Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 28, 2020

There are no new developments with China, only old squabbles. China is shouting louder and louder, and Western media publish more in-depth stories outlining the many countries China has squabbles with. China is losing over the TikTok ordeal, as well as companies that helped build artificial islands which were not supposed to be military bases anyway, but somehow became military bases anyway. Sanctions fly from the US, as well as diplomats to Taiwan.

At the UN, Russia said a few words leaning in China’s direction, but that’s quite a tall order to expect Russia to devote resources helping China win every territorial squabble with India, Taiwan, the US, and Japan. Russia will more likely condemn the West with soft tones, then offer China moral support after its inevitable humiliation.

Humiliation is a funny thing. That seems to be China’s perspective all around. China feels humiliated and thinks humiliating others will solve its humiliation problems at home. China wants to own Taiwan because China feels humiliation for various and sundry reasons often created in attempt to escape humiliation.  China may even think a Taiwan “D-Day”, or “T-Day” would lead to victory—forgetting that Normandy was about free allies reclaiming lost land from expansionists. China has no alliance, China would be the expansionists, and the free people would be defending their homes. Humiliation blinds us and drives us to do crazy things. Russia knows this and plays for any opportunity—not to help China, but to manipulate China through the paradigm of humiliation China just can’t let go of.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, September 21, 2020

Taiwan has become the center of China’s conflict with the world. One economy at a time, one government at a time, China has managed to insult the world. The Chinese have done such a good job of losing friends and alienating voters of foreign countries, not even Russia can afford the political cost of siding with China, not even to manipulate China behind a mask of feigned friendship. Don’t expect Moscow to take center-stage at China’s aid quite yet.

While the world hates China more and more every day, that hatred finds a way to express itself in love for Taiwan. Taiwan is now the grand alternative! Taiwan is the adorable poster puppy everyone should have sided with from the beginning. Taiwan needs military help, but most of all sympathy, compassion, and understanding, perhaps even grandstanding. Nothing sends the message that a nation is fed up with China like siding with adorable, cuddly Taiwan, especially on the most trivial things like medical masks or forcing Taiwan to call its team “Chinese [what the heck] Taipei” at the Olympics. Trivial things, after all, are what China loves to claim as some of the greatest threats to Communist-controlled national security.

It’s almost to the level of being an election tactic in Western democracies. Do or say something that couldn’t even hurt a fly, then China squeaks and bellows and throws such a fuss, voters love whichever politician China hates. Nothing is as adorable and benign as kindness toward Taiwan. So, that’s the story of how Taiwan became the world’s new favorite.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 20, 2020

China is engaging in “rapid expansionism”; this is different from the slower-moving modes of Russia and, until Trump, the United States. During Obama, Russia took back Crimea—after that fling Nikita Khrushchev had in giving Crimea to Ukraine when it wasn’t his to give. Russia has also been crawling its influence in Syria, softly with Iran, and shrewdly using China as an effective puppet.

America, though not an empire seeking to claim more within its political borders, propelled power through military bases around the world. Once the Chinese got over their phobia of technology—a disease it long had, which even led up to the Opium Wars—they looked beyond their bubble and saw America’s non-border expansion. But, they still haven’t seen Russia’s soft-handed expansion for what it is. 180 military bases in China’s backyard didn’t bode well with China’s neediness for receiving endless heinie kisses.

Thankfully, Trump is slowly recalling propelled American power—consider Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, and now Iraq. He is not the archetypal “neocon” expansionist. But, other than Trump, America did have its own soft form of expansionism.

China, different from either of the two soft expansions of America and Russia, is engaging in a more rapid, rude, speedy expansion. The Chinese don’t care how they come across to others because they have been knocked off their emotional rockers, having seen that the world doesn’t regard them to be a fraction of what they think themselves to be. This speed has alarmed the nations of the world like a body’s immune system responding to a spreading virus or cancer. Even India is on alert.

Russia played its card well—or maybe we should say Russia played its China well: expansion backed by Russia, which upsets the global balance, and Russia doesn’t get blamed for it. China doesn’t know what its speedy expansion, mainly against Taiwan and India, will do because China hasn’t been paying attention to the rest of the world for most of human history.

