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


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 24-May-06
New Pentagon report details China's preparations for war

Web Log - May, 2006

New Pentagon report details China's preparations for war

"China's leaders have yet to adequately explain the purposes or desired end-states of their military expansion," says the Pentagon's annual report to Congress on "The Military Power of the People's Republic of China."

The report (PDF) adds, "Estimates place Chinese defense expenditure at two to three times officially disclosed figures. The outside world has little knowledge of Chinese motivations and decision-making or of key capabilities supporting PLA modernization."

According to the Pentagon, China is spending two to three times what they announce for defense, weapons, and war preparation.
According to the Pentagon, China is spending two to three times what they announce for defense, weapons, and war preparation.

The report quotes Deng Xiaoping, Chinese leader in the 1980s, as saying “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.”

As the report describes, that's exactly what China is doing. China is quietly deploying new military hardware capable of challenging America, and changing the balance of power throughout Asia.

Already China is introducing intercontinental range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can target most of the world, including the continental United States. These are supplemented by shorter range ballistic missiles that can be launched from China's new fleet of submarines anywhere in the world. In addition, China has hundreds of older technology missiles, mostly targeting Taiwan in preparation for an attack to force Taiwan to join China, and also has hundreds of combat aircraft capable of attacking Taiwan.

As I read through the report, what I found interesting is that all this is parallel to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Not that the report mentions Hitler of course, but the point is that China is going through the same sequence. 1930s Germany hid its manufacture of bomber aircraft almost until WW II began, and Hitler promised "Peace in our time" even as he was preparing for war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this kind of stealth preparation for war is the most ominous and dangerous situation. To give a contrasting example, think back to our own invasion of Iraq (either time, 1991 or 2003). In each case, we gave Iraq months of warning, and we kept harm to civilians to a minimum.

But when a country prepares for a crisis war by massive stealth military preparation, it signals the intention of launching the most vicious genocidal war possible.

This is something that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld understands. He was born in 1932, and was growing up during Hitler's rise to power, so he's very well aware that what China is doing today is a replay of what Germany was doing in the late 1930s. As I've discussed several times before, I dread the day that Rumsfeld leaves office and is replaced by someone from the Boomer or GenX generation, since no one in these younger generations will have anything like the intuitive grasp of world affairs that Rumsfeld has. The narrative of the Pentagon report clearly has Rumsfeld's stamp on it, because he lived through these events before.

According to the report,

"Although the principal focus of China’s military modernization in the near term appears to be preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, the writings of Chinese military strategists suggest Beijing is also surveying the strategic landscape beyond Taiwan. Some Chinese analysts have expressed the view that control of Taiwan would enable the PLA Navy to move its maritime “defensive” perimeter farther seaward and improve Beijing’s ability to influence regional sea lines of communication. For example General Wen Zongren, then-Political Commissar of the elite PLA Academy of Military Science, stated in March 2005 that resolving the Taiwan issue is of “far reaching significance to breaking international forces’ blockade against China’s maritime security.... Only when we break this blockade shall we be able to talk about China’s rise.”

Even if you believe that China doesn't have the intention of launching a pre-emptive war, the mere fact of the aggressive military buildup by itself raises the probability of war -- through miscalculation, according to the report:

"[As People's Liberation Army (PLA)] modernization progresses, there are twin misperceptions that may lead to miscalculation or crisis. First, other countries may underestimate the extent to which Chinese forces have improved. Second, China’s leaders may overestimate the proficiency of their forces by assuming that new systems are fully operational, adeptly operated, adequately supplied and maintained, and well integrated with existing or other new capabilities."

This last point is one I made several weeks ago, when I discussed China's plans for war with America. The war in Iraq has given the American military a great deal of "lessons learned" knowledge in deploying new leading-edge technology weaponry, but China doesn't have that experience, and will make plenty of mistakes, at least initially.

According to the report, China is going beyond the above by developing new kinds of high-tech and "star wars" weaponry, including the following:

When I discuss the China situation with people, something I hear all the time is that China is incapable of subduing the island of Taiwan without completely destroying it (with nuclear weapons). However, the report describes how China could invade and capture Taiwan by means of an amphibious invasion:

"Publicly available Chinese writings on amphibious campaigns offer different strategies for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan.

"The most prominent of them describe what it called the Joint Island Landing Campaign. The objective of a Joint Island Landing Campaign is to break through or circumvent shore defenses, establish and build a beachhead, and then launch an attack to split, seize and occupy the entire island or important targets on the island. To achieve the final objective of the Joint Island Landing Campaign, a series of sub-campaigns, such as electronic warfare, naval, and air campaigns – including the underlying logistics and mobilization – must be executed.

"Amphibious operations are logistics-intensive and rely for success upon air and sea superiority in the vicinity of the operation, the rapid buildup of supplies and sustainment on shore, and an uninterrupted flow of support thereafter. The Joint Island Landing Campaign would tax the lift capacities of China’s armed forces and maritime militia, posing challenges to those charged with providing sustainment for, and the commanders charged with leading, this campaign. Add to these strains the combat attrition of China’s forces, and an amphibious invasion of Taiwan would be a significant political and military risk for China’s leaders."

So the report indicates that an invasion of Taiwan is quite doable, but with numerous risks.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a war with China is coming with absolute certainty, and probably sooner rather than later. It will be a major component of the coming "clash of civilizations" world war. (24-May-06) Permanent Link
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