October 17, 2006
Collapses and Coups
The world should not be surprised by a Chinese-sponsored coup in North Korea.
Consider two assumptions: first, that of all the countries surrounding North Korea, China by far possesses the most levers of influence. It shares a long border with North Korea; provides food aid and other types of logistics support to North Korea; has a treaty with North Korea, calling it a "friend"; has a shared ideological background; has cooperated on some military matters; and so forth. Not only that, but because of all of these relationships, the Chinese are in a much better position than the other neighbors to have a clear read on exactly what is going on inside the North; what the status of the military is; who in the leadership might be tired of Kim; and so forth.
The second assumption is that there are many possible futures for the crisis. These beg the question: which will be more beneficial to China, and therefore, which might China attempt to foster?
October 11, 2006
A Nuclear Leviathan in the Pacific
Westhawk argues that the biggest loser of North Korea's nuclear test is China.
China remains by far the biggest loser from North Korea’s actions. America’s security alliances with Japan and South Korea will become more important and these bonds will be strengthened. Japan, now led by the unapologetic nationalist Shinzo Abe, will scrap any remaining restraints on its military doctrine and will invest in an offensive military strike capability. Japan could also very quickly become a nuclear weapons state itself, something that could occur after further provocations.Joe Katzman argues at WindsofChange that the focus should not be on North Korea, but on China:
The truth is that North Korea is an irrelevant bit player in this whole drama. The real player here is China. They have helped North Korea at every step, and North Korea's regime cannot survive at all without their ongoing food and fuel aid. Kim Jong-Il's nuclear plans may be slightly inconvenient to the Chinese - just not not inconvenient enough to derail a strategy that still promises net plusses to those pursuing it within China's dictatorship.Both of them think that the best way to influence China, and thereby to influence North Korea, is to make it clear that Japan, South Korea, and possibly even Taiwan, will be encouraged or given tacit approval by the US to strengthen their militaries.
The U.S. and its allies in the region will be forced to bypass an ineffectual China when formulating their security arrangements in the Asia-Pacific theater. And this will result in a strengthening American-led, anti-Chinese alliance in the region. This is exactly opposite the outcome China wished to see occur.And Katzman:
In other words, China won't move unless its current strategy is seen to cost them, big-time.David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, takes a similar tack, in an article in the New York Times (here via AEI):
The biggest cost, and the only one that will be real to them in any sense, is to have Kim Jong-Il's nuclear detonation result in parallel nuclear proliferation among the nearby states China wishes to dominate/ bully. That would be a foreign policy disaster for the Chinese, and would cause the current architects of China's North Korea policy to be buried along with their policy. Which, as we noted earlier, is the only kind of policy education that works in a system like theirs.
A new approach is needed. America has three key strategic goals in the wake of the North Korean nuclear test. The first is to enhance the security of those American allies most directly threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons: Japan and South Korea.Frum offers a four part plan for dealing with the crisis and accomplishing his three steps [emphasis added]:
The second is to exact a price from North Korea for its nuclear program severe enough to frighten Iran and any other rogue regimes considering following the North Korean path.
The last is to punish China. North Korea could not have completed its bomb if China, which provides the country an immense amount of food and energy aid, had strongly opposed it. Apparently, Beijing sees some potential gain in the uncertainty that North Korea's status brings. If China can engage in such conduct cost-free, what will deter Russia from aiding the Iranian nuclear program, or Pakistan someday aiding a Saudi or Egyptian one?
Step up the development and deployment of existing missile defense systems.Commentary
[ . . . ]
End humanitarian aid to North Korea and pressure South Korea to do the same.
[ . . . ]
Invite Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to join NATO--and even invite Taiwan to send observers to NATO meetings.
[ . . . ]
Encourage Japan to renounce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and create its own nuclear deterrent.
What Frum proposes would most certainly punish China, but how much punishment is too much? Consider the panoply of security architectures that have comprised the US alliance system in the Pacific. The US has a security treaty with Japan. It has similar agreements with South Korea. It has guarantees, explicit and otherwise, with Taiwan. The US used to have an alliance with Australia and New Zealand called ANZUS; but New Zealand protested the stationing of nuclear weapons or nuclear ships in its ports in the 1980s, forcing the US to come to refer to New Zealand as a "friend, not an ally." The alliance with Australia on the other hand, is one of the strongest that the US maintains.
At the same time, each of these countries has dramatically differing relations with each other. Australia maintains an alliance with New Zealand. Japan has no security relationship with South Korea, though it has offered to help defend Taiwan from China. A diagram of the existing security relationships might look like the following. I've included all alliances as arrows, whereas other lesser defense partnerships are lines without arrows. All of the US relationships are included; not all of those between the other countries are:
October 9, 2006
In 2004, an article appeared in the Korea Times, quoting National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Hadley stated that the US policy toward North Korea is one of "regime transformation."
In an apparent policy turnaround, the United States will seek transformation of the North Korean regime without attempting to change or overthrow it, a top U.S. security policymaker said Tuesday.If regime transformation is the policy of the US government, it seems a strategy of "collapse brinksmanship" is the method being employed to reach it.
``If the U.S. policy is put into words, it would be `regime transformation,’’’ National Security Advisor-designate Stephen Hadley was quoted as telling South Korean parliamentary delegates visiting the U.S.
Hadley also reiterated the U.S. is firmly committed to the six-party talks aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff and has no intention of attacking North Korea, according to the lawmakers.
Rep. Park Jin, a key member of the delegation, said Hadley’s statement can be understood as a U.S. policy that would induce North Korea toward transformation through gradual economic reform without trying to collapse the current regime.
In Cold War nuclear strategy, brinkmanship was first defined by John Foster Dulles as "the ability to get to the verge without getting into the war." Wikpedia notes, "Brinkmanship is ostensibly the escalation of threats to achieve one's aims. Eventually, the threats involved might become so huge as to be unmanageable at which point both sides are likely to back down. This was the case during the Cold War, as the escalation of threats of nuclear war is mutually suicidal."
But the brinksmanship being practiced now by the US is one of collapse, not nuclear attack. The US is attempting to create conditions whereby it becomes more and more likely that North Korea will collapse. The intended audiences for this interplay are China and South Korea, who have the most to fear of a North Korean collapse. Also, whereas in nuclear brinkmanship, as Wikipedia notes, both sides usually back down to avoid suicide, the US will not suffer suicide if North Korea collapses. Sure, it might be ugly, but the US has the least to lose from such an event.
