Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 29-Mar-2009
New Pentagon report shows China continues to prepare for war with US

Web Log - March, 2009

New Pentagon report shows China continues to prepare for war with US

Rapid military buildup focuses on Taiwan, submarines, and anti-satellite weaponry.

If you listen to the words of the People's Republic of China (PRC), then you can believe that we're headed for a "harmonious world," where all countries experience the joys of "diversity" and "equality" in international relations. These claims reflect the guidance of Deng Xiaoping in the early 1990s: "observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

If you look at China's actions, you can see a country preparing for all-out war with the United States. These actions are documented in the Department of Defense's annual report to Congress, "Military Power of the People’s Republic of China." In fact, China gone much farther than it had at the time that last year's report was published.

China has been focusing on "asymmetric warfare" techniques designed to strike at weak points in America's military, and overcome America's military superiority. These include heavy investment in ballistic and cruise missile systems; undersea warfare systems, including submarines and advanced naval mines; counterspace systems; computer network operations; special operations forces; and the "Three Warfares" concept.

Three Warfares

The "Three Warfares" doctrine is extremely interesting. It's an information warfare concept aimed at influencing the psychological dimensions of military activity:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the "Three Warfares" doctrine is extremely ominous, because it comes from a complete misreading of generational eras.

This kind of "psychological warfare" works very well during a generational Unraveling era, such as the 1990s or early 2000s. During these times, while many leaders are still from the generations that survived the previous crisis war (like the Silent Generation that survived WW II), there is an aversion to war that makes psychological warfare very effective.

But during a generational Crisis era, when the leaders (like the Boomers) are in the generations born after the last crisis war, then this psychological warfare backfires, and causes the enemy to panic and overreact.

That's why this doctrine is so ominous. It's self-delusional for the Chinese. It leads them to delude themselves into believing that they can attack Taiwan and the US won't retaliate, provided that they put out the right press release to the newspapers.

In other words, this kind of psychological warfare may have been effective when Bill Clinton was President, and perhaps even when George Bush was President, but it will backfire under President Obama, who will be forced by the young public to overreact, and that in turn would cause the Chinese to overreact.

This back and forth overreaction leads to what is called the "regeneracy" in generational theory. The regeneracy occurs when the public is so shocked that political bickering ends, and civic unity is "regenerated" for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war. When each side's public is united against the other side, a crisis war is triggered.

(For information about the term "regeneracy" and about generational eras, see "Basics of Generational Dynamics.")

But China isn't depending just on psychological warfare. China has been pursuing a massive military buildup for years, as shown by the following graph from the report:

China: Military budget vs GDP growth, 1997-2008 <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Pentagon)</font>
China: Military budget vs GDP growth, 1997-2008 (Source: Pentagon)

Worldwide financial crisis

The more interesting question is how all this will be affected by the worldwide financial crisis.

World leaders in countries around the world are implementing massive stimulus packages to put people to work in things like infrastructure development.

As we'll discuss further in an article to be posted in a day or two, the most effective form of stimulus spending is military spending. During the 1930s, Hitler was much more effective than President Roosevelt. Both countries were devastated by the Great Depression, but Hitler focused Germany's stimulus spending on weapons development, while President Roosevelt did not. This gave Germany an enormous head start in WW II.

China is now embarking on a very aggressive fiscal stimulus plan. China doesn't say how much of the stimulus is going into the military. But China has already been increasing the military budget by 10-20% a year for years, as they prepare for war with the United States. I think it's quite certain that China will take advantage of this fiscal stimulus program to further increase military spending, possibly substantially.

In the US, by contrast, President Obama is planning to cut weapons systems, in order to pay for the social programs in his fiscal stimulus budget. As the world becomes increasingly dangerous, we're repeating the mistakes of the 1930s.

There is absolutely no guarantee that the USA will do well in the coming world war. Even if the USA "wins" the war, China has promised to blanket America's cities with nuclear missiles. And it's possible that the USA might very well lose the war. One scenario: After a major nuclear war, the Chinese will still have around a billion people. If they've successfully destroyed our defense infrastructure, they could send tens of millions of Chinese to take control of North America. This is all speculation, of course, but the fiscal stimulus plans coming out of the current worldwide financial crisis provides some scenarios that make it a real possibility.

The 'War Scenario Test'

I'm considering this as an addition to Generational Dynamics theory, and something with great practical significance.

As I've said many times, Generational Dynamics tells you what your final destination is, with absolute certainty, but not the path that will take you there or the time frame. The Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology that's been developed over the last seven years has developed a number of tools for narrowing the time window to obtain predictions that are not absolutely certain, but which have probabilities in the range of 80-90%.

Generational Dynamics tells us that we're headed for a "Clash of Civilizations world war," but the question always is, who will be fighting whom? Who will be the new "Allies," and who will be the new "Axis"?

I've commented several times in the past that, based on current trends, we can expect the following: China will be aligned with Pakistan and Sunni Muslims against India; Russia will be aligned with India and Shia Muslims; and India will be aligned with Britain and the west. Japan will be aligned with the West against China.

The "War Scenario Test" that I'm proposing will provide an additional analytical tool for making such forecasts.

Here's the test: For any given country, is there any realistic scenario that would propel the US immediately into a war with that country?

For China, the answer's obvious: China is spending massively on military spending to recover Taiwan, and a Chinese attack on Taiwan would bring us to war within just a few hours.

For North Korea, any move by their army across the border towards Seoul would require us to retaliate immediately.

What about Russia? I can't think of any realistic scenario that would bring us to war with Russia. In fact, last year's war in Georgia almost proves it -- there was never any consideration whatsoever that we would go to war with Russia over Georgia the way we would go to war with China over Taiwan.

India is the same - no chance of war. But Pakistan? There are two realistic possible war scenarios. One is that a war with India would bring us in on the side of India. Another is if Islamist extremists gain control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Iran is an interesting case. As I've written many times, Iran is a schizophrenic nation, with people who are pro-American, and a government that's anti-American. There is a possible war scenario -- if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, and either the EU, Israel or the US decide that their nuclear capability must be destroyed. But that's far in the future, and my expectation is that in the meantime the pro-West attitudes of the people will diffuse Iran's nuclear threat against the West.

So the idea is that if you can think of realistic war scenario, then we're likely to be enemies in the Clash of Civilizations world war. It makes sense, because if such a scenario CAN occur, then sooner or later it probably WILL occur.

The "War Scenario Test" is an analytical tool, and like all tools, it has to be used carefully and appropriately. When used this way, it provides us additional views of the future that we'll all share.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (29-Mar-2009) Permanent Link
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