If the growing US-China rivalry leads to ‘the worst war ever’, what should AU do

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Eagle eyes are on Taiwan, but is China distracting us from a ‘second Pearl Harbour’?

The first sign that it’s started is when the world’s internet fails and showers of shooting stars fill the sky.

Vital undersea cables have been cut by specialist subs and ships and intensive cyberattacks are under way; the shooting stars are satellites falling to earth.

With surveillance satellites destroyed, they can’t detect the launch of China’s missiles. The first wave slams into US air force and navy bases across the Western Pacific, almost simultaneously.

Beijing has not used its nuclear warheads, but it doesn’t need to. Its high-explosive missiles are accurate to within 10 metres through mid-course correction.

Just 10 or so missiles targeting key points at each base are enough to put the American stations out of action and to destroy the aircraft and ships they host.

“Just as in 1941 in Pearl Harbour, US aircraft including fighters, tankers, surveillance aircraft, bombers and intelligence-collecting aircraft are mostly parked in neat, straight lines clearly visible from space,” writes Jim Molan, former major general in the Australian army and now Liberal Senator for NSW, in the opening to his new book, Danger on our Doorstep.

This surprise attack on the US, its “second Pearl Harbour”, is more successful than the first. Because China’s commanders learn from Japan’s mistake and blow up the American fuel storage tanks as well. So any replacement craft arriving at the bases cannot refuel.

A second wave of Beijing’s missiles soon arrives to finish the disarming of America’s bases in the Western Pacific. They destroy stockpiles of bombs and missiles.

America’s stealthy submarines in the region remain submerged and mostly intact. They can detect some of the mayhem above, but they rely on US satellites to communicate. The sub commanders can’t report their findings or receive orders.

The US has two big navy battle groups in the region as the attack unfolds, standard for peacetime deployment. According to Molan’s scenario:

“Carrier-killer missiles from China’s east and south coasts are fired at the larger ships in both battle groups, with backup from smaller cruise missiles from Chinese ships and submarines in the vicinity, and from China’s old but usable H-6 bombers, which each fire two of the enormous anti-ship cruise missiles they haul into the air under their wings.” All the major combatants are torn apart, burn and sink.

“The cost in human lives is appalling,” writes Molan. Xi Jinping has delivered his message even as the world still struggles to restore communications. Xi’s message to America, as Molan puts it:

“You are out of the Western Pacific and we will not let you re-establish your bases in Japan, South Korea or even Guam. From Japan to Australia and out to Hawaii, the Western Pacific is now a Chinese sphere of influence.”

It’s merely a scenario, but is it plausible? Molan argues that we’re preparing for the wrong war. He thinks that we’re all standing around waiting for a limited Chinese attack on Taiwan. And while he says that’s possible, it would only happen if China’s strategists are silly.

If Xi struck Taiwan, his attacking forces would be vulnerable to a hammering from the US. Why would he accept that pain when he has the option of pushing America out of the hemisphere altogether, forcing it back to the region east of Hawaii?

Then he can take Taiwan at his leisure, probably without the use of force. And dictate terms to US allies including Australia, now cut off from its great ally.

And Xi can luxuriate in history’s acclaim as the ruler who ended half a millennium of Western dominance of the Pacific....
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Who published this war-porn scenario?  If it was that simple, a few dozen countries would have tried it already.

I once made the mistake of reading a lame novel about special forces from several countries going to a secret base that had stopped communicating.  It was beyond terrible how badly written and out of touch with reality (and the basic laws of physics) it was.  This is worse.

Satellites falling out of orbit when "shot down" is stupid to the point of hilarity.  Yes, a satellite killer could grab a satellite and drag it down, but you'd need one killer per target and the target would have plenty of warning of being approached.  If even 5 US spy satellites detected something approaching them at the same time, that would be an instant red alert.  If instead a small high velocity projectile was used, there would be shapnel which would end up hitting more satellites, thus creating more shrapnel.  If there were enough initial targets, it would take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to turn low earth orbit into a blender.  That means NO one would have spy satellites, communication satellites, weather satellites, or space stations for a very long time.

While waiting for the chain reaction to take place, the US would simply use Starlink to maintain communications.  There are more Starlink satellites than anything else, so there's zero way for any country to take them all out in a hurry.