In short, the US strategy is meant to show South Korea and China just how dangerous North Korea is, to get them all to on the same page, so that the North can then be induced to negotiate away its nuclear capability. Then, as Hadley detailed, the regime can be transformed, via "gradual economic reform."
It's a bold strategy, and it might not work. But the alternatives are equally hairy. Live with a nuclear North? Begin a military confrontation? Or other combinations of either of these? None are very palatable. Collapse brinkmanship may well be the least of many evils.
Was the nuke test a hoax?
This site does not profess conspiracy theories.
But from time to time, I do attempt to perform what I've called "agressive pattern-spotting."
1. About two years ago, there were rumors of an impending North Korean nuclear test. Later, there was an enormous explosion. The explosion was later determined to have been a massive amount of conventional munitions. The North Koreans, living in such a mountainous country, are quite good at mining, tunnelling, and excavation, and large quantities of TNT and other explosives are part and parcel of those competencies. Read about this incident here, via the BBC.
2. President Bush, in his statement today about the test, said this (emphasis added):
Last night the government of North Korea proclaimed to the world that it had conducted a nuclear test. We're working to confirm North Korea's claim. Nonetheless, such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security.3. Via Drudge, Japan's Kyodo News Agency is reporting that a number of jets have been dispatched from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force to:
[ . . . ]
Threats will not lead to a brighter future for the North Korean people, nor weaken the resolve of the United States and our allies to achieve the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Today's claim by North Korea serves only to raise tensions, while depriving the North Korean people of the increased prosperity and better relations with the world offered by the implementation of the joint statement of the six-party talks.
check levels of radioactivity over the Sea of Japan and other areas following North Korea's announcement about its nuclear test.4. The scale of the explosion was small for a nuclear test. This article quotes the Korea Earthquake Research Center thus:
The agency's move to collect samples at an altitude of 10 kilometers is part of the Japanese government's efforts to step up its monitoring of the impact of the reported nuclear test.
The activity measured 3.6 on the Richter Scale, which could be caused by the explosion of the equivalent of 800 tonnes of dynamite, he said.
Based on these four things, there is a significant chance that it is still unclear whether North Korea has actually conducted a test; that our own and allied governments are working to independently confirm such; and that it is within the realm of possibility that the seismic event detected was in fact a massive conventional explosion.
I think we should await independent confirmation.
Feel free to discuss.
UPDATE: Only the Russians are claiming that the blast was larger:
Russia's defense minister said Monday that North Korea's nuclear blast was equivalent to 5,000 to 15,000 tons of TNT.
That would be far greater than the force given by South Korea's geological institute, which estimated it at just 550 tons of TNT.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a much more detailed description of the large explosion in 2004. It seems no one is really sure just what happened then.
ONE MORE UPDATE: Gratuitous Machiavellian thought of the day: if we tell them we don't believe their test was real, and they test again, how many tests before they run out of weapons? I'll turn my internal monologue back on now.
STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Suitcase nukes are supposed to be difficult to produce because, among other reasons, they only require very small amounts of radioactive material, and that material decays very rapidly. If there are any nuclear scientists reading this, by all means chime in.
MORE: Welcome Instapundit readers! He had the same Machiavellian thought. Feel free to look around. I hope you'll visit again sometime.
MORE AGAIN: There is speculation that the test was a dud. This raises an interesting totalitarian leadership question: if one has only a handful of nuclear scientists, and they are expensive to create and maintain, when a nuclear scientist fails you, how do you punish him? Moreover, if one is such a nuclear scientist, and one knows that a nuclear capability is still beyond your means, but the Dear Leader schedules a test without your foreknowledge, how do you tell him that his capabilities aren't quite what he thinks they are? Or do you just go ahead with it and hope that afterward his ire won't fall completely upon you?
LATEBREAKING UPDATE: The Washington Times' Bill Gertz is reporting that "U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday."
Still not conclusive. Gertz frequently reports things that aren't seen anywhere else. Either he has incredible access or his sources are sometimes wrong. Or both. We'll see what happens in this case.
October 3, 2006
In Which the European Defense Agency Shows It Has Learned Nothing in the Last Five Years
Political discourse about warfare is all too frequently shot through with utopian impulses. This is because warfare involves both the vision of an "end-state" that one's forces work toward, and millions of decisions at all levels that are easily second guessed as time passes.
An article in the London Telegraph reports that the new European Defense Agency has released a paper envisioning the next 20 years of conflict.
The paper, An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs, paints a Europe in which plunging fertility rates leave the military struggling to recruit young men and women of fighting age, at a time when national budgets will be under unprecedented strain to pay for greying populations.It seems the study does not attempt to really envision future conflicts so much as it attempts to proscribe a series of measures that must be in place in order for the EU to engage in war. In other words, rather than focusing on enemies, it seems to focus on its own requirements. There is a term for this: self-induced friction. The EU Defense Agency is only 2 years old and already is hamstringing itself.
At the same time, increasingly cautious voters and politicians may be unwilling to contemplate casualties, or "potentially controversial interventions abroad – in particular interventions in regions from where large numbers of immigrants have come."
Voters will also be insistent on having backing from the United Nations for operations, and on crafting large coalitions of EU member states with a heavy involvement of civilian agencies, and not just fighting units, the paper states. They will also want military operations to be environmentally friendly, where possible.
All of this is similar to the Powell Doctrine in the United States, another set of internally imposed rules meant to make domestic constituents happy and to limit the kinds and types of wars that will have to be fought.
A hard-thinking, proactive enemy -- and there are few other kinds -- no doubt laughs in glee at these efforts, as it merely gives him all the more opportunities to avoid battle with the West and pursue his own agenda with impunity; or, once engaged in battle, to prevail simply by using methods and techniques that the West is institutionally (and thereby mentally) unprepared to counter.
The entire report may be downloaded here.
September 25, 2006
Jihad and Thailand's New Leadership
News reports indicate that there were a number of reasons why Thailand's military decided to overthrow Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last week, but the most interesting among them was a disappointment with his strategy toward the Muslim insurgency in the south. From The Australian:
THE Royal Thai Army will adopt new tactics against a militant Islamic uprising, following the coup that sent Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, into exile in London last week.But at the same time Zachary Abuza, a political science professor at Simmons College in the US, and author of a forthcoming book about the Thai insurgency, offers a more nuanced take:
According to sources briefed by the army high command, Mr Thaksin's bungled response to the insurgency in southern Thailand, which has claimed 1700 lives in two years, was a critical factor in the generals' decision to get rid of him.
