Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 17, 2020

Joe Biden's Foreign Policy Team

As this blog is often concerned with U.S. foreign policy and the damage it causes, a look at Biden's foreign policy team seems adequate.

In short - it is awful.

Susan Rice of Benghazi fame, National Security Advisor under Obama, is said to become Secretary of State.

Michele Flournoy, co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), will become Secretary of Defense. Flournoy is a hawk. CNAS is financed by donations from the who-is-who of the military industrial complex. She also co-founded WestExec Advisors, a consultancy that pulls strings to help companies to win Pentagon contracts.

Also at WestExec Advisors was Tony Blinken who is set to become the National Security Advisor. He was National Security Advisor for then Vice President Biden, Deputy National Security Advisor for Obama and Deputy Secretary of State.

All three, together with Joe Biden, promoted the 2003 war on Iraq and supported the wars the Obama administration launched or continued against some seven countries.

They will continue to wage those wars and will probably add a few new ones.

Biden has said that he will re-instate the nuclear agreement with Iran but with 'amendments'. A realistic analysis shows that Iran is likely to reject any modification of the original deal:

The Biden administration will face the harsh reality that the amendments to the JCPOA that it needs to make its return to the agreement politically viable are unacceptable to Iran. The new US administration will more than likely find itself in a situation in which sanctions, including those on oil exports, must be maintained in an effort to pressure Iran to yield to US demands to modify the JCPOA.

There will be much pressure from the liberal hawks to finish the war they had launched against Syria by again intensifying it. Trump had ended the CIA's Jihadi supply program. The Biden team may well reintroduce such a scheme.

Susan Rice has criticized Trump's Doha deal with the Taliban. Under a Biden administration U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan are therefore likely to again increase.

One possible change may come in the U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen. The Democrats dislike Mohammad bin Salman and may try to use the Yemen issue to push him out of his Crown Prince position.

Biden and his team have supported the coup attempt in Venezuela. They only criticized it for not being done right and will probably come up with their own bloody 'solution'.

After four years of Russiagate nonsense, which Susan Rice had helped to launch, it is impossible to again 'reset' the relations with Russia. Biden could immediately agree to renew the New START treaty which limits strategic nuclear weapons but it is more likely that he will want to add, like with Iran's nuclear deal, certain 'amendments' which will be hard to negotiate. Under Biden the Ukraine may be pushed into another war against its eastern citizens. Belarus will remain on the 'regime change' target list.

Asia is the place where Biden's policies may be less confrontational than Trump's:

China would heave a big sigh of relief if Biden picks Rice as his secretary of state. Beijing knows her well, as she had a hands-on role in remoulding the relationship from engagement to selective competition, which could well be the post-Trump China policies.

For the Indian audience, which is obsessive about Biden’s China policy, I would recommend the following YouTube on Rice’s oral history where she narrates her experience as NSA on how the US and China could effectively coordinate despite their strategic rivalry and how China actually helped America battle Ebola.

Interestingly, the recording was made in April this year amidst the “Wuhan virus” pandemic in the US and Trump’s trade and tech war with China. Simply put, Rice highlighted a productive relationship with Beijing while probably sharing the more Sino-skeptic sentiment of many of America’s foreign policy experts and lawmakers.

All together the Biden/Harris regime will be a continuation of the Obama regime. It's foreign policies will have awful consequences for a lot of people on this planet.

Domestically Biden/Harris will revive all the bad feelings that led to the election of Donald Trump. The demographics of the election show no sign of a permanent majority for Democrats.

It is therefore highly probable that Trump, or a more competent and thereby more dangerous populist republican, will again win in 2024.

Posted by b on November 17, 2020 at 18:16 UTC | Permalink

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the number of narrative eating commenters here is depressing.
if this site can be used as a measure of average in dissenting voices the future for the European minority is bleak.
90%+ are T.I.N.A worshipping fools and willingly play along defending a narrative or the status quo.
FFS, it is a class war, stop being divided and open your eyes! There is A ALTERNATIVE, we just have to hang traitors, lawyers, bankers, ngo`s and criminal politicians after a short session in OUR court of law.
The future looks bleaker after i typed this, bc i know the average person is scared to lose his/her comforts. Sadly their comfort is already lost but they refuse to see the truth and cling to their normalcy bias and fantasies, that denial of reality insures that we all will pay a much higher price when the house of cards fall down.

