What is China’s Goal?

In China Restructures for War we find that China’s armed forces have reorganized even while they continue a rapid upgrade in the quality of their weapons systems.

China’s officially-disclosed military budget grew at an average of 9.8 percent per year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2006 through 2015, and Chinese leaders seem committed to sustaining defense spending growth for the foreseeable future.

During 2015, the PLA continued to improve key capabilities that would be used in theater contingencies, including cruise missiles; short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles; high performance aircraft; integrated air defense networks; information operations capabilities; and amphibious and airborne assault units. The PLA is developing and testing new intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles as well as long range, land-attack, and anti-ship cruise missiles, which once operational would extend the military’s reach and push adversary forces further from potential regional conflicts. China is also focusing on counter-space, offensive cyber operations, and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities meant to deny adversaries the advantages of modern, information technology-driven warfare.

China has built a number of military outposts around the South China Sea, including Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Subi Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Gaven Reef.

Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, anti-air, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection…

In 2015, the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, certified its first cohort of domestically trained J-15 operational pilots. The air wing is expected to deploy on the carrier in 2016. China also began construction of its first domestic aircraft carrier and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years. Even when fully operational, Liaoning will not enable long-range power projection similar to U.S. NIMITZ class carriers. Liaoning’s smaller size limits the number of aircraft it can embark, while the ski-jump configuration limits aircraft fuel and ordnance loads. Liaoning will possibly be used for fleet air defense missions, extending air cover over a fleet operating far from land-based coverage. Although it possesses a full suite of weapons and combat systems, Liaoning will probably continue to play a significant role in training China’s carrier pilots, deck crews, and developing tactics that will be used with later, more capable carriers. 

In his talk Chinese Views, Strategy and Geopolitics, Robert Kaplan sees China in the early 21st century as was the United States in the early 20th century, an emerging world military and economic power. In that respect, he says, China considers the South China Sea as the USA considers the Gulf of Mexico, a strategic naval zone it intends to dominate. With the Monroe Doctrine, the USA warned European colonial powers that the Americas were off limits to them, and with the Spanish American War the USA removed the last colonial influence and outpost from the region. We may see a similar attempt by China to remove American, Japanese, Philippine or any other influence or outpost from the South China Sea and possibly further.

Perhaps most worrying, China is engaging in a prolonged domestic campaign of anti-American rhetoric and propaganda. The only possible purpose for that, from my point of view, is to ideologically prepare its populace for war. And seeing Glasnost as a dangerous example of a loss of political control leading to societal breakup, it is redoubling political conditioning in its military, including an expansion of political commissars and checkists inside the chain of command with a  purpose is to ensure ideological purity and loyalty.

Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016

39 thoughts on “What is China’s Goal?”

  1. I just wonder if the Chinese economy will support this strategy. Of course, authoritarian states with internal difficulties may be tempted to foreign adventure.

    I am OK with Trump rebuilding our military on our own schedule and exploiting our energy technology to allow Fortress America.

  2. So why stir up anti-Americanism? How does war with USA benefit them? They’re certainly building weapons like they mean it. And why no reaction from the USA? Are we still educating their elite? Are we still encouraging companies to invest in China? Is there any downside from their point of view, any price to pay?

  3. Maybe it’s a show of force for the Chinese as much as for America.

    Hong Kong has deep ties to the West and still some measure of autonomy. I’m sure it has crossed the minds of its mainland neighbors (who do a fair amount of business with America also) that it would be nice to enjoy some of that democracy too.

  4. This is not the first I’ve read that even while the USA educates the elite’s children and American companies invest in and bring technology to China, the Chinese government simultaneously wages a sustained and sometimes vicious campaign of anti-Americanism inside China. Psychological conditioning? For what? When I see them simultaneously building weapons systems that appear to be designed specifically to take on the United States, the combination worries me.

    At a minimum, there should be a national security effort to encourage large American companies to begin shifting their investments elsewhere, possibly to places like Mexico or Viet Nam, nations that are allies. We should not be funding or improving the technology of nations that mean us harm.

  5. They are counting on a war with a pathetic and cowardly America. An America with the moral fiber for war would simply sink every ship headed to China and wait until their entire country fell into a heap of bones. Without vast imports of everything all the time, they are a peasant farming society. Their plan to win consists of a short, sharp attack and a land grab of some kind after which they will declare hostilities over, before, they hope, a naval war brings them to their knees.

