Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Never get into a Ground War in Asia

The European Union wants to sell arms to China and Congress is getting a might testy over the idea.

Both the House and Senate, as part of their [displeasure], have come up with resolutions in this new session urging the European Union to keep the China arms embargo in force. Lifting it, states [Senate Resolution 59], "would increase the risk that U.S. troops could face military equipment and technology of Western, even U.S., origin in a cross-strait military conflict" between China and Taiwan...When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said the Europeans are out to strengthen China's military so it "would serve as a more effective counterweight to American power, theoretically strengthening the European Union's hand in international political and strategic decisions. Additionally, European defense industries stand to gain billions of euros in Chinese contracts which, for E.U. leaders, seems too good to resist." |Link|

Senator Smith's words point out the true magnitude of what is at stake here: world hegemony. The world is increasingly arrayed into three large power blocks: the US, the EU, and China. Everyone knows that China is an emerging world power, but Julian Borger illustrates how delicate the balance of power is in Southest Asia when he writes:
The Pentagon is increasingly concerned over an ambitious Chinese military build-up which its experts believe is aimed at threatening Taiwan. The US is committed to Taiwan's defence. "Balance in the Taiwan straits is delicate enough that European military trade with China could tip it," [Daniel Goure, a Pentagon consultant and a vice president of the Lexington Institute, a military thinktank] said.

[Goure] said Beijing was acquiring up to 600 advanced Russian fighter jets, Mig-31s and Mig-35s, and had bought modern Russian destroyers and submarines. But the US was most worried about sales of advanced European communications and sensor systems, like fibre optics, infra-red, sonar and radar scanners.

According to the New York Times, recent US intelligence pictures have painted an even more worrying picture of the Chinese build-up, with the reported construction of 23 amphibious assault ships. |Link|

Of course, the U.S. has been counting on China to blunt North Korea's nuclear ambitions....and trying to cajole Old Europe into helping us get out of our mess in Iraq. Why do I doubt either of these plans will work out well in the end?

Of course, you cannot blame Bush for this, who could have foreseen that alienating our traditional allies while engaging in expensive wars of conquest under false pretenses could turn out badly? Who could have foreseen that a huge trade deficit with China could have negative consequences?
A few statistics from the CIA's World Factbook...industrial production rate of growth: China, 30.4 percent in 2003; United States, minus 1 percent.|Link|
I don't think the U.S. really gives a rat's *ss about Taiwan. We are worried about China gobbling up all of the world's resources that are ours by virtue of the fact that we are the world's sole superpower. Or are we?

Jim Kunstler sees the future this way:
Conclusion: in the next twenty years, China is certain to contest militarily for the world's remaining oil with what has been the prime customer for its manufacturing output. That would be America.

While the US is fraught with multiple economic difficulties -- energy dependence, loss of productive activity, debt meltdown, an ongoing expensive war -- China has problems that are even more fundamentally ominous -- a population much more advanced in ecological overshoot, severe environmental destruction, and a water crisis that is manifesting, among other ways, in steeply falling grain harvests (on top of energy and resource dependence, unregulated banking, and the prospect of huge industrial overcapacity in the face of bankrupt customers).

Those of us Boomers, who were reading newspapers in the 1960s can recall China's capacity for political psychosis. It's been forty years since the "cultural revolution."...As the American consumer / sprawl economy sputters, China will find itself in desperate circumstances: starved for energy, stuck with zillions of unsold coffee-makers and barn jackets, racked with unemployment, and hard-put to feed its own people.|Link|
For good or ill, we live in interesting times.

Note: This is cross-posted over at the Bellman.

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