Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XXXII


Yep, we've seen this show before.
“China’s military spending is growing so fast that it has overtaken strategy,” said Professor Huang Jing from the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. (He kindly let me quote his remarks.)

“The young officers are taking control of strategy and it is like young officers in Japan in the 1930s. They are thinking what they can do, not what they should do. This is very dangerous.

“They are on a collision course with a US-dominated system”.

Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson rattled me even further with a talk warning that the Chimerica marriage of the last generation is “on the rocks”.

“China gets 10pc growth: the US gets 10pc unemployment. That doesn’t seem the basis for a happy marriage,” said Prof Fergusson,
This of this too? Yep - we ignore this at our peril.

But ... if you read our Maritime Strategy and listen to our uniformed leadership's priorities ...

Hat tip BB.

20 comments:

sid said...

According to this guy...anyone bringing this up is engaging in needless histrionics.

I mean, I'd love to read the scenario whereby China's "dazzles" a few US satellites and launches some surprise cyber attacks and blows up a couple of US warships with missiles and voila! Suddenly everybody in SE Asia is China's cowed minions willing to do whatever it says.  Oh, and the rest of the world just accepts this fait accompli, offering no response.

Yeah, and who woulda though those myopic Japs coulda done what they did with those torpedoes prior to Dec 7 '41?

ewok40k said...

The Chinese way is other. They are patient players, and Japan's "decisive batte" mentality  doesnt fit them. Mao himself has won in a long war of 1920-1949. Thats almost thirty years. There will be no new Pearl Harbor, rather new Suez when the UK found itself no longer able to counter US power.

sid said...

I don't believe for a second that the Chinese have forgotten -or forgiven - this or this.

And they have no compunction whatsoever in claiming a Global "Right" they think is theirs. 

G-man said...

The equation China needs to balance in their favor has an $850 billion variable.  They push too hard against us to re-take Taiwan or deny passage thru their claimed maritime area of sovreignty and we politely tell them their IOU is null and void.  What we have to watch for is their continued offloading of our bonds.  they are already down 8% this year.  If that trend continues they will get to a point where they are willing to lose the remainder and the $30 billion in monthly trade.  Their problem is what do they do with their people when we stop buying junk to go into Happy Meals and fill Walmart?  they also have a growing problem of islamic unrest in certain provinces.  That will take some focused effort. 

We need to realize that at the current growth rate that in the next 20 years their economy will demand more than 50% of all oil output - worldwide.  In that same span more than 350 MILLION will move from rural to urban areas - the entire population of the US on the move.  And those 350 million will want cars, washers, TVs, iPods, houses, jobs.  What better way to take the focus off of the problems within than to find a convenient problem on the outside.  Those oil fields off their southern coast look pretty appetizing and could help with their insatiable demand.  I recall some previous conflict 70 years ago where oil field acquisition was a strategic tipping point.  And I think it will take a little more than an LCS steaming over the horizon to make them back down.

Jeff Gauch said...

...Until one of the senior Chinese generals points out that a single W-88 warhead dropped on the Forbidden City would damage ~80% of Beijing and kill millions.  Each D-5 missile carries at least 5 warheads, each Ohio class submarine carries 24 missiles, and there are always Ohio's out to sea.  That doesn't even deal with the ICBM forces.

China could start a war with the US, but they couldn't win one.  As the computer said "The only winning move is not to play."

sid said...

As ewok intimates, they have plenty of maneuver inside that end of the spectrum to achieve what they want.

Indeed, by 2012, that nuke option may well be off the table anyway.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

ewok,

You nailed it.  Likely not a Pearl Harbor, but a series of Suez incidents where they shape and limit US foreign policy options to a destructive degree, and then perhaps followed by an Asian Sudetenland, where one or more of our allies are carved up or subsumed by China while we attempt to "negotiate" the size of their appetite but in reality are powerless observers to the spectacle. 

Then, if war comes, it is at the least advantageous time and place for the United States, should we even have the will or means to fight.

Skippy-san said...

George Friedman over at Stratfor quite correctly points out that a lot of this is self inflicted-due to our fixation on the wrong region(s) of the world. Read for your self.

The American obsession with this region in the wake of 9/11 is understandable. Nine years later, with no clear end in sight, the question is whether this continued focus is strategically rational for the United States. Given the uncertainties of the first few years, obsession and uncertainty are understandable, but as a long-term U.S. strategy — the long war that the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing for — it leaves the rest of the world uncovered.

 

Skippy-san said...

Don't forget too-that Suez was also based on Anthony Eden's fixiation on Nasser-of which there really is no US/China counterpart.