  6. Mr Black, the strategy described seemed to mirror the Japanese pre-war wishful thinking, even to the point of expecting a supine US to sue for peace.
    Didn’t work back then, but today? I don’t know.

  7. “They are counting on a war with a pathetic and cowardly America.”

    Yes, this is what is so dangerous about the Obama foreign policy.

    Remember that allegedly wise people said there could be no more wars in 1913 because Germany and France and England were so intwined with trade. China depends on us for their exports but they may misjudge.

    I examine military recruits a couple days a week. In Los Angeles, about 20% of our recruits are Chinese or Korean. They are doing this in a program that provides citizenship after a year or more. Many of these kids are college students or graduates. Many have limited language skills but the Army teaches them English. It’s interesting to speculate on their motivation.

    A few years ago, one of my medical students was Chinese. Her mother taught at Beijing U and this girl was educated there. She told me that she wanted to be a doctor in the US so she could care for her parents as they got old. She did not trust Chinese medicine or pensions. She was one of my best students and is now finishing a surgery residency.

    The government may be misjudging their own people, especially those who are educated and know about the world.

  8. The Chinese are in a tough spot. Look at the world from the perspective of Beijing.

    Their working population is declining.

    The average age of their population is growing and they will be older than the US by 2050 at the latest and it could be as early as 2030.

    Their allies are North Korea, Pakistan, and the improbable ally, Russia. Their aggressive military expansion has surrounded them with enemies who are coalescing into an unnatural alliance. The Indians are getting ready to welcome the Americans. Really?

    Western companies are starting to move production to countries with lower labor costs and better intellectual property protection.

    The primary form of retirement savings is to buy real estate in ghost cities.

    The mandate from heaven for the Communist party is not guaranteed. We have no idea how bad internal unrest is, but with western companies leaving, we can be sure it will grow.

    China looks a lot like Germany in 1905 but with out the chemists and physicists.

    They are getting to the point where they have to use it or lose it. Let’s hope they lose the mandate first.

    All this was created by the policies of the Clinton’s in allowing the Chinese to join the WTO before they fully adopted western ways. I wonder how much they got for that gift.

  9. The Chinese surface ships aren’t a threat. The Liaoning was a Soviet ship from the 80s.

    Chinese subs are considered more of a problem because they run on diesel-electric engines that are supposed to be super stealthy. They might be able to sink our carriers (if they get lucky), but they have limited range unlike our nuclear subs which patrol all over the world.

    The biggest threat lately is Chinese hypersonic cruise missiles. Theoretically, they can destroy our carriers a thousand miles away before we see them coming.

    Missile technology has a lot of people now wondering if carriers are obsolete. Carriers cost so much money, and they put all our eggs in one basket. I’m not so sure that they’re time has passed, but tactics will have to change. Carriers will need to be farther away from shore. They’ll need better anti-missile countermeasures. They could serve as a ‘mother ship’ for small, stealthy, autonomous drone aircraft and drone boats operating in the littorals.

  10. The biggest threat lately is Chinese hypersonic cruise missiles. Theoretically, they can destroy our carriers a thousand miles away before we see them coming.

    First, you have to take PLA public announcements with a grain of salt. There is a big gap between successful testing and a deployed operational weapons system. Also, like all other dictatorships, they have to brag about achieving something better than the Americans have for domestic consumption and to create uncertainty in potential foreign opponents.

    Second, despite all the hoopla in the PM article, it will have to travel at a very high to avoid melting itself until it is near the target, then straight down. That gives the Aegis system time to track and kill. After all, it is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles at high and medium altitudes and these are also traveling at hypersonic speeds. In fact, ballistic missiles will be going faster than these hypersonic gliders.

    Third, the Navy is now starting to deploy long range lasers, which will add another defensive layer for a carrier battle group. The nuke powered carriers have enough spare reactor power to power several themselves, and the new cruisers already have a huge margin in spare generation capacity designed into them.

  11. Grurray,

    It helps to view the Chinese military as an income transfer mechanism allowing the interrelated families making up the current Mandarin class rulers to bilk peasants of their income and stuff.

