Army Major Warns Don't Poke The Dragon, War With China Would Be An Unnecessary Disaster

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight: Volume II

There’s nothing military men like more than obsessively training for wars they will never have to fight. The trick is not to stumble into a conflict that no one will win.

Let’s everyone take a breath. Yes, China presents a potential threat to American interests in the economic, cyber, and naval realms. The U.S. must maintain a credible defensive and expeditionary posture and be prepared for a worst case scenario. What we don’t need is to blunder into a regional, or, worse still, all-out war with the Chinese dragon. Not now, probably not ever.

And yet, in Washington today, and within the Trump administration in particular, alarmism seems the name of the game. This is risky, and, ultimately, dangerous. In his 2018 National Defense Strategy, Secretary of Defense Mattis, a known hawk, refers to Russia and China as "revisionist powers," and announces that the US military must now pivot to "great power" competition. Look, I’m all for extricating our overstretched armed forces from the Middle East and de-escalating the never-ending, counterproductive "war on terror." What doesn’t make sense, is the reflexive assumption that (maybe) dialing down one war, must translate into ramping up for other, more perilous, wars with nuclear-armed powerhouses like Russia or China.

The usual laundry list of Chinese threats is well-known: China is (how dare they!) building a sizable blue-water navy and (gasp!) patrolling around sandy islands in the South China Sea. They conduct cyber-attacks (so do we) and steal intellectual property. They are planning a new “Silk Road” to integrate much of Eurasia into a China-centric trade and transportation system. No doubt, some of those items may be cause for measured concern, but none of the listed "infractions" warrants war!

Bottom line: China, like Russia, possesses neither the capacity nor intent for global domination or the subjugation of the United States. Period.

Let’s start with the capacity problem. China has a growing military. That is to be expected of one of the world’s top-two economies and a nation with more than 1 billion people. Don’t act so surprised. Still, China spends only one thirdas much as the US on defense. It has one leaky, outdated former Russian aircraft carrier and is building a few more. The US has about a dozen and our local Asian partners (India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea) – count another nine between them.

China has 14 foreign powers – some hostile – on its land borders. One of those is Russia, with whom the Chinese have a long history of border disputes. The last thing the US should want to do is drive those two unnatural allies into each other’s arms with overly bellicose rhetoric and military posturing. Another Chinese neighbor is India, which is strengthening its own military and also has 1+ billion citizens (and a much higher birthrate than China).

Then there’s the intent issue. China is not after global domination and no longer possesses a true internationalist communist ideology. It wants regionalsuperiority and a measure of global respect to make up for its perceived (and actual) embarrassment by European and American imperialists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It wants a powerful trade block across Eurasia and a measure of control of its own "lake" – the South China Sea. Is that so unreasonable? The US has outright supremacy in its bordering seas, such as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. The US military has even sponsored coups and conducted outright invasions of nearby islands that didn’t sufficiently march to Washington’s tune.

Switch places with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a moment. How would Trump(or Obama) respond, if the Chinese insisted they had a right to supremacy in the Caribbean? My guess: outright war.

Finally, there are the reasons not to fight, the reasons why a war would be catastrophic for both sides. China is huge, both in landmass and population(of 1.3 billion!). We’ve all heard the (accurate) trope warning against starting a land war in Asia. There’s good reason for that. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is huge and is capable of bogging the relatively small, all-volunteer US military in a nightmarish quagmire.

Nor could the US count on an easy projection of its naval and airpower into, say, the Taiwan Strait. China (and other competitors) have invested heavily in A2AD (Anti-Access, Area-Denial) systems that could thwart such attempts, inflict heavy casualties, or, at the least, maintain standoff. This would force the US military to preemptively escalate with attacks on Chinese homeland defenses. There is very little opportunity, therefore, to wage a limited war. Any fight with China will force the US"all-in" as a matter of course.

Furthermore, China’s booming and growing economy is both its strength and a sort of financial doomsday device. The US, European, and Chinese economies are by now inextricably linked. Hot war means trade war; and that would likely result in a cataclysmic global financial collapse. The US military is the most well-funded and equipped force on earth. Still, the backbone and foundation of that military rests with the power of the US economy. A new crash and potential depression would permanently damage our economy (along with China’s, no doubt).

Most importantly, China maintains an arsenal of at least 250 nuclear warheads. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to America’s 6000+ weapons, but more than enough to deter any serious invasion. Here’s the trick: never to fight a nuclear power, so long as it can be avoided. Anything else is insanity – ever heard of Nuclear Winter? Yea, it’s a real thing! The lesson: tread lightly, be cautious, and avoid unnecessary brinksmanship. That’s called statesmanship, something the US seems to have forgotten about these last 17 years.

Truth is, most of this threat inflation is really about cooking the books to justify gross overspending and a profits bonanza for the military-industrial complex. That’s a concern in itself, because a $700+ billion military budget is unsustainable, requiring either tough cuts to domestic programs, increased taxes, a ballooning national debt – or all of the above.

