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5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat.

Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. Will the target be Asia?

harry-kazianis
March 12, 2014

Last week I noted four lessons Asia watchers should ponder in light of the events unfolding in UkraineAs there has been no letup and various pundits warn of a new Cold War it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that any sanctions introduced by Washington against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect. And such a boomerang could have some oomph. What would such a boomerang look like? Here are five ways (beyond the one Ankit Panda pointed out last week) Putin could make life very difficult for America and its allies in Asia if tensions in Eastern Europe were to intensify and Russia sought to retaliate:

1. Russian Arms Sales to China go hog wild – Remember that deal that keeps floating around concerningRussian SU-35s and advanced conventional submarines to China? Even if things don’t get worse in Ukraine, I think we can consider that a done deal now. But, heck, why stop there! If Washington wants to keep upping the ante in Ukraine it might be a great time for Moscow to expand its dealings with China to levels never seen. Remember all that talk about hypersonic weapons in January? Since both nations are pursing such weapons, why not share the costs and the spoils? It seems 5th generation fighters aren’t easy for anyone to craft these days—so why not a joint Russo-Sino development project? If things were to get really nasty, and Russia decided to pull out of the INF treaty, maybe it’s time Moscow and Beijing exchange notes on all those lovelyA2/AD weapons systems we like to talk about here on Flashpoints? I could go on and on. The bottom line: If Russia wanted to make things hard for America in Asia at a time when its defense budget is shrinking, here is an easy way to do it.

2. Moscow goes all in on natural resource sales to Beijing – While large deals were announced late last year, China would love to purchase as much Russian oil, natural gas and any other natural resources it could get its hands on. While issues of price have slowed or halted other deals in the past, Russia this time might be a little more flexible, especially if it were to halt or slow sales to Ukraine or Western Europe. China clearly wins in such a deal as it would become less reliant on sea-borne natural resources imports that could be disrupted if things with America were to go really south.

3. Russian Arms Sales to Iran, Rebooted – While any analysis here must factor in P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal, Moscow could seek to make trouble for Washington and its allies by rebooting arms sales to Iran. With Russia and Iran already trying to work out the aftermath of an aborted sale of the S-300 air defense system, Putin may decide to put the system back on the table for Iran. In fact, he may even suggest selling Tehran the more advanced S-400 system. Consider this: if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran fears an attack by the West over its nuclear facilities, Russia could be in position to supply all the weapons it needs to make such an attack even more complicated than it would already be.

4. Syria: Give Assad all the arms he wants: While Russia may have offered an unlikely solution to the chemical weapons crisis of last summer, the U.S. and its allies should expect nothing from Moscow if Putin’s boomerang comes lunging back at them. Putin could easily begin sending even more arms to his allies in Syria, raising the stakes and a death toll that is already reaching epic if not historic proportions. While it may be hard to envision Russia being able to completely turn the tide with Assad winning a clear victory, Moscow could certainly change the calculus if it decided to go all in and arm Syria to the teeth.

5. The Death of the Pivot/Rebalance: So say tensions in Eastern Europe were to escalate even further with Russia formally annexing Crimea or worse—Russia taking large sections of Eastern Ukraine. It does not seem out of the question that Washington would be forced to consider beefing up its security commitments in Europe. While additional forces could certainly move into the region as a deterrent to further Russia troublemaking, missile defense plans scuttled in the past could be re-crafted, and U.S. naval power could make a strong comeback. All this comes at a price however. Unless the U.S. were to increase its defense spending which, short of a shooting war I consider unlikely, American forces, already stretched thin to begin with, would be even more strained. Washington may simply have no choice but to reconsider its mighty pivot/rebalance to Asia. Add in the fact that a senior defense department official may have put the final coffin in it anyway– stating that “right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen”– one more nail for good measure thanks to Russia would certainly seal its fate.

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat.

Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. Will the target be Asia?

harry-kazianis
March 12, 2014

Last week I noted four lessons Asia watchers should ponder in light of the events unfolding in UkraineAs there has been no letup and various pundits warn of a new Cold War it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that any sanctions introduced by Washington against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect. And such a boomerang could have some oomph. What would such a boomerang look like? Here are five ways (beyond the one Ankit Panda pointed out last week) Putin could make life very difficult for America and its allies in Asia if tensions in Eastern Europe were to intensify and Russia sought to retaliate:

1. Russian Arms Sales to China go hog wild – Remember that deal that keeps floating around concerningRussian SU-35s and advanced conventional submarines to China? Even if things don’t get worse in Ukraine, I think we can consider that a done deal now. But, heck, why stop there! If Washington wants to keep upping the ante in Ukraine it might be a great time for Moscow to expand its dealings with China to levels never seen. Remember all that talk about hypersonic weapons in January? Since both nations are pursing such weapons, why not share the costs and the spoils? It seems 5th generation fighters aren’t easy for anyone to craft these days—so why not a joint Russo-Sino development project? If things were to get really nasty, and Russia decided to pull out of the INF treaty, maybe it’s time Moscow and Beijing exchange notes on all those lovelyA2/AD weapons systems we like to talk about here on Flashpoints? I could go on and on. The bottom line: If Russia wanted to make things hard for America in Asia at a time when its defense budget is shrinking, here is an easy way to do it.

