Wednesday, November 23, 2005

War with China UPDATED 

Could we win? Some think not. A very interesting question, this one...

I think I'll ramble on it a bit.

Those that point to our inability to completely pacify Iraq do not look at the right wars. Iraq is a limited war, and one in which conventional military operations ended long ago. Look at World War II...at Gulf War I and the drive to Baghdad in 2003. The two latter ones were absolute routes. And in WWII we came from behind and helped to crush two industrial powers.

And it should be considered that we met with great success in unconventional warfare in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent in Iraq. Would any other nation have been capable of doing what we have been doing militarily, half-way across the world. I think not.

And those that think we would not use nuclear weapons if China did are sorely mistaken. If our civilians were attacked, the gloves would definately come off, and the American people would joyously support retaliation against Chinese cities if necessary. And if our soldiers were hit with WMD, you can bet that we would use tactical nukes in retaliation.

The fact that we would achieve air superiority due to our great technological lead against enemy air, radar, and missile threats would mean that conventional ground forces would be slaughtered. And since that is the backbone of the Chinese military, quite a slaughter it would be. And the fact that if China wanted to threaten many of our Asian allies they would have to cross water, they would have to defeat our navy, which is the most powerful in the world. That would be a difficult task, especially if they don't have air superiority, which they wouldn't.

The only way I can think of that the Chinese could win militarily would be if they somehow launched a pre-emptive sneak attack against some target, such as Taiwan or Japan, and managed to seize it before we could move enough forces into the region to impede such an attack. And even then, they would have to threaten nuclear retaliation against our civilians if we attacked to take back such Chinese gains to 'pursuade' us to leave them alone.

Even then, I wonder if we would call their bluff and attack anyway to take away their gains. We have many more nuclear weapons that China, and the current defense assessments say that Chinas nuclear weapons are unfueled while they sit on the pad. China's using them would result in China's defeat, and not the destruction of the US, since China at this time does not hold enough nuclear weapons to annihilat the US.

I have a feeling in the event of a war we'd probably take out as many nuclear weapons as possible with conventional weapons to ensure that they couldn't be used, just in case.

So, in conclusion, unless we stop spending on defense, and unless China gains a tech lead on us, as well as gains many more nuclear weapons (enough for MAD, which they don't have), we'd win a war with China. Our air power is just too great right now for their conventional army to overcome it. You'd have hundreds of 'highways of death' (from Gulf War I) for months on end. That would pretty much end all offensive operations by the Chinese military. It's difficult to fight when your tanks and trucks get blown up before they get anywhere near where they're needed.

In fact, in terms of victory, I think such a war would be easier to win, since it would allow us to exhaust the enemy's will to fight, which would greatly decrease the risk and amount of insurgency afterwards if we were forced to occupy parts of China. For similar reasons there wasn't much of an insurgency in either Japan or Germany after WWII, despite the fanaticism of our enemies during that war.

In any event, such a war would be clearly very damaging to China since they would sustain more damage to their industrial and commercial infrastructure than the US would due to the USs much longer arm of militry effect. Additionally, since China would be the aggressor in the likely scenarious, they would be ostracized from the rest of the world, which would hurt them economically. The US would not face such a problem since it would be the defender.

So, the real question that must be answered first is whether China is stupid enough to try to fight the US, since at this time and for the near to moderat future they would lose, and lose greatly. And I don't think they are that stupid. But just in case, we should pray that they aren't that stupid.

Now, what I think is even more interesting is the idea of the US using military power to keep China from making a challenge to US global hegemony--hitting China sooner while its weaker rather than later when it's closer to parity with the US. That's what John Mearsheimer argues in the last chapter of this book--he argues that the US needs to keep China down to avoid a world war some time in the future, because with world wars comes the threat of nuclear Armageddon.

I think Mearsheimer's right. Too bad we don't have the will in America to maintian world peace through hegemony like the Empires of the past (de facto or more openly declared, such as the Roman and British hegemonic empires, among many examples) did.

And no, what I'm contending isn't evil. Because there is nothing worse than nuclear war and the total destruction of mankind.

If such a pre-emtive war is what the governor of Tokyo is speaking of in the above article (which I don't think he is), than our success can be doubted due to the weak-willed nature of America when it doesn't feel itself threated.

However, if we are on the defensive, watch out. America is a different animal when it feels that it's cornered.

Now, we just need to make this case that we could win against China to our allies like Japan so that they won't fall under the heel of China due to fear. Technologically advanced Japan teaming with vast China on military arming would be fearsom indeed. We can't let that happen. And a rearmed Japan wouldn't be much better. The more militarily powerful contries in the world, the more unstable the system is...

Ahhhh...that was fun. Hope the brain dump was good for you too. I should write that out in a more considered way as an essay, but it's late. The article needed to be rebutted. Hope what I wrote above, despite its glaring flaws, is still somewhat readable and thought-provoking.

Thoughts and criticisms of my opinion of the situation are more than welcome, because this is a subject I, obviously, like thinking about.

UPDATE: Here's a good post by the Modern Conservative on why our inability to win a war with China is irrelevant. I still think we could win, though.

Another UPDATE: G at Middle America has this to say after reading the article:
This is stemmed from their interpretation of the Iraq war, and our success/failure rate there. I would like to note that Mr. Ishihara does seem to lack the capacity to separate the difference between an occupational mission versus an armed conflict. I can’t help but think this is yet more excuse making for Japan’s military build up contrary to their pacifist constitution.
As I said above, I agree that our ability to fight an occupational war (which is inevitably going to cost lives--although 2000 in 2.5 years is really nothing. I mean, if we fought a REAL war with China, I think 2000 dead would be a very, very good [and improbable] outcome) is very different than a conventional war. We have the most battle-hardened, veteran-filled military in the world, due to our recent adventures. We have more experience taking down another countries military than any other country in recent years. We also have the most experience occupying a country without slaughtering civilians wholesale to pacify the place. Why this doesn't help to make us even better warriors is beyond me.

If you take all that experience and combine it with our good tech (especially our air force which is without peers), I don't understand why there is much doubt that if we fought with China, we'd win. Again, I just point out that constant bombardment of conventional equipment from an air power with complete air superiority would mean wholesale slaughter on the Chinese side. They can throw human waves at us if they want. They can throw thousands of tanks. After the bombs fall, that's just so much junk and corpses. Again, I say that we could win.

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