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FRED REED: War With China! Another Bright Idea From The Yankee Capital

America, China, Foreign Policy, FRED REED, History, Military, Russia, The South, Trade, War

America starts its wars by overestimating its own capacities, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the nature of the war it is getting into…And the Chinese are not little-leaguers

By Fred Reed

Discussions of war with China over Taiwan often assume a short, regional war won by superior American technology, after which things go on approximately as before. A few observations:

First, overconfidence is an occupational disease of militaries and militarists. Wars very often fail to proceed according to the expectations of the aggressors and not infrequently end in catastrophe.  The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas; wrong by four years and 630,000 dead, equivalent to over six million today.

When Napoleon invaded Russia, he did not foresee Russian troops marching in Paris, which is what happened. When Germany invaded France in 1914, it expected a short, victorious war of movement, and got four years of a losing attrition war. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, GIs sleeping with their daughters in Tokyo was not among their war aims, but it is what happened.

When the French went back into Vietnam after WW II, being catastrophically defeated by les jaunes at Dien Bien Phu was not a strategic objective. When America invaded Vietnam, Washington did not expect a panicked flight from atop the Embassy. When Hitler invaded Russia, GIs in Berlin were not in his plans. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, it did not expect the same outcome that the Americans should have expected, but didn’t, when they did exactly the same thing. The list could be extended. Caution often is a wiser plan than martial enthusiasm.

Second, America starts its wars by overestimating its own capacities, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the nature of the war it is getting into. There is probably a manual on this. Usually the US has no end game and no “what if” plan in case the unforeseen occurs. These traits are clear in America’s wars since Korea.

The reason for this curious behavior is that war is only tangentially a rational endeavor, being chiefly a limbic, instinctually driven habit probably of genetic provenance. War is just what men do, tribe against tribe, country against country, empire against empire, world without end. War is a major, perhaps the major, focus of human endeavor. A glance at history reveals it to be chiefly a tapestry of war. The literature of civilizations reflects this: The Gilgamesh Epic, the Iliad, the Aeneid, El Cid, Orlando Furioso, Lord of the Rings.

Does America have a clear reason for defending Taiwan? It is not of vital importance to America, and arguably not of minor importance. Few Americans know quite where it is, and few can distinguish it from Thailand. If it became part of China almost no one would notice. Before getting into an unpredictable war with a massively populous nuclear power of formidable economic and military resources on the other side of the world, it might be wise to answer the question, “Why? What do we gain? How do we get out of said war?”

Regarding war in Chinese waters:

The US fleet has not been in combat since 1945, over seventy-five years ago. American pilots have not flown against a competent enemy since 1973, almost half a century ago. Enormous changes in technology and armament have occurred in the intervening years. Nobody really knows what a battle of naval forces against modern antiship missiles would look like. Those who can guess are not sanguine. Most warships today lack armor. Anyone looking at what a couple of French Exocet missiles did to the USS Stark in 1987 would not bet on equally unarmored Ticos or Arleigh Burkes. An aircraft carrier is a large bladder of aviation fuel wrapped around high explosives. Look at the accidental launch in 1967 of one Zuni five-inch ground-attack missile aboard the USS Forrestal, igniting raging fires, cooking off bombs, killing 134 sailors and putting the ship in the repair yard for many months.

Militaries grow slack in extended periods of peace. Training decreases to save money. War stocks of tank treads are cannibalized for training and aren’t there when war comes; the company that made them has gone out of business. Supplies of critical parts dwindle as budgets go to procurement of future hardware. After all, nobody really expects war. Rapid mobilization, it turns out, is impossible.

If the war was not won as quickly and decisively as hoped, as it very likely would not be, would an American public already under severe economic stress support the heavy cost of a war having no obvious end point or relevance to their lives? Conscription?

Within the Beltway many seem to think that China is Cambodia with more people. Some in Washington harbor a residual belief that America is militarily supreme, that its mere entrance into war seals the outcome. Think again, carefully. Rand has wargamed regional war in the Strait and South China Sea and concluded that America has a very good chance of losing. he Chinese are smart, and excellent engineers. Chinese students dominate America’s best technical universities and the elite high schools. CalTech and MIT, for example. Look at the Chinese space program, the upcoming 360 mph maglev trains using high-temperature superconductivity. The Chinese are not little-leaguers. They have put many resources into antiship missiles specifically designed for US carriers. These, note, greatly outrange carrier aviation. Iraq was predicted to be a “cakewalk.” China won’t be.

