Interview with Not A Dinner Party contributor, James Stuart.
From one side of Clinton's mouth.."We are not trying to curb China or anyone else,"
...and from he other side of her mouth, but in the very same breath...
"What were trying to do is, number one, to make it absolutely clear, if there were any doubt, that the United States is a Pacific power, and that we have historically been one.
"We will be for this century as well, and that means were going to be active economically, diplomatically, politically, in every way you can imagine."
A clearer threat there could not be. The "Project for a New American Century" has just been revised slightly in light of the rash, and nearly fatal over-reach of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld years. The Obama/Clinton revision as being demonstrated with the "Arab Spring" and most acutely against Libya, is in essence a reboot of the KLA/Yugolsav campaign of 1999.
The new phase of NATO military containment of China now begins in earnest. Can we expect the Islamists, now back in alliance with their old paymaster after the removal of OBL, to step up their campaign in China, esp in Xinjiang, with new attempts at a "jasmine revolution" in cosmopolitan China and perhaps the promoting of "free" unions to stir up economic unrest and destabilise the economy? And of course the liberal cause celebre of Tibet is always ready to be stirred up.
QUESTION: James Stuart, do you think they are planning to attack China? Presumably they will need to get their missile shield in place before they risk it. But is that possible? Or is the whole missile shield project all bluff?
ANSWER: While I dont think you can rule anything out, I dont think they would launch a full on war, it would be insane. However if they were going to then really the window of opportunity they have to do so and to be sure of military victory is shortening by the year, so it is a case of now or never. Leave it ten years and China will be a fair match for the US.
I think it is more likely they will either try and drag China into a regional conflict with one of their local allies and wage a proxy war to tie China down and degrade it militarily and financially. Ive often said that the US will fight China right down to the last Indian. But recently China has managed a degree of raproachment with India which has tempered the increasing hostility we were seeing just a couple of years back. Nevertheless an India-China war is a strong medium-to-long term prospect.
Rather than a direct military onslaught, I would expect to see greater econimic pressure on China, a stepping up of the "human rights" facade, the promotion of regional seperatism and an attempt to trap China into an arms race, probably by greater sales of weapons to regional rivals (which of course boosts the US economy), perhaps leading to some regional conflicts. Alongside this we will see more attempts at stirring up the "jasmine revolution" in China, and probably with greater success, in the DPRK. The Korean peninsular will remain the main flashpoint focus, alongside Taiwan.
If the western powers do go to war with Iran, and manage a swift military resolution, then I would say the chances of a direct conflict with China would rise dramatically.
However, I am not yet convinced direct military conflict with Iran is inevitable. We have been here several times over the last decade with Iran. Again, I would suggest regional conflict is more in the western powers interest, Turkey, Israel and possibly "free" Syria being obvious candidates.
Israel is sitting very pretty at the moment. I think the best evidence that the "Arab Spring" was never a genuine movement is that Israel did not move during the Egypt events. If there was a genuinely revolutionary takeover in Egypt, does anyone think Israel would allow it? Never, not ever, will Israel allow themselves to be put into that position again re Egypt. Israel would have gone all out to back Mubarak. But they sat back and kept very quiet.
The "Arab Spring" has also very effectively pacified Hamas and Hezbullah, bringing them onside in Egypt and Libya and effectively splitting them over Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood is shown toothless and compromised in Egypt. The Palestine issue looks to finally be on the verge of being settled, for now anyway, and on Israel's terms and with PLO/Fatah AND increasingly Hamas on message.
The only problem Israel really has now is Iran. Now it is wrong to overplay Iran's military capabilities. t is at least 3 generations behind Israel, let alone the US in tech. It is barely better off militarily than Iraq was in 1990, and the US is a generation futher on from then.
However, a war with Iran would be messy and hugely destabilising. Whilst it is no doubt tempting, the current US administration is wary of being trapped in the overstretch and quagmire that crippled the Bush regime. So, again we can expect to see more of what we are seeing now, increased terrorism and assassinations within Iran, international political and economic isolation, external military pressure (short of all out war but possibly including some limited strikes, possibly from Israel and/or Turkey or even NATO under pretext of UN or some other contrived cover) and a stirring up of another wave of the colour revolutions, this time marketed as the ultimate culmination of the "Arab Spring".
As regards the missile shield, whilst it is being based around Russia, and it is Russia that is, quite rightly, being most vocal in its consternation, it is actually pretty ineffective against an all out missile attack from Russia. There is no way that any missile interceptor system could reliably take out thousands of warheads. Just one nuke getting through would be enough to end it for any US or European administration.
Which is why the Obama administration is so keen on restarting the START programme, to massively reduce both US and Russian warhead stockpiles, particularly concerning ICBM megaton city killers. Whilst this might sound like a good thing, it is actually increasing the chance of nuclear way. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) wasnt so crazy after all. The US wants to have a free hand to use "small" kiloton and sub-kiloton range tactical nuclear weapons. It cannot do so if it faces any prospect of being on the receiving end of retaliatory strikes. Waging war without the prospect of any civilian casualties on home turf is essential to the western powers. Any nation that can inflict even a several thousand casualties on a western power will not be attacked.
The US needs to disarm Russia - but primarily the missile shield would only offer protection against a possible Iranian bomb, and of course China, which has a small nuclear deterrent, not enough to financially cripple it (as with the USSR) but enough to wipe out enough US cities and regional military bases to make an attack political and economic suicide. The missile shield is of course being built in the Pacific also, so the real target is once again clear.
Which brings us back to why it is so important that no independent country be either threatened or soft talked into giving up its ability to defend itself outwith its borders.
Having said all of the above, we are living through a very unstable period, where really all bets are off. If the western economic collapse deepens, as it looks almost certain to do, then we are back in 1930s territory. And we all know where that ended...
COMMENT TO James: Your point that war against China would have to be now/ very soon or never is a thought that I have been having often recently. Combined with your other point that all bets are off - and the fact that the West seems to be hurriedly eliminating all possible suppliers and allies of China - it seems like a possibilty they are certainly considering
ANSWER: Yes they do, but how seriously? Certainly no european power would fancy getting involved, it would be economic and military suicide, but the US most likely still fancies its chances. The US could clearly beat China in a war - on the US's terms.
This... "I think it is more likely they will either try and drag China into a regional conflict with one of their local allies and wage a proxy war to tie China down and degrade it militarily and financially." was meant to be an" either/or".I forgot to give the "or...".
The" or..." option was that the US may risk a direct military fight with China as long as it could keep the fight off the Chinese mainland - so that is where Korea and Taiwan come in. All out war including the Chinese mainland would be WWIII. But a direct conflict, kept regional based on Taiwan or Korea is fightable, and the US have strong reason to beleive winnable for them - and without risking civilian casualties on the US (obviously mass civilian casualties in Korea or Taiwan are a perfectly acceptable price to pay for "freedom.)
However, China is now in a position to seriously damage any US fleet in the region and the US will not risk losing any major naval vessels. If the US lost an aircraft carrier - a real prospect with current PLA hardware - then that would be politically and militarily untenable and would either lead to political crisis in the US - or all out war. If the US is prepared to take serious losses it can still potentially win a regional war with China. But there is no sign yet that the US is politically prepared to do so.