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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Feb-2014
21-Feb-14 World View -- U.S. naval intelligence chief confirms worst fears of China's military buildup

Web Log - February, 2014

21-Feb-14 World View -- U.S. naval intelligence chief confirms worst fears of China's military buildup

How a world war with China would unfold

This morning's key headlines from

China is training for a 'short, sharp war' with Japan

The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)
The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)

China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has now expanded its training to include a similar attack on the Senkaku Islands and other Japanese holdings in the East China Sea. All branches of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) participated in a massive exercise last year for taking these islands.

According to James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Information Operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet:

"We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013. [We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say. ...

Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated with the Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassing China’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make) port calls throughout the region promising friendship and cooperation."

This concept of a "short, sharp attack" is quite credible, as the Chinese people widely believe that America has become weak because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that, particularly under President Barack Obama, Americans have little will to oppose China. Thus, they could quickly overwhelm Japan's forces, America would do nothing, and Chinese ownership of the Japanese islands would be part of the new status quo.

History has shown that this is a disastrous assumption.

In April, 1861, the army of America's southern Confederacy captured Fort Sumter in a "short, sharp attack." Undoubtedly, many Southern officials believed that the North wouldn't even care, since the Fort was isolated in Southern territory. And yet the North did care, triggering the extremely bloody American Civil War.

In 1939, the Nazis launched a "short, sharp attack" on Poland. They thought that Britain was weak and uninterested, since they'd already ignored an earlier short, sharp attacks on Austria and Czechoslovakia. The attack on Poland triggered World War II.

So, one can imagine that the Chinese believe that a short, sharp attack on these Japanese islands would bring no American response, like the Nazi attack on Czechoslovakia. Even if that turns out to be true, history shows that American nationalism would surge so high that any further military action by China would trigger a response, spiraling into a new world war.

The Pentagon has issued a statement saying that they expect to have peace in our time, responding to Fanell's assessment as follows:

"What I can tell you about what Secretary Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world. We continue to want to improve our bilateral military relations with China and that we also think that a major component of that is increased transparency on their part about the investments they're making and the operations they're conducting, and that's where I leave it."

United States Naval Institute and Voice of America

How a world war with China would unfold

People ask me this question all the time: If a war with China ever happens, how and when would it start?

Of course, answering that question would require a mind-reading capability, but history tells us a lot about how such a war would start and unfold.

Looking at World War II, we have two different examples to examine. The war in Europe began with Germany's "short, sharp attack" on Czechoslovakia, and so China's attack on the Senkakus may trigger a war. Or, we can look at the Pacific war that began with an all-out attack by the Japanese, and so the war may begin with a massive missile attack by the Chinese on America's aircraft carriers, cities, and military installations.

No matter what the scenario, history tells us that the Chinese population would greet such a war with jubilation.

Here's how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how war begins in his 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery:

"The passions excited in the national psyche by the onset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in its potential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction that "everything was at stake," and the threat of death and defeat functioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening the tension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied the declarations of war in Charleston in 1861, Paris in 1870, and the capitals of the major European powers in 1914 [American Civil War, Paris Commune, and World War I, respectively] were anticipatory celebrations of victory -- since nations are as incapable of imagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving their own death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted by Burckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturing in which nations now engaged when declaring war.

The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classic manifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are not convinced of their military superiority, there will be no confrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply flee the field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment the confidence of one side fails. The will to fight ("morale") evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seeks salvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. The Greek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time (the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated the spot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments, yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy." (p. 6-7)

The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, as has happened to Americans since 2003, even though we've never had any really major military disasters in Iraq.

The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disaster occurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitz describes what happens:

"The effect of defeat outside the army -- on the people and on the government -- is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis. It's a blow to the whole nervous system of the losing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect may appear to a greater or lesser degree, but it's never completely missing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with a spirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will be futile; or he does nothing, leaving everything to Fate."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that cause this "sudden collapse" and "total destruction" of self-confidence are called "regeneracy events," because they regenerate civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.