Plus Egypt did not hold large scale securities in UK banks and the UK government they way China does. They are in the great position of financing the US wars that deplete US strenght and position-all they have to do is wait, and encourage the rest of the world to sit out sinkholes like AFG and advance ahead of the US. From a purely Chinese perspective it is a win-win for them. That slide downwards did not start on Jan 20 2009 by the way-GWB was the one who started by refusing to put the wars on a pay as you go basis and levy the taxes /surcharges to pay for it.

Jeff Gauch said...

I agree that loss of the nuclear arsenal would render my logic moot, but the article you linked to was mostly talking about the political opposition to Obama's dream of disarmament.  If we ever wind up with 67 liberals in the Senate we'll have enough problems and the rest of the world will have to fend for itself.

While the Chinese have plenty of maneuver room short of actual attack we also have options.  All we have to do is maneuver our forces and allies such that China cannot achieve its aims without confrontation.  For example, if China starts to press on claims to the South China Sea we simply sail a ship through the area.  China either has to back down or risk nuclear war by firing on a US-flagged vessel.  LCS can fulfill that role, hell a rowboat with an ensign would work.  All we need is the will.  Admittedly that's in short supply in this administration.

ewok40k said...

A possible scenarios range from deal with south korea  - reunification for finlandization, to slow reabsorption of Taiwan... Japan is a bit too big to try to finlandize, plus it has history of opposing China longer than entire US history, but can be set to Sweden or Switzerland status, not aligned politically and militarilly with US. And then US suddenly realizes it really has no allies in Asia to protect...

MR T's Haircut said...

I am going to insist my Son learns Chinese.   It will serve him well 25-40 years from now...

MR T's Haircut said...

Jeff,

I think you place to high a value on deterrence.. The Chinese have already tested our response vis a vis South Korean Corvette sinking... yea the news stories would be be written etc.. blah blah blah, but all Obama will do is apologize for our provocation ( a typical requirement from eastern asian nations) and we will be left with a smaller navy...

China is leaning they can pay for the fleet on our dollar.  First is was our commercial dollar.. via Wal-Mart.  Now it is our Tax Dollar via National Debt.. amazing.. Maybe we ought to name a PLA ship after Pelosi and Reid and Murtha?  I mean they are paying for them after all....

G-man said...

More like Chin-ish (Chinese Spanish)

YNSN said...

Who's to say that China could survive the coups that Japan did through the 20s and 30s.  An initial push by the Chinese military will necessarily have to be internally.  China does not have a god-emperor like Japan did.  While I completely agree with the sentiment that China's military is becoming brash.  I do not think much can come of it a'la Japan early 20th Century. 

History may be rhyming in this instance.  But, not very well.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the task of the military is to be prepared for the worst case... which in itself is sometimes propelling confrontation (see British-German naval rivalry pre-ww1). As for the China itself, communist party was always making sure military is under its control. Trying to predict future is bordering on the impossible, I am more inclined towards steady influence raising strategy instead of radical confrontation. But there are possibilities like breakdown in the transpacific trade ruining Chinese economy and throwing the radical tiger riders into the lead.

ewok40k said...

the last one was me from another pc :)

YNSN said...

I'm interested to know how China uses its C2 in their numerous (as of late) confrontations at Sea.  I don't assume it will happen with the USN.  But, some maritime clash at sea could escalate to where China, to save face, has to take some brash action to appease its masses.

I don't worry about the military acting on its own.  Much more so, I worry about the Chinese Gov't painting itself into a corner and having to do something it wouldn't based on nationalistic demands.

Jeff Gauch said...

I honestly think that the party would simply withold information about an embarassing incident from the population.  Remember China has a level of information control that is hard to fathom over here.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Actually the winning moves would be economic conflict or fostering internal dissent. Remember the adage that war is just the contination of politics on the battlefield. So all the PRC and those juniors in the PLA need to do is foster the idea of increasing thier influence in the region. Whether that is turning off the Japanese, Koreans, and other mainland Asian nations away from us towards them well then we have lost any attempt to support even those democracies there. As most people, and even the good CDR has commented, the PRC economy is starting to hit its stride in the same manner as ours around the turn of the 20th and similar to how the UK economy started to recover post the 1815 with the ehdn of the Napoleonic conflict.
They could also gain by fostering internal dissent and pulling distractors out of thier hats as they made moves against thier targets in the region. The PRC is very much a monolititch society that shows a better united front then even the former USSR could. On top of that it appears on the top of it that multi-culturism seems to be failing around the world (see the current crisis in Beligum as an example along with a few other places in Europe).