Monday, November 19, 2018

When Near the Pacific Ocean Appear in the Far East Land

While Russia is a lingering and persistent threat, with a lot of nukes that we must assume actually work; China is the long-term rising threat--to Russia as well as America. What kind of beating with the clue bat will it take for Russia to face their true threat in the Far East?

China's military is aiming to be good enough to take on America:

The report warns that the buildup poses new dangers for the United States and its allies in Asia that are seeking to maintain the traditional democratic and free market order in the region against Beijing's communist expansionism.

Caroline Bartholomew, a China commission co-chairman, said the rapid buildup includes a streamlined command structure and improved Chinese military ability to contest U.S. military operations.

The commission has asked the U.S. intelligence community to produce a report on how China's Belt and Road Initiative will be used for military purposes, she said.

Yes, China's anti-access/area denial weapons (A2/AD) that emphasize long-range missiles to keep American ships away from China (and hence away from American allies near China) are a problem. And efforts to deny America the use of space and cyber-space complement that capability.

And behind that shield, China builds up a blue water navy plus modern aircraft that make the news with claims of stealth; and with little fanfare a modernized army.

But China knows they have a weakness (back to the report article):

"Much of Chinese leaders' concerns center on the PLA's lack of recent combat experience and the perceived inability of many operational commanders to carry out basic command functions such as leading and directing troops in combat," the report said.

My question is whether China's build up in the short run is really intended to fight America. Would China really risk their "China Dream" by using their new but untested military against America, which does have a lot of combat experience?

In the long run, China's military is a threat to America and our allies. But in the short run, if I was in charge of China, I'd want a victory over someone a little more easy to defeat than America to signal the rise of China as a world power.

Taiwan is the obvious choice. And if China can strike hard and fast behind their A2/AD shield, they might be able to pull off the victory before America can even decide to directly intervene.

But that involves avoiding war with America. I really have doubts that China would want to start a war with America that would draw in allies from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south and India to the west. And we'd likely have some help from Britain and France in time.

Although I could be wrong about Chinese feelings on the question. Japan made the wrong call in 1941, after all.

But would the Chinese really strike in the direction we expect them to strike based on their high profile naval build up? The Chinese do at least pay lip service to deception. Wouldn't China want to appear near when they are really far, as far as their intentions go?

Remember, China is planning to invest an awful lot in their New Silk Road (or One Belt One Road, or Belt and Road Initiative, as I think the latest term of art is) that runs west to Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, and ultimately Europe. That kind of economic investment will draw their military power to defend the investment.

And looking back in history, Japan signaled its rise with victories over China at the end of the 19th century and then over Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, which were weaker powers, before believing they could take on America and Britain (in addition to fighting China).

America too signaled its rise with a victory over Spain at the end of the 19th century.

Wouldn't China want to signal its rise with a victory over a weaker power rather than risk it all by taking on the strongest power?

I think China might want to strike Russia to seize Russian territory in the Far East seized from China in the 19th century. China's claims are merely muted--not ended.

And China does have, after their military reorganization, a military region that could control all forces that attack Russia's Far East.

While China would be wise not to risk their rise by risking a loss to the strongest military power, we may have enough uncertainty about how well our Navy could fight (our post-World War II experience has been in land and air campaigns without serious naval threats despite very intense preparations to train to beat the Soviet fleet during the Cold War) to be deterred from intervening at sea in a war that China starts.

A signal victory over Russia would demonstrate Chinese power and perhaps begin the process of convincing American allies close to China that America cannot build a military strong enough to shield them from China's demonstrated power. China could defeat America without fighting America.

Russia would be wise to make peace with NATO to make Russia's west a secure rear area and end their effective appeasement of China to recognize China as their main enemy--as we do despite worries about Russia in Europe--that threatens the Russian Far East.

Russia could use all the help they can get in Asia, and that is one reason why I noted the possibility of helping Russia in this article about exploring Army campaign options in the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia is running out of time to prepare to defend themselves in the Far East.