10 conventional missiles per base?  Maybe for some of the tiny ones.  This guy either never bothered to see how big some of them are or doesn't want facts to get in the way of his book.  Does he really think the US (or any country) would set themselves up for easy chain reactions to make wiping out a big military facility so simple?

A war could happen, but if so, it won't play out like this.  Of course, reality never gets in the way of selling BS like this.  This guy doesn't care about reality.  He just wants people to buy his book and his agent is probably busy trying to sell the movie rights.
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oh sure. technology is why it can't happen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASAT_program_of_China



Anti-satellite programs exist everywhere, so I have read, because space is an offensive warfare environment.
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For those playing along at home, the key point of that article was, why invade a small, um, territory like Taiwan if in return you'll get hammered by military forces being hosted in every nearby country? Why not fuck everyone all at once and then start attacking Australia because Australia will become a US staging ground?


If you were interesting in some long game, you could start by ridiculing alliances. Maybe attempt some worldwide demonstration by, oh, I don't know, punishing an economy and calling out friends of that economy. Brings peace to the region.



Feel free to defend China. But let's not pretend China isn't already fighting a war.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2022, 06:05:53 PM by Calach Pfeffer »
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ASATs exist, but trying to blow up a couple hundred satellites WILL be a pyrric victory.  Most countries don't like self-destructive victories.  Maybe the US would be crazy enough, since it co-created the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine.

I already described the Kessler syndome (https://www.space.com/kessler-syndrome-space-debris), but let me try again.  Each blown up satellite creates a small cloud of shrapnel.  One satellite's worth of shrapnel might not hit anything, but each one you blow up creates another debris cloud that endangers more satellites.  Each satellite hit by debris also is partly or completely turned onto more shrapnel.  Pass a certain threshold and it becomes a self-sustaining chain reaction.  This turns low Earth orbit into a blender where no satellite can survive for long.  So, NO COUNTRY will get to have spy satellites, weather satellites, communications satellites, navigation satellites, science satellites, or space stations in low earth orbit for at least a few decades.

For higher up, a single cloud of shrapnel in a retrograde equatorial orbit where the geosynchronous satellites are parked will destroy most of them in 12 hours.  Survivors get a 12 hour reprieve until the cloud comes around for a second pass.

The horrifying thing is that we're already in danger of a Kessler Syndrome event happening spontaneously due to the amount of junk already in orbit.  This is why space agencies around the world are working on orbital garbage collection devices.  If they could cooperate instead of being influenced by pathetic war-porn novels, we'll have a much better chance of preventing this from happening.

Edit:  I just accidentally tripped over a pic of what a small piece of space debris can do.  No, you don't have to shoot it that fast.  All you need is two different orbits intersecting to get some amazing velocity differences.




But, just to humor you and the author of this sick fantasy let's pretend that Chinese ASAT weapons use magical disintegration ray cannons so there's no danger of a Kessler event.  Now tell me how many spy satellites and military communications satellites the US has and how they can all be disabled within the span of a few minutes?  Oh, and don't forget that US military and civilian intelligence agencies like to keep secrets not just from China, but from each other too.

But by the lame power of deus ex machina, the Chinese somehow get hold of the non-existent master list of all US spy satellites and military communications satellites and somehow manages to set up giant emplacements of disintegration ray cannons around the world so that all of these hundreds of satellites can be taken down in 5 minutes.  Then what?

The US military and government switches over to Starlink and other friendly comsat constellations.  Civilian mapping satellite companies provide live feeds from their satellites.  Allied natiions provide access to both government and civilian satellites.

But, this story being far above average in forcing irrational storylines to continue lets China disintegrate THOUSANDS of other satellites in just a few minutes.

The Secretary of the US Navy hangs his head and says "I have no way to talk to our submarines."  His second in command says "Except for the extreme low frequency system."  The Secretary replies "Oops, I forgot about that."

"What about our military bases in the Pacific?" asks the President.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff replies "Before we lost Starlink most reported in.  Each was hit with ten hypersonic missiles with large conventional warheads.  We've got radio communication back with 8 of the large bases so far.  The smaller ones are out of operation, but whoever planned attacks with only 10 missiles against our larger bases was a complete moron."  As he finished the sentence, a bolt of lightening struck the chairman, killing him instantly.