Military intelligence officers intend to negotiate with separatists and to use psychological warfare to isolate the most violent extremists, in contrast to Mr Thaksin's heavy-handed methods and harsh rhetoric.
[ . . . ]
if the prime minister's absence was the opportunity, sources said, the incentive to act was a sense that the Thai state was losing control over its southern territory, where about four million Muslims live.
A final spur for the coup came when bomb explosions tore through the south's commercial and tourist centre of Hat Yai this month, killing a Canadian visitor and three others, wounding dozens and prompting holidaymakers to flee.
Shocked Thai officials conceded that the terrorism could no longer be contained and might spread north to resorts such as Phuket and Koh Samui, with catastrophic results for the $13billion-a-year tourist industry, still reeling from 2004's Boxing Day tsunami.
[ . . . ]
When Mr Thaksin, a former policeman who made his fortune from telecommunications, came to power in 2001, he broke with the old order. He put police cronies in charge of the southern border and shut down two intelligence clearing centres.
Soon, reports in the media alleged that corruption, smuggling and racketeering were rife.
In January 2004, militants raided an armoury and started a killing spree. They have murdered Buddhist monks, teachers, hospital staff and civil servants - anyone seen as representing the Thai state. The army has seemed powerless to halt the chaos.
"Down there, you stay inside the camp at night," said a soldier who recently returned from a tour of duty. "If you go out, you die."
Mr Thaksin's iron-fisted methods went disastrously wrong. A suicidal mass assault on army and police posts by young Muslims, many armed only with machetes, ended with almost 100 "martyrs" dead. Later, 74 unarmed Muslims died at the hands of the security forces in the village of Tak Bae, most of them suffocated in trucks, and a suspected police death squad abducted Somchai Neelaphaijit, a Muslim lawyer, on a Bangkok street.
Somchai, who had brought torture cases before the National Human Rights Commission, was never seen again.
Then there is the southern insurgency. Will the CDR [Council for Democratic Reform] and interim administration be better equipped to deal with [it]? At the very least, there will be less political interference in counter-insurgent operations and fewer personnel reshuffles and policy initiatives from an impatient “CEO prime minister.” Second, the CDR is likely to implement many of the recommendations of the National Reconciliation Council that Thaksin had blatantly ignored. Though the NRC’s recommendations alone will not quell the insurgency, they will have an important impact in regaining the trust of the Muslim community. Third, Sonthi has expressed a willingness to talk with insurgents, though to date only PULO has offered to talk and the aged leaders in Europe have no control over the insurgents. And many in the military establishment including Sonthi, himself a Muslim, have publicly refused to see the insurgency for what it is, denying it any religious overtones or secessionist goals. Nor is the political situation likely to alter the campaign of the insurgents. If anything they may step up attacks in an attempt to provoke a heavy-handed government response. The Muslim provinces have been under martial law for over two and a half years, with little to show for it but an alienated and angry populace.
It seems Thailand has made two strategic errors in the past 15 years, the first of which was the dismantling of intelligence assets in the south.
A 2004 article from The Straits Times notes that
the upsurge in violence is also proving difficult to understand and control because it comes after Bangkok effectively dismantled its intelligence apparatus in the area and scaled down its military presence, thinking it had all but crushed the separatist movement in the late 1990s.Dr. Abuza made the same point in the piece above, noting,
The simple, stark fact, as admitted to me by a retired Thai general last week, is that neither the military nor the police now have a clue what is going on in the south.
“There has been a complete failure of intelligence. No one knows who the insurgents are. They don’t have a face.”In the absence of this lack of knowledge, it seems that ousted PM Thaksin made his second error: he responded to the insurgency with heavy-handed tactics, rather than classic counterinsurgency strategy. This only served to make things worse.
How will the generals do? We shall soon see. It was through cunning and realpolitik that Thailand avoided becoming a European colony while every single one of its neighbors did so in the last 300 years.
For the moment though, the south of Thailand, just like Waziristan or Somalia, has become another of the black holes with which we have become all too familiar, which the rest of us stare into with vacuous looks upon our faces, wondering intently what goes on in there, and from which the faintest traces of muezzin calls can be heard.
July 20, 2006
Just what has the Ghana Battalion been up to?
Pajamas Media's editor in Sydney, Australia (aka the author of The Belmont Club, Richard Fernandez), has posted a link to a map showing the disposition of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL), as of July, 2006. Richard makes the case on his own blog that the site of much of the recent fighting is in the area of operations of the Ghana Battalion of the UNIFL.
I have no problem with Ghana. A friend once did a study abroad there and spoke highly of it. But doesn't one wonder: what have the Ghanan troops and other members of the UNIFL been doing when Hezbollah yokels up and launch a rocket across the border? Any attempts to chase them down? Fight them? Arrest them?
In fact, what's the UNIFL doing right now?
Let me make an assumption that the answer is, "very little." Jed Babbin recently recollected his own experience in this regard:
The UN's years-long record on the Israel-Lebanon border makes mockery of the term "peacekeeping." On page 155 of my book, "Inside the Asylum," is a picture of a UN outpost on that border. The UN flag and the Hizballah flag fly side-by-side. Observers told me the UN and Hizballah personnel share water, telephones and that the UN presence serves as a shield against Israeli strikes against the terrorists.Here we have an answer to the questions implied in a previous post:
The next step will be: how to ensure that no terrorist force metastasizes on Israel's border once again? Or really, how to ensure that no terrorist force can threaten Israel from the north? A buffer zone isn't really helpful if Hezbollah or anyone else can just get longer-range missiles and use them from Northern Lebanon. Instead, one of two things has to happen:If Babbin's account of the actions of UNIFL can be trusted, then the answer to the problem of proxy war and Lebanese sovereignty is rather different than the actions necessary to end the conflict. Instead, the presence of UNIFL actually legitimizes an area of non-state lawlessness, when the goal should be to somehow reduce it.
a) someone responsible has to control Lebanon's borders. It could be the Israelis, though they won't want to; the Lebanese though they'll be questionble in their effectiveness; or the "international community" which probably means the US (though perhaps the French would help, given that they used to own Lebanon).
b) Lebanon's borders must be redrawn and the Beka'a declared an international DMZ of some sort. This is extremely unlikely.
The reason for the necessity of one of these options is because the international system should have no desire for a conflict like the current one to happen again. The only way this is possible is if the next time a terrorist organization supported by Syria launches attacks at Israel, it does so from within Syria. This will then clarify thngs for the rest of the world. Borders, which are among the most sacrosanct of the current system's rules, will have been violated, and that makes consequences easier.