2. Moscow goes all in on natural resource sales to Beijing – While large deals were announced late last year, China would love to purchase as much Russian oil, natural gas and any other natural resources it could get its hands on. While issues of price have slowed or halted other deals in the past, Russia this time might be a little more flexible, especially if it were to halt or slow sales to Ukraine or Western Europe. China clearly wins in such a deal as it would become less reliant on sea-borne natural resources imports that could be disrupted if things with America were to go really south.

3. Russian Arms Sales to Iran, Rebooted – While any analysis here must factor in P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal, Moscow could seek to make trouble for Washington and its allies by rebooting arms sales to Iran. With Russia and Iran already trying to work out the aftermath of an aborted sale of the S-300 air defense system, Putin may decide to put the system back on the table for Iran. In fact, he may even suggest selling Tehran the more advanced S-400 system. Consider this: if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran fears an attack by the West over its nuclear facilities, Russia could be in position to supply all the weapons it needs to make such an attack even more complicated than it would already be.

4. Syria: Give Assad all the arms he wants: While Russia may have offered an unlikely solution to the chemical weapons crisis of last summer, the U.S. and its allies should expect nothing from Moscow if Putin’s boomerang comes lunging back at them. Putin could easily begin sending even more arms to his allies in Syria, raising the stakes and a death toll that is already reaching epic if not historic proportions. While it may be hard to envision Russia being able to completely turn the tide with Assad winning a clear victory, Moscow could certainly change the calculus if it decided to go all in and arm Syria to the teeth.

5. The Death of the Pivot/Rebalance: So say tensions in Eastern Europe were to escalate even further with Russia formally annexing Crimea or worse—Russia taking large sections of Eastern Ukraine. It does not seem out of the question that Washington would be forced to consider beefing up its security commitments in Europe. While additional forces could certainly move into the region as a deterrent to further Russia troublemaking, missile defense plans scuttled in the past could be re-crafted, and U.S. naval power could make a strong comeback. All this comes at a price however. Unless the U.S. were to increase its defense spending which, short of a shooting war I consider unlikely, American forces, already stretched thin to begin with, would be even more strained. Washington may simply have no choice but to reconsider its mighty pivot/rebalance to Asia. Add in the fact that a senior defense department official may have put the final coffin in it anyway– stating that “right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen”– one more nail for good measure thanks to Russia would certainly seal its fate.

The 1914 debate: Is Europe’s past really Asia’s future? – World – CBC News

The 1914 debate: Is Europe’s past really Asia’s future? – World – CBC News.

The Japan-China provocations show no sign of letting up

By Joe Schlesinger, CBC News Posted: Feb 08, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 08, 2014 5:00 AM ET

People wait to offer New Year prayers at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Jan. 1. 2014. Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a Japanese cabinet member had just visited the shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.  People wait to offer New Year prayers at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Jan. 1. 2014. Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a Japanese cabinet member had just visited the shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression. (Yuya Shino / Reuters)

Photo of Joe Schlesinger

Joe Schlesinger
Foreign Correspondent Emeritus

Joe Schlesinger was a foreign correspondent for CBC for 28 years, covering natural disasters, political upheavals and conflicts from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf. In 2009, the Canadian Journalism Foundation honoured Schlesinger for his body of work.

The Davos economic conference is over, and the presidents, prime ministers and other potentates who attended have gone home with their briefcases full of recipes on how to make the world — and themselves — richer and more secure.

Some of these recipes will surely do some good. Except for one big hitch. The kitchens in which the fate of nations is baked may be in danger of blowing up.

The man holding the fuse aloft is Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan no less.

His warning was that the current tension between his country and China is similar to the rivalry between Britain and Germany that led to the First World War 100 years ago. And it sparked a very angry, un-Davos-like response from the Chinese, one of whom compared Abe to North Korea’s wacky dictator.

While Abe talked in generalities about the trouble brewing in the region, everyone knew that he was talking about the escalating tug of war over the eight contested islands in the East China Sea.

These rocks, some smaller than a football field, are called Diaoyu by the Chinese; they are 330 km from China’s coast and 410 km from Japan, where they are known as Senkaku.

Their inhabitants: moles, goats and albatrosses. More importantly, though, the islands are surrounded by the magical Aladdin’s lamp of our era — oil and gas deposits.

Superpower rules

The area has been controlled by Japan since the days of gunboats and colonial expansion in the 1890s.

And in laying claim to these islands now, China is trying to match its status as a new economic superpower by asserting itself as a military force (as Abe sees it, like Germany did a century ago).

INDIA-JAPANAfter Davos, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moved on to India where he talked up the close ties between the two nations as they close ranks against mutual rival China. (Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters)

Two months ago, Beijing announced the creation of an air defence identification zone over the portion of the East China Sea that includes Diaoyu.

The new rules, with their implicit threat of military action against foreign aircraft that don’t identify themselves to Chinese authorities, caused an international uproar.

But the immediate danger is in the military jockeying that’s taking place over these islands.

The warplanes China has dispatched to patrol the area have been challenged by U.S., Japanese and South Korean fighter planes.

With armed planes buzzing each other in a small airspace, there is the very real possibility that a simple miscalculation could lead to war, not unlike the small events that triggered WWI.

Another danger factor is the animosity that still exists between the Chinese and Japanese; in many ways they have never put the Second World War behind them as most other former enemies have.

Echoes of 1914

It isn’t that either Japan or China wants war necessarily — though both are arming noticeably.