Posted by: Per/Norway | Nov 18 2020 19:38 utc | 201

So much of our foreign policy is explainable if you just assume it's a moneymaking scheme for connected aerospace companies and private contractors. Keep those forever wars simmering, without ever coming to a rolling boil - and keep the spending going. Always the same bullshit about 'maintaining our standing in the world', 'supporting freedom or democracy', 'standing up for human rights', etc...

Posted by: ian | Nov 18 2020 19:45 utc | 202

ptb @ 196

Semis was indeed one of the biggest strategic blunder of PRC. But it was a bit of a catch-22.

On one hand, from an economic perspective the "build or buy" decision was a no brainer for so many years.

On the other hand, if they had started to "build" earlier, presumably the west would also have started their sanctions sooner too. Keeping China down technologically is not a new concept of the west.

Besides hurting the export market of top tier electronic gadgets it'll result in very little strategically. As can be seen with many of us using older computers and cell phones with no ill effects.

Cutting edge semi allow gadgets to be made smaller, run faster and more power efficient. You can pretty much do the same if you don't mind it being a little bigger and hotter. We're talking a few semiconductor generations here. Not vacuum tubes to the transistor.

Taiwan's dominance in semi isn't perfect. They're great at getting the yield up (no small feat) but they still rely on lithography machines from the west. There's only like 3 suppliers worldwide and that's where the US is trying to apply extra judicial pressure on those countries a la iran-style. A couple of observations here:

1. China will do well to throw money and people to be self sufficient here, at least in the short to mid term. It doesn't need to exceed or even match, a generation behind is more than fine.
2. traditional lithography looks to be hitting a wall anyway. new concepts and breakthrough that could come from anybody in the left field may well shatter the current technological stranglehold into a thousand pieces depending on who gets the light bulb moment first.

In any case an interesting stalemate may crystallize in that it'll probably take China 5-10 years to catch up on semis while if the PRC turns off the taps on rare earth export it'll take almost as long for new and decommissioned rare earth mines to spin up ex-China...

Posted by: A.L. | Nov 18 2020 19:48 utc | 203

Hoyeru | Nov 17 2020 20:08 utc | 32:

I also was expecting the ratification of the Sino-Iranian Security/Trade deal after mid-October. It was suggested that Beijing was using Iran as a bargaining chip like how the US is using Taiwan.

The world would be such a better place and a far more honest one if you Europeans and us Americans both acknowledged our disdain for the other as to avoid confusion. And kept our physical distance, as well.

NemesisCalling | Nov 18 2020 6:27 utc | 126:

Then stop your government from interfering in European politics.

sad canuck | Nov 18 2020 19:02 utc | 200:

Something more humane post-collapse?  LOL  It'll likely be the latter and it won't last that long especially when that Ocean of Poverty is heavily armed.

Posted by: Ian2 | Nov 18 2020 19:50 utc | 204

I mistakenly posted this on previous thread but intended it here.


Besides being totally presumptuous and disingenuous why do you conveniently and deliberately OMIT last-minute moves Trump is taking and considering to tie Biden's hands and create fires Biden will be forced to put out?!: Namely,

1. Trump is considering officially designating the Houthi rebels a Terrorist Organization before leaving office and imposing on them the consequences this serious move implies.

2. He's pushing for 23 Million in arms sales to UAE to continue its destruction in Yemen!
3. He's putting together "a flood" of sanctions against Iran.
4. He's STILL considering strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities or if unable to do so, then intends strikes on Iranian military assets outside Iran in Syria and Iraq.

5. He's seriously considering trade restrictions and even sanctions on...China!
6. He's sending Pompeo on an official diplomatic visit to illegal West Bank settlement.

Normally, the outgoing administration should not make drastic foreign policy moves before leaving and should, respecting precedent and protocol, consult any last minute foreign policy considerations with the new administration.

Trump is a Ziofascist thug and I can't wait til he's Citizen Trump facing legal jeopardy!