A distant sounding disembodied voice with at Australian accent was then heard saying "Stop messing with my story.  China has to win this or I won't be able to lobby for bigger military budgets.  Even more importantly,  if China doesn't win, I won't be able write a sequel where Australia saves the day and conquers China."

****

If you want to see a real war, there are a number of them in progress right now.

I think you should scroll up and read that "Australian Way of War" article again.  You should be VERY concerned that the US isn't just pushing Australia into trade "wars", but is pushing Australia's military into closer and closer encounters with China's military.

If the US and China went to full scale war, the US would be throwing as many Australian, Japanese, and South Korean troops as possible to reduce US casualties just to make the war more palatable politically back home.  If Australia is the only allied country involved in a flashpoint that leads to shooting, can you be confident of how many Americans will be sacrificed to save Australia?

Australia would be a pretty pathetic staging area with Japan so much closer.  Even then, this magical Peal Harbor type preemptive strike is a pure war-porn fantasy.  There's NO WAY to disable that many satellites that quickly and to stop all other means of communications.  There's NO WAY to thoroughly disable large military bases with one small volley of conventional missiles.

If this was possible, the US has about 3 times China's military budget.  Why hasn't the US taken down all of China's satellites (without losing ALL satellites), sunk all its warships, and deployed Baron von Munchausen to take care of any pesky details that were forgotten?  Quite simply, it's because the only way to be that thorough within the laws of physics is to use WMDs in a preemptive first strike.  Thankfully for the world, the US still has enough sanity to realize that the price would be far too high.

Instead, the US wants a long simmering war, nowhere near its own coasts, with plenty of "friends" to serve as human shields for US troops.  China doesn't want to play that game.  China's long game is simple.  Keep TW aware that China has a red line and do everything possible to keep TW inside of that line.  Eventually, tides of opinion will shift, 1C2S agreements will be signed, and China will be reunited.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 11:04:20 PM by Escaped Lunatic »
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But is Molan’s scenario plausible? Or is he just an obsessive ex-army type who’s spent too much time alone with the internet and a paranoid imagination?

I turned to a well-regarded US strategist, Elbridge Colby, for guidance. Colby was the lead author of the US National Defence Strategy published in 2018. From his seat at the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defence for strategy and force development, he was privy to America’s defence capabilities and all its secrets. And all US knowledge of China’s.

After reading Molan’s scenario, Colby’s verdict: “It is very credible. Molan clearly knows what he is talking about. I would say, if anything, he may well underestimate the scope and scale of a Chinese attack. It is possible they would go for a narrower strike, but it is also possible they would go even bigger than he lays out.”
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Chosen principles are motivating. but they aren't cause and effect. Doing a "logically, China couldn't..." is far less meaningful than "logistically, China could..." and then working out whether or not they want to.

So, what does China want to do, and what will be the consequences for everyone else?



No, those questions aren't answered by a recapitulation of extant ideological feints. They're answered by looking at the actions of real people with a view to adequate interpretation of their action. "Adequate" as opposed to "possible". The interpretation that coincides with fact, I mean. The explanation among the entertaining alternatives that mislead. I'm pretty sure you have a philosophical aversion to any claim that such interpretation can be identified, right? Logistical interpretation can never be anything more than shallow guesswork, right? The only thing we have is principled discussion with some chosen collection of stipulations that provide for adequate argument without constituting facts, right? Provides for lengthy debate but no more than axiomatic conclusions.

So in the end, you'll have to lay claim to some axioms.

The rest is time used up.
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But is Molan’s scenario plausible? Or is he just an obsessive ex-army type who’s spent too much time alone with the internet and a paranoid imagination?

I turned to a well-regarded US strategist, Elbridge Colby, for guidance. Colby was the lead author of the US National Defence Strategy published in 2018. From his seat at the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defence for strategy and force development, he was privy to America’s defence capabilities and all its secrets. And all US knowledge of China’s.

After reading Molan’s scenario, Colby’s verdict: “It is very credible. Molan clearly knows what he is talking about. I would say, if anything, he may well underestimate the scope and scale of a Chinese attack. It is possible they would go for a narrower strike, but it is also possible they would go even bigger than he lays out.”


