Just a few days ago I was explaining to Melissa (in my usual, meandering, half-assed way) why
I’ve been making the argument here in DC that the person who’d SECOND most like to put a bullet in ObL’s head is Jiang Zemin, the head of China.
Because, thanks to 9-11, the entire Chinese foreign and security policy has been flushed down the toilet.
Prior to 9-11, the Chinese were:
1. In alignment w/ Moscow against the US
2. Depending on Moscow to keep the US committed to ABM.
3. Moving to dominate (w/ or w/o Moscow) the Central Asian states
4. Seeking to keep the rest of Asia under its thumb, my appearing to muscle us back (remember the EP-3 incident, last April).
Each of these efforts has collapsed, since 9-11:
1. Moscow has concluded that aligning with the US has far more benefits than aligning against it.
2. As a sign of that, it was more than happy to sell China down the river regarding ABM. Notice how strenuously the Russians opposed the US pull-out from the ABM Treaty—not? ‘Zactly.
3. Far from dominating Central Asia, the Chinese now look out, and see US forces establishing bases and/or military presence in the various ‘stans. Whether we stay there or not, it’s gonna put a crimp in any Chinese effort to dominate the area.
4. There are now Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (read: Japanese Navy) warships in the Indian Ocean. Without a peep from the neighbors, who’ve seen US ops in Afghanistan and understand what it’s like to have us as a friend—or an enemy. ‘Nuff said.
Except to add we’re back in the Phliippines as well (where there’s an open dispute w/ China on the matter of some islands).
Yeah, the Chinese are almost certainly P***ED OFF at ObL and al-Qaeda.
Dean, why don’t you have a blog already? Damnit, you’re better at this than I am.
You realize, of course, that “Only Nixon could go to China” is an ancient Klingon proverb. Name the movie.
The past year (and VP’s post) just prove a well-known fact of modern life: Tom Clancy owns a working crystal ball. The scenario of his last book (“The Bear And The Dragon”–nowhere near one of his best, BTW) postulated a NATO-member Russia being defended from Chinese invasion by US troops. Sounded crazy when I read it four years ago. Looks like a reasonable speculation today.
To DavidMSC: Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country. (Guess who’s coming to din-air?)
Read that too. “Bear and Dragon” could only work in Clancyland. In the real world, if unstoppable Chinese hordes came over the Russian border, and it looked like they were winning…there’d be this cordon of glowing slag straight across the border, and another one straight across the urbanized Chinese coast, and Putin would have no problem meeting Bush’s warhead reduction plan. The Russkis may not be what they were, but what they are now is still NOTHING you’d want to push to the wall.
David is undoubtably right. Putin would have none of the Clancyland scruples about administering a nuclear Fisking to China in case of a Chi-Com invasion (of course, in Clancyland, Russia has given up nuclear ICBMs, so…). With that said, who wouldn’t have liked to have been a fly on Zemin’s wall when he got the word about the current Russia-NATO “alliance”?
Long before the issue of slagging China would come up, there would be the far more important issue of exactly why in the world the PRC would be intent on invading Russia?!?
As w/ “Debt of Honor,” Clancy comes up w/ great tactical scenarios, some of which even come true, but his political overview is almost always weak.
At this time, the Chinese can get most of what they want out of the Russians for money, which is far easier than going to war (and certainly far less risky). Not that there’s much that the Russians have that the Chinese want: Sino-Russian trade is literally a pittance compared w/ Chinese trade w/ the Europeans, the US, the Japanese, or Taiwan (surprise!). What trade there is is either border trade (mainly Russians going into China, buying up consumer goods, then selling them back in Russia) or weapons. Clancy’s positing of gold mines and the like makes for an amusing background, but is hardly the realistic basis for a war (any more than Japanese revanchists are likely to seize Guam any time soon).
President Jiang (family name first in Chinese) is likely to be nervous, not so much of a Russia that is aligning w/ NATO, as a Russia that is aligning w/ the US. I sincerely doubt that anyone in the Chinese leadership lies awake at night, nervous at the prospect of facing panzergrenadiers, panzerinfanterie, divisions blindees, or Lancers. And, so long as NATO has no force projection capability to speak of, that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
For the Chinese, heartburn is almost certainly spelled: C-V-B-G, and realistically, only we have those.
Dean… As for Chinese motive against Russia, I’ve heard a number of scenarios involving Siberian Oil as a reason. This won’t be a particular viable motive for 10 or 20 years, when the Chinese economy is really supposed to be chugging along. China isn
The Chinese would have to be pretty desperate to go for Siberian oil.
Consider the following:
1. China’s own oil supplies from its western provinces (especially the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang) are supposed to be quite large. (Actual finds, however, suggest that there’s been a tad bit of exaggeration going on.)
2. China’s ability to access Central Asian oil, especially once the new pipeline out to Urumqi is finished in about two years will be much easier.
3. Russian exploitation of the Siberian oil fields was never very good. The problems of drilling in sub-zero temperatures, much less running oil pipelines out there, consistently defeated them. For the Chinese to do it, they’d need access to the same technology the Russians needed: namely, Western tech. Note that no such requirement is necessary in peacefully importing Central Asian (or exploiting domestic/Xinjiang) oil.
4. Seizing the Siberian oil would still require building some infrastructure to the Chinese pipeline network; not the sort of thing to be attempted w/o eliminating much of the local population. Not in Siberia, but lower down, along the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Mainline railways. That’s pretty serious killin’ we’re talkin’ about.
5. At the rate the Russian presence in the Far East has been declining, there’s far greater likelihood of Russian Far East secession to join China (or, more accurately, become an economic satellite of Japan/Korea/China) than of China invading. (The standard of living of the Russians out there has been falling while that of the Chinese has been rising.)
And, as a previous poster noted, Russia still has nukes. And the Indo-Pak thing suggests that, while states might not nuke each other over other things, all bets are off when it comes to threats to sovereignty.
So, at least on the Sino-Russian front, I’m actually rather sanguine.
(Old Soviet-era joke: It’s 2009, and all is quiet on the Sino-Finnish border….)
Just a thought….. (or two)
Damn that Dean is good! Seriously, I agree with Stephen that the media and, inescusably. the blogosphere, has ignored China long enough. There was a good piece written by a guy from the Naval War college a while back on the prospects for China succesfully invading Taiwan. Verdict: a big bite to take but doable, at least without our help. Like Stephen, I’m thrilled to death to be buds with the Russkies. Come on aboard, don’t be shy. Glad to see W seems to see things this way too. Now, there’s the small matter of firing a certain General, Sec Transp, CIA Chief, Sec of State and on and on. Got to clean house and get down to biz in Baghdad.
Dean, any further argument would be pointless against your mighty numbered list of fury!
Seriously though, VP is right, you need to get yourself a blog pronto. You’re too good at this stuff.