World War 2.5

UPDATE: I don’t seem to be the only one worried about a 1914 situation.

China’s current coercion of Japan over the islands is but a symptom of a larger illness in the international system. China has been leveraging its naval modernization to increase its movements through the seas and choke points surrounding Japan to break out into the Pacific. Last November, for example, flotillas of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy destroyers and submarines backed by air power encircled Japan for the first time, as PLA officers bragged about splitting and demolishing the first island chain. China is changing the regional balance with little resistance from the United States. Counter to Chinese public claims of surprise at a U.S. “overreaction,” recent discussions with Chinese officials over Beijing’s December air defense identification zone announcement suggests that the United States’ response was much weaker than the response the Chinese leadership had expected.

This is worrisome.

Last month I posted an observation that another world war may be coming. I noted that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the First World War and that the present situation is similar to that which preceded the 1914 war. I may not be the only one.

I concluded last month’s post as follows: The “two Ps” are Pakistan and the Palestinians. We live in an incredibly dangerous era and we are seeing an American president who does not understand geopolitics. God help us.

screen shot 2014-01-22 at 9.29.47 am

A recent column provided from someone attending the Davos Economic Forum discusses yet another potential fuse that is sputtering.

During the dinner, the hosts passed a microphone around the table and asked guests to speak briefly about something that they thought would interest the group.

One of the guests, an influential Chinese professional, talked about the simmering conflict between China and Japan over a group of tiny islands in the Pacific.

We live in an era in which the US elites are largely ignorant of history and of other peoples. In the 1930s, President Roosevelt had spent summers bicycling around Europe before he suffered the attack of Polio in 1920. President Eisenhower had, of court, commanded the armies in World War II. He knew intimately most of the people who mattered in the world. We now have a president who does not know how little he knows about the world. He thinks a few years as a child in Indonesia make him a expert in international relations. His inner circle describes him as the smartest man ever to become president.

There is little evidence to support it. Mr. Obama went to Harvard, but so did George W. Bush, who some liberals consider dumber than dirt. The president won’t release his transcripts, so we can’t judge by his grades. Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.

Mr. Obama joined an undistinguished law firm, where he tried no cases. So no help there.

Many cite the president’s oratorical skills, but he often rambles when he speaks without a teleprompter. That’s because his brain “is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up,” wrote Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times.

Most telling is the following exchange:

Barack Obama is the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to be elected to the presidency, historian Michael Beschloss told radio talk show host Don Imus in November of 2008.

“So what is his IQ?” Mr. Imus asked. Mr. Beschloss didn’t know. He was just assuming.

We are all guessing but some of us think we know. Obama thinks we need Arabic translators in Afghanistan.

Obama posited — incorrectly — that Arabic translators deployed in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan — forgetting, momentarily, that Afghans don’t speak Arabic.
“We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then its harder for us to use them in Afghanistan,” Obama said.
The vast majority of military translators in both war zones are drawn from the local population.
Naturally they speak the local language. In Iraq, that’s Arabic or Kurdish. In Afghanistan, it’s any of a half dozen other languages — including Pashtu, Dari, and Farsi.

Oh well. That is over and we have new problems.

He then explained that the general sense in China is that China and Japan have never really settled their World War 2 conflict. Japan and America settled their conflict, he explained, and as a result, the fighting stopped. But China and Japan have never really put the war behind them.

The Chinese professional acknowledged that if China asserted control over the disputed islands by attacking Japan, America would have to stand with Japan. And he acknowledged that China did not want to provoke America.

But then he said that many in China believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan, demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.

Remember that Austria planned to punish Serbia for the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand who was shot by Serbian conspirators. How did that end ? One of the reasons for the appeasement of the 1930s was to avoid a war by mistake.

“Do you realize that those islands are worthless pieces of rock… and you’re seriously suggesting that they’re worth provoking a global military conflict over?”

The Chinese professional said that, yes, he realized that. But then, with conviction that further startled everyone, he said that the islands’ value was symbolic and that their symbolism was extremely important.

Challenged again, the Chinese professional distanced himself from his earlier remarks, saying that he might be “sensationalizing” the issue and that he, personally, was not in favor of a war with Japan. But he still seemed certain that one was deserved.

I wish we had a competent president instead of a narcissistic fool.

Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times tweeted the following about an interview with Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. In case you’ve forgotten, 1914 is when World War 1 started.

Just interviewed Shinzo Abe @Davos. He said China and Japan now are in a “similar situation” to UK and Germany before 1914.

20 thoughts on “World War 2.5”

  1. 2.5? 3 was the so called “Cold War” which ended with a decisive American victory in 1989-1991. 4 is between the west and Islam right now. If the Chinese want to fight a world war it will have to be 5.