I see America's education system has failed even worse than I thought it had.  The alternative explanation is that "yes, a surprise attack could weaken US forces in the Indo-Pacific area, but no where near as much as claimed.  But by endorsing this war-porn novel, I stock the flames of fear that keep me employed and drive up the defense stocks I'm invested in."

In the meantime, not one "well-regarded US strategist" has bothered to publicly consider that reducing tensions with China could easily save the US over $100 billion a year while still leaving the US with the world's most massive and expensive military.  That sort of thinking would cause them to instantly shift from well-regarded to disregarded.  They'd stop getting invited as well paid speakers at "Why we need an even more bloated defense budget" panels at defense contractor conferences.

The whole concept boils down to "Let's fantasize about an implausible scenario that doesn't even fit the rules of physics and then try to make everyone else angry about it (so they'll buy the book and support bigger military budgets)."


Logistically, China could give the US a very hard time with a surprise strike.  Logistically, any mass surprise attack on satellites end 98% of all usable devices in space and ends all options for low Earth orbit satellites for decades.  Logistically, the US has more ways to communicate than via satellite and more was to take pics from above than via satellite, so imposing any realistic communications or intelligence blackout across a wide region is not feasible.


China wants to operate in a world where no one country can set policies for everyone else upon pain of unilateral sanctions that all other countries are expected to follow, destabilization attempts, or far worse.  International law means all countries get a say in setting the rules, not just the USA (plus a few "friends" which all host US military bases).

China wants to do business around the world.  China wants its business partners to have growing economies, so that it can do more business with them.  This means that it's in China's best interests to assist countries across the economic spectrum.

The USA may scream "They took our jobs", but the US just had the longest running economic streak in its history, and a significant part of that was aided by lower cost goods from China cushioning inflationary pressures from both growing wages and far faster growing corporate profits.  Unfortunately, the US cranked up the money printing machines too many times and also sold too many bonds (including a large amount to China) to buy its way our of every economic set back, so is about to pay the price with a serious recession.  If they were smart, they'd dump the Trump-Biden tariffs for a fast 1% reduction in their inflation numbers.  Too bad the government won't listen to the so many US business leaders and prefers to "punish" China by making its own consumers and businesses pay more for things.

In the meantime, China continues to widen its business horizons across the globe.  Starting a war with the US would risk a nuclear exchange and would be bad for business.  I have ZERO concern that the pathetic scenario of a Chinese surprise attack will ever get past the stage of a moronic novel.


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So, "China number one" sounds good as an axiom. "USA? PooSA!" has a ring to it as well. "Rising East, declining west" doesn't feature as much.

I don't know, man. "The USA betrayed us all" is fine, I guess. But why is there no sense that China won't do the same?

Wait. Is China... unable to be a betraying hegemon? China will never be big enough to fail an ideal? A multipolar world means everyone is equally small?

Dude.

None of that is logistics. That's all idealism
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I don't honestly think China does want to do business around the world. They want to do something, but it's not the fostering of economic opportunity. If it were, then the old dreams of engagement with China producing a more liberal China would have come true. Globalization seems instead to have enabled a more illiberal China
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I think China, US, India, and Russia each having leadership in some things and each being somewhere in the top 10 in others is the way to realistically approach things.  Sadly, the US and it's minions consider being less than number 1 by any measure to be some kind of sin.

I think a world where ANY one country can crush any country it disagrees with is wrong.  I believe ALL countries have the right to boycott other, but that the unilateral sanctions of any one country being mirrored by friends and rivals because of fear of secondary sanctions is wrong.  I can even understand a full scale blockade and embargo for something like nuclear missiles being moved around the world to drop them on another country's doorstep.

I can't understand why Cubans still are under massive sanctions for an event that was resolved 60 years ago.  I can understand trying to restrict nuclear technology from getting into the hands of non-nuclear technology might need the UN to restrict dual use items, but I can't understand why Iran and North Korea both were targeted economically for extended periods before engaging in that kind of research and why the US seems particularly attached to seeing North Koreans starve to death.

The world doesn't need a hegemon but the US doesn't want to lose it's golden position of sitting on top of the pile.