It is hard to see how any United Nations force will be able to offer a solution that is favorable to either of the two states involved, Lebanon and Israel, and unfavorable to the non-state terrorist group, Hezbollah. And shouldn't the reduction of non-state terror organizations be in the interest of the international system?
One is truly left to wonder whether the actual goal is inspried more by anti-Semitism or a desire to frustrate the United States.
No, more likely is the explanation offered by Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept as to why Europe is so tolerant of the extreme Islam growing in its midst. One of his arguments is that Europe and America learned fundamentally different lessons from WWII: The US learned not to give in to tyranny, even if war is necessary. Europe learned to avoid war at all costs, even if putting up with a bit of tyranny is required.
This is not so different from Robert Kagan's seminal essay of a few years back, Power and Weakness, in which he notes a similar problem:
It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power — the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power — American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant’s “Perpetual Peace.” The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory — the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure. When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways.The UN is a vehicle for the expression of the European attitude to power as described by Kagan, and to war as described by Bawer. And this is why the Ghanans et al. have not stopped Hezbollah's attacks on Israel: Stabiliy, ceasefires, and peacekeeping are preferable to a decisive end to conflicts, because decision requires violence. Europeans are from Venus.
July 11, 2006
Kimi Ga Yo 2
I contacted a good friend, a Brit who lives in Japan, and has lived there for years, to see if he could do a bit of on-the-ground pulse-taking about national sentiment toward the North Koreans. Here's his response:
I asked my class (9 people 7 women 2 guys, aged 28-40He always has an interesting take on things. "Basically the rise of China is scaring the s*** out of the old boys club because they know what their fathers did and they know the Chinese haven't forgotten." That might be the key line right there.
all training to be serious translators so the upper
edge of the "internationalized/educated" community)
the following questions:
Do you think North Korea is a serious threat? 9 said
Do you think Japan should apply economic sanctions? 7
yes 2 no
Will NK's image decline further in Japan because of
this? 9 yes.
The fact that none of them could conjure a coherent
opinion tells you how deeply this has registered on
the Japanese conciousness.
There's no getting round it nationalism is on the rise
in Japan among the only sector that counts, the very
small no of men who run the country. Current foreign
minister Aso is a good example of these (not so) new
nationalists but their main cheerleader is the Gov of
Tokyo, Ishihara. Virulent nationalism is muted but the
old tradition of passive-aggressive nationalism is very
much alive. Basically the rise of China is scaring the
s*** out of the old boys club because they know what
their fathers did and they know the Chinese haven't
Recent NK events
In Japan the tests come on the coat tails of the
reunion (in NK, completely controlled by the NK govt)
of a kidnapped south Korean who was married to
Japanese kidnap victim Yokota Megumi with his family.
During the reunion a number of incongruent statements
by the man and the daughter he had with Megumi further
illustrated that the NKs still aren't telling the
truth about her. NK has been caught in a number of
balatant lies (including sending burnt remains back to Japan
claiming that they were her ("She committed suicide"), when
DNA tests proved otherwise.) Your average Japanese
person rightly feels aggrevied by the NK kidnappings,
their continued stonewalling and, less mentioned in
the press, the Japanese govt's unwillingness to get
involved in an issue it denied until the NKs admitted
it and forced them to. NK's stock couldn't really be
any lower in Japan.
The tests: Media and Security
The media reaction was predictable and although not
muted not nearly as bad as when the NKs shot that
missile over the country in 1998. There's a sense of
resignation and "there they go again". The main reason
people aren't worried is that although the Japanese
moan endlessly about the US troops in Japan they know
they are protected in any extreme situation by the US,
it's a media event not a security crisis. There's no
chance in hell any young Japanese will have to fight
or die at any point in the near future and they know
it. People are quite open about recognizing the US
One thing to mention in your blog is that the Japanese never renounced war,
MacArthur did and imposed it on them and it's stayed in
the constitution largely because it has suited Japan's
interests to have it there, not because it is popular.
One short sharp international incident (Japan's 911)
and in a fit of victimhood the nationalist
opportunists will throw it out the window before you
can say "Sushi".
What interests me is Japanese attempts to "impose
international sanctions" on NK in the UN. Strikes me
as pointless window dressing for Japanese domestic
consumption, typical meaningless ritualism of the kind
Japanese politicians love. What Japan unilaterally can
do is restrict trade/remittances to NK from Japan. T
hat would be the real test of their resolve. I'll be very
surprised if they do it.
The bastards have done it again
Terrorists have attacked the metro system in Mumbai (aka Bombay), killing an estimated 135.
Is this to be the nature of the world for the foreseeable future? Civilzation perpetually under siege? Innocents regularly dead? If this is not stopped, we will descend to the Dark Ages in a death of a thousand cuts.
The Terrorist, He's WatchingHow will this affect India-Pakistan relations? The role of India in suppressing Iran's nuclear program (if there is one)? The strengthening of US-India ties? Domestic responses within India?
The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it's just thirteen sixteen.
There's still time for some to go in,
And some to come out.
The terrorist has already crossed the street.
The distance keeps him out of danger,
And what a view -- just like the movies.
A woman in a yellow jacket, she's going in.
A man in dark glasses, he's coming out.
Teen-agers in jeans, they're talking.
Thirteen seventeen and four seconds.
The short one, he's lucky, he's getting on a scooter,
But the tall one, he's going in.
Thirteen seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl, she's walking along with a green ribbon in her hair.
But then a bus suddenly pulls in front of her.
The girl's gone.
Was she that dumb, did she go in or not,
We'll see when they carry them out.
Somehow, no one's going in.
Another guy, fat, bald, is leaving, though.
Wait a second, looks like he's looking
For something in his pockets and
At thirteen twenty minus ten seconds
He goes back in for his crummy gloves.
Thirteen twenty exactly.
The waiting, it's taking forever.
Any second now.
No, not yet.
The bomb, it explodes.
July 7, 2006
Kimi Ga Yo
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.-Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
The North Koreans are causing Japan to rethink their pacifism. Not only that, but the cemented US-Japan security relationship, well-described recently in the Weekly Standard, gives a sort of legitimacy to the respect for militarism that has long been an undercurrent in Japan. Japan, after all, has a long, long tradition of respect for military virtue. How one perceives it is in the eye of the beholder. Much of Japanese militarism in the past could be characterized as a sort of stoic nihilism. Yet at the same time, Bushido, the code of the samurai, inspired George Lucas to create the Jedi Knights in Star Wars, which went on to become a mythopoetic icon in its own right in the US.
