Tag Archives: China

Periodic World Craziness Update # 32

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  

Iraqi Military Makes Gains North of Baghdad in Conflict With ISIS:  It will be interesting to see how the response to the ISIS offensive plays out both in Iraq and in the wider world.  The INA is a broken reed and any gains they make will be fleeting.  I fully expect a stalemate to ensue shortly wherein Iraq is effectively partitioned.  We are saying the beginning of bloody fighting.  Think of it as Sunni Triangle II.

Ukraine Says Russia Has 38,000 Troops on Border Amid ‘Invasion’:  The biggest news out of this story is not that Russia is massing limited numbers of troops on the Ukraine border or even that Russian SF agitators are probably already in Eastern Ukraine but that Gazprom has cut off gas supplies to Ukraine.  Supposedly through traffic to the EU is continuing but who thinks they won’t shut that off too if the EU gets too froggy about their support for Ukraine?

Putin Backs Cease-Fire in Ukraine Amid Russia Army Drills:  I am simply amazed at the level of duplicity displayed by Russia regarding events in Ukraine.  I am even more amazed that the Western powers are not calling them on it.  It is obvious that the rebels are getting arms from the Russians yet the European powers refuse to acknowledge that and when Ukrainian or US authorities say it aloud the silence from our supposed allies is deafening.

Ebola ‘out of control’ in West Africa: MSF: A new strain of the Ebola virus is a potential nightmare. It is 90% lethal and apparently the strain currently spreading through West Africa is more easily transmitted than previous strains although news reports are not explicitly saying that. If this virus ever becomes airborne transmissible, all bets are off.

Kerry issues warning after Syria bombs Iraq:  In the most ironic thing of all, I have to wonder if some Western leaders are privately beginning to think that Assad is not that bad after all?   At least Assad made sure that his corner of the middle east was fairly stable, and it is obvious that a large chunk of the Syrian people support him as well.

ISIS Tries to Grab Its Own Air Force:  The significance of Balad falling would not be in ISIS control of aircraft, but in Iraqi loss of same.  I find it difficult to believe that ISIS counts a large number of pilots in its ranks, much less pilots qualified to operate combat aircraft and the aircrew to keep them operational.  The fall of Balad and Taji, were it to occur, would be a further symptom of how rotten the Iraqi army is.  Of course, I called that ten years ago when I was helping to establish the first Iraqi training program for the INA we were rebuilding.

BREAKING: ISIS Shows Off MASSIVE SCUD Missile in Military Parade:  I am not certain that the Iraqis need to worry overmuch about ISIS getting their hands on artillery and SCUDs.  Those are very technical weapons and if they are not served right are more dangerous o the operator than the enemy.

Poroshenko ends Ukraine ceasefire, says government will attack rebels:  If Russia withdraws support for the rebels the separatists could be crushed within weeks.  If however, Russia is just playing for time then this could last months yet.  It is also significant that apparently someone has admitted that Russian control of European energy supplies is a major factor in the tepidness of the European response to blatant Russian aggression all along.  Of course, the time for strong sanctions and pressure on Russia is now when energy needs are not as acute as they will be this coming winter.

Ukrainian forces tighten grip on Slavyansk as retreating rebels regroup:  Now it is up to the Ukrainian Army to “keep up the skeer” and not pause in applying pressure to rebels who are now clearly on the defensive and have lost the initiative.

Hamas rockets reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv:  I am curious to see if Israel will finally be smart, ignore international public opinion, and teach the Palestinian Arabs a brutal, bloody lesson they won’t forget for a generation.  They probably won’t though.  The Israelis will piss around, kill some Arabs, lose a few troops, and go back to the status quo.  Western leaders, Israel included, refuse to face the bitter truth that the only thing Arabs understand is force, everything else is weakness.

ISIS militants take sledgehammers to Mosul tomb of Prophet Jonah:  Yet more peaceful destruction from the adherents of the Religion of Peace.  Unless and until the Iraqi government gets their collective heads out of their 3rd point of contact ISIS and it’s adherents will continue to commit these outrages.

IDF strikes 80 Gaza targets in under thirty minutes:  One would think that at some point the Israelis are just going to evict all the Arabs from Gaza and bulldoze the slums that have been built there.

Germany Cites Deep Rift With U.S. Amid Second Spy Case:  If the allegations are true this is one of the dumbest possible things the US could do.  Germany has been a staunch US ally since the founding of the FRG in 1949.  What possible intelligence could be worth losing an ally?

Israeli troops wounded in first ground incursion in Gaza:  I wonder how long it will take Hamas to organize a mass firing on an Israeli city in hopes of overwhelming the Iron Dome system?  If something like that does happen then a ground invasion is a virtual certainty.

Russia warns Ukraine after shell crosses border:  The fighting in Ukraine continues with government forces slowly making inroads and regaining control of territory.  The likelihood of cross-border incidents only increases as gov. troops regain control of territory and I would not be surprised if at some point Russia does not use such an incident as a causus belli to get involved and support their proxies.

The Decline and Fall of the United States?

