Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tea Leaves and China's Navy

"About a decade ago the foreign policy establishment was busy dismissing China's efforts to build a powerful, modern military. Writing in the Washington Post in 1997, Michael Swaine, a China specialist then at the RAND corporation, declared that the 'enduring deficiencies in China's military logistics system call into question its ability to operate [naval and aviation] weapons over a sustained period, particularly outside China's borders. Well, right now, Chinese naval vessels are deploying in the Gulf of Aden to assist in the international anti-piracy mission. It's 4,000 miles from China to the Gulf of Aden. Swaine further predicted that China 'will remain at least a full generation behind the world's leading military powers.' In January 2007, Beijing used a ground-based medium range ballistic missile to destroy one of its own aging weather satellities. ... A 1998 Foreign Policy Research Institute article written by Avery Goldstein asserted that Beijing was so far behind other advanced industrial states that 'successful moderization will leave China with forces by the second or third decade of the next century most of which would have been state of the art in the 1990s.' ... The Chinese carriers will build on one of the [People's Liberation Army Navy] PLAN's most significant accomplishments: the creation of a fleet of attack and ballistic missile submarines. ... If we assume the year 2020 as a reasonable target for China's gaining genuine competency at naval aviation--particularly the joint operation of carriers with the rest of the fleet--it will have taken just 35 years for China to transform its navy from a large collection of aging World War II landing ships, patrol boats, shore-based aircraft, and submarines with very limited range into a modern naval force with an offensive ballistic missile capability. ... The span is about the same amount of time it took Japan to turn its coastal defense navy into the battle fleet that destroyed a Russian rival at the Battle of Tsushima Strait in May 1905. ... Thomas Barnett, a researcher and a professor at the Naval War College until 2004, urged in a 2005 article ('The Chinese Are Our Friends') in Esquire that the president stop the 'rising tide of Pentagon propaganda in the Chinese 'threat' and tell Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ... that our trigger pullers on the ground today deserve everything they need to conduct counterinsurgency operations.' ... Allowing the current U.S. naval slippage to continue will result in a combat fleet of a size we haven't seen since 1911", my emphasis, Seth Cropsey (SC), 26 January 2009 at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/025ibosb.asp.

Who needs these military "experts"? Are they on China's payroll and traitors, or fools? SC was Navy deputy undersecretary for Reagan and Bush. I disagree with Barnett. We should get our trigger pullers out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither place has strategic significance to the US. As for "the Chinese are our friends", is Barnett crazy? Anyone who knows anything about military history could tell you: only capabilites count. You may as well read tea leaves, study goat entrails or consult Ed McMahon's hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar as attempt to ascertain another country's intentions.

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