What’s more likely going on in the East China Sea is that two of the world’s largest economies — China is No. 2 and Japan No. 3 — have ramped up their bullhorn rivalry as a means of deflecting attention from their own domestic problems.

However, if not checked by the power of No. 1 — the U.S., which is showing its disinclination to intervene abroad militarily — the animosity between China and Japan could unleash a wider conflict.

When 1914 came, there was no hint of the scale of the disaster to come.

Then, as now, the world had gone through a period without the kind of far-ranging wars that devastated continents.

US-JAPAN-SHRINE/A Rising Sun flag with a picture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Hideki Tojo, Imperial Japan’s WWII general, is burnt during protest outside the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong in December. Large-scale protests took place in South Korea and China after Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. (Tyrone Siu / Reuters)

Europe, which endured centuries of bloody conflicts, had been largely peaceful from the 1850s on.

But by the early 1900s, a growing world economy rested on colonial empires. Not just European ones either.

Japan also acquired colonies towards the end of 19th century, mainly by conquering Korea and setting its sights on Russian-controlled Manchuria.

What made being an imperial power so attractive was that it provided cheap colonial labour and raw materials — the equivalent of today’s coveted undersea resources — and turned these colonies into protected markets for the “mother” country’s manufactured goods.

Lines in the sea

In 1914, the world’s two biggest industrial powers were Germany and Britain, who were also among each other’s biggest trading partners.

But the Germans were frustrated because the Brits had the world’s largest empire — and navy. And they became determined to grab a bigger share of the global pie.

Their opportunity came when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne next door, was assassinated in June 1914 by a Serbian nationalist.

The Austrians, encouraged by Germany’s promises to back them up with its huge army, blamed the assassination on Serbia and declared war on the Serbian kingdom.

That started the dominoes falling. As expected, Russia came out on Serbia’s side. Germany, in turn, declared war on Russia and, for good measure, on France as an ally of Russia, while Britain joined in as an ally of France.

Once the U.K. became involved, Canada was in automatically as a member of the British Empire.

Even distant Japan declared war on Germany because of an alliance with Britain. And Turkey, which had been at odds with Russia, also joined the fray.

Within four months of Ferdinand’s death just about all of Europe and much beyond was bogged down in a war that would last four years and cost more than 16 million lives.

Some would argue it has continued its baneful influence to this day, from communism to Nazism and the Second World War with its many disastrous aftershocks.

The grievous miscalculations of 1914 should serve all those involved in the current spat over those few rocks in the China Sea as a lesson about the danger of setting lines in the sea and defying the rest of the world with shows of might.

Once the shooting starts it can be too late. As it was in 1914.

Water in Beijing Scarce, and Getting Scarcer » The Epoch Times

Water in Beijing Scarce, and Getting Scarcer » The Epoch Times.

Beijing citizens are filling drinking water.
By international definitions, water scarcity is defined at less than 500 cubic meters of water per person per year. Annual water supply in Beijing totals less than 100 cubic meters of water per person, making Beijing’s water shortage worse than that of the Middle East and North Africa. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

According to China’s Legal Evening News, Beijing has been low on water since 1999 and has now experienced a severe water shortage for several years.

Beijing requires an average of 3.6 billion cubic meters of water annually, while water sources provide only 2.1 billion cubic meters, resulting in a shortage of 1.5 billion cubic meters of water each year.

By international definitions, water scarcity is defined as less than 500 cubic meters of water per person per year. The annual water supply in Beijing totals less than 100 cubic meters of water per person, making Beijing’s water shortage worse than that of the Middle East and North Africa.

In the past, Beijing had an abundant supply of water from the five rivers that flow through the city. Yongding River, one of the main tributaries in the Hai River system and best known as the largest river to flow through Beijing Municipality, has now dried up.

In an attempt to eliminate the shortage, Beijing began turning to underground water and reservoirs. Overexploitation eventually drained these sources as well, making the transfer of water from other regions the only remaining choice.

Water Transfer

Billions of dollars have been spent on the South-North Water Transfer Project over the years. However, according to Beijing Water Authority deputy director Liu Bin at a recent press conference, even 1 billion cubic meters of water from the south each year is insufficient to eliminate the severe water shortage in Beijing.

Water conservation ecology expert Wang Weiluo from Germany told Sound of Hope radio network that water scarcity in Beijing is a manmade disaster that began following the Chinese Communist Party taking over in 1949.

He says that Mao’s decision to construct a water reservoir for Beijing had intercepted 1.4 billion cubic meters of water from the Yongding, causing drying and pollution.

Wang says that there is no data on the feasibility study of the South-North Water Transfer Project and that it was initiated simply based on the words of Mao Zedong.

When Mao visited the Yellow River in 1959, he suggested “borrowing” 100 billion cubic meters of water from the south—twice the amount of the water in the Yellow River. Wang says that Mao’s suggestions were purely based on an impression and were not backed up with any research or data.

When China was given permission to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Jiang Zemin initiated the middle route of the South-North Water Transfer Project in the name of bringing clean water to Beijing for the Games. Over five years after the Games ended, no water has passed through. Beijing has been receiving water transferred from nearby Hebei Province since 2008.

There is another factor involved in Beijing’s water shortage: the predominance of Beijing in China.