If you bother to sit down with some economic charts and plot the trends, China's not the only country set to match or exceed the US in a number of ways.  This means one of two things.  A bloody war with a high chance of wiping out billions caused by the US trying to remain in charge, or a multipolar world where NO single nation can unilaterally decide the fate of other nations.  I think the second option sounds pretty appealing.  Really bad things requiring international cooperation to fight can be coordinated by the UN.  Real international order can come from the UN instead of the US plus a handful of minions fighting to see who can agree fastest.

This also covers your "too big to fail" argument.  In a world without a hegemon, even the biggest country having a total collapse won't trigger the chain reaction disaster the world barely avoided in 2008.  Multipolarity adds in redundancy that makes all nations safer.  Yes, a larger economy failing will hurt worse, but one country controlling international transfers and forcing most trade to be in its currency is a great way to make an economic disaster a hundred times worse.


About 120 countries have enough trust in China to have it be their primary trading partner.

The USA has a long history of abusing its allies in distant wars, including the botched retreat from Afghanistan last year.  I have a GREAT idea to prevent EVER having to face this risk with China or the US or any other country misusing your Kangaroo Infantry or Koala Kommandos.  It's so simple that even a child could understand it.

If your ally is attacked directly inside of their own country, help to chase the enemy out, but go no farther.  If your ally gets itself in a war outside its territory, stay home.

This means if the US wants to fight Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanstan, Syria, or anywhere else, it will be 100% US troops (and locals brave/foolish enough to trust the US) and your soldiers won't be expended for no valid reason.  If Canada and the US start shooting at each other, decide which one you like the most and help secure the border.

China doesn't do the whole "in the interest of (insert things like democracy and international order here), we're sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the other side of the world and dropping bombs even after setting up a puppet government", so it's a lot harder for China to abuse allies the way the US has.  Still, in the incredibly unlikely event China decides to conquer Argentina and asks for help, the same advice holds - If you don't send troops, your troops can't be used as cannon fodder.

Liberalism or lack of liberalism doesn't matter to a country that wants to buy or sell goods, unless that country has a "We only want to deal with people who are like us or desperately want to be like us." agenda.

China doesn't treat everything as a zero sum game.  Properly done trade, properly done foreign investment, and properly done foreign aid can benefit both countries involved.  If you reject this premise of China helping improve the economies of countries around the world in order to increase trade, then you'll have little choice but to embrace the thought of China being an incredibly kind nation going on a hospital building spree in poor countries solely to help the local people with no thoughts of long term gains.  That's not a bad point of view.  I personally think both explanations apply, but I doubt you have the ability to really wrap your head around the second explanation.


So what's your brilliant plan?  If it's "only democratic countries should set international policy", why isn't India in the G7 and named heir apparent to the US when its GDP passes the US GDP?  If it's "USA forever", that would be just as crazy as saying every leading empire back to Alexander the Great should never have fallen.  The US had it's shot as benevolent dictator outside its own borders and proved to be rapacious, tyrannical, and untrustworthy even to its closest allies.  As it fades, others rise.  If those others are wise enough to learn, this cycle of one country having far more power over others than any country should finally has a chance of ending.  Then maybe, just maybe, the global effort to end the possibility of nuclear armageddon can finally be ended, as the UN has been trying to do for a very long time now.

If my view, countries being free to trade with each other or not, of international law being set by more than a small exclusive club of nations, of ending one country's "right" to unilaterally sanction, destabilize, overthrow, or bomb others, and of finally ending the specter of nuclear annihilation make an idealist, I'll gladly accept that label.  What should someone deeply opposed to these ideals be called?

« Last Edit: August 08, 2022, 08:12:51 PM by Escaped Lunatic »
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The most populous hierarchical society in the world believes in equal partnerships? You need to vist China some time.



Meanwhile, what should AU do? Decouple. Decouple like a motherfucker. And recognize ourselves as the least defensible continent in the world, and perhaps one of the least well defended societies in the world.

Respect the Chinese. Take them at their word. They want changes to occur in Australia and they're willing to use force. But they're weak. Economic power is destructive, but it isn't strength. They hate their own circumstances so much they don't want to make babies.