It's possible that most peoples in the world who are proud of their own histories search for something meaningful to find in the martial portions of those stories. The Japanese have long found their own meaning in serving as a kind of poster-child for anti-nuclear activism, using their war history as a sort of lesson to the world. Regardless that it saved millions of lives on both sides by ending the war sooner, the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave Japan the opportunity to retool its military history into that of a shamed victim (as opposed to a righteous victim, which we often see in a variety of contexts in the West). When I was 16, and about to take a bullet train from Osaka to Hiroshima to visit the memorial there, my host-father told me, "You'll see exactly what your country really intended to do to us."
But as Churchill said, great battles "change the entire course of events, create new standards of values, new moods, in armies and in nations." The threat to Japan of nuclear-tipped missiles from North Korea is doing just that. Consider this video on YouTube, entitled Aegis [hat-tip to Belmont Club]:
If the Japanese are making fanflicks of the Japanese Navy, it seems the tables are turning on Article 9, and some of Churchill's "new moods" are being created.
Or maybe they're not that new after all:
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleepSaviour of Nippon when the guns begin to shoot . . .
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
June 20, 2006
The Rocket's Red Glare
The North Koreans are declaring their sovereign right to ballistic missile tests:
TOKYO - North Korea declared Tuesday it has a right to carry out long-range missile tests, despite international calls for the communist state to refrain from launching a rocket believed capable of reaching the United States.There are rumors meanwhile that the US may shoot down any such missile launched:
The Pentagon activated its new U.S. ground-based interceptor missile defense system, and officials announced yesterday that any long-range missile launch by North Korea would be considered a "provocative act. . . .There are several very good reasons to go ahead and down any missiles launched by North Korea: it would provide a real test of our incipient missile defense systems; such a shootdown would reinforce the doctrine of nuclear assurance as it applies to Japan, one of our staunchest allies; and tactically, denyng the North Korean military the advantage gained by telemetry and other such data gathered from the flight could play no small role in retarding the advancement of their military capabilities. But the most compelling reason to shoot down any test missiles is simple and scarier: how does one really know it is a test? This is no soubt what the Japanese are wondering. I was there in the 90s when the North tested their last missile, and it was . . . not well received.
Two Navy Aegis warships are patrolling near North Korea as part of the global missile defense and would be among the first sensors that would trigger the use of interceptors, the officials said yesterday.
The U.S. missile defense system includes 11 long-range interceptor missiles, including nine deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The system was switched from test to operational mode within the past two weeks, the officials said.
One senior Bush administration official told The Washington Times that an option being considered would be to shoot down the Taepodong missile with responding interceptors.
For a detailed look at the US missile defense system, readers are encouraged to see Alan Dowd's piece in today's TCSDaily.
For a more in-depth look into ballistic missiles in general, missilethreat.com [h-t to Dowd] is a cornucopia of info on ballistic missiles and the threat they create. The scenario page there features high-quality animation of possible conflict scenarios involving ballistic missiles.
While it is tempting to view international terrorism and ballistic missiles as inhabiting two separate ends of the conflict spectrum, the one being non-state organizations employing low-tech and creative means, the other being a weapons system most likely produced and fielded by a state military, it might be better instead to view them both as features of our system of globalization: while murderous ideologies propagate through the globe like viruses, high-tech missile know-how does the same. As Dowd notes in his article, 30 years ago, only 8 nations possessed ballistic missiles, whereas now, by his count, there are 25 with ballistic missile arsenals.
When we envision Robert Kaplan's "coming anarchy", or Thomas Barnett's Gap, our mental images usually involve low-intensity warfare, pestilence, famine, resource scarcity, and crushing poverty, along with intractable conflicts. But these are images that, while scary, and needing to be contained if not rolled back, don't threaten the US imminently.
Adding to that picture the continued propagation of complex weapons systems like ballistic missiles adds a new urgency to our concept of the Gap, or the anarcy of the developing world and its failed states. Imagine another war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but with ballistic missiles; or a Rwandhan genocide with airstrikes. While it's true that roving bands of thugs probably don't have the training to maintain and operate exceptionally complex military hardware, it's not a safe bet that the threats of the Third World will always remain as roving bands of thugs.
April 21, 2006
All Expenses Paid to North Korea
I've always thought it would be fascinating to go to North Korea. It's one of the most isolated countries in the world. See my review of the book Pyongyang here.
But something about this invitation just doesn't sit well with me. Perhaps it's the playing up of socialism:
Dear Duke Alumni and Friends:I bolded all the parts that bother me. Not sure how I feel about this. Will the cost of the trip be supporting the regime there in any way? Is this some sort of dog and pony show to boost images of the world's most dictatorial state? And if so few are allowed to go there, how does my alma mater rate a few slots? Who knows who?
I am pleased to extend a very special invitation. We have learned that the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- the DPRK, which is North Korea -- has decided to allow a limited number of Americans into the country later this year. This small window of opportunity will be only the fourth time in fifty years that American tourists have been allowed into the DPRK.
No one knows when the next opportunity will occur.
The DPRK is a hospitable and fascinating destination, completely unique in the world. There is no U.S. State Department Travel Warning for the country. The DPRK government welcomes foreign visitors on a regular basis, and maintains a tourism infrastructure to accommodate them. The buildings we will visit are lavish showcases. North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, has huge, green parks, marble monuments, and wide, immaculate boulevards.
We have arranged a 12-day tour, beginning and ending in Beijing, China, entry point for North Korea. The highlight of our seven days in the DPRK is the "Arirang Grand Mass Gymnastic and Artistic Performance" in Pyongyang. The performance exemplifies the ideal of a nation in total collective and artistic harmony, and is quite probably the earth's largest and most astounding human spectacle. Just imagine: 100,000 people perfectly synchronized in a socialist realism extravaganza that can only be seen in North Korea. ( For itinerary, click here ) . . .
Because we anticipate a strong response to these initial invitations, I want to provide you with information you may need before making your decision to participate:
* Visa and passport requirements: Visas for China and North Korea are included in the
cost of the program, and we will provide instructions for procuring them. Passports must
be valid for one full year after the end of your visit.
* Food: Korean food (such as beef, rice, and spicy pickled cabbage) is normally served.
Dietary requests for vegetarian fare can be met.
* Health: You should be in good health for this visit, as medical facilities are basic.
No inoculations are required.
I hope you will join us!
I love Duke, but this makes me uneasy.
April 20, 2006
A Contrarian View of China's Future
As Hu Jintao's visit to the US winds down, allow a little bit of speculation about the future of China.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal carried an article noting Hu's upcoming visit, and stating that the Chinese government's legitimacy is dually based on economic growth and nationalism.