Posted by: Circe | Nov 18 2020 20:02 utc | 205

@vk 157
That's a very, very broad a generalization. Not to mention part of it is rather insulting. Your point about emigrant communities to the US not representing the countries of origin is valid, but no need to get carried away.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 18 2020 20:13 utc | 206

@ c1ue #198
If anything, the gain from a takeover of Taiwan would be negative.
The gain would be a terrific plus for PRC politically, economically and militarily (first island chain), and a huge defeat to the US, IMO.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 18 2020 20:28 utc | 207


Thank you for your measured sanity and analysis and mowing down of the long grass.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 18 2020 20:36 utc | 208

@A.L. 199

Taiwan was a Japanese pet colony with nothing but pineapple fields until the KMT squatted the island with the escaping elite. Its political relevance in the current discussion started at that point, a mere 70 or so years ago.

If you think Taiwan's political relevance only began upon the KMT's occupation of the island, then why do you think the Japanese demanded possession of the island from China following the 1st Sino-Japanese war? It was of course because Taiwan was a prize possession, with minerals, ample farmlands, and--most importantly--the nascent beginnings of an industrial state, the only industrial state within Chinese territories. China was starting to push advancement in Taiwan because it was an island backwater where any unexpected shifts in power due to unforeseen economic complications could be contained, and analyzed. The Japanese then went on to make Taiwan a fully modern state, with a full government bureaucracy, public schooling, railroads, hospitals, tourism, and multiple resource-harvesting and a budding industrial backbone.

Your characterization of Taiwan as "politically irrelevant" flies in the fact of the actual historical record. Moreover, during this period Taiwan was entirely cut off from China--the Japanese would not allow Taiwanese to travel to the mainland, and back.

Denying the DIRECT cultural connections between the mainland and Taiwan is just... I don't have any nice words for it.

Not only are you lacking nice words, you're lacking any words, because you're utterly wrong. After the KMT lost the civil war and fled to Taiwan, all contact between Taiwan and the mainland was cut off up until the early 2000s. During the late 80s and throughout the 90s there were ways for Taiwanese (mostly KMT emigres) to bypass the restrictions and find ways into the PRC, but those were complicated, expensive, and risky routes, because legally such travel could (and often was) be prosecuted. Typically, any travel between the two places was strictly one way: defection. Up until the 1980s there was only a brief window when there was any possibility for Taiwan<==>mainland travel, and at that time the routes were too chaotic and expensive for most people.

Well into the 1990s, the older generations of Taiwanese knew no English, and could speak only fragmented Mandarin--but were nevertheless fluent in Japanese.

Simply put: you're wrong.

Like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, their economic rise has more to do with returning students and academics from studying abroad than ANY other factors.

You put far too much faith in the American education system. The rise of these economies depended upon a lot more than just "educating students"--and the factors that helped them rise were rooted in diplomacy, economic planning, and mutual aid negotiated at the highest levels among the respective elites and governments of all countries involved.

The rest of your screed is just schoolboy taunting, a blustering attempt to put words in my mouth and ideas in my head that I have in no way ever expressed. No substance whatsoever, any of it.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 20:37 utc | 209

Circe #208

Trump is a Ziofascist thug and I can't wait til he's Citizen Trump facing legal jeopardy!

Truly evil - is all I can say.

Next he will pardon Assange and leave it to the murderous englanders to novichoke him and Harris will blame it on the Russians.

You just can't trust these white men - er excluding BidenHarris of course.

It is possible that HarrisBiden is entirely comfortable with Trumps actions. The test will be if on day one (assuming that eventuates) HarrisBiden issues an executive order effectively annulling the TrumpPompeo antics in the ME. They won't - because Bibi might cry.

Besides having HarrisBiden hog tied in USAi legal struggles is so much 'homier' than blaming the Russians don't you think.
There can be no grifting as no one will dare pay an imminent loser, the spigot of cash flow to BidenHarris will tank just as it did for the Clinton Foundation after 2016.

No nation will be able to do business with a bound and gagged HarrisBiden facing a limited majority in the House and a minority in the Senate and an outright losing position in the Supreme Court.

Karma is a bitch eh!

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 18 2020 20:54 utc | 210

@ptb, 196

I just can't see a direct invasion by PRC as a logical possibility in any scenario, including even something as provocative as US giving diplomatic recognition and setting up overt military base. That is not to say there would not be a response, it just wouldn't be an invasion or attack.