  2. Obama’s entire presidential record and campaign is based on lies! Isn’t it time that a house committee should investigate using DNA evidence just who Obama’s parents are – and where and when was he born.

    Given that everything about is presidency is a lie, it is likely he is not an American citizen and therefore he has never been president – indeed, Joe Biden has been president since he was elected Vice President.

    All the laws Obama signed were never signed by the President of the USA’ therefore they have been vetoed by the pocket veto. All appointments are voided out. All treaties are void unless signed by Biden.

    So lets have a the House investigate.

  3. What gets me is that the MSM has completely ignored – covered – Obama’s evidence of ignorance of [pick your subject].

    But it is what it is.

    Imagine George Bush with these beliefs, and what they would do to him.

    I have a good friend who emigrated from Hong Kong in the late 60s He worked as a waiter, now has a successful CPA firm.

    We often talk about China and the effects her economic opening up to the world will have on the hold of the government over its people.

    He is of the belief that the government will wither away.

    Certainly a hope, but not something you can base policy on.

    We do indeed live in very dangerous times.

    Grey Eagle – you can investigate all you want but the Democrats will fight it – and meanwhile life goes on.

  4. Worst ruling class ever doesn’t deserve a foreign war and our fighting stock out of the nation.

    None of those places or peoples: qualify as our problems.

    None of them.

    Our problems are here.

    Now if you want to go fight there or send your children, by all means.

    We can’t run our cities, we have no business running the world. Moreover the people who do the fighting, working, building have no vote and should do nothing for the traitors, plunderers, foresworn, pimping predators who rule us.

    However we do owe them something .

  5. >>We can’t stop the Chinese Communist Party from committing suicide.

    That must be one _HELL_ of a financial bubble the ChiCom “10,000 princes” are sitting on that they are seriously talking about going the “Short Victorious War” route.

  6. }}} Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.

    Indeed, as this piece points out, he certainly didn’t get it on merit:

    Stop It Already — He’s Not So Smart

    I was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and later had the honor of clerking for the Hon. Danny Julian Boggs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, one of the nation’s most brilliant jurists, who later rose to become Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit. To be selected as Chief Articles Editor, I had to research and write the Law Review Comment of a lifetime. In time, it was published and deemed good enough that I was named law review chief articles editor. In the years that followed, that Law Review Comment has been cited by federal courts in at least seven published judicial opinions, and in several other unpublished opinions. It has been cited and quoted often in other people’s legal scholarship.

    And that is “how it works.” To be a law review editor-in-chief, a Chief Articles Editor, a Chief Comments Editor of a law review, it is a sine qua non that you publish something fabulous, a real scholarly piece of work. Many dozens of America’s finest law students do exactly that every year. Those articles later become part of a vast searchable electronic library of legal scholarship.

    The thing is, I cannot find Barack Obama’s great piece of work, the scholarship one would presume he researched, drafted, crafted, and honed, that earned him the presidency of the Harvard Law Review.

    Much more at the link…

  7. }}} Given that everything about is presidency is a lie, it is likely he is not an American citizen and therefore he has never been president

    As far as this goes, I believe this notion, that he is not an American Citizen, is flawed based on a very simple logical conclusion that follows almost tautologically from the fact that there is a newspaper article that announces his birth at the time. Regardless of how you want to think about it, there’s no reason to actually place this news item into existence, UNLESS your sole goal is to establish native birth. Either way, Obama had citizenship if he wanted it via jus sanguinis… he did not need it via jus soli.

    No, the only reason to establish native birth in 1959 would have been if you expected him to have a chance to become PotUS.

    Given the outlook of his mother, the beliefs of his grandparents, and the general attitudes prevalent towards race at the time, there is simply no way that they, of ALL Americans, would seriously entertain the notion that a half-black child born at that time could, or would, have any chance to become PotUS.

    So I argue that the very existence of this newspaper announcement leads tautologically to the notion that, in fact, Obama was born in Hawaii. Otherwise there is simply no reason for it to exist.

    “Why, then, the crap with the long-form BC?”

    I can’t answer that, but one possible answer has occurred to me — his mother was a pretty unconventional sort. She may well have decided to put something on the BC that would have been quite embarrassing to Obama, not so much in general these days, as much as it would be of great amusement to the newspapers and pundits:

    Suppose she petulantly filled it out “Father: Unknown”…?

    Speculation? Yes, no question. Completely unfounded speculation, in fact, there’s nothing to suggest it at all. But it seems to me like something she might do, just because she probably thought of marriage as a “bourgeoisie” custom, anyway, and while the notion of bastardy has become quaint by modern standards, it would be at least somewhat embarrassing to a celebrity-politician like Obama, running for PotUS, were it to become public knowledge… So one could see how they might fight allowing others to see the full form.

