World View: U.S. Naval Intelligence Chief Confirms Worst Fears of China's Military Buildup

World View: U.S. Naval Intelligence Chief Confirms Worst Fears of China's Military Buildup

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China is training for a ‘short, sharp war’ with Japan
  • How a world war with China would unfold
  • Intelligence chief Fanell confirms worst fears of China’s military buildup

China is training for a ‘short, sharp war’ with Japan

China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan duringmilitary exercises, but has now expanded its training to include asimilar attack on the Senkaku Islands and other Japanese holdings inthe East China Sea. All branches of China’s People’s LiberationArmy (PLA) participated in a massive exercise last year fortaking these islands.

According to James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence andInformation Operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet:

We witnessed the massive amphibious and crossmilitary region enterprise – Mission Action 2013. [We] concludedthat the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct ashort sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Seafollowing with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakusor even a southern Ryukyu [islands] – as some of their academicssay. 

Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated withthe Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassingChina’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make)port calls throughout the region promising friendship andcooperation.

This concept of a “short, sharp attack” is quite credible, as theChinese people widely believe that America has become weak because ofthe Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that, particularly under PresidentBarack Obama, Americans have little will to oppose China. Thus, theycould quickly overwhelm Japan’s forces, America would do nothing, andChinese ownership of the Japanese islands would be part of the newstatus quo.

History has shown that this is a disastrous assumption.

In April, 1861, the army of America’s southern Confederacy capturedFort Sumter in a “short, sharp attack.” Undoubtedly, many Southernofficials believed that the North wouldn’t even care, since the Fortwas isolated in Southern territory. Yet the North did care,triggering the extremely bloody American Civil War.

In 1939, the Nazis launched a “short, sharp attack” on Poland. Theythought that Britain was weak and uninterested, since they’d alreadyignored earlier short, sharp attacks on Austria and Czechoslovakia.The attack on Poland triggered World War II.

So, one can imagine that the Chinese believe that a short, sharpattack on these Japanese islands would bring no American response,like the Nazi attack on Czechoslovakia. Even if that turns out to betrue, history shows that American nationalism would surge so high thatany further military action by China would trigger a response,spiraling into a new world war.

The Pentagon has issued a statement saying that they expect to havepeace in our time, responding to Fanell’s assessment as follows:

What I can tell you about what Secretary Hagelbelieves is that we all continue to believe that the peacefulprosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for theworld. We continue to want to improve our bilateral militaryrelations with China and that we also think that a major componentof that is increased transparency on their part about theinvestments they’re making and the operations they’re conducting,and that’s where I leave it.

United States Naval Institute and Voice of America

How a world war with China would unfold

People ask me this question all the time: If a war with Chinaever happens, how and when would it start?

Of course, answering that question would require a mind-readingcapability, but history tells us a lot about how such a warwould start and unfold.

Looking at World War II, we have two different examples to examine.The war in Europe began with Germany’s “short, sharp attack” onCzechoslovakia, and so China’s attack on the Senkakus may trigger awar. Or, we can look at the Pacific war that began with anall-out attack by the Japanese, and so the war may begin witha massive missile attack by the Chinese on America’s aircraftcarriers, cities, and military installations.

No matter what the scenario, history tells us that the Chinesepopulation would greet such a war with jubilation.

Here’s how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how war begins inhis 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning,and Recovery:

The passions excited in the national psyche by theonset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in itspotential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction thatfunctioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening thetension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied thedeclarations of war in Charleston in 1861, Paris in 1870, and thecapitals of the major European powers in 1914 [American Civil War,Paris Commune, and World War I, respectively] were anticipatorycelebrations of victory – since nations are as incapable ofimagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving theirown death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted byBurckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturingin which nations now engaged when declaring war.

The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classicmanifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are notconvinced of their military superiority, there will be noconfrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply fleethe field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment theconfidence of one side fails. The will to fight (“morale”)evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seekssalvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. TheGreek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time(the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated thespot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments,yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy.

The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, as has happened toAmericans since 2003, even though we’ve never had any really majormilitary disasters in Iraq.