There are basically three scenarios in which war breaks out over Taiwan. All of them are quite possible, in today's environment--largely due to the insane foreign policy pursued by the US.

First, there is the possibility that Taiwan "declares independence." As I have indicated before, for all intents and purposes Taiwan is already independent; so the "declaration" would actually be nothing more than a thumb in the eye of China, and a declaration by Taiwan that going forward, any Chinese security considerations regarding Taiwan's foreign and military policies would be entirely ignored. Essentially, it would be a declaration of hostility against the mainland, and a determination to join a de facto (not de jure) alliance with the US. Yes--if that happens, the CCP will invade, and there are quite a few scenarios in which that might happen. Not every Taiwanese thinks independence is the right way forward, and there are many people in Taiwan's military who feel this way.

Second, the US decides to fight a war with China--and there are many, many people in Washington who desire this (such as Michele Flournoy, and all her fellow neocons). This would certainly arise if, as you posit, the US decided to "recognize Taiwan" and "put a military base" here. In fact, the moment the US might try to move any active US military equipment or personnel here (not even under the rubric of recognition, or establishment of a base) would trigger an invasion by the CCP. Just look at what happened during the Obama administration--H. Clinton went to Vietnam and declared that the S. China Sea territorial waters must be divided up by a "neutral" international commission, and within a few weeks China quite literally started staking out islets there and establishing military bases--something the US was quite unprepared for, and which it has howled about ever since.

The third is that Taiwan waits too long, the US economy crashes, China's power continues to rise, and the CCP decides it has been far too patient for far too long. This is likely the third "best" forcible annexation of Taiwan because it would result in the fewest number of casualties. Essentially, the Chinese would wage their own color revolution and take the island with a minimum of casualties on either side. This is the scenario you hypothesize as the most likely outcome later on in your post.

For China's part, it currently has a law in place that flatly states that China will only invade Taiwan if Taiwan declares independence or seeks independent state recognition at the international level. So China has staked out its limits in transparent and open form: Taiwan can do whatever it wants, for however long it wants, so long as it doesn't attempt "independence." Once it seeks recognition as an independent state in international legal bodies, that will trigger an invasion--and currently, the Red Army has quite a few weapons at its disposal which virtually guarantee overwhelming victory over the US Navy.

Depending on how provocative a policy US makes, it might range from economic, military buildup (match US %GDP for example), seizure of small islands, air patrol overflights, and in the most extreme eventuality, some form of soft blockade (inspection of ships coming and going) that dares the US to fire the first shot or else accept a degree of Chinese control 360 degrees around the island, kind of a West Berlin situation.

I'm not sure what you mean by the first "match US GDP" stuff, but all of the other actions are overt declarations of war and would trigger all-out war with the US.

US obviously fears this is the end game regardless of who initiates the provocation.

No. The US desires this outcome, and this is the situation the neocons are trying to provoke. The reasoning in DC is that China will lose a direct military engagement with the US. I happen to firmly believe--with a lot of evidence to back me up--that they are wrong, on that.

But that thinking is the reason for the would-be SecDef's inflammatory public statement that US needs to "credibly" threaten sinking 300 ships in 3 days -- without fearing a response of comparable magnitude, unstated but equally important.

The folks in DC think their weapons systems are a lot stronger than they actually are. Both Russia and China have developed hi-tech asymmetric systems that target the US military at its most vulnerable. The Chinese, for instance, shot a satellite out of mid-earth orbit back some 15 years ago--as a demonstration for the whole world. They also have the Dong Feng ballistic missile system.

I think everyone agrees that one of the biggest strategic levers is Taiwan's dominance of semiconductor mfg.

Yes, Taiwan currently dominates in this. However, remember that during the 90s, it was the Koreans who dominated chip production--and within a few short years, that entire industry collapsed b/c the Koreans failed to predict and adapt for advances in technology. Currently, the PRC is actively developing its own chip mfg industries, but--and this is critical--it is also the only country currently working on 6g networking tech (and was also the first country to have reliable, affordable, trustworthy 5g tech). Rest assured, none of that tech is being shared with Taiwanese chip manufacturers, so expect for Taiwan's chip mfg industries to rapidly take a back-seat to China's some time in the relatively near future.