The WSJ today carries an editorial that ends with this line:
The larger strategic bet here is that sooner or later China's economic progress will create the internal conditions for a more democratic regime that will be more stable and less of a potential global rival.
The US strategic assumption therefore is that "sooner or later, economic growth will lead to democracy." This is a controversial statement in political science circles -- there isn't any strong agreement on this, just a kind of fervent hope. Perhaps it is because of how closely Americans associate political freedom with economic opportunity. But it's still controversial.
But a completely uncontroversial statement in economic circles is that a boom-bust cycle prevails in most if not all markets and economies. Think about it: has anyone ever heard of an economy without a recession? and usually, isn't it true that the larger the boom, the greater the bust? I'm only 28, but I remember the heady days of 1999. Anyone who said a few key buzzwords and promised ridiculous market growth could get angel funding it seems. Then the bubble burst and we had a recession and now things are humming right along again.
Has China ever had a real recession since Deng liberalized the economy in 1978? There's been some slowing of growth here and there of course, but I don't believe a full-fledged recession, in which the economy actually shrinks.
Wouldn't it seem that China is . . . overdue for a recession?
No one can know how an economic retrenchment may begin. There are many possibilities:
-a collapse in the banking sector
-a decline in US domestic consumption
-oil price shocks
-deflationary slump caused by currency revaluation (as is argued by a Stanford professor in another Journal op-ed today)
But can one say, with any reasonable seriousness, that an economy which has boomed for two or three decades will not see at least one major recession?
Moreover, compared to developing countries, our recessions here in the US have been relatively mild. Consider these other Asian economic recessions:
1. Japan in early 1990s -- deflationary slump. The Japanese economy reached such lofty heights in the 1980s that the value of downtown Tokyo real estate was gauged as being higher than all of California. Fortunately, Japan has now recovered and -- as I heard on the radio the other day -- is in the midst of its second longest expansion in the postwar period, growing for 51 straight months. But from the early 90's for about ten years, Japan suffered what has become "the lost decade." "Nihon wa ima shiniso!" my host-brother proclaimed to me in 1994. "Japan is nearly dead these days."
2. Wikipedia's article on the East Asian financial crisis of 1997 notes that per capita GDP, (measured in purchasing power parity) has declined from 1997-2005 in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In other words, those economies have been more or less stagnant overall in terms of the net effects of growth in the economy and growth in the populations ever since the currency and financial crisis of 1997.
So suffice it to say that when China has a slump or recession, there's a good chance that it won't be pretty. It will probably make one of our domestic recessions look like a single bad day at Nordstrom.
If economic growth stalls, what is to replace it as a pillar of political legitimacy? It seems there are two possibilities, more nationalism, or, in the hope of the United States, democratic legitimacy through political freedom. At the time of its recession, Japan had had a history of parliamentary elections and representative democracy for three or four decades (one could debate this given the overwhelming dominance of one party, but Japan was democratizing for a very long time to say the least). Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia all had some form of popular representation during their crises, though the democratization was varied in degrees in each. All of these countries though, at the time of their difficulties, were much, much, much further along the way toward representative and consensual government than China currently is.
Democracy in China seems unlikely to spring forward overnight during a time of economic crisis. It seems equally unlikely that any budding manifestations of it will suddenly blossom. Indeed, during the rural uprisings and riots we've seen trickling out in the news last year, it seems China was much more likely to send in the brute squads to put them down than to expand freedom for the rioters. Some of the freedoms the Chinese currently enjy might wither on the vine if poor economic times come along . . .
Perhaps nationalism will be intentionally spread to make up the difference in regime legitimacy?
This seems at least as likely a scenario as that of economic growth leading to greater political freedom, as is the strategy of the United States.
If China's roiling economy is one of the key pillars of regime legitimacy, I fear that the regime may soon learn what a bust is . . . and what might happen then?
In short, while everyone and their grandmother expects the "Chinese economy to surpass the US by 2030" or "China to emege as a global power" etc, I think it is just as likely that China will suffer a severe economic crisis, and do something horrible that makes it a pariah in the world's eyes -- whether internally or abroad; or that the Chinese regime could collapse under a popular uprising. I'm no expert, but it seems that if there's one place where they like to riot as much as France, it might be China. Flipping through a history of China is to read again and again of peasant or other popular uprisings.
If China transforms into a democracy with no political violence or economic hardship, we'll all break out the plum wine and celebrate. But all should have their eyes wide open as to the likelihood of more dreadful scenarios as well.
Sadly, I think there's little more the US can do than what we already are: building relationships with China's neighbors to counterbalance it if things go to heck; encouraging political freedom inside the country; trading with China; etc etc etc. The op-ed by the Stanford professor makes the case that we should quit complaining about their currency evalution, as a rapidly inflating currency was what led to Japan's deflation. I'm not enough of an economist to make heads or tails of that, but perhaps it's worth considering.
Perhaps we should just darn the torpedoes and pressure China to democratize much faster than it is, for its own sake . . . Given how many other things are on the US plate at the moment, it seems more likely that we'll kick this can down the road for a while longer . . .
January 15, 2006
Diplomatic History is Taking Place Even As We Speak
In addition to the much-publicized diplomatic shuffling between the US and the EU, there are other meetings taking place which happen much less frequently, or at all, and which seem to indicate that momentous events behind the scenes, the contents of which we might only speculate upon, are at hand.
Syria's Assad made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia last week.
The answer to all three might be Iran, or it might not. What is scary is that the answer could be Iran. In short, while Iraq was largely diplomatically, economically, militarily and otherwise isolated from the rest of the world before 2003, Iran is only slightly so today. While Iraq's contacts with the west were abundant via the Oil-for-Food scandal, those contacts were still scandalous. Iran is linked to the economies of Russia & China, has relationships with North Korea, Pakistan, even France, Germany, and the UK.
The relationships which Iran possess do not sum up to a coalition. But they are there nonetheless, making the Iran nut even harder to crack, and the price for miscalculation ever higher.