Allies? In naval circles there is much talk about the First Island Chain and an assumption that Japan will join a war against China to protect Taiwan, or at least let its bases be used by American forces. Are we sure? Japan is within missile and air range of China. All of its petroleum arrives by sea, and China has pretty decent submarines. Japan’s trade mostly moves by sea. China is a crucial trading partner whose elimination in a war would devastate the Japanese economy. Japan is close to China. America is not. Tokyo might worry that America would grow weary of the war and go home, as it usually does, and leave Japan, all alone, in a shooting war with China. How would that end?

What stake does Japan have in the independence of Taiwan? Today it trades with both Taiwan and China. If China absorbed the island, Japan would continue trading with both. Only the letterhead would change. Are we quite, quite sure Tokyo would want any part of this?

South Korea? Its cities and entire economy are within missile range of China. Does it really want to get into a shooting war with its huge neighbor, which has a land border with the peninsula, to maintain American hegemony in the Pacific? Having gotten into a war, how would it get out? The Koreans may have thought of this.

Wars as imagined inside the Beltway often seem to assume that the enemy will just lie there and be bombed without doing anything untoward or unexpected. Are we sure? The United States has 28,000 troops and their families within range of Chinese weaponry, the killing of whom would force Washington into desperate measures. Could China encourage North Korea to attack southward, creating a two-front war far beyond Washington’s ability to handle? Or Kim to think he saw a chance and attack on his own initiative? Might China annex Myanmar? Perhaps this is farfetched. Perhaps it isn’t. Remember that nobody expected China’s entry into the Korean war.

One might suspect that Taipei, seeing overwhelming forces arrayed against it across the Strait, will one day cut the best deal it can with Beijing rather than be devastated first and then have to accept whatever conditions Beijing chose to impose. It could get a sweetheart deal as Beijing would much prefer this to invading with all of its risks. Here is a factor I am not competent to judge, but that might be worth judging: The Chinese, as I knew them long ago when I lived in Taiwan, are (very) racially aware and nationalistic. The Taiwanese are Chinese. You can bet they know of the Legations, the Opium Wars, the Boxers, the burning of the Summer Palace, the Korean War. As I write, the most popular movie on the mainland is about a Chinese victory over Americans in the Korean War.

What might a Chinese attack on Taiwan look like? The Chinese general staff mysteriously does not confide in me, but a good guess is easy. The Chinese often do beach-assault exercises on their side of the strait, obviously practice for the genuine assault. One of these turns suddenly into the real thing. Ballistic missiles crater Taiwan’s military runways, missiles in large numbers hit air defenses. Troop ships head for Taiwan, getting there in eight hours at fifteen knots, helicopters and paratroops in less. China’s large and reasonably good air force bombs and bombs and bombs. After twenty-four hours, the US is still trying to decide what is happening, talking to the JCS, asking the President what to do.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, the talented Confederate general, is said to have said that the secret of victory is to “git thar fustest with the mostest.” In the event of a surprise attack, how long would it take—in the real world, not in PowerPoint slides—for America to get there with how much of what? If the Chinese got substantial forces ashore, it would be the end of the story. Keeping troops out of an island is one thing, getting them out quite another. Not even John Bolton—perhaps not even John Bolton—can imagine that America could win a land war with China in Asia. Selling the American public on a large war over things in which it has no interest would be difficult. Under these circumstances, the chances are nonnegligible that the US would make loud noises, huff and puff, save face as best it could, and do nothing.

But let us assume that Washington fought and lost the regional war, Taiwan perhaps surrendering after the U.S. lost a dozen ships and a carrier was disabled. What would Washington do after such a humiliation? Never underestimate the influence of vanity on world affairs. The hawks in DC have elevated titles and, sometimes, considerable ability, but they also have the same hormones and egos as patrons in Joe’s Bar in Chicago. A Chinese victory in the style of Tsushima Strait would end the world’s view of America as an invincible hegemon. The fernbar Napoleons might well decide to up the ante and turn a regional into a world war. This it would win. “Win.” Perhaps by blocking the Strait of Malacca and threatening the Three Gorges Dam. The expectation in the Pentagon would likely be that Beijing would see the futility of resistance and surrender. But if it did not?