But if PRC believes this industry dominance has an expiration date in the next decade (either from mainland Chinese or Korean competition), PRC simply waits.

Yes, that is the Chinese approach: Taiwan's capitulation is inevitable as it becomes increasingly isolated, and the US economy becomes increasingly shallow and frail.

I largely agree with c1ue, except in one regard: Taiwan is an ongoing and constant belligerent (i.e. "threat") to the PRC because it hosts the 5 Eyes PRC SIGIN base here--the largest SIGINT base on the planet. Further, Taiwan's current independence means that it may invite any navy in the world into its territorial waters--putting any navy in the world within easy swimming distance of the Chinese coastline off Fujian/Guangdong.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 21:08 utc | 211

@uncle tungsten, 142

Thank you but the great stumbling block on the path of your fervent desire to 'defend Taiwan' is that the USAi is not agreement capable. That is demonstrated time and again. The USAi is persistent in its breaches of UN protocols and constraints on the use of force and coercive instruments such as sanctions:- the USAi is an untrustworthy inconsistent nation that has no credibility when it comes to international agreements.

Apparently you missed my point, tungsten. I have been patiently explaining to everyone that Taiwan is currently a pawn being pushed by the US to try and provoke a war with China. So "not agreement capable" does not hold any water in this instance, because Taiwan is a means-to-an-end that folks in Washington perceive as an "acceptable loss," should it result in the eradication of the PRC's rapidly developing economic and political lead (it wont).

I have also been indicating that such an eventuality would be tragic, would result in unconscionable destruction of many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of families/lives, and that people like vk and Don Bacon, here--with their "Taiwanese deserve whatever they get"--seem to be, like happy little US imperialists, quietly pushing that narrative along.

Taiwan will return to its Chinese nation. As simple as that.

Now that you have assumed I am advocating for a particular position on this point, please indicate anything I have posted that suggests I don't agree with your assertion.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 21:21 utc | 212

Pacifica Advocate @ 212

Thank you for the recital of your national education propaganda. Your teacher would be proud.

We do agree on one point though, the American education system isn't the pinnacle of academia that many think it is. But you're looking at this way too one dimensionally.

These overseas students, however, having lived and travelled in a more developed or unravaged economy, bring back what they see from their time abroad and applies it to their country of origin. New businesses are stated and old ones reinvigorated. Its not always about what they learnt in the classrooms.

Tell me where the guys from TSMC, NVIDIA, SAMSUNG, HONDA etc. They all studied and spent time in a more developed country in their time.

Anyway, I'm actually on this side of the pond right now so I better get some sleep. You go on and romantizing with your warped formative beliefs some more. Playing victim is a drug.

Just one more thing, I'm calling BS on your Taiwan has no contact with mainland until 2000s and those "chaotic routes" you spoke of. There were daily flights between Taiwan, Hong Kong and from there into China. Business was done between all three. When did you think Foxconn started? Must be 2000 by your history book? You are so full of Sh1t. Do you work for the Epoch Times? If not you should hit them up for a job.

Posted by: A.L. | Nov 18 2020 21:47 utc | 213

@vk, 147

I've been waiting for you to chime in.

First, comparing Taiwan to Cuba is apt and germaine. Both are small, independent islands located just off the coast of a superpower. Both remain independently allied with superpower rivals to the nearby mainland. As for Taiwanese "having full citizenship," the fact is most don't want it--just like most Cubans don't want US citizenship. Flip it around, and Cuban "refugees" are welcomed in the US, and rapidly fast-tracked to citizenship--so, effectively the same thing.

In every regard, the relationship of US<==>Cuba/PRC<==>ROC is analogous.

But you really lose the plot with this utterly uninformed screed:

The problem with Taiwan is the same problem Chiang Kaishek had: a messianic, genocidal ideology (liberalism), that envisions a small chosen people (in Chiang/Taiwan's case, the old post-imperial elite) to subjugate and conquer the entire China while "natural law" (capitalism) takes care of the rest (economy).

Literally none of this is true. Yes, Taiwan has a (mostly) capitalist economy, but neither the leadership nor the people here are charachterized by messianism, genocidal impulses, racist bigotry against mainland Chinese (nor, in fact, most other people--though there are certainly strong tensions between the Han majority and austronesian minorities, to say nothing of what the foreign workers here have suffered).