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Encore of Revival: America, July 8, 2019

Trump’s tanks were unimpressive—that’s what Russian pundits think, anyway. Bringing out these old, beat-up, partially-disassembled relics of past victory and sacrifice proves nothing important. Parades should tout the latest, most intimidating, most high-tech muscle the military can muster. By all those standards, Trump’s parade flopped. Instead, he celebrated America’s heart and heritage—all things unimpressive in the eyes of Russians pining for their old imperial days of glory gone bye.

The Left, on the other hand, thought it was too much. JFK and Clinton celebrating bravery with marches and fly-overs were good, until Trump did it, then they weren’t. Perhaps next year’s Independence Day could host a bilateral talk between the Left and their recently-estranged Russian comrades.

Russia and America’s Left weren’t the only ones trying to tell Trump what to do. A leak from Britain’s Daily Mail shows disdain from the ambassador of the failed administration. Some suspect an attempt to influence fast-approaching election politics in the UK by painting Trump as the villain. More likely is a rogue, self-appointed hero who doesn’t like the manners of movers and shakers, pretending that his experience as an ambassador means his personal value for fecklessness should “trump” the White House, as it were.

Newt was the most out-spoken for Trump. He thinks not invading Iran was smart and that Trump is making all the right decisions on his successful path to re-election 2020.

Some important things happened in Civil Rights. The Republicans missed two great chances on these.

California finally passed a law, more or less, seeming to clarify what kinds of haircuts are natural for Black people. Though it doesn’t fit with the conventional Right of 20 years ago—always turning away from “touchy-feely” laws—it’s about time. What is wrong with Black people wearing dreads, anyway? Dreads are the easiest way for Black people wear their hair if they don’t go to the barber every other day. Why was this political and why was the law needed? The reason is probably because most White people don’t know that Black people need an entirely different kind of clippers at the barber shop. Some sad Republican politician who didn’t know as much just might complain about Cali, then lose his seat in 2020.

A DA in Philly won’t fine people in poverty beyond restitution anymore. Crime will be prosecuted, of course. Damages must be paid, of course. But, there’s no point in fining someone $1,000 who can’t pay rent and barely affords a car that’s worth less. Such a fine would effectively make the sentence an eviction. Current laws might as well say, “This crime is punishable by two weeks income if you’re middle class, an afternoon round of golf if you’re rich, and eviction if you’re poor.” Why didn’t Republicans make criminal and traffic fines proportional to income already? With the income gap gaping so wide, fines shouldn’t be measured in dollars, but in percentages. Some Republican politician probably won’t know that either.

Speaking of Republicans, Justin Amash of Grand Rapids’ district in Michigan took Independence Day to announce his independence from the RNC. His statement appeared as an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Maybe he’ll be the one to start the People’s Party.

Whether it’s the communists in Russia and America quibbling about tanks in parades, getting Republicans to get along, being aware that Black and White people have different hair, or considering that flat fine rates aren’t fair, America has a lot to learn. We’re learning, we’ve come a long way in 243 years, we’re not there yet, but we’re inching along alright. We’re inching along.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 24, 2019

We are not headed to a Second Cold War. We are not at risk of heading to a Second Cold War. We are traveling at trans-warp speed toward the First Flash War. It will start and end quickly, laying the groundwork for WWIII and FWII to follow.

These pieces of our times are important to distinguish. Different analysts with different levels of understanding of history are trying their best to explain our times. To a novice—either to history or to the West or to the East—who just begins to understand, it may seem like we are headed toward Cold War II.

China and the US are in a growing conflict on the surface, but Russia is whispering in China’s ear. Russia wants the same old thing. The US is generally unaware of Russia’s intent or dismisses it.

China thinks that the US wants to retain power. China wants to rise, so Beijing feels the need to “beat back” the US.

The US knows China wants to rise and doesn’t mind. The US wants to step back, but knows China is an undisciplined bully—lawless and doesn’t respect human rights. So, the US feels the need to “beat down” China to make Beijing behave.