America’s trade with China in goods in 2020 was $660 billion, $120 billion of that being exports, making it America’s largest trading partner… Cutting this off would wreck the American economy. This is far more than a matter of iPhones and cheap plastic buckets for Walmart. Though most may not know it, America is an economic dependency of China.  The US gets from China countless things it cannot make but cannot do without. For example, cars require computers to control their ignition and transmissions. Where do we think these are made? Companies like Boeing sound American but many vital assemblies come from China. High-end semiconductors, crucial to today’s economies, come predominantly from East Asian companies, notably Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung, both of which would be hostage to Chinese attack. The great majority of rare earths, critical to the manufacture of chips, come from China. Similar considerations exist for industry after industry. While America has the technology to make most of the things it gets from China, it does not have the manufacturing capacity, and would need years to develop it.

Has anyone in Washington checked industry by industry to see what the effects of the end of imports would actually be?

Further, China is the largest trading partner of most of the world, Germany and the European Union for example, and close with most of the rest. If an American war took China out of the global supply chain, the resulting depression would make 1929 look like the height of prosperity, turn the entire earth against the US, and likely lead to the lynching of everyone in Washington.

Never mentioned is that America is trying, with considerable success, to block China’s economic progress by preventing its acquisition of advanced semiconductors. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest and most advanced manufacturer of chips, is in Taiwan. Reunification of Taiwan with China would solve this critical problem. Beijing has probably thought of this.

Considering the costs, risks, and benefits if any of such a war, the question may be, “How bright an idea is this?”

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FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”

FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE

FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE

Killer Kink

Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm int the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.

* Image courtesy FP

TRUMP Erected ‘Bureaucratic Wall That Expels Every Unauthorised Immigrant On The Southern Border’

Donald Trump, IMMIGRATION, Justice, Law, Left-Liberalism, Political Economy, Politics, Populism, Trade

Unlike the American media, the British lefties are honest reporters. This is why the Economist’s litany of President Trump’s achievements, framed as failures, is most credible. Take it to the bank; it’s what Biden will attempt to reverse.

In “President Trump has had real achievements and a baleful effect,” the magazine writes:

… What is perhaps less appreciated is the degree to which it has succeeded. The “Muslim ban” issued in the first days of his presidency ran afoul of the courts and had to be reworked; the border wall Mr Trump promised has not been built, let alone paid for by Mexico. But eligibility criteria for asylum have been tightened, and asylum-seekers at the border must now wait in Mexico while decisions are made. “It may not be the physical wall that Trump initially touted, but there is now a bureaucratic wall that expels every unauthorised immigrant on the southern border,” says Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. In its revised form the Muslim ban remains in place, with little dissent.

Apprehensions at the border with Mexico have risen to their highest level in 12 years (see chart 1), and in 2019 there were 360,000 deportations. That was not a record—there were 432,000 in 2013—but it was more than there were in 2016, and the share of the deported who had no criminal records, 14% in 2016, had risen to 36%. The administration also increased the bureaucratic hurdles faced by those trying to immigrate legally. Applications for temporary visas and permanent-residency permits have both declined by 17% since 2016. The annual ceiling of refugee admissions has been slashed. The White House recently proposed just 15,000 admissions for 2021, compared with 85,000 admitted in 2016.

… Growth never quite reached the lustrous annual rate of 4% he promised, but it did do better than many had forecast, and his tax cut in 2017 turned out to be a well-timed fiscal stimulus. At the end of last year unemployment was at its lowest level for half a century. The wages of the less well paid were rising swiftly.

What was more, he had made good on other parts of his agenda. Trade deals he disliked had been abandoned or rewritten, tariffs had been slapped on countries accused of stealing jobs and immigration had fallen dramatically. He had appointed two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, a number which he has now brought up to three. …

…But on many issues he stood out as unorthodox, extreme or both—and in so doing captured voters’ imaginations in a way that his rivals did not. He pledged to deport all 11m undocumented immigrants in the country and build a wall on the border with Mexico. He derided the party’s foreign-policy and free-trade orthodoxies as failures, and held that trade deficits were purely a sign of weakness and poor negotiating—which, as the master of the deal, he could set right. He bashed Wall Street and was against making Social Security and Medicare, the pension and health-insurance programmes for the elderly, less generous. He mocked and disparaged not just his opponents, but also revered Republicans such as the late Senator John McCain (a “loser”).