To think that anyone here in Taiwan currently harbors some sort of inclination to "subjugate and conquer" China is the height of absurdly misplaced confidence and utterly uninformed fantasy.

Nothing in this little screed of yours approaches any kind of truth about what is or is not characteristic of the leadership, government, and people of Taiwan.

To assert that "modern Taiwan wants the same" as Chiang Kai Shek just shows you are utterly deluded and uninformed about what the Taiwanese people actually want, think, and feel. Chiang is a largely discarded figure, in Taiwan: those who are taught about him at a young age are taught to hate him, and those families that don't hate him just don't talk about him. Most kids don't even know who he is before they hit the later years of Jr. High School.

Now, your next "analysis" is even more absurd and uninformed:

That China is salivating at the prospect of reuniting with Taiwan by force is preposterous.

Taiwan's reputation among ordinary Chinese--largely due to the effect of PLA propaganda--is that it's a hostile rebel province that must be reunited with the mainland by force, if necessary. Multiple PLA generals have made public statements urging the CCP to initiate a war of aggression against the island. So no, not only is it not "preposterous," but yes: much of the PLA is indeed salivating at the prospect of invading Taiwan.

...the PLA's top general...publicly...listed the...greatest to lowest of risk(s) to China's territorial integrity:

1) Xinjiang and Tibet (by far, he stated);

2) South China Sea;

3) Taiwan;

4) Hong Kong.

First observation: you write "In other words, Taiwan is not even in the PLA's top 3 national security concerns", but your list there puts Taiwan at number 3. Maybe you wanted to write "Taiwan is not even in the PLA's top 2 national security concerns"? Doesn't quite sound as good, though, right? Personally, I'd feel more comfortable if it wasn't even in the top 10.

Yet you aren't really connecting the dots elsewhere, either. Tibet/Xinjiang are security threats because US, Turkish, and Indian intel operatives have been destabilizing those regions for generations. The South China Sea is only a "threat" b/c the US has made it one. Additionally, possession of Taiwan secures a big part of China's claim to the South China Sea. So 3 and 2 are connected.

But wait, there's more! Taiwan is currently a threat because, as I stated before, there is the 5 Eyes SIGINT base here (a direct inheritance from the Japanese era, btw), and because of the security weakness to coastal sovereignty introduced by Taiwan's independent claim to half the Taiwan Strait.

Your little list, there, shows that outside of active aggression by foreign, Taiwan is China's first security risk.

There's no need to rush to reunite with Taiwan by force for the simple reason it is already reunited: its economic dependence on the Mainland is such, and its brain drain to the Mainland is such, that Taiwan already is de facto reunited. If there is to be military operation in the island, it will be just a simple decapitation operation (kill the head of the government and the ideological elite, dissolve the State machine).

Truly, written like a happy little Western Imperialist!

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 21:48 utc | 214

@Prof K 152

Contrary to what vk asserts, most serious histories of CKS prior to the last 25 years or so (a period when the CIA has been trying hard to rehabilitate his legacy) are highly critical of CKS.

You can start with "Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1941-1945." Besides being an awesome account of the Burma campaign and the later China campaign, it lays out in stark detail why and how the KMT failed, and to what degree that group was corrupted from the peak of the head going right straight down. Another excellent account is John Paton Davies autobiography, "China Hand."

China Hand
Stilwell and the American Experience

Everything vk posted about Chiang Kai Shek came out of Stilwell and the American Experience, which I strongly suspect is the only book he's ever read about CKS and the KMT. Don't be worried, though: the book gives a great deal of context, and a whole lot more details (many of which are still talked about here in Taiwan).

Another excellent book to follow those up with is "The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade," which is what I call a "Dark History": something some people read, but most people are afraid to, or are prejudiced against by "educators" who insist that it's not an accurate history. The footnotes and interviews in it are certainly hard to refute, though--and are backed up by ample evidence that has emerged since then, as well ("Dark Alliance," for instance).

The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 22:00 utc | 215

@d dan, 190

Are you looking for the last word, boy?

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 22:15 utc | 216

@ Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 22:00 utc | 218

I'm not taking any of my opinions from Stilwell. I'm very aware he was a very partial source, and much of his criticisms on Chiang ("Peanut") came purely from racism.

