that China is no threat at all sometimes. I heard it from a friend as I read this. That blindness shall indeed hurt us in the long run.

Thanks, my friend. A good read and timely, imo.


6:30 PM  

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