A History of the Modern World, by R. R. Palmer and Joel Colton:
The Austrian government was determined to make an end to the South Slav separatism that was gnawing its empire to pieces. It decided to crush the independence of Serbia, the nucleus of South Slav agitation, though not to annex it, since there were now thought to be too many Slavs within the emprie already. The Austrian government consulted the German, to see how far it might go with the support of its ally. The Germans, issuing their famous "blank check," encouraged the Austrians to be firm. The Austrians, thus reassured, dispatched a drastic ultimatum to Serbia, demanding among other things that Austrian officials be permitted to collaborate in investigating and punishing the perpetrators of the assassination. The Serbs counted on Russian support, even to the point of war, judging that Russia could not again yield in a Balkan crisis, for the third time in six years, without losing its influence in the Balkans altogether. The Russians in turn counted on France; and France, terrified at the possibility of being some day caught alone in a war with Germany, and determined to keep Russia as an ally at any cost, in effect gave a blank check to Russia. The Serbs rejected the critical item in the Austrian ultimatum as an infringement on Serbian sovereignty, and Austria thereupon declared war upon Serbia. Russia prepared to defend Serbia and hence to fight Austria. Expecting that Austria would be joined by Germany, Russia rashly mobilized its army ono the German as well as the Austrian frontier. Since the power which first mobilized had all the advantages of a rapid offensive, the German government demanded an end to the Russian mobilization on its border and, receiving no answer, declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914. Convinced that France would in any case enter the war on the side of Russia, Germany also declared war on France on August 3rd.
The German decisions were posited on a reckless hope that Great Britain might not enter the war at all . . . The German plan to crush France quickly was such that it could succeed only by crossing Belgium. When the Belgians protested, the Germans invaded anyway, violating the treaty of 1839 which had guaranteed Belgian neutrality. England declared war on Germany on August 4th . . .
As for Russia and Austria, they were both tottering empires. Especially after 1900, the tsarist regime suffered from endemic revolutionism, and the Hapsburg empire from chronic nationalistic agitation. Authorities in both empires became desperate. Like the Serbs, they had little to lose and were therefore reckless. It was Russia that drew France and hence England into war in 1914, and Austria that drew in Germany. Seen in this light, the tragedy of 1914 is that the most backward or politically bankrupt parts of Europe, through the alliance system, dragged the more advanced parts automatically into ruin.
It is not useful to draw analogies among the power relationships, the rising or falling states, or the alliances of 1914 to those that exist today. We live in a new world. But it is useful to consider the enormous complexity of the world then and now, and to realize that complexity offers both opportunities for the art of the deal to thrive, and for miscalculation to lead to utter ruin.
We are blessed to live in the "interesting times" of the old Chinese proverb . . .
January 12, 2006
Interview: Army officer who studied in India
[Sometime ago I encounted an Army Major who was an Olmstead Scholar studying at the University of Mumbai (Bombay). Wow, I thought: that would make an interesting interview. Here it is. A short one, but he may be able to answer reader questions in the comments. We'll call him MC for now.]
TAOC: How long were you in India and where? Did you have a choice of educational institution, or is there a set program?
MC: We were in India for 25 months, from late May 2003 to late June 2005. We lived in Bombay, which is what most people still call it despite the attempts to get people to call it Mumbai. I did try to travel around the country as much as possible (but not as much as I would have liked). I attended the University of Mumbai and studied for and earned a Master of Arts in Political Science. The Olmsted foundation, which is a private foundation that sponsors the scholarship in conjunction with the Departmentof Defense, (www.olmstedfoundation.org) puts no requirement on course of study except that it cannot be in a science/technical field, i.e. it should be language, literature, history, political science, economics, etc. Generally, the Scholars have the choice of school so long as there are not other Scholars studying at the same school; however, there is only one university in Mumbai. But in a place like Beijing, you'll have two-three Scholars in the city at a time at different universities. I had a fairly rare experience in that I was the first Scholar to a country, city and university and all three were my first choice. Sometimes the Olmsted Foundation is more directive in their requirements for a variety of reasons and in it not unknown for someone to get their third or fourth choice of country.
TAOC: What kinds of contact with the Indian military did you have?
MC: The Scholarship is most definitely not a mil-to-mil exchange or a Foreign area officer training program, but you can develop contacts depending on the country and our Defense Attaché in country. You have to seek them out, though and leverage opportunities, such as visits from our War Colleges(National War College and Air War Colege have been frequent visitors) and CAPSTONE. Here I want to emphasize the importance of having some "purple" in you. You will be the regular face of America's military outside of New Delhi and Wellington (the location of the Indian Defence Services Staff College). Having a pretty good depth of knowledge on our sister services beyond the US Army was enormously helpful and opened many doors. Our Attaché in India was reasonably supportive and with India being a friendly country (the situation is markedly different for my colleagues studying in
China and Russia for instance), I was able to do a fair amount of interaction with the Indian military, often through their retired officer community and usually with the Indian Navy as Bombay is a big Navy town. I interacted with a large number of retired Brigadiers/Commodores/Air Commodores and General and Flag officers, all of whom still maintain some level of influence, as do our retired "gray-beards." I gave presentations at numerous conferences on Goldwater-Nichols, US nuclear strategy, the Unified Commands, and officer promotion and selections in the US Army to audiences that included many three and even four-star retired officers (very rare in India as each service only has one four-star billet).
TAOC: What are your impressions of Indian power? The influences of the British on the subcontinent? The Indian military?
MC: India will continue to be a regional player and will likely expand its regional influence in the years to come, but is its own worst enemy in so many ways and I am less confident now than before I went over that they will emerge as a true world player within the next 10-years. India has a good military, one that could certainly defeat Pakistan conventionally and probably reverse the embarrassment of their 1962 War with China, but the costs would be significant. Personally, I don't think they are as good as they seem to think they are. They are still struggling with two very diverse insurgencies in their own country both in Jammu-Kashmir and northeastern states. Their concept of logistics is pretty shallow at all levels. They are having a serious recruiting problem for their combat arms officer ranks and this is causing various troubling second and third order effects such as earlier and earlier promotions as an incentive to keep officers in the ranks thereby creating lieutenant colonels with 8-9 years of experience. Their depth of population is such that they have an unlimited supply of people from which to draw upon for their jawans (troops) but cultural and educational inconsistencies make the pool from which they can draw officers is very limited. India has a need for the "gentleman officer" up from the educated middle class as they do not have an NCO corps comparable to US, UK or Australian forces. Unfortunately, the people that would make the best officers are eschewing military service (and the civil service) for the lure of Dalal Street (Bombay's equivalent of Wall Street). India has emerged as a capitalist society and part of Hindu philosophy revolves around material wealth, ergo while the Indian military is highly respected and admired, more and more of the middle class see service with the defense forces as someone else's responsibility. This is a generational change.
September 27, 2005
The Greater China Co-Prosperity Sphere
ZenPundit points us to the testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of Roger Cliff, a RAND analyst tasked with examining how China might attempt to defeat the US. The short document, only a few pages of text, must be read in its entirety.