In other words, once the euphoria of war with China is destroyed (and this will be true of both the American and Chinese side), the conflict begins to turn into an all-out generational crisis war, where no the life of no individual human being will have any value at all, and the only thing that matters is survival of the nation and its way of life.

Once again, we can look to World War II for examples. The Allies allowed tens of thousands of young American soldiers to be shot down like fish in a barrel on the beaches of Normandy, they firebombed Dresden and Tokyo, and they used nuclear weapons on two Japanese cities. This is what ALWAYS happens at the climax of a crisis war, even by the most benevolent of belligerents. General Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Intelligence chief Fanell confirms worst fears of China's military buildup

For years I've been referring to China's media reports bragging about new missile systems of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) specifically designed -- with no other purpose -- than to overwhelm American missile defenses and strike American aircraft carriers, American military installations, and American cities. America's vulnerability has been substantially weakened in recent years by defense cutbacks, and by the massive release of secret information by Edward Snowden, which may have left America's defenses completely exposed.

In a separate presentation, in addition to the one described above, intelligence chief James Fanell describes China's actions in the South China Sea by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN):

"Suffice it to say that my assessment is that the PLA Navy has become a very capable fighting force. Much of the intelligence record is classified beyond what we can discuss in this forum, but just to give you one example, in 2012, the PLA Navy sent seven surface actions groups and the largest number of its submarines on deployment into the Philippine Sea in its history – and a significant increase in some areas from the years before, or just the year before.

Make no mistake, the PLA Navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet.

The PLA Navy’s civil proxy, an organization called “China Marine Surveillance,” has escalated a focused campaign since 2008 to gain Chinese control of the near seas, and they now regularly challenge the exclusive economic zone resource rights that South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Vietnam once thought were guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. ... China is negotiating for control of other nations’ resources off their coasts. “What’s mine is mine, and we’ll negotiate what’s yours.” ...

Incidentally, unlike U.S. coast guard cutters, Chinese marine surveillance cutters have no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s expansive claims. Mundane maritime government tasks like search-and-rescue, regulating fisheries, ice breaking and criminal law enforcement are handled by other agencies. ...

In my opinion, China is knowingly, operationally and incrementally seizing maritime rights of its neighbors under the rubric of a maritime history that is not only contested in the international community, but has largely been fabricated by Chinese government propaganda bureaus in order to quote-unquote “educate” the populace about China’s “rich maritime history” clearly as a tool to help sustain the Party’s control.

Last year’s Scarborough Shoals seizure typifies the confrontations that China is having with its neighbors. It’s one that exhibited all the common characteristics of China’s aggression. First, they are initiated by the egregious conduct of China’s actors – sometimes the Chinese government, sometimes private entities. At Scarborough Reef, Chinese fishermen were excavating live coral and harvesting endangered species, including giant clams.

Second, Chinese official spokesmen will issue fabricated stories to explain the incidents; in the case of Scarborough, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the “Chinese fishermen were seeking refuge from storms.”

Simply not true. You can Google the weather that day: winds 5-10 knots, seas less than two feet, sunny, there were no thunderstorms."

Fanell is confirming the Chinese strategy that we've been describing for years. China's seizure of the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 is similar to reports of plans for China's military to seize one island after another in the South China Sea. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines") China is counting on the fact that any "short, sharp attack" on any one island won't bring an American response.

As we've said before, it's impossible to predict the timing of all this, but there's no possible way to interpret China's actions except as massive preparations for preemptory war with the United States, and the analysis by intelligence chief Fanell confirms that.

OK, Dear Readers, please resume your regular activities of spending all your time arguing with one another about whether the world will end in 2100 because of Global Warming. China Business Intelligence

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-14 World View -- U.S. naval intelligence chief confirms worst fears of China's military buildup thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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