According to Beijing human rights lawyer Tang Jitian, China is setting Beijing up for disaster by centering all of its efforts and resources on Beijing alone. As other regions are deprived of resources and opportunities for development, their workforce migrates to Beijing, resulting in an expanding population that takes a toll on Beijing’s natural resources. At some point, Beijing’s expansion will reach a point where resources are simply unavailable, according to Tang.

Translation by Virginia Wu. Research by Lisa Huang. Written in English by
Read the original Chinese article. 

China Thinks It Can Defeat America in Battle — War is Boring — Medium

China Thinks It Can Defeat America in Battle — War is Boring — Medium.

But Beijing doesn’t seem to take into account U.S. submarines

The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing.

Now the good news. China is wrong—and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America’s nuclear-powered submarines.

Moreover, for economic and demographic reasons Beijing has a narrow historical window in which to use its military to alter the world’s power structure. If China doesn’t make a major military move in the next couple decades, it probably never will.

The U.S. Navy’s submarines—the unsung main defenders of the current world order—must hold the line against China for another 20 years. After that, America can declare a sort of quiet victory in the increasingly chilly Cold War with China.

A Chinese Type 071 amphibious assault ship. Via Chinese Internet

How China wins

The bad news came from Lee Fuell, from the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, during Fuell’s testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30.

For years, Chinese military planning assumed that any attack by the People’s Liberation Army on Taiwan or a disputed island would have to begin with a Pearl Harbor-style preemptive missile strike by China against U.S. forces in Japan and Guam. The PLA was so afraid of overwhelming American intervention that it genuinely believed it could not win unless the Americans were removed from the battlefield before the main campaign even began.

A preemptive strike was, needless to say, a highly risky proposition. If it worked, the PLA just might secure enough space and time to defeat defending troops, seize territory and position itself for a favorable post-war settlement.

But if China failed to disable American forces with a surprise attack, Beijing could find itself fighting a full-scale war on at least two fronts: against the country it was invading plus the full might of U.S. Pacific Command, fully mobilized and probably strongly backed by the rest of the world.

That was then. But after two decades of sustained military modernization, the Chinese military has fundamentally changed its strategy in just the last year or so. According to Fuell, recent writings by PLA officers indicate “a growing confidence within the PLA that they can more-readily withstand U.S. involvement.”

The preemptive strike is off the table—and with it, the risk of a full-scale American counterattack. Instead, Beijing believes it can attack Taiwan or another neighbor while also bloodlessly deterring U.S. intervention. It would do so by deploying such overwhelmingly strong military forces—ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, jet fighters and the like—that Washington dare not get involved.

The knock-on effects of deterring America could be world-changing. “Backing away from our commitments to protect Taiwan, Japan or the Philippines would be tantamount to ceding East Asia to China’s domination,” Roger Cliff, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, said at the same U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on Jan. 30.

Worse, the world’s liberal economic order—and indeed, the whole notion of democracy—could suffer irreparable harm. “The United States has both a moral and a material interest in a world in which democratic nations can survive and thrive,” Cliff asserted.

Fortunately for that liberal order, America possesses by far the world’s most powerful submarine force—one poised to quickly sink any Chinese invasion fleet. In announcing its readiness to hold off the U.S. military, the PLA seems to have ignored Washington’s huge undersea advantage.

The missile submarine USS ‘Georgia.’ Navy photo

The Silent Service

It’s not surprising that Beijing would overlook America’s subs. MostAmericans overlook their own undersea fleet—and that’s not entirely their own fault. The U.S. sub force takes pains to avoid media coverage in order to maximize its secrecy and stealth. “The submarine cruises the world’s oceans unseen,” the Navy stated on its Website.

Unseen and unheard. That why the sub force calls itself the “Silent Service.”

The Navy has 74 submarines, 60 of which are attack or missile submarines optimized for finding and sinking other ships or blasting land targets. The balance is ballistic-missile boats that carry nuclear missiles and would not routinely participate in military campaigns short of an atomic World War III.

Thirty-three of the attack and missile boats belong to the Pacific Fleet, with major bases in Washington State, California, Hawaii and Guam. Deploying for six months or so roughly every year and a half, America’s Pacific subs frequently stop over in Japan and South Korea and occasionally even venture under the Arctic ice.

According to Adm. Cecil Haney, the former commander of Pacific Fleet subs, on any given day 17 boats are underway and eight are “forward-deployed,” meaning they are on station in a potential combat zone. To the Pacific Fleet, that pretty much means waters near China.

America has several submarine types. The numerous Los Angeles-class attack boats are Cold War stalwarts that are steadily being replaced by newerVirginia-class boats with improved stealth and sensors. The secretiveSeawolfs, numbering just three—all of them in the Pacific—are big, fast and more heavily armed than other subs. The Ohio-class missile submarines are former ballistic missile boats each packing 154 cruise missile.

U.S. subs are, on average, bigger, faster, quieter and more powerful than the rest of the world’s subs. And there are more of them. The U.K. is building just seven new Astute attack boats. Russia aims to maintain around 12 modern attack subs. China is struggling to deploy a handful of rudimentary nuclear boats.

Able to lurk silently under the waves and strike suddenly with torpedoes and missiles, submarines have tactical and strategic effect greatly disproportionate to their relatively small numbers. During the 1982 Falklands War, the British sub Conqueror torpedoed and sank the Argentine cruiserGeneral Belgranokilling 323 men. The sinking kept the rest of the Argentine fleet bottled up for the duration of the conflict.