In short, though, the Chinese have been reading our own doctrine, and adopting various forms of it. From the testimony:
China’s military is focused on finding ways to defeat the United States in the event of a conflict between the two countries, the most likely such contingency being a conflict over Taiwan . . .The principles are:
In a RAND study that I led which is currently under review, my colleagues Mark Burles, Michael Chase, and Kevin Pollpeter analyzed Chinese military doctrinal writings that discuss how to defeat a militarily superior adversary such as the United States, and found in them at least eight strategic principles that have implications for U.S. force posture in the Pacific theater.
1. "The first such principle is seizing the initiative early in a conflict."
2. "A second and related strategic principle for defeating a militarily superior adversary is the importance of surprise."
3. "Related to the first two strategic principles is a third principle: the value of preemption."
4. "A fourth strategic principle is particularly significant in the context of the second and
third principles. This is the idea of raising the costs of conflict."
5. "Related to the idea of raising the costs of conflict is a fifth strategic principle, the
principle of limited strategic aims."
6,7. "A sixth and seventh strategic principles are avoiding direct confrontation and conducting
'key point strikes'".
8. "Related to key point strikes is an eighth strategic principle that has implications for U.S.
force posture in the Pacific theater: concentrated attack."
Each of these in turn could have been lifted straight from Warfighting, and just reworded. I always heard field grade staff officers joke and muse about how much of our doctrine the Chinese were reading and copying. Looks to be quite a bit.
These eight principles have specific implications for the plan to subjugate Taiwan. The operational narrative that Cliff believes the Chinese have woven, goes something like this: launch a surprise invasion of Taiwan with no warning; simultaneously incapacitate the US military platforms and units most likely to respond or defend Taiwanbut not directly, only through attacking the US's command and control and logistics capabilities; be limited in aims -- the conquering of Taiwan only.
Cliff's testimony notes:
It does not need to be pointed out to this panel that the last time such a strategy was attempted in the Pacific the ultimate results were not altogether favorable for the country that tried it, but the Chinese military doctrinal writings we examined in this study did not acknowledge the existence of such historical counterexamples.[Ed.: why does everyone think we are so soft? we continually go in and clean house . . . does MTV serve the opposite role of power projection, whatever that might be called?]
Cliff notes the specifics:
In addition to the above strategic principles, my colleague’s analysis of Chinese military doctrinal writings identified a number of specific tactics that could affect the ability of the United States to deploy and maintain forces in the Western Pacific in the event of aAnd he offers his recommendations, of which there are five:
conflict with China. These tactics include attacks on air bases; aircraft carriers; command, communications, information, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and facilities; and logistics, transportation, and support facilities.
Since this is a public hearing I will not describe the results of that analysis but instead proceed directly to those of our recommendations for mitigating the potential effects of such attacks that have implications for U.S. and Taiwanese forces in the Pacific region . . .Aside from the obvious miscalculation as to the American reaction to a surprise attack, one wonders if the Chinese have considered the reaction of Japan to their scheme. While bases on Guam or Okinawa are far from the minds of most Americans, they are not to the Japanese, and Yokosuka Naval Base is most certainly not -- being as it is, adjacent to Tokyo. No blitzkrieg on Taiwan using the Chinese strategy outlined above would be complete without neutralizing some or all of the surface fleet at Yokosuka and the air fleets in various other quarters of Japan.
Our first recommendation is to strengthen passive defenses at air bases and aviation fuel
storage facilities . . .
A second recommendation is to deploy air defense systems, both land-based and sea-
based, near critical facilities such as air bases . . .
Aside from using missiles and aircraft, Chinese military doctrinal writings also
recommend using special forces and covert operatives to attack air bases and other
critical facilities . . . Since such attacks would generally originate from areas outside of U.S. military bases, the capabilities of local security forces will be critical to defending against such attacks, as will be the existence of mechanisms to ensure effective coordination between U.S. base security forces and
local security forces . . .
. . . a fourth recommendation is that the United States seek to diversify its options for operating land-based aircraft in the region . . .
Related to this, a fifth recommendation is that the United States also increase the number of platforms from which it can operate naval aircraft in the region in the early stages of a conflict . . . Other than any carriers that might be transiting through the region, however, currently the closest additional carriers would be those based on the west coast of the United States. Given that a conflict with China could begin with little warning, this means that as much as two weeks could elapse before
additional aircraft carriers reached the area of combat operations. The Department of Defense has already recommended forward-deploying an additional aircraft carrier in the Pacific, but it is important to note that precisely where this carrier is forward-deployed is significant. In particular, an aircraft carrier based in Hawaii would still take at least a week to reach waters near Taiwan. An aircraft carrier based in Guam, Singapore, or elsewhere in the Western Pacific, by contrast, could arrive on the scene in about three days.
It is hard to know which would anger the Japanese more, an attack on their homeland by Chinese missiles, or the fact that the Chinese deliberately discounted the visceral response the Japanese will have to it. Ruth Benedict wrote in 1946,
Japan saw the cause of the war in another light. There was anarchy in the world so long as every nation had absolute sovereignty; it was necessary for her to fight to establish a hierarchy -- under Japan, of course, since she alone representated a nation truly hierarchical from top to bottom and hence understood the necessity of taking 'one's proper place.'
UPDATE: If Mr. Cliff's analysis proves true, his team will have a place in history aside that of LtCol 'Pete' Ellis, who correctly forecast the ins and outs of the last Pacific War, 20 years in advance.
August 15, 2005
60 Years of Victory
To our good and loyal subjects: After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.- Emperor Hirohito, Accepting the Potsdam Declaration, Radio Broadcast
We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay close to the heart.
Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to insure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.
But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone--the gallant fighting of our military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of out servants of the State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people--the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, nor to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.
We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.
The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met death [otherwise] and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.
The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers and of those who lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.
We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the [unavoidable] and suffering what is unsufferable. Having been able to save *** and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.
Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.
Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.
Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won....- Gen. Douglas MacArthur, radio message to the world, September 2nd 1945, aboard USS Missouri.
As I look back upon the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that he has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.
A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.
In contradiction to my last post, Kjeld Duits reports that the taboo about talking of WWII has disappeared in Japan. I suppose I'm showing how long it's been since I was there -- 8 years -- when I remember that no one seemed to discuss such things.
May the memory of our greatest victory of the past, and the sacrifices borne by our forebears instill in us the intestinal fortitude to prevail against our current enemies, and to destroy the existential threat they pose to our freedom and the freedoms of others.