Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Red Dragon?

A couple of interesting articles floating around out there concerning China that are worth a ponder - not because I think China is a threat to us from a military POV (I don't), but that it could be. 

I can't see the future any more than the next guy - which is why when it comes to national security, unless someone is without question an ally or at worst a neutral in almost any conflict, like the UK - you have to look at capabilities, not intentions. 

First, a little something from POPSCI,
In some ways, China’s rise echoes that of imperial Germany at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, Britain was the world’s undisputed economic and military superpower. When Germany decided to build battleships to match the Grand Fleet’s dreadnoughts, the two nations entered an arms race that helped set the stage for the first world war. But when war broke out, Britain didn’t lose a single battleship to Germany’s High Seas Fleet. German mines and submarines, on the other hand—new technologies that arrived unexpectedly and changed the rules of battle—sunk 13 British battleships.

Similarly, the PLA has more to gain by developing new technologies than by racing to match American sea and air power. China doesn’t have to amass a navy as powerful as the American fleet if it can make the seas too dangerous for U.S. ships to travel. To that end, the PLA is acquiring weapons such as mobile, truck-launched anti-ship ballistic missiles and radar-evading, ramjet-powered Sunburn cruise missiles, which tear toward their targets at Mach 2.5, giving defenses only seconds to respond.

China could also easily go after American vulnerabilities in space. More than 80 percent of U.S. government and military communications, which direct everything from soldiers in the field to precision missile strikes, travel over satellites. GPS satellites control the movement of 800,000 U.S. military receivers on everything from aircraft carriers to individual bombs and artillery shells. The system isn’t foolproof: In early 2010, a GPS “glitch” left almost 10,000 of these receivers unable to connect for days.
That outlines what I have stated for years is the realist China Maritime Strategy; regional porcupine with global peacetime presence. If war comes, make it too costly for the USA to get within the 1st island chain. In peace, create effects and show the flag in support of commerce. Kind of like ours a ~120 years ago.

The next is a dark view from down under. As I have been on a little Medieval and Classics kick as of late, it resonates;
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.

The analogy with Asia today is uncomfortably close and not at all reassuring. No one in 431BC really wanted a war, but when Athens threatened one of Sparta's allies over a disputed colony, the Spartans felt they had to intervene. They feared that to step back in the face of Athens' growing power would fatally compromise Sparta's position in the Greek world, and concede supremacy to Athens.
Hopefully we have the right people looking at this scenario with a stable of solid COA to start with.

Hopefully. And let's hope they just sit there and collect dust like the TS plans from the 1980s I got a kick out of reading before I sent them off for destruction in the 90s. 

I like to joke to family and friends that the only way I will ever be recalled to active duty is if war breaks out with China ... so I'm not going anywhere. I don't want to eat crow; everyone behave yourselves.

Hope, eh?

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