The real danger, though, is military brinksmanship. And the inescapable fog of war. It’s not impossible to imagine a dispute in the distant South China Sea (7000 miles from California) resulting in combat and casualties between the US and China. This could quickly escalate out of control. And remember, we both have loads of nuclear weapons!

It’s time to realistically weigh US interests, display some humility and craft a sober strategy for the Pacific. The sea coast of China cannot forever remain an "American lake." We would never accept a foreign power in the Caribbean and can’t expect China – with over a billion citizens and a growing economy – to cede their local waters to a distant American Navy in perpetuity.

The US must appeal to local Asian partners based on our (ostensible) shared values of open trade and open society – a challenge to the more authoritarian Chinese value system. After all, soft power goes a long way, especially when all-out war is a non-option! That, of course, will require more consistency from the US We’ll have to walk the walk on our values and quit backing our "partners’" military campaigns – Saudis in Yemen, Israel in Gaza, etc. – when they often add up to veritable war crimes.

Remember, we owe the Chinese a lot of money. That gives them leverage, but it also gives us leverage. They want to be paid back and Beijing knows it needs the American market for its goods. Besides, our economies are actually highly intertwined. XI doesn’t want a major war with the US He is playing the long game, a chess match as compared to our bumbling checkers!

If there is a war in the Pacific with nuclear-armed China it will most likely not be of XI’s doing. Only American hubris can lead to what would inevitably be a disastrous war.

Given our recent track record – an Icarus-syndrome par excellence – that seems frighteningly likely.

*  *  *

Read The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight, Volume I

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Comments

bananas revolla Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:40 Permalink

For the Gentile Jews I prefer the term Fake Hebrews. Because that's what they're doing in stealing Palestine:

"Look at us, we're (pretend) Hebrews returning home, yadi-yadi-yada."

"Show me the 12 Tribes!" I said.

"Say whaaaaat?" they answered.

"Where are they?" I insisted.

"They're... ugh... LOST."

"Is that your 'dog ate my homework' excuse?"

"Shhh! Don't be such a party pooper. Don't you see we're milking the world by pretending to be what we're not. Here's a few bucks for you to shut up!"

In reply to by revolla

Joe Trader bananas Sat, 05/12/2018 - 02:57 Permalink

russia might have putin as their eternal president

china's communist party will likely be in control for a while

calling the US "stumbling checkers" is a mistake - don't turn a blind eye to the Pentagon, generals, MIC if you will - they're playing the long game for the US. Not that I agree with how they're running the show with constant wars, but just wanted to point that out. Trump talked about good relations with russia, but those ships with US tanks and support vehicles poured into Europe at the start of his presidency regardless of his campaign promises.

In reply to by bananas

beemasters Joe Trader Sat, 05/12/2018 - 07:33 Permalink

The painful truth is no one wins in any war other than banksters and MIC. Unfortunately, when they control top people like Trump, they can wage wars without congressional approval or oversight. No one can stop them or hold them accountable.

In reply to by Joe Trader

Lordflin beemasters Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:19 Permalink

The Chinese military has been preparing for, and desiring war with the US for the past 30 years. The civilian leadership has been opposed, but that opposition is waning. This match is on, no one is stopping it. As to the perpetrators driving it, it will hardly matter who they were. I say were. This war will be short and deadly. After, there will be little to write about in the history books...

In reply to by beemasters

indygo55 beemasters Sat, 05/12/2018 - 10:03 Permalink

" alarmism seems the name of the game."

That is the game totally. They don't ever want to win a war. Then it might end. The game is constant tension and low threats and encounters to keep the game going. This is the game. The mainstream media and the ALT media are flooded with conflicting information to keep the majority of the population confused and the currency is constantly being debased so the people are constantly struggling to stay afloat. Its collective militarism. Is that a new phrase? 

In reply to by beemasters

Snaffew beemasters Sat, 05/12/2018 - 10:13 Permalink

the US presidency, congress and the senate are nothing more than middle management and their main source of power is presiding over domestic control and issues.  The MIC and the financial institutions rule the top of the pyramid of power and tell the prez, congress and senate what to do or just do it without telling them especially focused on international politics and control---ie war..  This has been going on for decades upon decades.  Anyone who thinks they have a "choice" when they vote is sorely misinformed.

In reply to by beemasters

Posa Joe Trader Sat, 05/12/2018 - 11:43 Permalink

The game changer is that China has a huge productive capacity that's leading to economic and technological superiority over the US... and that includes weaponry. The Russians have limited areas of excellence aligned with China that together are emerging to finish off Pox Americana.

 

By contrast, the US productive capacity has been dismantled and disintegrating for decades by the Predator Class (who wittingly handed that capacity over to China). Meanwhile, The US labor force has been dumbed down, doped up and impoverished for decades. It will take remarkable effort reintegrate them into a useful economic asset. The cultural rot alone is far too deep.