  8. Obama’s birth certificate is probably in the same vault as John Kerry’s war record.

    “That must be one _HELL_ of a financial bubble the ChiCom “10,000 princes” are sitting on” has published some pieces on China and the coming problems related to the “birth dearth” as Ben Wattenburg put it. The Chinese population is not evenly distributed and the coastal region is the prosperous area. There may be serious disturbances in the west. When the Democracy Movement was crushed in 1989, the government used troops from provinces away from the source of the demonstrators.

    “mobilized at least 30 divisions from five of the country’s seven military regions.” The Wiki article does not mention it but I have read that the troops were from regions speaking other dialects to make it difficult for students to talk to them,

  9. Add to the mix: I am hearing that we are, for cost reasons, reducing our carrier deployments to only two at a time, one of which I grant is based out of Japan.

    Trent Telenko Says:
    January 27th, 2014 at 10:40 am

    That must be one _HELL_ of a financial bubble the ChiCom “10,000 princes” are sitting on that they are seriously talking about going the “Short Victorious War” route.

    It is. They were expecting a major derivatives [and they have invented new derivatives that Jon Corzine could only dream of] default on the 31st. Late last night our time “unknown entities” bailed them out. I am assuming the Peoples’ Bank of China; because in their house of cards, they are the only entity that can create enough new cards out of thin air. If the default had happened, it stood a good chance of collapsing the entire Chinese banking system. However, it was not a cure any more than the US bailout of failing banks and GM were a cure for America’s ills. It covered up the problem, but it is still there, fulminating. And there are at least 30-40 more larger ones that are likely to default this year by the 3rd Q.

    There was a report in FORBES last night by Gordon Chang that the PBOC had frozen all domestic bank money transfers for 3 days, and all foreign exchange transfers for 9 days. FORBES took it down, and apparently the freezes only apply to Citibank operations in China. Which, while not a small thing, is not as indicative of collapse as a total freeze.

    I was told by a currency trader acquaintance this morning that Citibank has been active for the last couple of years in helping those “10,000 Princes” move their ill gotten gains out of the country. Which may or may not be part of the same puzzle.

    Going on feeling here, but being Chinese although ABC, I have a gut feeling this foreign expansion is not a temporary thing.

    China is strong. When China is strong it expands into its periphery. China is, most unusually in its history, pushing naval expansion. This has not been done since the early 1400’s and Zheng He‘s Treasure Fleets were sent out then to collect tribute and tell the outer world that China was back and they should submit as they did in days of old before the Mongols came.

    China has a twin demographic/economic time bomb. It has a demographic MF imbalance caused by the one child policy that is unprecedented. Roughly 100 million adult males have absolutely no chance of ever forming a pair bond, family or informally, because of a lack of females. At the same time, the population has not shared the benefits of economic improvement equally. Most of the population is rural inland. Most of the new prosperity is in large urban areas and the coasts. This is not a formula for societal stability, and the historical cure for that has been wars of conquest.

    Add to that, we Chinese are a bunch of arrogant buggers. Ethnocentric does not begin to even describe Chinese culture. There is still an ingrained belief that if you are not Han Chinese, you are a subhuman barbarian. And yes, that includes Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, and the especially dangerous variety who lack epicanthic folds. Despite over a century and a half of contact, we really do not understand each other. Things do not translate exactly. When British Lord MacCarthy got kicked out of China, it was in part because the attempts to translate failed. MacCarthy mentioned “Liberty”. No such Chinese concept at the time. It came out as “licentiousness”, which horrified the Imperial Court as an organizing principle for society. There are Chinese concepts that are innate and not understood outside Chinese culture. Neither is necessarily superior, but each is different and we still are not totally understanding each other; especially with Marxist doctrine superimposed on the Chinese side.

    So, there is every chance that they will strike while the US is weak [by choice] and while it will give [they may well believe] the “short victorious war” internal political benefit.

    Assuming that internal financial collapse does not take place in China; I see the “quick, surgical invasion” as the most likely case, with some question of which group of islands [some are held by the Philippines] will be hit. “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey”.

    As for reactions, assuming that the monkeys are not terrified into submission:

    1) any “surgical invasion” of those islands will not provoke an American response.
    2) there will be a Japanese response. The United States will not back their play.
    3) at that point, it will be clear that Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and the Philippines [and probably Australia] are on their own.
    4) the only hope any of them have for short term survival will be the development of of an independent nuclear deterrent; not only nuclear devices, but also means of delivery.
    5) Japan has the technology and missiles [Japanese space program] for this. Taiwan has the technology [and maybe the nuclear device] and some hundreds of suspiciously capable deployed cruise missiles [HF-IIE] that could carry them.
    South Korea has a nuclear processing industry and deployed 1000 km range cruise missiles [Hyeonmu-3]. The Philippines and Australia can hopefully furnish financing and logistics.
    6) if such eventuates, the United States will NOT be supportive in the least and will oppose it at every point. It will also be a much messier world.