    The Chinese military does not have to be competent to do this, and it is a threat to the Mandarin class if it is. However, if it is too incompetent, that will get the Mandarin class thrown out of power as well.

    So the Mandarin class traditionally starts small border disputes where it can show manly chest hair and big military machine to intimidate its neighbors.

    This traditional play is not working out so well this time.


    China: Fixing The Fatally Flawed Military

    The U.S. Department of Defense released a detailed report two days ago describing China’s growing military power and how this is being used to assert claims to the entire South China Sea. China quickly denounced the report by insisting that China was only defending itself by resuming traditional control of off-shore areas. While this plays well inside China the historical record and international agreements do not. Throughout history the most common cause of wars was territorial disputes like this. Chinese leaders know this but they need an external threat to distract a population angered by government misbehavior. Mainly this is about corruption which has led to a lot of incompetent officials, extensive pollution and growing abuse by the many security agencies a communist police state needs to survive. Most Chinese don’t really care if communists run the country as long as they do it competently and efficiently. The communist government that has been in charge since the late 1940s is seen as a failure by many Chinese and that, understandably, has the government concerned (for its own survival).

    The American report describes how China believes it can gain control of the South China Sea. Currently American and Chinese warships are literally facing off as the United States challenges Chinese claims. China believes it can handle American warship visits to the South China Sea without triggering a disastrous (especially for China) war. This is being done by quietly mobilizing a growing fleet of civilian cargo and fishing vessels. These unarmed ships are used, usually in groups, to block the moment of unwelcome foreign commercial or military ships. This Chinese “naval militia” has a numerical advantage because the U.S. Navy only has 55 warships assigned to the West Pacific while the China has 116 warships assigned to its southern (mainly the South China Sea) fleet plus 200 large (over 500 tons) seagoing coast guard vessels in the area. Increasingly China is calling in the naval militia, which it maintains with subsidies (for building new fishing boats) and assurances that the navy will assist Chinese fishermen in gaining access to foreign fishing areas and exclusive use of fishing grounds in international waters. There appear to be over a hundred civilian ships (mostly ocean going fishing trawlers) associated with this militia program, which openly functions as a government supported organization and has headquarters in southern China.

    It’s not just the American fleet China has to worry about, there is also international sanctions. China is no longer openly ignoring the deliberations of the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding Filipino accusations that China is acting illegally with its claims in the South China Sea. In part that’s because a growing number of Western nations are openly agreeing that any Court of Arbitration ruling will be binding and must be enforced. That means many nations now say they will support any penalties levied against China. This is something China cannot ignore. The court will deliver its final ruling by June and China is dismayed to discover that all its economic bribes and military threats are not diminishing the growing international condemnation. The Philippines, America, Australia, Japan and South Korea were quick to openly oppose the Chinese claims. Other nations in the area (Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and India) held back for a while but are now also in open opposition.

    Meanwhile China continues to make threatening gestures. In May 2016 Chinese warships in the South China Sea were seen practicing detailed exercises for halting merchant ships and boarding them. In one part of the exercise the intercepting destroyer fired its guns, as it would to force a ship that refused orders to halt and be boarded. This is all part of a trend that is not going anywhere good.

  12. We see the US Navy’s concentration on developing rail guns, lasers and generating ‘excess’ electrical power in a different light now.

    Long range missiles are bad, but subs are equally dangerous. They can get very close and fire torpedoes or missiles. If they can predict your course fairly accurately, they can wait on the bottom silently and rise up very close or inside your formation. And China has a very active submarine building program.

    The PLAN places a high priority on the modernization of its submarine force and currently possesses five SSNs, four nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), and 53 diesel-powered attack submarines. By 2020, this force will likely grow to between 69 and 78 submarines.

    China continues to improve its SSN force, and four additional SHANG-class SSN (Type 093) will eventually join the two already in service. These improved SHANG SSNs feature a vertical launch system (VLS) and may be able to fire the YJ- 18 advanced anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM).

    Over the next decade, China may construct a new Type 095 nuclear-powered, guided missile attack submarine (SSGN), which not only would improve the PLAN’s anti-surface warfare capability but might also provide it with a more clandestine land-attack option.

    Finally, China continues to produce the JIN class SSBN (Type 094) with associated CSSN-14 (JL-2) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) that has an estimated range of 7,200 km. This platform represents China’s first credible, sea-based nuclear deterrent.