 

And furthermore, the US political system is so ossified that no change of course can arise from the population.  The maniacs who run the country are too depraved and addicted to their own delusions that meaningful reform is not possible. Anyone can see the long-term trend that's emerging.

 

In reply to by Joe Trader

Winston Churchill espirit Sat, 05/12/2018 - 11:26 Permalink

You couldn't have been alive when Japan first started exporting cars etc to the West.

They were all worse than crap for about 10/15 years.We used to poke fun at the drivers.

He who laughs last laughs loudest.

The BRI trade figures are starting to get pretty big and only very little of the infrastructure has been completed.

Another couple of years at this rate of growth and China will not need the US market if push comes to shove.

Chinese exports to BRI last year around $700 billion,imports around the same for total trade of around $1.4tn.

Hence the panic in DC.

In reply to by espirit

LetThemEatRand tmosley Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:32 Permalink

I agree with you, BitMosley f/k/a SilverMosley.  It's a no duh that there will be no US war with China in our lifetimes (unless you are MUCH younger than me).  Not going to happen.  Same with NK, which would mean with war with China and/or Russia.

You're wrong on Iran.   Isreal is going to escalate.  Will it be full out war?  Probably not, but regime change is coming to Iran and we'll see how that plays out.  

In reply to by tmosley

DingleBarryObummer tmosley Sat, 05/12/2018 - 06:47 Permalink

So what's the best case scenario?  He bullies them to accept a BIS ran central bank?  Is that really a win?  I'd say that a big "LOSE" for humanity.  If Trump wants to bully and break someone down, he should do it to the central bank, like Andrew Jackson did.  But, Andrew Jackson had huge nards and wasn't afraid to be killed for his convictions, unlike your "god emperor."

The enemies of humanity are the BIS, the IMF, and the world bank; not Iran or China.  China is just an opportunist of the f'ed up world system they find themselves in.

In reply to by tmosley

tmosley DingleBarryObummer Sat, 05/12/2018 - 07:49 Permalink

The best case is a reset of the psychology of the Middle East leading to secularization of Islamic countries, and peace in the Middle East. A permanent solution to the Israeli/Palestinian situation will be part of that.

>But, Andrew Jackson had huge nards and wasn't afraid to be killed for his convictions

They have tried to kill him several times. Yet he persists.

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

DingleBarryObummer tmosley Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:08 Permalink

They have tried to kill him several times. Yet he

persists.

I am unaware of any assassination attempts on Trump.  Source?

Secularization, as in the religion of mammon?  So indigenous people are not allowed to have a Sharia state?  Is that really any of Trump's business?  Should the American people have to pay for that?  This is not nationalism and this is not MAGA.  It's Globalism monetization.

What of Iran's regime?  Will Trump insist on a BIS ran central bank?

Trump won his base by promising not to meddle in the middle east.  Now you are supporting some kind of liberal-esque idealistic "let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya by the fire" NWO type of utopia, whilst skirting the issue of global debt slavery and usury. 

 

In reply to by tmosley

tmosley DingleBarryObummer Sat, 05/12/2018 - 09:25 Permalink

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/mar/14/donald-trump-prot…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/11/us/politics/white-house-fence-jumper…

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/armed-man-busted-trump-t…

>Secularization, as in the religion of mammon? 

Stop being a retard.

>So indigenous people are not allowed to have a Sharia state?

Only if they want to be walled off.

>Is that really any of Trump's business?

9/11 made it our business. Islam is the source of the vast, VAST majority of all terrorism in the world.

>Should the American people have to pay for that?

You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am saying Trump is going to send out troops on a holy crusade. Words are cheap. Trump uses them to great effect.

>This is not nationalism and this is not MAGA

You desperately want that to be the case so you can be right.

>Trump won his base by promising not to meddle in the middle east.

Delusional. He won by promising to "kick the hell out of ISIS" among other things.

>NWO type of utopia

Also delusional. The NWO is the deep state. That is on its way out, but you are begging us to hold on to it. Fuck you.

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

Zepper Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:32 Permalink

You are mistaken, it is not a dragon.... Its a FUCKING CHICKEN! The Japanese were having fried fucking Chinese chicken all through WWII.

MrNoItAll Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:40 Permalink

There will be no war with China. All the bellicosity and media hype is nothing more than propaganda intended to justify greater military spending, cow the populace(s) and provide cover for the real shit that will eventually hit the fan.

garcam123 Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:54 Permalink

Naval and air blockade of Taiwan in........3......2.....1

Fuck you Amerika and your fucking soybeans, how many of those farmers are gonna keep sucking Trump cock when they are reposseing their $500,000.00 combines? and ALL OF your Nobel bullshit and Kim Jung Un is our fucking guy so eat international shit and keep your shit out of the South CHINA< MOTHERFUCKER, Sea!

Nobel Prize for :   Poll Fuckers............I vote Putin.......and BTW.......fuck you!   and Double fuck you!