America’s eight-at-a-time submarine picket in or near Chinese waters could be equally destructive to Chinese military plans, especially considering the PLA’s limited anti-submarine skills. “Although China might control the surface of the sea around Taiwan, its ability to find and sink U.S. submarines will be extremely limited for the foreseeable future,” Cliff testified. “Those submarines would likely be able to intercept and sink Chinese amphibious transports as they transited toward Taiwan.”

So it almost doesn’t matter that a modernized PLA thinks it possesses the means to fight America above the waves, on land and in the air. If it can’t safely sail an invasion fleet as part of its territorial ambitions, it can’t achieve its strategic goals—capturing Taiwan and or some island also claimed by a neighboring country—through overtly military means.

That reality should inform Washington’s own strategy. As the United States has already largely achieved the world order it struggled for over the last century, it need only preserve and defend this order. In other words, America has the strategic high ground against China, as the latter must attack and alterthe world in order to get what it wants.

In practical military terms, that means the Pentagon can more or less ignore most of China’s military capabilities, including those that appear to threaten traditional U.S. advantages in nukes, air warfare, mechanized ground operations and surface naval maneuvers.

“We won’t invade China, so ground forces don’t play,” pointed out Wayne Hughes, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. “We won’t conduct a first nuclear strike. We should not adopt an air-sea strike plan against the mainland, because that is a sure way to start World War IV.”

Rather, America must deny the Chinese free access to their near waters. “We need only enough access to threaten a war at sea,” Hughes said. In his view, a fleet optimized for countering China would have large numbers of small surface ships for enforcing a trade blockade. But the main combatants would be submarines, “to threaten destruction of all Chinese warships and commercial vessels in the China Seas.”

Cliff estimated that in wartime, each American submarine would be able to get off “a few torpedo shots” before needing to “withdraw for self-preservation.” But assuming eight subs each fire three torpedoes, and just half those torpedoes hit, the American attack boats could destroy all of China’s major amphibious ships—and with them, Beijing’s capacity for invading Taiwan or seizing a disputed island.

The sonar room on the USS ‘Toledo.’ Bryan William Jones photo

Waiting out the Chinese decline

If American subs can hold the line for another 20 years, China might age right out of its current, aggressive posture without ever having attacked anyone. That’s because economic and demographic trends in China point towards a rapidly aging population, flattening economic growth and fewer resources available for military modernization.

To be fair, almost all developed countries are also experiencing this aging, slowing and increasing peacefulness. But China’s trends are pronounced owing to a particularly steep drop in the birth rate traceable back to the Chinese Communist Party’s one-child policy.

Another factor is the unusual speed with which the Chinese economy has expanded to its true potential, thanks to the focused investment made possible by an authoritarian government … and also thanks to that government’s utter disregard for the natural environment and for the rights of everyday Chinese people.

“The economic model that propelled China through three decades of meteoric growth appears unsustainable,” Andrew Erickson, a Naval War College analyst, told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

What Erickson described as China’s “pent-up national potential” could begin expiring as early as 2030, by which point “China will have world’s highest proportion of people over 65,” he predicted. “An aging society with rising expectations, burdened with rates of chronic diseases exacerbated by sedentary lifestyles, will probably divert spending from both military development and the economic growth that sustains it.”

Wisely, American political and military leaders have made the investments necessary to sustain U.S. undersea power for at least that long. After a worrying dip in submarine production, starting in 2012 the Pentagon asked for—and Congress funded—the acquisition of two Virginia-class submarines per year for around $2.5 billion apiece, a purchase rate adequate to maintain the world’s biggest nuclear submarine fleet indefinitely.

The Pentagon is also improving the Virginia design, adding undersea-launched dronesextra missile capacity and potentially a new anti-ship missile.

Given China’s place in the world, its underlying national trends and America’s pointed advantage in just that aspect of military power that’s especially damaging to Chinese plans, it seems optimistic for PLA officers to assume they can launch an attack on China’s neighbors without first knocking out U.S. forces.

Not that a preemptive strike would make any difference, as the only American forces that truly matter for containing China are the very ones that China cannot reach.

For they are deep underwater.

David Axe’s new book Shadow Wars is out. Sign up for a daily War is Boring email update here. Subscribe to WIB’s RSS feed here and follow the main page here.

Commentary: 2014: A Risky Year in Geopolitics? | The National Interest

Commentary: 2014: A Risky Year in Geopolitics? | The National Interest.

What are the biggest political risks for 2014?

There are plenty of potential crises to keep us up at night in 2014. There are tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea and elite-level executions in North Korea. Violence continues to worsen in the Middle East with a resurgence of a more localized Al Qaeda, a deteriorating security environment in Iraq, and 2014’s biggest geopolitical pivot point: the make-or-break Iran nuclear agreement. If the P5+1 and Iran strike a deal, it would be a huge boon for the Obama administration, but it would leave Iran economically emboldened and looking to backstop Shia initiatives across the region, putting it even more at odds with Saudi Arabia. A deal is, on balance, more likely than not. But if it falls through, it means a spike in oil prices, in addition to the likelihood that Israel strikes Iran before it can sprint to nuclear-breakout capacity. All of these geopolitical concerns are front and center for the coming year.

