Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hegemonic Conflict Watch: War Delusions

Zachary Keck had a piece in The Diplomat saying stuff I've been saying for years about how absurd the Chinese territorial claims are, but I wanted to hoist this comment of ACT from the depths because it was good:
....Or, as Ampontan himself said, China claiming what it claims is akin to Italy claiming France, the whole mediterranean and parts of germany because the Roman Empire held them at one moment in time or another.

This passage from Victor Davis Hanson’s “lessons of World War I” over at the national review is interesting:

“But the crux is why exactly did Germany believe in late summer 1914 that it could invade neutral Belgium, start a war with France, draw in Britain and Russia (and eventually the U.S.), and expect the Schlieffen Plan to knock out France in a matter of weeks, allowing a redirection to Russia to ensure the same there?

Yet what seems fantastical today was deemed entirely logical in the Germany of 1914 — given prewar British reluctance to support France, American isolation, the utter French collapse in 1871, the Russian humiliation in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, the ongoing political instability that threatened to unwind the Russian czarist state, the amazing surge in German dreadnought construction that promised to nullify traditional British naval supremacy, and the inability of France, Britain, and Russia — and the United States — to craft a credible deterrent force to convince Germany of the folly of any aggressive act”

Replace Germany with the PRC, replace France with Japan and/or the Philippines, and replace Britain with America (America stays the same); Amend the dates and locations et al to today’s crises, and you have something that looks eerily like the situation today. Not to mention that statement at the Davos Economic Forum, wherein a senior Chinese business leader basically confirmed that this was the calculus of the PRC at this point in time…

so, amend the statement and you get something that looks like this:

“But the crux is why exactly did the PRC believe in the first few decades of the 21st century that it could engage in explicitly revisionist expansion–claim the South China Sea, claim the Senaku Islands, and force other parties out of those areas through paramilitary threat–and expect that none of this would start regional, if not global conflict?

Yet what seems fantastical toady was deemed entirely logical in the PRC of that period–Given pre-conflict U.S reluctance to support Japan and the Philippines, U.S retrenchment, U.S defeats by inferior forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the marked failure of the U.S to enforce words with actions on Syria, the noted surge in A2/AD weaponry in China’s hands, as well as an arms buildup that far outstripped any of its neighbors, which promised to nullify traditional U.S naval supremacy in addition to the inability of said nation to craft a credible deterrent force to convince the PRC of the folly of any aggressive act.”

to sum it up, as Mr. Hanson notes:

“One of the lessons of the outbreak of World War I is the importance of perceptions. At some point in 1914 the German military and diplomatic community concluded that the country not only could pull off a successful lightning strike against France, but could do so without starting a world war — given various events over the prior decades….Such flawed thinking is a good reminder that appearances often matter as much as reality in provoking wars.”

And we are seeing exactly the same thing with the PRC now. Hanson himself points out that: “China, like the Westernized Japan of the 1930s, wants influence and power commensurate with its economic clout, and perhaps believes its growing military can obtain both at the expense of its democratic neighbors without starting a wider war.”
Juxtapose that with the news from today:
Navy Official: China Training for ‘Short Sharp War’ with Japan. “China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has expanded its training to include a similar attack on Japanese holdings in the East China Sea, according the chief of intelligence of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLEET). As part of China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise — a massive exercise between the all branches of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — the military trained for taking the Senkaku Islands, said Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET. “We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013,” Fannell said at the West 2014 conference on Feb. 13 in San Diego, Calif. “[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 are set to rise in the South China Sea, where, let me remind you, the ROC has actual troops, military assets, and bases. Unlike the Senkakus.
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ACT said...

@Michael Turton

thanks for your ressurection of my comment, if you did not receive my email already

this is the video of WEST 2014. Capt. Fanell's comments begin circa 18 minutes in, and are well worth the watch, as are Capt. Adams' comments after his. Specifically, what i loved about Fanell's comments was his closing comment that "The PRC's ambitions are transparent....all the facts i gave you today are freely available in PRC open source material and state-sanctioned newspapers"

Mike Fagan said...

That's a good photo.