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March 15, 2005

Bits and Pieces

• Before 9/11, all the Neocons could talk about was the coming confrontation with China and the need to stick steadfastly by our blood-buddy Taiwan. And, if 9/11 hadn't happened, yesterday might've been the first step towards that confrontation. With China passing a (largely redundant) law that authorizes attack if Taiwan seeks independence, a strong America acting in concert with the Neocon philosophy would have made this a showdown, hoping to send the red dragon slinking back to its cave. Not so. With our forces tied up in Iraq, perceptions of America's military might at their nadir, our economy entirely dependent on the whims of Asian bankers, our spending only sustainable through the kindness of Chinese bond-buyers, and our dollar convulsing every time an Asian leader opens his mouth, we've got less influence than a congressional Democrat. So China was testing us to some degree, proving to themselves that we'd recognize reality and let them move further towards regional hegemony. Their hypothesis couldn't have been more right.

• Matt Singer, of Left in the West, is a bit light in the wallet these days. If you could give him a hand, I know he'd appreciate it. And if you read him regularly, as you should, you know he's worth it.

• It's been a long time since I read a story sadder, or more touching, than this profile of a prominent researcher who studies Lou Gehrig's disease, and now has it. Bitterly ironic stuff, but inspiring to see how he's dealing with it.

• Did you know Fox News was biased? Yeah, so did I. But now we have proof. Money quote:

In an interview, Fox's executive daytime producer, Jerry Burke, says: "I encourage the anchors to be themselves. I'm certainly not going to step in and censor an anchor on any issue. . . . You don't want to look at a cookie-cutter, force-feeding of the same items hour after hour. I think that's part of the success of the channel, not treating our anchors like drones. They're, number one, Americans, and number two, human beings, as well as journalists."

Human beings second, huh? That's one dangerous strain of nationalism right there.

March 15, 2005 | Permalink

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Tracked on Mar 16, 2005 7:47:34 AM

Comments

Ezra, thanks for the link. The stuff going on with China is utterly fascinating. The other issue that is going to enter this picture soon is the resource fight over oil. As China's demand continues to skyrocket, they'll drive prices up, having a huge impact on the US market. And since they probably get along better with folks like Hugo Chavez, they just may get better access to oil than we do.

Posted by: Matt Singer | Mar 15, 2005 7:04:43 PM

"With our forces tied up in Iraq..."

The Army, Marines, National Guard and reserves are tied up in Iraq. The Navy has force projection to spare, which is just what you'd need for a watery battlefield like the Taiwan Strait. So buck up, warmongerers!

Posted by: Grumpy | Mar 15, 2005 7:43:52 PM

Grumpy--

Um...what? The navy's extra forces would be sufficient for war with China? I hope you're kidding! Lest the Bush admin get some ideas...

Posted by: Kate | Mar 16, 2005 1:06:11 AM

The Navy's extra forces are sufficient to act as a deterrent to Chinese aggression. China simply cannot launch either an attack or a blockade at this time.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Mar 16, 2005 1:13:26 AM

Journalists third? That's one dangerous strain of journalism right there.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Mar 16, 2005 4:24:46 AM

I would agree with Kimmitt to a certain extent. Our Navy probably has enough force to deter Chinese agression, and certianly China's problem with Taiwan has always been their inability to project force across the strait, with or without American involvement.

However, China has grown stronger while the USA is in fact bogged down in the Middle East. But the most important aspect of this may be that our military planners have been shown to be incompetent fools, which in the eyes of the Chinese leadership may mitigate whatever force advantage our navy has.

Also, the Chinese possibly have the power to completely destroy our economy - and that, more than any balance of military power issue, may be the source of their renewed saber-rattling at Taiwan.

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 16, 2005 10:43:39 AM

For the record...
A) I was basically kidding, and
B) The Chinese navy consists of 5 destroyers, 48 frigates, 51 large landing craft, 93 patrol boats (plus some 200 obsolete models), 123 minesweepers, 65 attack submarines, and 1 missile sub (with 4 on the way by 2010). The US Navy has 50 destroyers, 32 frigates, 27 cruisers, 13 aircraft carriers, 12 amphibious assault ships (small carriers), 26 dock landing ships, 110 large landing craft, 91 hovercraft, 26 minesweepers, 52 attack subs, and 17 missile subs.

And the USS Walter Mondale. It's a laundry ship!

Posted by: Grumpy | Mar 16, 2005 5:47:18 PM

How silly of me. The US Navy only has 74 active hovercraft; the rest of the 91 are inactive. That tears it -- we're screwed.

Posted by: Grumpy | Mar 16, 2005 5:51:39 PM

that is truly an amazing quote ..."Americans first, human beings second ..."! Truly sez it all, don't it?

Posted by: shep | Mar 17, 2005 1:02:50 AM

"So China was testing us to some degree, proving to themselves that we'd recognize reality and let them move further towards regional hegemony. Their hypothesis couldn't have been more right."

Let's also be honest about another thing - the United States was never, ever, never, ever going to stand in the way of increased Chinese power. On a longer term, it's just absolutely impossible.

We can still prevent them from landing in Taiwan. And that'll continue to be true for a while. But that was never going to happen, really. And we never could've/would've prevented them from blowing Taiwan up completely, if they wanted to. But neither was that ever going to happen, really.

Neither of those things would happen because they would both result in Taiwan's economic might being destroyed. That is why China wants Taiwan back, and will eventually get it back, when the overwhelming force of its own economic might is unavoidable. It's not about resources (Taiwan has none); it's not about territory, really, except for the pride/nationalism/score-settling thing (which is still there, a bit) - it's really about China gaining yet another huge piece of the global financial infrastructure.

Not if - when. And we never could or will do anything about it - it's all a series of feints and bluster to save face or puff out.

Posted by: jkd | Mar 17, 2005 4:37:34 PM

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Posted by: JEROGatch | Sep 3, 2006 3:13:27 AM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 5:10:41 AM

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