But above all, two essential questions best categorize the major political risks of 2014. For many of the world’s predominant emerging markets, it’s an internally focused question: How will key developing countries adapt to upcoming elections or implement ambitious agendas—and what does it mean for their behavior beyond their borders? For the United States, the question is externally focused. The international community perceives America’s foreign-policy behavior as increasingly unpredictable. Is the United States disengaging internationally? How will policymakers define the role that the US should play in the world? Much depends on these concerns, as America’s relationships with its allies become increasingly fraught.

When you add these two questions to the more conventional geopolitical security uncertainties, there is one clear answer: the erosion of global leadership and coordination will become more apparent and pronounced in 2014.

How will emerging markets respond to internal challenges?

This year, we will see domestic distractions in emerging markets, from election cycles to unprecedented reform agendas; do not expect them to play a significant role internationally that does not cohere with their more pressing priorities at home. We are in the midst of a new era of political challenges for emerging markets, as slowing growth, sputtering economic models, and rising demands from newly enfranchised middle classes create heightened uncertainty. As recent protests in Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, Colombia, Ukraine and Russia have shown, new middle classes have new demands—and are willing to take to the streets if they go unmet.

It is in this context that six of the world’s largest emerging markets—Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey—will hold national elections in 2014. In all six countries, the incumbent party will have ruled for a decade or more, but since coming to power, few of them will have faced an electoral cycle quite like this. Political, social, and economic dynamics in each of these countries vary immensely, but elections raise the risk of prevote populist policymaking in all of them. As emerging-market growth wanes, many of these countries need to implement economic reforms in order to enhance productivity and continue enriching their citizens. But as elections loom, the fears of politicians grow, and substantive reform of pensions, privatization, labor markets, and taxation will stall. Nor will the outlook improve substantially post-elections. We are likely to see second mandates of weaker leaderships—a political environment that is by no means ideal for big-bang reforms.

While these six emerging markets are the most important players for the global economic community, the emerging market elections story extends much further. A total of forty-four democratic emerging-market countries accounting for 36 percent of the world’s population will hold national elections this year. Growing middle classes across the emerging market space are expecting more and better services precisely as governments’ capacity to deliver (economically and politically) is diminishing. That leaves emerging market governments with their hands full at home.

Among emerging markets, Turkey is especially vulnerable in 2014. The country faces spillover effects from the civil war in Syria and a re-emergence of the Kurdish insurgency. More worryingly, Prime Minister Erdogan’s increasingly aggressive behavior is a huge variable at a time when he is likely to become president. Expect uncertainty and conflict over the division of powers between him and the prime minister.

China, by far the most important emerging market in the world, certainly does not face electoral pressure; in fact, the new leadership under Xi Jinping has consolidated power quickly and efficiently since the leadership transition in late 2012. But China will face demands from its constituents and domestic distractions all the same, as its economy is now undergoing a dramatic shift. The new leadership has embraced far-reaching reform to a greater degree over president Xi Jinping’s first year than we’ve seen in the past two decades. Beijing will prioritize reform over more rapid economic growth in 2014, likely focusing on reforms that address public concerns to bolster its political strength and popular legitimacy. Expect social-policy reform at the forefront, with energy policy as another priority. We could also see financial reform moving more quickly than current consensus would indicate.

These reforms constitute a huge potential positive for China’s investment climate and potential integration into the world economy. Beijing must, however, tread carefully: there are many dangerous moving pieces attached to the reform agenda. There will be losers in the reform process as industries go out of business, officials get purged, and firms come under heavy regulatory scrutiny. If reforms move too quickly, they could destabilize the ruling party from within, as these key stakeholders push back to protect their vested interests. To protect against public and bureaucratic backlash, the leadership is using anti-corruption and reeducation efforts to intimidate reform opponents within the party while using new technologies to mitigate public dissent. But if the reforms fail or are widely perceived to be moving too slowly, political instability and popular protest could grow. That is only magnified by the fact that Beijing is doing this in the context of a fundamentally changed information environment, where the proliferation of information leaves the ruling party more beholden to the demands of its citizens—and where rapid shifts in popular sentiment can arise quickly and unexpectedly. Missteps could undermine the broader reform process and the leadership itself.

If— or perhaps, when— there are bumps in the road, Beijing will try to divert public anger toward foreign targets. Xi Jinping’s first substantial foreign-policy move was to announce an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea; that caters to widespread anti-Japanese sentiment within China. Should trouble emerge domestically, the Xi government might be willing to deflect attention by playing up this antagonism. On the other hand, in the longer run, if China implements its reform agenda successfully, it could empower the regime to project its regional influence still further.

Russia is one emerging market where, under President Putin’s rule, there is a great willingness to intervene on the international stage—but often in unpredictable ways. Putin remains the single most powerful individual in the world, but two worrying trends are converging: his popularity has slipped, and after a decade of rising expectations, Russia’s economy is stagnating. This makes Russia under Putin, a leader unusually capable of getting big things done quickly, far less predictable at home and abroad.

Is the United States disengaging internationally?

As Putin injects uncertainty by intervening abroad, the United States is doing so as well—but predominantly by disengaging.

Some of this decline in consistent US foreign-policy engagement is determined by structural international changesFirst, there are too many increasingly influential countries that need to be at the table for a negotiation to have global impact, making it more difficult to coordinate effectively at the multilateral level. On top of this, a distracted German-led Europe is focusing inward on economic prerogatives of repairing the eurozone and restoring competitiveness; for foreign-policy engagement, the United States would much prefer the more geopolitically aligned UK and France driving European affairs. Emerging markets, particularly Russia and China, are more willing to challenge US preferences abroad.