The US takes the approach of protectionism and innovation—tariffs and moving manufacturing back home. China takes the approach of its domineering culture and copying others—both doomed to fail.

One of the Chinese’s biggest complaints used to justify their military aggression in the South Sea is American presence. The claim is that the US has 180 military bases throughout East Asia, rephrased “near China”. Because of this, China calls America the “aggressor” and, like the burglar who thinks society stole from him first, says its military response is justified.

The US has been in many of those places since the end of WWII and after the Korean War. The Chinese didn’t know about this US presence because their surveillance tech wasn’t good enough. Once China reverse-engineered and stole designs for enough Western tech—because they still don’t know how to invent it on their own—they started to see that Americans had been their the whole time.

The “Second Coming Cold War” argument is flawed because we’ve already been in such a “cold” standoff for seven decades. That’s how Beijing interprets it anyway, and now the Chinese want to heat things up.

Consider the contradiction. For over 70 years, Americans have been quietly watching the seas. They didn’t harass fishermen. They didn’t aim missiles and launch threats. They didn’t attempt to ram into other boats. They never tried to deny passage through international waters. China has done all these things, but not the US—in 70 years! So, because of that, the US is the aggressor? That’s Beijing-style thinking anyway. And, that way of thinking is what Washington feels the need to defeat before it gets any bigger.

This week documented a Chinese general committing two “no-nos”. Firstly, he commented on the social structure of Hong Kong—military leaders are supposed to remain outside of politics. Secondly, the thus  proven military government of China thus also proved disdain for the law it must abide by. Motive is one vital burden of proof in a conviction. Not only had Beijing meddled where it wasn’t allowed, but we now have an established motive.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, January 14, 2019

China is preparing for war. It has said so in public. It has demonstrated so with militarization of “Made in China” islands that didn’t exist a decade ago. It has shown intent by showing no sense of limits in cyber-warfare, technology acquisition, and oppression of the press. Facebook and Twitter users are only a “security threat” to those easily threatened.

Unlike China, the United States does not make a habit of announcing its newest military technology to the world. Whatever warfare breaks out between the US and China in the Western Pacific, China’s capabilities will have been known well in advance, but the US will likely employ weapons not yet known to the public. One needs no inside information to forecast as much, only a familiarity with the parts of history that tend to repeat.

But, we are not looking at WWIII, not yet. While the brewing conflict in the Western Pacific will likely involve many countries and islands, Russia is not yet ready for the big one. NATO’s presence in Europe is still too strong and Putin has not had enough time to amass his forces as he would like. Both Russia and the US would want things to quiet down rather quickly. Every effort from the White House to back away from conflicts with Russia suggests that a deal has already been struck with the Kremlin—that an expansionist campaign from China will not receive meaningful Russian help if squashed by the United States.

The question will concern how many Mainland China military supply installations Russia will allow the US to strike. But, if the US intervenes with Taiwan or razes the artificial islands on Mischief Reef, don’t expect China to receive backup from Russia. Moscow took Crimea with a favorable referendum and no bloodshed. The Kremlin would expect just as much success from Beijing in order to court respect and cooperation. Right now, things don’t look that way. 80% of Taiwanese rejecting reunification with China is a near flip to the support Russia received from Crimeans. Backroom Moscow secretly mocks Beijing, no matter how much money the Chinese pay them. Moscow would be fools if they didn’t.

In the supposed “Chinese invasion plans” for Taiwan, there are multiple phases, including opportunistic retaliation from India. But, those plans fail to anticipate retaliation from the insulted Vietnamese, who also hold a long-standing grudge against China. Then, there is the ancient ethnic spite between China and Japan. Mongolia also has border disputes. Tibet is not the only province that wants to break away. It is doubtful Sun Tzu would have advised an expansion campaign while surrounded by enemies, especially as a mere means of being respected.

It would take a miracle and a half to stay whatever makes the pluming smoke on the horizon of the last decade. But, it won’t last long. No one wants this to drag on. No, like “The Great War” (WWI) set the stage for WWII, the approaching war in the Pacific will set the stage for the big one that comes after.

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