There are plenty of evidence that shows Chiang was an anticommunist first, a Chinese imperialist second, and maybe a nationalist third. The evidence come from the 1920s, not from 1937-1949.

The ultimate problem with Chiang Kaishek was that he didn't really have a plan: he just wanted China to become a normal (i.e. capitalist), Westphalian world power and then everything would be solved like magic. If I were to summarize Chiang, I would define him as an extreme believer of capitalism. He was a capitalist without capital; a capitalist in the ideological sense of the term. He also believed this utopia would match perfectly with his personal enrichment; only in this sense he also believed in the "with Chinese characteristics"/anticolonialism part: after all, he was Chinese, not American or British.


@ Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 21:48 utc | 217

Just search the volume of trade between the Mainland and Taiwan, and Taiwan with the whole world. Then compare those numbers with Cuba's.

Taiwan is no Cuba on the Pacific, my friend. Never was and never will.

Posted by: vk | Nov 18 2020 22:27 utc | 217

Pacifica Advocate and interlocutors--

The following is from China's White Paper "China’s National Defense in the New Era" that was published 24 July 2019 and can be accessed here:

"The fight against separatists is becoming more acute. The Taiwan authorities, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stubbornly stick to 'Taiwan independence' and refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. They have gone further down the path of separatism by stepping up efforts to sever the connection with the mainland in favor of gradual independence, pushing for de jure independence, intensifying hostility and confrontation, and borrowing the strength of foreign influence. The 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and their actions remain the gravest immediate threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the biggest barrier hindering the peaceful reunification of the country." [My Emphasis]

The document goes on to discuss other security threats, but they seem to be of much less concern. Yes, the document is almost 1.5 years old, but IMO the security threat from Taiwan's separatists has increased as has related rhetoric from CPC sources and PLA actions. IMO, recapturing/returning Taiwan to 100% Chinese sovereignty would be very easy but CPC policy still seeks peaceful reunification, although that position is eroding.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 18 2020 22:29 utc | 218

As Aron Mate rightly noted, Russiagate is the product of elites and the Deep State. Polls have shown that everyday Americans do not see Russia as an existential threat--too busy just trying to survive. Unfortunately, it is the elites and Deep State who take a country into a war. Among the elites Russiagate achieved hysterical levels with four years of constantly unhinged charges against the Russians. With American society collapsing Russia will become the proverbial devil needed to mobilize a society for war, nationalism, and diversion from those who refuse to rescue American society. Biden's team has the right people to make this happen. The first time you hear of an American proposal to create a no fly zone in Syria or talk of some invasion of Crimea, live to the fullest because a nuclear exchange is sure to follow within the year.

Posted by: Erelis | Nov 18 2020 22:41 utc | 219

@AL, 216

Tell me where the guys from TSMC, NVIDIA, SAMSUNG, HONDA etc. They all studied and spent time in a more developed country in their time.

That may have been true 60 years ago, but it's not at all true, now. The vast majority of these folk are locally educated. Higher education in a foreign country is mostly reserved for MBAs, Lawyers, and Economists, these days. I've worked in a few tech companies, here; the entire workforce and the vast majority of management were all educated locally. Only MBAs were educated abroad, and even those were a tiny minority.

Just one more thing, I'm calling BS on your Taiwan has no contact with mainland until 2000s and those "chaotic routes" you spoke of. There were daily flights between Taiwan, Hong Kong and from there into China.

Wrong, and wrong. First, Hong Kong was independent of the PRC until 1997. There was only extremely limited tourist travel allowed between the two beginning in the early 80s; Taiwanese, however, were not welcome (and most didn't want to go, for obvious fears).

Foxconn opened its first mfg plant in Shenzhen, which was the first "special economic zone" opened by Deng Xiaoping back in the first years of China's slow economic opening to the outside world.
Foxconn's first manufacturing plant in China opened in Longhua Town, Shenzhen, in 1988--from the wikipedia entry. At that time, there were no foreign investment firms allowed within the mainland proper. Slowly, other special economic zones started opening up, until today when most of China has been opened up to foreign investment.