Some of this new American foreign policy tack derives from tectonic shifts in the US domestic picture. In the 2012 election, just 5 percent of voters ranked foreign policy as their priority, and widening income inequality is persuading many Americans that they do not share the benefits of US engagement abroad. With a reactive, risk-averse approach to foreign policy along with a weaker second-term foreign-policy team, the Obama administration’s preferences and recent actions have magnified the issue considerably. The White House has made a handful of important missteps in the last year, even if many were at least partially the product of circumstance. The NSA scandal in the wake of the Snowden revelations has undermined the United States around the world. The need for attention at home amidst congressional infighting, a government shutdown, and the Obamacare rollout fiasco has come with significant foreign-policy opportunity cost—perhaps most importantly, Obama’s need to miss the APEC summit. Obama’s vacillation on whether to strike Syria undermined US credibility, and when the chance for a chemical-weapons agreement arose (thanks to an internationally engaged Vladimir Putin…), Obama jumped at the chance to take the deal and chalk it up as a justification for Washington remaining a spectator to the broader civil war.

Add all of these factors together and it seems that a perfect storm of US foreign policy decline is brewing. A poorly defined, more risk-averse US role in the world has allies frustrated with and uncertain about Washington’s longstanding policy preferences and commitments. They are actively questioning some American security guarantees and worrying about Washington’s reluctance to deploy military, economic, and diplomatic capital.

This new period of uncertainty for American foreign policy will impact US relations with countries around the world—but by no means equally. Despite their consternation, America’s closest allies don’t have viable alternatives. Mexico and Canada are far too economically integrated with the US to effectively hedge the relationship with outreach to other major powers. For Japan, Israel and the UK—the United States’ preeminent ally in each of their respective regions—the same is true strategically. As a result, they are particularly exposed in an increasingly leaderless world order.

That’s not the case, though, for the US’s second-tier allies, who have flexibility in structuring their strategic partnerships. This a much larger group, including Germany, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Brazil, and Indonesia. All have governments that consider it unwise to bet too fully on the US, and they are preparing to hedge their position by shifting their international orientation accordingly.

The prime example is the deterioration in US-Saudi relations. In recent months, the Saudi leadership has rejected a seat on the UN Security Council and penned forceful op-eds in Western publications, explaining Saudi consternation with American policy in the Middle East—the Iran nuclear deal in particular—and the need for Saudi Arabia to “go it alone.” The Brazilians and Germans have been particularly vocal in their opposition to NSA practices in the wake of the discovery that their leaders’ personal emails had been monitored by US intelligence.

The implications of these shifting alliances will be stark. US corporations are primed for new challenges. Post-Snowden, American firms that rely on collecting or sharing information, such as telecoms, banks and credit-card companies, may encounter a more hostile regulatory environment in countries like France, Germany and Brazil. US defense companies selling into countries such as Turkey and the Gulf states could also find themselves on the losing end of a tilt away from the United States. And expect Washington’s multilateral agenda to suffer, as “coalitions of the willing” become harder to establish and important trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership lose some momentum. Confusion over US commitments will complicate choices for countries balancing security and economic interests between the US and China; some Asian governments may align more closely with Beijing. And as the US is no longer perceived as a credible driver of the single global marketplace, a weakening of international standards is likely in the years to come. We might see faster fragmentation of the Internet, more disjointed financial regulation, a weaker NATO, and an even more fragmented global environment.

But despite its waning foreign-policy engagement, the US is not in economic decline.Investors continue to look past America’s many challenges and bet heavily on the US economy.In fact, driven by an energy revolution, game-changing technologies in diverse sectors, favorable demographics, and strong underlying political and social stability, the American economic story remains among the most dynamic and exciting in the world.The United States may be hamstrung by issues such as its yawning gap between rich and poor and its increasingly ineffectual secondary-education system, but for now at least, corporate investment and international support for the US dollar remain robust. So despite Washington’s inconsistencies on the international stage, America’s allies—and the international community—are set to struggle with it most.

In 2014, as emerging markets look inward and American foreign policy goes wayward, the only certainty is that international coordination is eroding. That will generate a more volatile global landscape and unforeseen crises.

Ian Bremmer is the president of the Eurasia Group, global research professor at New York University and a contributing editor at The National Interest.

Image: Flickr/Beverly Goodwin. CC BY 2.0.

» Harvard Professor Warns of “Devastating” China-Japan War Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!

» Harvard Professor Warns of “Devastating” China-Japan War Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Russian study says U.S. could easily defeat Beijing in nuclear conflict

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
January 23, 2014

Image: Ezra Vogel (Wikimedia Commons).

Harvard Professor Ezra Vogel warned of the devastating consequences of a potential war between China and Japan during a conference in Beijing.

Vogel, a Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University, is an expert sinologist having written extensively on relations between the two countries for decades.

During his speech, Vogel highlighted Japan’s historical revisionism, characterized by the refusal in Japanese school textbooks to accept responsibility for the second world war, as well as the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, as the two key factors driving hostilities.

“Any potential war between the two nations would be devastating to both, Vogel said,” according to the Want China Times, “adding that it would take at least 10 years for Beijing and Tokyo to resume normalized relations if a third Sino-Japanese war were to take place.”

