Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Opportunity in Crisis?

China has come to the conclusion that persuading Taiwan to be absorbed into the mainland government voluntarily isn't working. Taiwan may not be considering formal independence but the Chinese consider failure to make progress toward unification a potential trigger for war to force Taiwan into union.

Oh good, another problem rears its ugly head:

Recent developments have revived the so-called ‘Taiwan problem’ in regional and global security. These developments point to a coming crisis over Taiwan that would present a grave security challenge to the United States and its allies, including Australia. While attention is currently focused on the Korean peninsula on account of North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States, the crisis over Taiwan is quietly brewing in the background. Indeed, it is over Taiwan that the United States and China could potentially come into direct conflict.

I speculated recently that America is preparing to strike North Korea in 2018 unless China deals with North Korea by then (based on connecting a few dots that may not be connected and may not even be dots, bolstered by a hunch). This sort-of ultimatum will count on Chinese economic interests compelling China to stand aside while America and our allies attack North Korea's nuclear infrastructure.

But I don't think China would be happy with the humiliation of America acting on China's border within their sphere of influence.

While I think China might have a problem invading North Korea with some embarrassment from that if they failed, I figured that China might think that is a better risk than letting America handle the problem. Heck, the Chinese might believe their military is fully capable of marching on Pyongyang and changing the regime and so is no risk at all.

Perhaps everyone thinks that stricter sanctions will have an effect and prevent North Korea from going nuclear and eliminate the need for America, South Korea, and Japan (plus others) to strike North Korea:

The United States could shortly broaden talks on a push for stronger U.N. sanctions on North Korea to include all 15 Security Council members, signaling a likely deal with China on new measures, diplomats said on Thursday.

Of course, then there is the issue of whether China would really like to maintain a nuclear-armed loose cannon pointed at America, Japan, and South Korea, rather than cooperate with North Korea's potential targets.

If a Taiwan crisis is brewing (and China has set the stage--and yes, I was wrong in my dot connecting then in regard to timing, although to be fair Russia showed my basic logic was solid by invading Georgia at that moment--and can pull off an invasion, I believe, even if it is costly in lives), could it explode on the eve of an American-led attack on North Korea?

Would that timing throw America into confusion and indecision, as our leaders try to decide whether to attack North Korea while letting Taiwan die, looking like a cynical superpower deal; shift forces already poised to strike North Korea to intervene in Taiwan, risking a wider war with China and perhaps inviting North Korean strikes to gain Chinese favor, and perhaps not even taking place in time to save Taiwan because we over-focused on our North Korea target and take too long to make the choice to save Taiwan; or perhaps after a delay as we weigh options and risks, we go after North Korea anyway, risking a victorious China in a Taiwan war demand our allies stand down against North Korea in the face of demonstrated Chinese power?

Of course, China might fail to conquer. Perhaps Taiwan is better than I think they are and China not as proficient as I fear they might be.

But even gaining a foothold on Taiwan would be a partial victory for China. If Taiwan can't throw the Chinese into the sea, a ceasefire in place just gives China a bridgehead for a future attack begun from the land rather than the more dangerous sea and air method of conquest. Russia's success in keeping footholds in Ukraine in 2014 could lead China to think they can get away with the same kind of quick territorial grab.

If there is a noticeable American-led build up to hit North Korea sometime in 2018 before North Korea has the capacity to hit North America, China would be able to mobilize for war with Taiwan partially explained by the need to cope with the American build up over North Korea. Heck, we might think China is mobilizing to take down North Korea in compliance with our sort-of ultimatum.

Have a super sparkly day.