Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Gloomy Future

While we're all being distracted by trivial crap like the Confederate flag imbroglio, events halfway around the world are quietly beginning to heat up. The one common thread linking them is China's new willingness to flex its increasing military muscle.

'We should be very clear: China is at virtual war with the United States'
Last month's massive breach of federal employees' data allegedly at the hands of Chinese hackers, made public Thursday, indicates a treacherous new reality in the global cyber game.

"It's very serious indeed," geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, the founder of Eurasia Group, told Business Insider.

"China's offensive cyber capabilities have consistently surprised the United States in terms of breadth and sophistication of attacks.

...Bremmer added: "We should be very clear: China is at virtual war with the United States, and the threat is far higher than that of terrorism, which gets the lion's share of attention — and, in the post-9/11 world, funding."
There is also the threat of physical confrontation.
In an effort to stoke nationalism and distract its people from a slowing economy, the Chinese government has been acting particularly aggressively in the South China Sea, engaging in territorial disputes with neighbors including Japan.

The Global Post, a state tabloid owned by party publication The People's Daily, wrote that any attempt by the US to stop China from building out parts of the South China Sea would inevitably end in war.

"If the United States' bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea," the newspaper said. "The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as 'friction.'"
It won't just be the U.S. and China. Other countries are being drawn in as well.
The Philippines will hold separate naval exercises with U.S. and Japanese forces this week on a Philippine island that is not far from the disputed Spratly archipelago, where China's rapid creation of seven island outposts is stoking regional tensions.

Manila, which has one of the weakest navies in Asia, has stepped up its security cooperation this year in the wake of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, not just with ally Washington, but also with Japan and Vietnam.

Late on Sunday, reporters could see two P3C-Orion maritime surveillance planes, one belonging to the United States and the other Japan, parked on a military airfield in Puerto Princesa City, the Palawan capital.

China's official Xinhua news agency condemned what it said was Japan's "meddling".

China claims most of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
There is, however, some good news.
Every week seems to bring new cause for concern about China's rising military power and assertiveness. Some scholars and pundits worry that the Chinese government is aiming to block U.S. forces from operating in East Asia altogether -- and even plans to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower.

While China’s buildup indeed creates security challenges for the U.S. and its Asian allies, the consequences are more subtle and complicated than some alarms would suggest. Despite its quickly increasing defense budgets in the last 20 years, China still lacks the ability to project combat power in a sustained way far from its shores, and the U.S. maintains full-spectrum military superiority, even in East Asia. Chinese forces lag far behind their U.S. counterparts in quality of equipment, experience and training.

One of the biggest advantages the U.S. has compared with China is its network of allies -- some 60 countries, which (including the U.S.) account for some 80 percent of global military spending. China has a formal alliance only with North Korea and a strong security partnership with one other Asian country, Pakistan. It has defense cooperation and an arms trade relationship with Russia, but mutual mistrust between the two historical rivals makes it hard to label this an alliance.
On the other hand:
... Measures of the overall balance of power between two countries are most relevant when considering wars of survival, such as World War I and World War II. But most international security politics involves coercive diplomacy and limited military engagements short of full-scale war. In such struggles, geography, politics, psychology and perceptions can play an even more important role than the military balances of power.
Bottom line: our military might is eroding, while China's is growing. Our international influence is shrinking, while China's is expanding. Our political leadership is widely perceived as weak, foolish, and short-sighted. China's - well, hell, there's no need to complete that comparison.

I don't think there's any immediate threat of armed conflict between us and them. But I do think that China is a master of the long term view, while American politicians can't see beyond the next public opinion poll. China's political masters don't have to worry about placating the loud-mouthed whiny politically correct cretins and 'entitlement' leeches that we have to contend with.

I am not optimistic about the future.


Old NFO said...

I'll just say no comment... sigh

CenTexTim said...

When I saw that bit about P3s in the Philippines, and then remembered that you were somewhere in the Pacific, I wondered...