There has been much talk and discussion both in editorials and on various internet forums about the pending decline of the supposed US “empire” or the USA itself. I was thinking about this on the way back from dropping my wife off at work this morning and the more I think about it, the more I think it could only possibly happen if America lets it happen. The USA is not comparable to the UK prior to their fall from Great Power status post WWII. The disparity between the size of the two nations both physical and in population is too great for their to really be a valid comparison.

Image from http://http://blog.do-business-in-china.com

The USA has no choice in the modern world but to be a maritime power. This is especially true given the importance of trade to the future prosperity of the country. By virtue of the size and education of the US population it is inevitable that any military fielded by the US that is even half-way competently led will be a player on the global stage. America may have to share the world stage as one of the Great Powers with the rising giants of Asia such as China and India, but America will not lose it’s status as a Great power as quickly as did Britain and the European powers of the 19th century. Or, is there anyone willing to say that Britain, France, and Germany are all still Great Powers. I think their inability to sustain a small air campaign in Libya this past spring without significant American logistical support shows how far these nations have fallen. The problem with the countries of Europe is that they still think they matter on the world stage and while they may have some soft power they have none of the hard power they were able to use 100+ years ago.

China is an up and coming power, they are already an economic power although the amount of US debt they hold is a two edged sword that can cut both ways if they are not careful.  They are rapidly engaged in upgrading their military and especially in trying to build a blue-water navy that at a minimum will be able to challenge America for control of the Chinese littoral.  That they want to project power beyond the littoral is evident by their purchase and upgrading of an aircraft carrier.  Aircraft carriers are only used to project power, they are offensive platforms not defensive.  Submarines, destroyers and frigates are primarily defensive platforms.

The Chinese army has also been in a rush of modernization in recent years with a reduction in the number of soldiers in uniform but a concomitant increase in the quality of the troops that are left.  There is also the simple fact that with a population of over a billion, of which the majority are males, they have a huge reserve of unused manpower they can draw on in any future conflict that stayed conventional but involved large land armies.

India must be reckoned on as well.  The saving grace there is that India is a friendly power to the US and has increasingly adopted western ideals of government and freedom as it rapidly modernizes both its society and economy.

The US  looks set to maintain its ability to project hard power for the foreseeable future at least. As long as America can put a carrier battle group off someone’s coast, they are a power to be reckoned with. America may be in decline, but despite the current economic difficulties, a fall is quite a ways off.

China: A Potential or Current Threat?

Chinese Type 99 Main Battle Tank

Jed Babbitt has an excellent piece on RCP today that talks about the potential threat China represents to the US and by implication, the rest of the Western world.China’s Economic Sword.  People have been pointing to the potential threat China poses for at least the past twenty+years and are almost invariably poo-pooed as being unrealistic and that China does not pose a threat to the US they just want to modernize and bring the fruits of that modernization to their own people.  I tend to think that China is indeed a threat and a threat we in the West ignore at our own peril.

There are several developments over the past several years that should, if nothing else, highlight the potential threat posed by China.  The most notable of these was the Chinese downing of one of their own satellites in January of 2007, which created a huge debris field on LEO.  Chinese military spending that we are aware of  has also been increasing by double digits almost every year since 2000.  The latest and most worrying news is that China is conducting sea-trials of a refurbished Russian carrier and has plans to construct their own.  You only build and aircraft carrier if you want to project power.  If I were Taiwan, I would start to worry a little bit about the Chinese having an aircraft carrier.  Lastly, and of much greater worry to the US Nay, are the reports about Chinese development of long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles.  Those are area denial weapons that present some pretty interesting problems for a surface.

The interesting aspect of Chinese military development to me is that they do in fact seem to be gearing up to become at least a regional power and one able to control their immediate Littoral and offshore waters while simultaneously exercising significant influence throughout the entire Pacific Basin at a minimum.  I do not see how it can be argued that Chinese development of aircraft carriers is anything but a challenge to US control of the seas.  It will be interesting to see how America reacts.  Will there be a modern American version of the old British two-power standard for dreadnoughts?  How will the US react to another nation contesting its virtual monopoly on meaningful sea power?  Naval developments are not everything to China’s military renaissance, they also have the largest army in the world and are working to upgrade it and its systems as well.

The People’s Liberation Army numbers somewhere around 2 million men with a military age population of 749 million, yes that is 749,000,000 or over twice the entire population of the United States.  Luckily, if it ever came down to a non-nuclear land war with China, the US would probably have both Russia and India on its side, which would more than make up the numerical difference in available manpower.  China is also actively engaged in research and production of modern land weapons systems ranging from the Type 99 MBT to the PF98 Anti-Armor system.

The US is living in “interesting times” throughout the world as American military hegemony is challenged both by high-tech countries like China and low-tech insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The burden of empire is heavy, even that of a relatively light touch empire like America’s.  the question is will America rise to the challenge and continue as a major power, or will the likes of China supersede the US?  I don’t think we will know anytime soon, but China bears watching and America needs to perhaps learn some of the low-tech lessons she is being so painfully taught in the Middle East, namely that high-tech does not always guarantee victory, and that the fog of war exists despite all of their high tech efforts to dispel it and probably always will.