Raises a question. Emerging powers that see opportunities slipping away... do they let them go? No. And China won't. China and CCP are entirely big enough to consider the use of force viable.



The question is, engage with these motherfuckers or let them burn? But see, does engagement mean accepting China as an international economic powerhouse or does it mean proceeding with decoupling but use a lot of diplomacy to - somehow - avoid them being pissed off by their declining economic importance? Does let them burn mean sacrificing, say, Taiwan and all the nearby countries who can be intimidated now?

A few years are needed to unravel the international China narrative. All that bullshit about mutual respect and cold war mentality and rising and declining. The cloud of lies and murder. The west has been way too accommodating and needs to get it's act together. Signs suggest it will, and at the same time it will be too little too late.


Drumbeat of fucking war.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 04:05:38 PM by Calach Pfeffer »
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"It's all your own fault if...." is not a way to talk about war.

"If you want China to be the enemy..." is not a way to talk about friendship.


War and enemies... most of the world knows about that stuff in their region. I don't think we'll see Chinese troops in Europe or the US and probably not in AU. But for the first time in a long time, conflict will be present in western daily lives. Infrastructure disruption and substantial economic fall out. Seems like the pandemic is presently providing us with a taste. Maybe that's at least partly why talk of war seems more real. The poor westerners have seem a little privation so now we know.

But I do think it's time to stop being shocked. Standing around horrified is peacetime privilege. Just like, I guess, making martial speeches is wartime privilege.


It'll be disruptive. But not everyone will die. Yay.
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Or, to sum up, I think we've entered a new phase of miserable great power relations, and it behooves us all to stop talking the bullshit of the previous phase. I think it's okay to call China on its bullshit and it's stupid and dangerous to lie.
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I'll agree it's a new phase.  I'd say changing from coldwar dialogue would be a huge step in the right direction.

You might want to consider Chinese history.  Unlike the US and unlike the European empires in the Age of Exploration Colonization, China keeps any military disagreements close to home.  In the 1400's, China had the world's biggest fleet which included the world's biggest ships.  The "Treasure Fleet" got it's name for carrying treasure outward to establish trade.  They also had more than enough soldiers to protect the ships and deal with pirates.

The fleet went as far as Africa.  Countries weren't conquered and colonized.  They were recruited as trading partners.  Yes, it wasn't perfect.  Some interference in local affairs happened in some places.  At least one local king who ran piracy operations against his neighbors found out the hard way not to try piracy against a giant fleet, but overall it was minor compared to what was just beginning to get cranked up by the Europeans.

Sadly, the growth of richer and richer merchants threatened some of the political elite enough that the voyages were ended and the larger ships were destroyed.  Yes, you could try to stretch this to the present, but reigning in some giant corporations with fines and breaking up monopolies also happens in the USA+vassals camp too.  If the US doesn't decide to try a bit more reigning in, wait and see what happens when Amazon starts buying up defense contractors.

Compare that to what Europeans did to North America, South America, Africa, SE Asia, and that place inhabited by kangaroos, koala's, and some guy called Calach.

After the end of the Treasure Fleet, I suspect it would be very difficult to find any significant military activities involving China further away from the mainland than than the SCS.  This is unlike the US, which feels free to invade globally and, like a proper bully, tries to drag a few followers along to help (and help absorb some of the damage directed at the bully).

If the US would keep itself out of Asia, defense budgets, including China's, could be reduced.  The US itself would then be able to cut its own defense budget, if Congress (where the weapons industry is a huge supplier of campaign funds) were to agree.

In the meantime, China is busy slashing tariffs for goods from the 16 poorest countries in the world.  Your fear of China suddenly deciding conquer the world isn't stopping the improvements this will bring to the lives of those who live in such countries.

The world is at a cross roads.  The US can continue to push to remain a hegemon (which as worked out VERY badly for so many countries, even democratic ones), or the world moves towards being multipolar.

Will a multipolar world be perfect?  Probably not.  Will it be better than world run by a fading hegemon willing to literally anything to remain as #1 both militarily and economically?  Probably.  Aggressively pushing for a war that could spiral out of control just to slow a hegemon's inevitable decline seems rather unfair to the rest of the planet.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 06:10:19 PM by Escaped Lunatic »
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