Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chinese Nukes

The Chinese are not a major nuclear threat to us. I've always known that. Their submarine-based missiles are likely to be sunk early in any conflict. If their sub even tries to go to sea at all to get in range of our country. And the Chinese are unlikely to take the attitude of "use 'em or lose 'em" because it would prompt us to hit the remainder of China's arsenal--a small number of liquid-fueled land-based missiles that can reach western America--and would likely be destroyed by our forces before they can fuel up.

And our growing missile defenses will increasingly be able to handle any missiles we miss--especially if they aren't launched at once to swamp us but dribble out as they are made ready out of fear of losing them.

But what I did not know was how small China's arsenal is. I recall estimates in the Cold War that China had about 500 warheads (mostly bombs for aircraft). But Strategypage reports they have 200.

The Chinese probably don't believe we'd nuke them despite our overwhelming advantage, the post says.

And besides, China is huge and is hardly a one-bomb state. Any enemy would have to use an awful lot of nukes to really damage the Chinese. So even Russia's arsenal isn't too threatening to China in this light.

China is far weaker than us overall. I never argue against that. But what I do argue is that China could gain temporary superiority over Taiwan and any forces we can get there within a month, and maintain that superiority long enough to conquer Taiwan. And that is all China really wants to accomplish in the short run. One thing at a time. Enough victories close by will add up over the decades.