…Mr Trump’s judicial appointments, too, were those that any other Republican might have made, given the chance. That he got that chance was thanks to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who held up the confirmation of a number of Barack Obama’s judicial nominations—most notably that of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court in March 2016. The resultant backlog allowed Mr Trump to follow the recommendations of the Federalist Society, a fraternity of conservative jurists, in appointing about 30% of the federal judiciary. Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy—the three justices whom it took Reagan two terms to put on the bench—shaped the court’s rulings for decades. It is likely that Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett will do so too. …

… On the signature issues which set the Trump campaign apart from the Republican establishment, the successes look more vulnerable to revocation. Take immigration. Xenophobia was the raison d’être for his campaign in 2016, which he launched with a speech warning that Mexico was sending rapists and drug-dealers across the border; later on, Mr Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. His administration’s aggressive restriction of migration was therefore no surprise, even if the shock of seeing children alone in detention camps because of a policy of family separation caused an outcry

MORE: President Trump has had real achievements and a baleful effect.”

UPDATED (12/11/020): Home Is Where You Ship Your Masks To: Chinese Multinationals Ship Supplies To The Mother Ship

Business, China, Economy, Globalism, Nationalism, Nationhood, Trade

Liberals think you can easily compel a production line into existence (by using the Defense Production Act, for example). However, to get a production line going is difficult: it’s expensive and time consuming. You might have the design on paper, but you lack the hardware, the tools, the components, and material.

The Economist (4/11/2020):

… the manufacture of masks .. might look simple, but producers need sterile factories and sophisticated machinery to churn out melt-blown fabric. Upfront costs would be hard to justify if the virus were quickly snuffed out. So in January, the early phase of the outbreak, Chinese firms began by scouring the world for masks rather than by making more of their own. It took government action to change that. Officials offered subsidies to firms producing safety gear: promising not outsized gains but an avoidance of losses. China went from making 20m masks per day before the crisis—half the world’s output—to nearly 120m by the end of February.

The Chinese, unlike the American government, took care of business. True: WuFlu originated in China, in the city of Wuhan, in particular. So the Chinese knew in advance they had a bad one on their hands, well before our buffoons awoke to the reality of corona virus.

But it’s not like the US government ever puts its own first, urgently. The Chinese, however, look after their own. Ostensibly international, Chinese companies operating in Australia—Risland and the Greenland Group, in particular—began vacuuming up tons of medical materials, in the host country and beyond, between January 24 and February 29, in order to send back to the Mother Ship, China.

Via the Daily Mail:

China imported more than two billion masks and 25 million pieces of protective clothing from overseas before the coronavirus outbreak reached pandemic levels, it has been revealed.

On Thursday a Chinese government report emerged detailing its foreign trade for the first two months of the year, when the country was at the peak of its virus crisis.

As COVID-19 infections began to spread across the globe in January and February, China saw a ‘rapid growth in imports of commodities and key consumer goods’.

More than 2.46billion pieces of medical materials, including masks and protective equipment, were inspected by National Customs in China between January 24 and February 29, according to the report. …

It comes days after Chinese organisations operating in Australia were reported to have sent bulk medical supplies to China at the height of the crisis.

Chinese-owned property developer Risland Australia was reported to have flown 80 tonnes of medical supplies on a corporate jet to Wuhan in late February.

Video footage emerged showing boxes of surgical masks stacked up at Perth airport before being sent to Wuhan on February 8 – when there were 15 cases of coronavirus in Australia.

Another Chinese property company, Greenland Group, retasked its employees to purchase face masks, hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, thermometers, Panadol and other medical items in bulk for shipment to China.

Greenland bought up three million surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of gloves and bulk supplies of sanitiser and antibacterial wipes in Australia and other countries where the company operates.

The goods were hoarded at Greenland’s Sydney headquarters and were sent to China in January and February.

The upshot? The host country, Australia, suffered severe shortages:

… Video footage emerged showing boxes of surgical masks stacked up at Perth airport before being sent to Wuhan on February 8 – when there were 15 cases of coronavirus in Australia.

Another Chinese property company, Greenland Group, retasked its employees to purchase face masks, hand sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, thermometers, Panadol and other medical items in bulk for shipment to China.

