Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Seem to Be Getting What I Want

China's interest in central Asia is increasing. I hope I like the results because that's what I've wanted for years.

As China's power increases, I've worried about China's focus on air and naval power that can be projected out to sea against us and our allies.

While I'm happy to bolster our forces to defeat or deter a Chinese attack, I'd rather redirect China's emphasis to the interior of Asia, as I wrote here, quoting a 2005 post of mine:

One can say that we hope that by becoming strong enough we deter the Chinese but this is still only second best. A deterred China will always be on the verge of attacking, just waiting for the moment when we cannot stop them for one reason or another and so cannot deter them for even a short window of opportunity.

No, defeating China makes the best of the worst case and deterring China makes the best of the second worst case. We need to shovel the Snow back north. We need to play the Great Game in Asia to achieve our best case--a China pointed away from the south--Taiwan and the United States and our other allies--and pointed toward the north and the interior of Asia.

I hoped China's interest would also lead to a break down of recent Russian-Chinese cooperation as Russia defends their former empire from Chinese influence.

Well, China is looking to the interior of Asia (and for energy as I speculated would be the only thing that could get China looking there):

Perhaps the most discussed Chinese investments in Central Asia are the pipelines. China has a long history of funding pipelines that would bring oil and gas overland from the west, as opposed to seafaring tankers that must pass through the U.S.-controlled Straits of Malacca. The agreement between Kazakhstan and China to build a pipeline importing oil from the Caspian shore to Xinjiang was penned as far back as 1997. Completion is scheduled for 2014, when it is expected to have a capacity of 20 million tons per year. The Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline (also referred to as the Central Asia-China gas pipeline), which runs through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, currently brings natural gas into Xinjiang. These pipeline investments are avenues for economic flourishing in the participating countries.

So far China's interests are mostly economic. But just as aero-naval power is justified to protect China's sea lines of supply, increased aero-land power will be bolstered by the need to protect these new pipelines.

That ground capability is growing already.

While the article assumes way too much American-Chinese cooperation for mutual gain in China's new efforts, I have my doubts about that sunny view. I'm just happy to divert China's attention from the seas.

And as I've noted about the possibility of China's moves to Asia shaking Russia out of their China appeasement policy, I just can't give a rat's patootie about losing our Central Asia bases as we wind down in Afghanistan. I'm fine with Russia moving back in:

The Manas Transit Center outside the capital Bishkek, which numbers about 1,000 U.S. servicemen, has been in operation since the end of 2001. The Kyrgyz government said in a note issued prior to a vote in parliament: “Further functioning of this facility is unnecessary”.

Parliament passed the law by 91 votes to five, setting a deadline of July 11, 2014, for the base to close.

Russia secured an extension of the lease of its own air base in Kyrgyzstan last September.

If it makes Russia feel better that we aren't trying to surround them, more power to them. And if it throws Russia in China's path? More power to us. Besides, I haven't forgiven Russia for selling China so much in the way of naval and air technology that has allowed China to be a threat at sea in the first place, so quickly.

Perhaps China has enough economic strength to be a threat to Russia and India in Asia on land and to be a threat to us and our offshore allies at sea (and South Korea gets to experience both). But if so, we've got bigger problems, eh? And it still weakens China in our theater, so we're less worse off than otherwise.