The year 2013 was a year without fighting, but there was a strong potential for conflict. This year, the impact of local wars on the world situation is much more serious than in previous years.
This year, the U.S. behaved very arrogantly, and Obama’s intentions were unclear; the Middle East retreated, East Asia rallied.
In the 20th century, as a challenger of empires built on hegemonies, America’s national strategy was to break up and surround Eurasia and its three big political powers: the Middle Eastern Islamic world, Russia, and China. America also wanted to make further steps toward the fragmentation of these empires and complete their establishment of a global empire.
Throughout the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, the last 20 years of military campaigns, and especially America’s current three front war, the U.S. has made several important advances: anti-U.S. powers are about to disappear in the Middle East, the Russian strategic space has already been reduced to Georgia and the Ukraine, and their strategic “C-shaped” encirclement of China is basically completed.
When Obama took office, he faced several strategic options. The first was to resolve the Middle East’s final two encirclements, and isolate the two anti-U.S. nations, namely Syria and Iran, in order to complete the “Greater Middle East Reform Initiative.” The second was to admit Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO and continue to put pressure on Russia. The third was to tighten up the strategic encirclement of China and wait for an opportunity to mobilize their secret ideological allies inside China, in an attempt to complete the final assault from both inside and outside.
Russia’s war against Georgia and its decision to cut off gas to the Ukraine have made the U.S. realize that the polar bear means what it says and it is difficult to break through the frontline in Central Asia . After deliberation, Obama and his team of official advisors chose to reset Russian-U.S. relations. As a result, Hillary Clinton recommended “smart power,” and America decided that it would make advances on the other two strategic fronts. (As a result, the strategic justification for keeping troops in Afghanistan was not sufficient, which caused Obama to declare that he would withdraw U.S. troops in 2014.)
During Obama’s first term in office, his most important strategic move was to publically declare a shift toward the East. The U.S. State Department pushed for the exclusion of China in Trans-Pacific Partnership, in order to diplomatically and economically isolate China. The Pentagon declared they would implement an air-sea war strategy. They initiated projects that by 2020, will result in over 60% of U.S. air and sea assets being located in the Asia-Pacific region. Their political, economic, and military fists swing repeatedly against China, a nation that has committed itself to peaceful development
Lines are being drawn, with various other countries choosing sides. For example, the Philippines and Japan are taking aggressive stances in order to cause trouble, with Japan being the most provocative. In spite of efforts to instill a Chinese-Japanese diplomatic consensus, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, has adopted a stubborn stance of not afraid of being accused as “a re-militarized nation” and is preparing for confrontation with China. The Philippines wants the U.S. to return to the Subic Bay. India and Vietnam are flirting with each other to cook up anti-China schemes.
The U.S. initially used the plot to make noise in the East, but actually impacted the West. Having deployed smaller nations in the Asia-Pacific region to distract China, Washington has reached out to Tunisia and Egypt and knocked out Libya. Taking advantage of the Jasmine Revolution, the U.S. wanted to “set fire” to Syria and Iran. Americans issued numerous ultimatums to Syria. Paris and London eagerly joined the chorus. At the crucial moment, China and Russia put out a full-force effort to mediate the crisis, and Syria has, for the time being, avoided calamity. This certainly is not America accepting Russia’s offer; instead, it is due to America’s inability to find a suitable agent in the anti-Syrian government mob. At the same time, explosions and rampages occured in Iraq and Libya, both of which were baptized with American democracy. Moreover, the military has jailed the popularly elected president in Egypt. The American government being embarrassed and upset by Edward Snowden was another factor that has caused heartburn to members of the Obama team. Snowden’s explosive revelations have exposed America’s dark secrets of global eavesdropping and forced Washington off their high ground, having always made moralistic accusations against others. Evidently, if the U.S. decided to take military action against Damascus alone, it would not win praise from the media, popular support at home, or allies’ help from abroad. American threats against Syria were designed to divert attention away from its own dilemma. Moscow’s plan of destroying Syrian chemical weapons was too good of a face-saving way out for the U.S. to reject it. China is huge with nuclear weapons and it cannot be defeated by conventional forces. Syria is too messy for an easy solution. Iranians are wise and are willing to make a deal. As a result, Obama decides to play the role of a nice guy, taking the olive branch extended by Tehran, despite angry denunciation from Israel and Saudi Arabia—two of its diehard allies in the Middle East. The region that has been buried in war talks suddenly becomes very quiet. This demonstrates again that the world will be able to embrace peace if the U.S. does not make trouble. In the first year of his second term, Obama has been unable to act decisively to accomplish his goals, but this doesn’t mean that the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been able to sit still and appreciate his medal. In modern times, driven by the ambition to expand its empire, one of the top priorities for American Presidents is to engage in military conquests. Not totally satisfied with toppling Gaddafi during his first term, Obama is planning something even bigger. After pulling back in Central Asia, the U.S. may do the same in the Middle East. It is training its gun at China. The year 2014 is the 100th anniversary of World War I. American strategists discovered a long time ago (and actually facilitated the outcome) that “Modern circumstances share many interesting qualities with pre-1914 circumstances” and both Chinese and American governments will be unwilling to show weakness in front of their former opponents and current rivals. American strategists believe that China could come to replicate some of the conditions that made Europe so volatile a hundred years ago, and use this idea as a motivation to not voice a position on the Senkaku Islands dispute.