Greenland bought up three million surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of gloves and bulk supplies of sanitiser and antibacterial wipes in Australia and other countries where the company operates.

The goods were hoarded at Greenland’s Sydney headquarters and were sent to China in January and February.

MORE.

*Image courtesy Daily Mail.

UPDATE (12/11/020):

“Wall Street can’t fix Trump”: So says a Chinese analyst, DIDONSHENG, speaking to a crowd of super-patriotic Chinese, laughing at Americans and their traitor representatives. The fix is in, BUT, China’s penetration ran into a wall with Trump.

Comments Off on UPDATED (12/11/020): Home Is Where You Ship Your Masks To: Chinese Multinationals Ship Supplies To The Mother Ship

UPDATED III (5/3): NEW COLUMN: Who Invited The World To Infect America?

COVID-19, IMMIGRATION, Labor, Logic, Multiculturalism, Outsourcing, Technology, The West, Trade

UPDATE II (5/2): NEW COLUMN is “Who Invited The World To Infect America?” It first appeared on The Unz Review and WND.COM. It’s currently on American Greatness.

UPDATED I (5/1):  Fans of American Greatness: The column will appear there on Monday.

And excerpt:

On March 31, the number of Americans dead from coronavirus stood at 3,900! A mere month on, at the time of writing, 63,801 Americans have perished.

American deaths by COVID account for a fourth of the world’s, including those in the undeveloped world. To ignore this Third-World-like specter is to dismiss the dead and the dying. It’s tantamount to cancel culture!

China sucks. But if the United States must rely on the Chinese government to keep its citizens safe, then what kind of a Micky Mouse country is it?

If the American people can be convinced by their government to saddle a foreign power with the responsibility for their existential welfare—what kind of people are we?

China didn’t force the traitors of the American economy to shift crucial production lines to its country and strand Americans without surgical and N-95 masks and medication; homegrown turncoats made that decision, all by their lonesome.

Trade Goods, Not Places

Decades ago, the political, corporate and industrial leaders of the West chose to enmesh the fate of their pliable people with that of the vigorous, voracious Chinese.

Like the U.S., another hard-hit region—Northern Italy, so progressive and tony—had swung its tollgates open. Like greedy, northern, Yankee industrialists, Italy outsourced whole production lines to China.

Free trade in goods is great. But trade goods, not places. The tollgates were swung open to human trade, or population replacement.

Since the Chinese had begun settling in Northern Italy and buying up assets, I hazard that, much like youngsters of King County, in Washington State—local Italian girls and boys have had a hard time affording life in their homeland. And now, their grandparents and parents are dying.

Italy constructed gleaming tarmacs to accommodate the many direct flights to and from Wuhan. Over 100,000 citizens from China moved to Italy. As the Chinese accrued wealth over the past two decades, still more took up residence in Northern Italy, and bought-up Italian firms.

See if you can spot the trend. New York City, by Wikipedia’s telling, is home to far and away “the highest Chinese-American population of any city proper.”

Courtesy of an Italian strain of COVID-19, the New York metropolitan area has been as badly struck as Italy. In … early April of 2020, it was said that “coronavirus was killing a person roughly every four minutes in New York state, and about every six minutes in New York City.”

In my state of Washington, the overwhelming majority of Chinese reside in King County and Snohomish County, where the infection was seeded and from where it spread.

The West’s political and corporate leaders, not China’s, had opened their borders to the world’s flotsam and jetsam. Agreements to exchange goods and people reflected the choices of these gilded global elites, not those of their people.

Economic Elephantiasis

The sphinxly Bill Gates, we are told, foresaw the pandemic. Gates also pioneered the outsourcing of American lives to China (and India). I say “lives,” because, as it has become abundantly clear, in the wake of COVID, the very stuff of life has been outsourced to China. Not mere jobs; but careers, not just some products, but entire production lines; not one or two manufacturing plants, but the means of production.

Engineers who can think hate Gates. America’s best and brightest have done time supervising and titivating squalid, sub-par Chinese factories, when they knew full well that, instead of cheap, nasty, and disposable, their colleagues back at home could have delivered classy, attractive, durable and sustainable products and production capability, around which real communities would have coalesced. …

… READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN is “Who Invited The World To Infect America?” It’s currently on American Greatness.

UPDATE III (5/3):  The numbers game.