The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disasteroccurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitzdescribes what happens:

The effect of defeat outside the army – on thepeople and on the government – is a sudden collapse of thewildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence.The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and thatvacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading tototal paralysis. It’s a blow to the whole nervous system of thelosing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect mayappear to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s never completelymissing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with aspirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will befutile; or he does nothing, leaving everything toFate.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that causethis “sudden collapse” and “total destruction” of self-confidenceare called “regeneracy events,” because they regenerate civic unityfor the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.

In other words, once the euphoria of war with China is destroyed (andthis will be true of both the American and Chinese side), the conflictbegins to turn into an all-out generational crisis war, in which thelife of no individual human being will have any value at all, and theonly thing that matters is survival of the nation and its way of life.

Once again, we can look to World War II for examples. The Alliesallowed tens of thousands of young American soldiers to be shot downlike fish in a barrel on the beaches of Normandy, they firebombedDresden and Tokyo, and they used nuclear weapons on two Japanesecities. This is what ALWAYS happens at the climax of a crisis war,even by the most benevolent of belligerents. General Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Intelligence chief Fanell confirms worst fears of China’s military buildup

For years I’ve been referring to China’s media reports bragging aboutnew missile systems of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) specificallydesigned – with no other purpose – than to overwhelm Americanmissile defenses and strike American aircraft carriers, Americanmilitary installations, and American cities. America’s vulnerabilityhas been substantially weakened in recent years by defense cutbacks and by the massive release of secret information by Edward Snowden,which may have left America’s defenses completely exposed.

In a separate presentation, in addition to the one described above,intelligence chief James Fanell describes China’s actions in the SouthChina Sea by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN):

Suffice it to say that my assessment is that the PLANavy has become a very capable fighting force. Much of theintelligence record is classified beyond what we can discuss inthis forum, but just to give you one example, in 2012, the PLANavy sent seven surface actions groups and the largest number ofits submarines on deployment into the Philippine Sea in itshistory – and a significant increase in some areas from the yearsbefore, or just the year before.

Make no mistake, the PLA Navy is focused on war at sea and aboutsinking an opposing fleet.

The PLA Navy’s civil proxy, an organization called “China MarineSurveillance,” has escalated a focused campaign since 2008 to gainChinese control of the near seas, and they now regularly challengethe exclusive economic zone resource rights that South Korea,Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Vietnamonce thought were guaranteed to them by the United NationsConvention on the Law of the Sea… China is negotiating forcontrol of other nations’ resources off their coasts. “What’s mineis mine, and we’ll negotiate what’s yours.” 

Incidentally, unlike U.S. coast guard cutters, Chinese marinesurveillance cutters have no other mission but to harass othernations into submitting to China’s expansive claims. Mundanemaritime government tasks like search-and-rescue, regulatingfisheries, ice breaking and criminal law enforcement are handledby other agencies. 

In my opinion, China is knowingly, operationally and incrementallyseizing maritime rights of its neighbors under the rubric of amaritime history that is not only contested in the internationalcommunity, but has largely been fabricated by Chinese governmentpropaganda bureaus in order to quote-unquote “educate” thepopulace about China’s “rich maritime history” clearly as a toolto help sustain the Party’s control.

Last year’s Scarborough Shoals seizure typifies the confrontationsthat China is having with its neighbors. It’s one that exhibitedall the common characteristics of China’s aggression. First, theyare initiated by the egregious conduct of China’s actors -sometimes the Chinese government, sometimes private entities. AtScarborough Reef, Chinese fishermen were excavating live coral andharvesting endangered species, including giant clams.

Second, Chinese official spokesmen will issue fabricated storiesto explain the incidents; in the case of Scarborough, the Ministryof Foreign Affairs spokesman said the “Chinese fishermen wereseeking refuge from storms.”

Simply not true. You can Google the weather that day: winds 5-10knots, seas less than two feet, sunny, there were nothunderstorms.

Fanell is confirming the Chinese strategy that we’ve been describingfor years. China’s seizure of the Scarborough Shoal from thePhilippines in 2012 is similar to reports of plans for China’smilitary to seize one island after another in the South China Sea.China is counting on the fact that anyresponse.

As we’ve said before, it’s impossible to predict the timing ofall this, but there’s no possible way to interpret China’sactions except as massive preparations for preemptive warwith the United States, and the analysis by intelligence chiefFanell confirms that.

OK, Dear Readers, please resume your regular activities of spendingall your time arguing with one another about whether the world willend in 2100 because of Global Warming. China Business Intelligence

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