The year 2014 is the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. Some American strategists have discovered that the situation in Asia is similar to the situation in Europe before the outbreak of the war. Neither the government of China nor the government of Japan has any intention to engage in any compromise. Therefore, American strategists come up with the idea to replicate the script of World War I in which all European nations were crippled. This is the fundamental motive of not taking a position on the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands between Beijing and Tokyo.
2014 is also the 120th anniversary of the first Sino-Japanese War, which has remained prominent in the minds of both the Chinese and the Japanese. After a comprehensive study of America’s pivot in Asia, Japan chose September 11, 2012 to announce its “purchase” of the Diaoyu Islands. This is a huge national decision. From this point on, the rivalry between China and Japan has changed from territorial and resource rivalry to strategic competition. The strategic layout in East Asia has truly become a chess gameinvolving three nations. The U.S. hopes to see Sino-Japan confrontation, which will result in power reduction of China and Japan, as was the case of the U.K. and Germany. Japan desires to provoke a war between the U.S. and China, which will lead to its rearming and rise as a new power in the West Pacific. Many Japanese naval and air force officers have made this preference very public.
At the present time Japan does not have the strength to declare war on China. However, if the U.S. and China get into a war, China will suffer and Japan can seize the opportunity to gain power and eventually finish China off—repeating what it did during the first Sino-Japanese War and disrupt China’s attempt at modernization.
The ulterior motives of both America and Japan are on full display after China adopted its air defense identification zone. Japan is consistently arrogant, but the U.S. is a double dealer. It sent up a B-52 into the ADIZ to calm down Japan but also sold out Tokyo by instructing commercial airlines to file their flight path with China. Americans provoke while also simultaneously attempting to curry favor from China.
December 1, 2013 is the 70th anniversary of the Cairo Declaration that established the international political order in the wake of World War II. There was national silence in Japan on this occasion. It has deliberately chosen to forget the core contents of its surrender. Taking into consideration the annual historical controversy, we see a Japan that clearly attempts to overthrow the outcome of World War II. This is similar to what Germany tried to do after its defeat in World War I. The United States, Australia, and the Philippines “understand” Japan’s efforts at re-arming itself. Even Great Britain is in support of the Japanese position on the ADIZ. This reminds us of the Anglo-Franco Appeasement in the 1930’s. The fact that Russia refuses to take a position on Sino-Japan territorial dispute shows how successful Tokyo’s diplomacy has been. 2013 saw major leadership changes in China, America, Japan, Russia, and North and South Korea. New changes have also led to new policies.
Despite the bottomless financial crisis, America continues to conduct experiments on developing aircrafts armed with electromagnetic launching capabilities. Following the entrance of F-22 “V-22 “Osprey, the “Global Eagle” is beginning to enter Japan. The frequency of American military exercises in the Pacific Ocean has increased. In this noisy atmosphere, Japan has begun to export arms, which is the first step in converting its strong industries into facilities that can mass manufacture military equipment. 2013 also saw the commissioning of what will be Japan’s third aircraft carrier, “Izumo.” Izumo was the name of an armored cruiser built by Japan using Chinese reparation and was the flagship when Japan invaded China. Using this name for the new aircraft carrier is certainly provocative in nature.
China has formed the F-15 wing and its first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” has undertaken a battle group tour in the South China Sea. President Xi inspects troops often and asks the PLA to be ready to fight and able to win. At the same time, F-20 has entered the test flight phase and even F-31 made an appearance. China’s three fleets have sailed to the first island chain and conducted joint exercises with the Russian Navy.