    The Navy has been exploring torpedo defense for surface since the 1990’s and has a early version ready to deploy.

    Weapons development aside, I’m concerned about intentions. I see no reason they would invade Honk Kong or Taiwan, it would gain them nothing and cost them much. I think it’s more likely they will simply do what Robert Kaplan suggests and declare the South China Sea a private domain of the PLAN and declare all the islands and seafloor in the region West of the Philippines as Chinese territory. They may calculate that the cost to others, primarily the USA, is too high for us to attempt to defend it, and simply concede the territory to them. From a realpolitik viewpoint, that could be the right calculation. Others may see it it differently. Many wars have started just that way.

  13. “they need an external threat to distract a population angered by government misbehavior. ”

    I think this is key. I have my doubts about China’s ability to project power.

    I am also puzzled by the large numbers of Chinese young people joining our military. I would like to talk to them about their reasons but all I know is that they want citizenship.

    I did have talks with my Chinese medical student a few years ago and she was very convinced that, long term, China was not the place for her parents even though they were elites in many respects.

    My daughter has been to China several times and has friends there.

    Gordon Chang’s articles are useful

    Change wrote the foreward to this book and it might be a place to start.

  14. The new hypersonic stuff is moving at mach 8 or so. This is pretty well unstoppable by present anti missile tech. It’s new, and the Russian stuff also does fairly extreme maneuvering along with ridiculous speed. No chance to stop that.

    This is not quite deployed however. What the Chinese have is medium range ballistic missiles that employ Iskander accuracy tech. That Russian missile has a CEP of 10 meters or so. As well the Chinese carrier killers carry nukes. They just have to get close.

  15. Here’s Strafor’s updated map for the worldwide locations of our Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups. The Stennis has been sailing around the South China Sea with two destroyers and two cruisers.

    Last month China refused to allow it to make a port call in Hong Kong, and the other day a couple of Chinese fighters intercepted one of the Stennis’ planes.

    The Carl Vinson just left port after being there since last summer. It was equipped with a new drone command center for UAVs presumably meant to replace our patrols that the Chinese keep buzzing. It’s also got an upgraded anti-missile system, so my guess is it may be taking a tour of the seas around SE Asia in the coming weeks and months.

  16. Then tell me penny, how does an ABM kill a missile moving much faster than Mach 8? Those “carrier killers” will either have to be launched from very close by, or they will melt going that fast. Materials tech has improved, but not that much, and the Russians and Chinese still have not mastered it completely.if launched from more than 50-60 miles away, it will have to get to a high altitude so friction drag is reduced enough to not melt it. You need to run your the propaganda you get from your Russian handlers by an engineer before you publish it.

  17. Read a few stories about how long a SR-71 had to cruise subsonic before landing so it could cool off. and it was only going Mach 4 or so at 100,000 ft +.

  18. In the video liked above, Pippa Malmgren argues that Chinese/Russian expansionism is at least in part a rational response to the threat of high inflation for food and other essential raw materials.

  19. David, yes. I thought that was very insightful and it never occurred to me those two things could be related.

  20. Joe,

    It looks like those Chinese missiles probably can’t hit moving targets anyway, but this new glide vehicle design may be able to outmaneuver anti-missile countermeasures. We have to come up with a way to kill them while they’re launching. This is (among other reasons) why the Chinese are getting skittish about us flying around their borders.

  21. Something to consider with hypersonic weapons is that enormous weight and speed gives the missiles enormous inertia. Inertia is the tendency of an object to continue on the path it is on at the speed it is moving. The result is they are not very maneuverable. Think of how maneuverable a boat is when it’s moving slowly. Think how much less maneuverable it is when it’s going fast. The turning radius is very small when it’s moving slowly, gets larger as it increases in speed, gets very large when it’s moving very fast. The same is true for aircraft. Or missiles.

    If you want to shoot that missile down, remember that you don’t have to chase it. It’s coming towards you. It has a very difficult time getting out of the way of something in front of it, like a wall of lead or shrapnel. What speed gains the attacker is that reduces your reaction time dramatically. Especially if it can move very fast out of your line sight, say hugging the surface of the ocean. That’s where AWACS and look-down radars pay off, since they can see well over the near horizon.