    Subotai Bahadur

  10. 2) there will be a Japanese response. The United States will not back their play.
    If there were a Japanese response the U. S. might not back their play but, as per treaty (U. S. assumes Japanese air and sea control, missile bases, and some 37,000 U. S. military at bases in Japan) the U. S. would have their backs I imagine. That is, the Japanese would be guaranteed limited losses.
    This makes #3 quite a leap.

  11. Australia is having second thoughts about the F 35. In another site there was a comparison between the F 35 and the F 105 Thunderchief. A valid one I would say.

    Taiwan is not going to sit back and watch China extend tentacles around it to the south.

    Taiwan is the main spur for China’s military modernisation. In 1996 America reacted to Chinese ballistic-missile tests carried out near Taiwanese ports by sending two aircraft-carrier groups into the Taiwan Strait. Since 2002 China’s strategy has been largely built around the possibility of a cross-Strait armed conflict in which China’s forces would not only have to overcome opposition from Taiwan but also to deter, delay or defeat an American attempt to intervene.

    Japan may finally be pushed into the power game and maybe even the nuclear game. The awareness is increasing..

    “I probably spoke to no less than 40 U.S. C.E.O.’s here and I would say this issue came up in more than half of those conversations,” said Ian Bremmer, the political scientist who founded the Eurasia Group, the political risk consulting firm. “This week at Davos, for me, the big takeaway was that China-Japan was much more problematic than we thought. The possibility that you get anti-Japanese sentiment in a big way and it causes real disruption on trades and hurting both economies is real.”

    and “The possibility of a mistake where someone gets killed is going up,” Mr. Bremmer said. “They are scrambling their fighters in the East China Sea every day.”

    And the misunderstandings could deepen. “More problematically, the aftermath of a mistake will have both countries actively mistrusting the intentions of each other without a mechanism to really talk to each other and without the Americans acting as an interlocutor,” Mr. Bremmer said.

    Stay tuned. Obama has tuned out.

  12. ““Stay tuned. Obama has tuned out.”

    You’re assuming he was ever tuned in.”

    He was supposedly going to “pivot” to the Asian issues but Obamacare and many other issues, such as the 2014 elections, intervened. This man knows nothing that isn’t politics.

  13. “He said China and Japan now are in a “similar situation” to UK and Germany before 1914.” I wonder what he meant by that?

    The German ruling clique certainly was envious and resentful about Britain, but its immediate ambition was to invade and defeat Russia. Britain was fearful about Germany’s aggressiveness and recklessness, as they saw it, and thought the Germans might attack the French to secure their western flank before they turned east to deal with the Russians. I doubt that they thought that the Germans would be so foolhardy as to invade Belgium too. And nobody expected Sarajevo, bar the Serbs of course.

    So: I wonder what he meant by that?

  14. This “Chinese ‘economic bubble’ requires a ‘Short victorious War'” line of thought is getting very scary in terms of supporting data:

    China’s Fake Export Numbers Under Close Scrutiny

    …Place your bets. But I suggest no data from China is likely to be very reliable, especially export and GDP numbers.

    Moreover, if export numbers are inflated, then GDP numbers are inflated by definition.

    Of course, GDP is already overinflated for two other reasons:

    1. GDP is not adjusted for various shadow banking schemes and other malinvestments that will eventually be written off.

    2. GDP is not adjusted for massive amounts of air and water pollution that will at some point have to be cleaned up.

    Mike “Mish” Shedlock

  15. China’s situation is actually closer to Japan in 1939 than Germany in 1914. Though China has lots of coal, it hasn’t much oil. They are quite dependent on imported oil as well as other resources. While the oil is not imported from the US and cannot be embargoed by us, it is shipped by water and can be sunk by any submarine. And after the first tanker goes down, it will be hard to insure the second.

    The Chinese hold lots of dollars. If I were them I would trade out of that depreciating asset into a commodity like oil. Keeping the price of oil high helps keep the American economy down and American ships out. I look for the price of oil to rise in 2016.

  16. Mrs. Davis Says:
    January 29th, 2014 at 10:39 am

    The Chinese hold lots of dollars. If I were them I would trade out of that depreciating asset into a commodity like oil.

    To be honest, right now Americans who hold dollars above day to day needs would be wise to place some of them into storable physical commodities that they can protect or conceal. Both as a way to have continued access to consumables that may become in short supply, and as a store of value.

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