North Korea does not want to play the second fiddle. It conducted the third nuclear test in 2013 and attempted to send a satellite into orbit. An arms race is unfolding in the Asia Pacific region. Since the end of World War II, fighter jets from China, the U.S., Japan, and Russia have descended upon the Western Pacific en mass. The world is holding its breath as statesmen from Asia-Pacific nations are assessing each other’s situation and trying to determine an action plan.
2013 was the prelude that will determine the fate of East Asia and the political and military focus of the world in the near future. Due to America’s global strategy and the implementation of Japan’s strategies, there will be further deterioration of military status in East Asia, if not the entire Asia-Pacific region. Other parts of the world appear to be relatively quiet because the United States is too busy to get involved. Russia is taking advantage of this situation to ram through integration of the region that used to be the former Soviet Union.
As a new round of military, political, and economic reshuffle unfolds the Asia-Pacific region, which experienced the most bloody and the largest casualties in recent history, it will once again be the main battleground.
What is the mode of war that can “destroy” China?
Since the end of WWII, every American strategy shift is triggered by a new technology that gives rise to a military revolution. For the Cold War, it was nuclear weapons; for the Gulf War, it was information; this time, America’s pivot to Asia is led by the Internet technology that has produced a mixture of cyberspace electronic warfare and ideological information warfare. The first kind of warfare is limited to conventional military areas, but the second kind of warfare has invisibly formed a different kind of fighting that defies all military concepts. In 2013, manipulated by a mysterious force outside China, a few Chinese language websites controlled by foreign capitals have manufactured a few anti-military and anti-patriotic incidents. The anti-Communist, anti-Chinese government, and anti-China forces have joined hands in stirring up these incidents. In response, the broad masses of patriotic netizens have launched a counter offensive. With collaboration from relevant agencies of the Chinese government, a victory was achieved in this pitched cyberspace battle similar to the battles fought during the Korean War.
Although one does not see smoke in cultural fighting, ideological struggles, or cyber warfare, they are equally destructive and shocked and enlightened Chinese military thinkers. The Soviet Union used to possess thousands of nuclear warheads and 4 million troops, but they were all fragmented by the invisible and ubiquitous informational and ideological warfare. It makes one shudder to think that countries like Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt could be overthrown overnight by Twitter in the age of social media. Deep rivers run quieter. The new features of this kind of warfare have revealed themselves after China’s effort to clamp down on Internet rumors have caused harsh criticisms from non-civil forces outside China. John Huntsman’s public speech calling hundreds of millions of Chinese cell phone internet users to begin regime change, has proven that China’s military researchers should pay more attention to the fifth column inside China. Military affairs, politics, economics, culture, ships, keyboards, history, and the present, have combined to form a new battleground where battles are going to be epic. Television and informational and psychological warfare in the age of dollars were the mode of warfare that could defeat the Soviet Union. The Internet and informational and ideological warfare will the mode of warfare that will defeat China. The eyes of the Chinese military cannot train on the visible enemy and their metal weapons. The era of the Internet demands all new knowledge on wars and anti-wars.
The Sino-Japanese War in 1894, World War I, World War II, the collapse of Eastern Europe, the chaos of the Middle East—all of these historical tragedies are in front of China and serve as the background behind the China dream. The world is brutal, military affairs are changing fast, and the strategies are interactive. Will the ghostlike war in East Asia take place? When will it take place? It is determined by both the actors and the reactors. The answers lie in historical common sense and wise judgment.
In 2013, China embarks on a new road after the conclusion of the Third Plenum of the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. On December 26, China solemnly commemorated the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong. On this same day, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe provoked China by visiting the Yaksukuni Shrine in Tokyo. In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman quoted Mao Zedong’s “On Protracted War,” and implied that the final victory will belong to China. The new China is born in blood and fire, and is not only unafraid of war, but also courageous in welcoming reasonable and lawful conflict, because defending the country from aggression serves to further boost the development of the state’s power. The Chinese nation loves peace, but there is little doubt that glory drenched in blood will pave China’s road to revitalization. This is the glory that generations to come will treasure. Sound the alarms for war preparation, remold our firm convictions, wake up the fearless people, and revive our strategic industries—our country is moving forward and our future is bright!
This article is a translation of a blog post written by Dai Xu. He is a Chinese author, social commentator, and the president of Marine Institute For Security And Cooperation, he also a professor at the National Defense University