  22. “Then tell me penny, how does an ABM kill a missile moving much faster than Mach 8?”

    They don’t. Nothing so far developed can. As well as hypersonic speeds, these missiles do not follow a ballistic path. They get just out of the atmosphere so they can go that fast, then it’s pretty well directly to the target. I’m not sure about what the Chinese have in this area but it’s been successfully tested several times now. The Russian versions of these, and their new ballistic stuff as well, also does fairly extreme maneuvering as they approach their target.

  23. “When I see them simultaneously building weapons systems that appear to be designed specifically to take on the United States, the combination worries me.”

    Perhaps if Obama had not made his ‘pivot to Asia” a specific part of his policy the Chinese might be more relaxed about all this.

    As well America will not let it’s preeminence go easily, so the Chinese understand they will at least have to be able to fight, even if it does not go that far.

    I know you lot read and believe the news in the US but really America routinely engenders regime change all over the world. This is backfiring rather hard right now. The new president of the Philippines has a serious grudge over things the US did in his country, and more specifically his city. He is engaging China already.

  24. Penny, I can see arithmetic is not your strong suit.

    ABM testing routinely knocks down missiles moving just short of orbital speeds, which is ~18,000 mph (Mach 27) at 100 nm altitude. A Mach 8 (~5300 mph) missile at 40-50 nm altitude will be hit too. Warhead maneuverability is great, but the ABM can maneuver also, and the closer it gets to the target, the less the target can maneuver out of the way. The Aegis system can also substitute as a Anti-satellite weapon too. Smaller ABM systems like THAAD and the Iron Dome hit targets with very little warning time. Iron Dome has been used to knock down artillery and mortar shells.

  25. also does fairly extreme maneuvering as they approach their target

    The maneuvering cannot be too extreme, as there is only so much delta-v that can be carried on the missile, and if they are forced to maneuver to far, they will not hit the target, especially a ship that is also moving. The more thruster fuel carried by the attacking missile, the bigger (and more expensive) it has to be, the easier it is to hit. When a ship fires it’s ABM system, it will not just launch one missile, but two or maybe three. Rail guns and lasers will be even more flexible, Remember, the Navy is just now deploying both on ships too. A ship with all 3 systems will be a very hard target.

  26. >>They don’t. Nothing so far developed can.

    ABM’s routinely hit faster than Mach 8 targets outside the atmosphere. They have been doing it with hit-to-hill technology since the homing overlay experiment in the late 1980’s.

    The Pershing II/DF-21 MARV enters the atmosphere at mach 8 and does a 25 gee turning deceleration to about mach 2.

    This is why Patriot II & III as well as the various upgraded S-300 and S-400 are certified are rated as capable of stopping a Pershing II class MARV.



    The maneuverable reentry vehicle (abbreviated MARV or MaRV) is a type of ballistic missile whose warhead is capable of shifting targets in flight. It often requires some terminal active homing guidance (like Pershing II active radar homing) to make sure the missile does not miss the target, because of the frequent trajectory shifts. Refer to atmospheric reentry.

    There are several types, of which examples include:

    o R-27K (SS-NX-13)

    o the active radar terminal-guidance version for the Pershing II missile. The Pershing II’s RV weighed 1,400 lb (640 kg) and traveled at Mach 8. It was fitted with four control fins to perform a 25-G pull-up after reentering the atmosphere, then glided 30 nmi (35 mi; 56 km) to the target and pitched into a terminal dive.

    o B-611 (the variant on DF-11)

    o the high hypersonic land-based anti-ship ballistic missile variant of the DF-21

  27. “A ship with all 3 systems will be a very hard target.”

    Not for an moderately accurate missile with a nuclear tip. They just have to get close. There are reason why the brass is worried.

    Certainly Ballistic missiles attain very high speeds but generally they are predictable. Hypersonic glide vehicles are not at all predictable.

    No one has hit one with anything so far. As well your kinetic interceptor, you have based your almost entire anti missile effort on, just has to be dodged. The Russian anti missile tech is nuclear tipped as well. They don’t seem to want to chance missing something as important as incoming nukes.

  28. Nuclear antimissile or anti-ship weapons will quickly escalate to nuclear war.

    China and Russia are weak economies with aggressive foreign policies that have thrived in the era of Obama and his defense hollowing out policies.