Vogel also urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honors 14 war criminals who were executed as a result of post-war Allied tribunals. During his speech at Davos yesterday, Abe warned that the global community must restrain military expansion in Asia. Although he didn’t name them directly, Abe’s comments were obviously aimed at Beijing.

Vogel’s warning arrives concurrently with analysis by Moscow-based Expert magazine which suggests that the United States would easily defeat China in a potential nuclear war because Beijing is reliant on decades-old Soviet technology. Back in November, Chinese state-run media released a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear strike launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.

Earlier this week, state media reported that China’s new hypersonic missile vehicle is primarily designed to target U.S. aircraft carriers.

A deluge of aggressive rhetoric has emerged out of official Communist Party organs in recent months, including discussion about China’s ability to attack US military bases in the Western Pacific, as well as a lengthy editorial which appeared in Chinese state media last month explaining how the Chinese military’s current reformation process was part of a move by President Xi Jinping to prepare the People’s Liberation Army for war.

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China Preparing to Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

China Preparing to Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

“Mutually Assured Destruction” guiding hypersonic missile policy in Washington & Beijing

China’s new hypersonic missile vehicle is primarily designed to target U.S. aircraft carriers, military expert Chen Hu told the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) in yet another admission of Beijing’s increasingly hostile geopolitical posturing.

The WU-14, a hypersonic glide vehicle which can penetrate missile defense systems by traveling at up to ten times the speed of sound, underwent its first test flight earlier this month.

Despite assurances by China’s defense ministry that the new vehicle was not aimed at any particular country, Chinese military expert Chen Hu told state media that the system, “can surely be used against US carriers in any region around the globe” and that it was “designed to strike large military targets including US aircraft carriers.”

Noting that the development of the vehicle was necessary in order to maintain the balance of power in East Asia, Chen said that its purpose is to prevent the United States from using its hypersonic weapons against China, adding that the Cold War-era doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” is guiding policy both in Washington and Beijing.

Last year, China reportedly sunk a mock U.S. aircraft carrier utilizing the DF-21D anti-ship missile, dubbed the “carrier killer,” during a wargame which took place in the Gobi Desert.

Bellicose rhetoric directed at the United States by China has intensified in recent months in light of heightened tensions over the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Last month, Beijing bragged that its first aircraft carrier combat task force, led by the inaugural Liaoning warship, matched anything the United States had to offer.

A lengthy editorial which appeared in Chinese state media last month explained how the Chinese military’s current reformation process was part of a move by President Xi Jinping to prepare the People’s Liberation Army for war in response to US aggression in the Asia Pacific, developments which have prompted “major changes” in China’s national security situation.

Beijing has also pontificated about China’s ability to attack US military bases in the Western Pacific, as well as releasing a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear strike launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.

Infowars.com

The Complete Chinese War Preparedness And Military Update | Zero Hedge

The Complete Chinese War Preparedness And Military Update | Zero Hedge.

With China increasingly in the news involving some new diplomatic or geopolitical escalation, a new territorial claim, the launch of a brand new aircraft carrier, or just general chatter of military tensions surrounding the aspirational reserve currency superpower, it is time for yet another update of the complete “military and security developments  involving the people’s republic of China”, courtesy of the annual report to Congress discussing precisely this issue.

The only Org Chart that matters:

 

China Sovereignty Claims:

 

Chinese Ground Forces:

 

Chinese ground force distribution map:

 

Chinese Navy:

 

Chinese Airforce:

 

Chinese airforce distribution map:

 

China Taiwan Strait and SRBM Coverage:

 

China Conventional Strike Capabilities:

 

Chinese Missile balance:

 

China Precision Strike capabilities:

 

Chinese ICBM reach capabilities:

 

The full report link – pdf.

Beijing Shuts Down As Pollution Over Past 12 Hours Literally “Off The Chart” | Zero Hedge

Beijing Shuts Down As Pollution Over Past 12 Hours Literally “Off The Chart” | Zero Hedge.

For the past 12 hours, the so-called PM2.5 level (or China’s new pollution threshold) has been above the “serious” level. Bear in mind this is the newly adjusted-upwards threshold that already far exceeds the WHO’s health-threatening levels.

  • BEIJING WARNS RESIDENTS TO AVOID OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ON SMOG
  • BEIJING MONITORING CENTER REPORTS `SERIOUS’ AIR POLLUTION TODAY

Levels are officially “beyond index” today (with a peak at 613 so far compred to 500 “hazardous”) and the streets are empty!

Via Bloomberg:

City’s air quality index reading near Tiananmen Square, putting it in category defined as “serious” pollution.

 

City warns residents to avoid outdoor activities

 

Reading of PM2.5 pollution near Tiananmen Square was 583 micrograms per cubic meter as of 6 a.m., with average reading in past 24 hours at 338, according to city’s air-monitoring website

 

NOTE: World Health Organization recommends 24-hour PM2.5 exposure of no more than 25

The widely followed @BeijingAir twitter account confirms just how bad it is on the ground. For those confused “Beyond Index” is a friendlier way of saying “Off The Charts

Via @PeterSchloss

 

 

Beijing’s pollution beyond index at 600. Looks like no one wants to venture out in this. pic.twitter.com/jCbceuPH27

— Neela Eyunni (@neelaeyunni) January 15, 2014

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