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The Silk Road to War?

December 30th, 2013 - 10:18 am

Must-read stuff on China from StrategyPage. It’s an unsigned piece, so I have to guess it’s by Jim Dunnigan — but that’s just a guess. Here’s the gist:

The Chinese campaign of conquering real, or imagined, nearby “lost territories” by winning many little victories in battles none of the victims is willing to go to war over continues. This campaign is quite active in the South China Sea, North Korea and along the Indian border. China has, in the last few years, taken control of sizable chunks of India and large swaths of the South China Sea one tiny piece at a time. The victims are organizing, but have yet to come up with a workable defense against the Chinese tactics. Despite growing resistance by the victims, and their ally the United States, China keeps pushing and keeps making progress. Nothing any of the victims has done so far has stopped the Chinese, who apparently believe that ultimate victory is theirs because their opponents are too disorganized or intimidated to put up any effective resistance. Nevertheless, it is a risky game and there are constant minor crises that could go awry and become major problems.

We’ve discussed at length China’s similarity to Wilhelmine and Nazi Germany — the biggest bully on the block, but the other kids are collectively stronger. So far, Beijing has shown a lot more patience than Wilhelm II, and has far more modest goals than Hitler. Will their “salami tactics” get them what they want, without a major war? So long as China keeps taking small slices, that depends on two things:

• American willingness to act as ringleader of the nations along China’s rim.

• East Asia’s trust in America’s power.

As recently as just a year or two ago, I would have said both items were no-brainers. Now I’m not so sure.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Here's one thing the Chinese are also NOT planning for:

It's the day that America junks it's Blue State Model.

The moment that happens (and yes, it will), is the moment that the military budget becomes the only real part of the US government. And that's endgame for China.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, it's not Wilhelmine Germany you should think of, but Imperial Russia and France during the same timeframe.

I'd recommend reading Chrstopher Clarks' The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 for an in-depth analysis that puts France and Russia into a dangerous game of provoking Austria and Germany for the sake of short-term political gains (with long-term problems). Look at their maneuvering in the Middle East and the Balkans, and you'll see a lot of "battles won" that had no bearing on their strategic and geopolitical balance of power, other than to make their own tenuous internal domestic situation look good. Eventually, in 1914 their luck ran out, and the Austrians were fed up enough with the situation to go to war with Serbia. Germany had no reason to seek peace with either power (at least, not without British support.....which wasn't coming), in large part because the French and Russians weren't listening.

Eventually China will learn that they can't keep pushing and pushing in this fashion. Their hopes of a "short victorious war" against Japan or Taiwan will likely lead to a greater conflict than they expect.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
China isn't particularly stupid-- they know that tactic works so long as anyone with the diplomatic and by proxy military might to stop it would rather look the other way at the moment.

With a White House that can't even make a website work, what would you do, if you had similar goals? You'd do exactly what China is doing.

I don't think it'll take that long to stop, or at least significantly slow down, though. Our newfound oil independence potential combined with a competent and dare I say somewhat cowboy-esque President equals a rather large dose of "Do you -really- want to do that?"
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Both item #1 & #2 are gone until Jan. 20, 2020. #1 might be easier to reclaim, but #2 is going to take years of rebuilding credibility that the current occupant (right back at ya, Garrison) has so easily trashed.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Japan and Korea's unquestioning trust in American protection is gone. Both countries figure America will likely be there but are looking domestically for their defense needs. Especially Japan, whose trying to wriggle out from under constitutional limitations. India takes the name Indian Ocean seriously and had the 2nd most powerful navy in the region. Unfortunately their military seems crippled by corruption. Australia doesn't want to rearm but the fact they are looking to modernize across the board indicates they're not completely sure of US protection. I think basing Marines in Darwin was a move by the Aussies to ensure US commitment. Lastly, it remains to be seen how threatened Russia feels re: its Siberian boarder. Especially in the face of an arms race in the WestPac.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
So long as Russia remains a serious nuclear power, China won't be making any big grabs for Siberia or even just the Maritime Province. Putin is modernizing Russia's nuclear forces in a big way, too, complete with top-secret BMD-spoofing technologies. I suspect Putin's aim is to future-proof Russia's nuclear deterrent against future Chinese missile defenses, rather than to sneak past ours.

Much easier -- and safer -- for China to do to the Russian Far East what they're already doing. And that's to get ethnic Chinese across the border to find work and repatriate some of their earnings.

The current population of the Russian Far East is down to just over six million, down 15% since 2000. That's mostly Russians and Ukrainians, but there are tens of thousands of Chinese migrant workers and trending up.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't disagree w/ you re: Russia. Neither side is stupid enough to start lobbing nukes at each other. Only way China invades Siberia is if all those ethnic Chinese clamor for Beijing to liberate them from Russian oppression. That's more of a Clancy novel than any reality.

But I fully see a looming arms race in the WestPac as faith in the US wanes. China more and more will assert it's dominance coupled with it's need to protect it's newly aquired interests in Africa and elsewere. This'll scare the hell outta of bunch of Asian nations that have never gotten along well to begin with. Eventually one of them, I'm thinking S Korea, will get a nuke. A bargaining chip/ace-in-the-hole more than anything else. Again, I don't think anyone, outside of N Korea, is stupid enough to lob a nuke. But everyone will eventually get them to ensure others don't get too aggressive and are willing to negotiate.

But then dreadnoughts were supposed to achieve that too. *shrug*
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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