    McCain’s crack about Russia being “a gas station with a foreign policy” is not far from the truth. Only Obama could make them a major power.

    China is nearing serious economic problems with their ghost economy. Trump might have their number.

  29. The Russian anti missile tech is nuclear tipped as well

    Ancient and crude technology. Our initial AMB system was nuke tipped as well, along with the Nike Hercules anti-aircraft missiles. The Russian system probably does not work too well any more, as the old system designed in the 1960’s and probably last updated in the late 1980’s has decayed in the intervening 30 years. Why do you think Putin has been threatening everyone with nuclear destruction lately? It is the only credible threat he has left.

    One little fact on the nuke tipped ABM systems, they will almost do as much harm to the nation using them as the nuke warheads they are designed to destroy.

    Think things through a little more before you post. Your handlers in Moscow need to get a little bit more for their money……

  30. “Nuclear antimissile or anti-ship weapons will quickly escalate to nuclear war.”

    Actually this one area one could use nukes. You gonna start a full on war because I took out your carrier group. You wanna risk your cities. You wanna find out if your ABM works punk? Make my day!

    Anyway it will be the end, so “let us hope it does not come to that” Vladmir Putin.

    Joe, you are heavily invested in US great, Russia crap but recent events have proved you are wrong about a great deal, when it comes to the efficacy of Russian weapon systems.

  31. Penny, Russian weaponry is crap compared to US and western European gear and always has been. Hell, not just their weaponry, but damn near everything they build is crap compared to western/Japanese products. Until they learn good quality control methods, it always will be. Hell, the Chinese knockoffs of Russian designs are better than the originals, except for the engines, which the Chinese still cannot build well. The Russians can design well, but execution of the designs always leaves a lot to be desired. This is a tendency that goes back to the Tsarist days at the turn of the 20th century when Russia was just starting to industrialize. They always had a good intellectual class, so engineering was good, but were suspect on the technician level, which hurts manufacturing. The Soviet experience really never improved things.

  32. Why do you think Putin has been threatening everyone with nuclear destruction lately? It is the only credible threat he has left.

    Russia is becoming Pakistan. A 3rd world country with nuclear weapons.

  33. Not for an moderately accurate missile with a nuclear tip. They just have to get close. There are reason why the brass is worried.

    Brilliant idea. Attack an American carrier group with nuclear weapons. Because no one has nuclear weapons except the Russians. Oh wait, one Ohio class sub could disperse close to 200 thermonuclear warheads across Russia in less than an hour. Dasvidaniya Rodina! Dasvidaniya tovarisch! I don’t think reasoning is PenGun’s strong suit.

  34. “Brilliant idea. Attack an American carrier group with nuclear weapons. Because no one has nuclear weapons except the Russians. Oh wait, one Ohio class sub could disperse close to 200 thermonuclear warheads across Russia in less than an hour. Dasvidaniya Rodina! Dasvidaniya tovarisch! I don’t think reasoning is PenGun’s strong suit.”

    When I was young I had paper, reams of paper with all kinds of military crap on it. All the Russian missiles, the US ones too. It was my hobby.

    I know a lot about this crap. A SS20 Satan carries 10, 1 megaton warheads, with a CEP of around 100 meters. The reason why Minutemen are useless for anything other than a first strike.

    None of this changes the fact that no one will go to the ultimate war over losing military assets. Reasoning is your friend here. No one will risk their cities over a carrier group.

  35. Joe, the Russian air force has killed almost 30,000 ISIS since September of last year. The US about 5,000 in the last few years.

  36. Russia always had very good mathematicians and physicists. Moscow State University was where the theoretical work was done, and Leningrad State University was the place for applied science and engineering. Typical big brains in the Soviet Union were men like Ruslan Stratonovich who taught in Moscow and whose theories on statistical mechanics became the basis for methods to track satellites and control robots, and Samuel Geyzberg a dissident professor in Leningrad who pretty much invented 3D CAD.

    Of course, like you say the major problem was collectivism and the command economy had a death grip on downstream production. I’m not sure modern Russia has improved much from that. Putin has shown a fondness for five year plans recently. They also have to import most of their machine tools from Germany, although I think the Ukraine sanctions have cut into that business.

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