It wasn't until 2001 that Foxconn got its partnership with Intel and its mfg facilities started to multiply. Also from the Wiki:
One of the important milestones for Foxconn occurred in 2001 when Intel selected the company to manufacture its Intel-branded motherboards instead of Asus.

So feel free to "call bullshit" all you want, but I warn you: you'll be embarrassing yourself.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 22:41 utc | 220

@Pacifica Advocate 214

Appreciate the detailed response. One item for which I would be interested to hear a more detailed rationale: regarding actions short of large scale violence, the conclusion that

all of the other actions are overt declarations of war and would trigger all-out war with the US.

Certainly they would be a perfectly good casus belli if US was specifically looking for a full-on fight, rather than merely intimidation. I can't bring myself to think that even the most thick skulled neocon's think that this can turn into a Falklands war or something like that. And if not, how would more "limited" tit for tat escalations be different from similar situations in the US-USSR history? Those have not led to war beyond the proxy level. (Maybe one can consider the Chinese entry into the Korean war an exception to that).

That is not to celebrate the possibility of another Cuba missile crisis etc, but rather to not take the idea of the "invasion" rhetoric literally. I.e., I'm questioning the expectation that, once begun, the typical series of escalations goes all the way to full conventional war. As opposed to being able to stabilize at some low or intermediate level, at which the hawks have been satisfied. I mean it's not a comfortable thought, no doubt about that. But an open state of hostility has existed ever since the Meng Wanzhou stunt, so we're going in that general direction, and the question in my mind is about where the limits are, not whether they are going to be tested.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 18 2020 22:50 utc | 221

vk 220

I'm not taking any of my opinions from Stilwell. I'm very aware he was a very partial source, and much of his criticisms on Chiang ("Peanut") came purely from racism.

Judging by your litany of CKS' sins, it's pretty clear that you are pulling quotes from that time you read Tuchman. Further, calling Stilwell a "racist" is just silly. This was a man who lived nearly a third of his life in a foreign country, promoting locals and learning how to read, write, and fluently speak a notoriously difficult language. A man who said he had "nothing but respect for the Chinese soldier." You and your little faux-Marxist "woke" stuff need to get a proper historical education.

Just search the volume of trade between the Mainland and Taiwan, and Taiwan with the whole world. Then compare those numbers with Cuba's.

I agree that there are differences in the situation; but you are, of course, wrong: both Taiwan and Cuba have been targeted by their mainland neighbors because they are small, independent states which have chosen to align themselves with the interests and economies of hostile or rival superpowers. Cuba has been economically isolated and sanctioned, and so has Taiwan--as b recently shown with his excellent article on the RCEP deal.

Yes, China has not yet tightened the screws on Taiwan nearly as tightly as the US has fixed them on Cuba; but check this out, here--from wikipedia:

Cuba gained formal independence from the U.S. on 20 May 1902, as the Republic of Cuba.[77] Under Cuba's new constitution, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations.

Sound familiar?

Just as Cuba was ostensibly "independent" of the US--except for "supervision" of its "finances and foreign relations"--so too Taiwan is being offered relative independence ("One Country, Two Systems") under the PRC, which will exercise a "supervisory" role over Taiwan's foreign relations and international economic agreements.

Cuba and Taiwan are analogous in many ways, and far more than you have yet to consider.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 23:03 utc | 222

Oops! Made a mistake! Still not used to the editing procedure, here! Sorry, b~~

@karlof1 221

That quote you post seems to me an accurate summary of the current situation.

A lot you may have forgotten (or never knew about) the mini-color-revolution Taiwan experienced back in 2014, when a bunch of students occupied the legislature for a few weeks in protest over a PRC-Taiwan trade deal. It was called the Sunflower Movement. Apparently their biggest concern was over a sudden influx of mainland chinese laborers Taiwan is currently flooded with laborers from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, so why they would object to people from the PRC could only be political, not economic--but of course, their objections were framed in economic worries.

IMO the security threat from Taiwan's separatists has increased as has related rhetoric from CPC sources and PLA actions. IMO, recapturing/returning Taiwan to 100% Chinese sovereignty would be very easy but CPC policy still seeks peaceful reunification, although that position is eroding.

I think this is a perfectly accurate assessment of the situation, karlof1. The Sunflower Generation will need to be weathered--roughly speaking, they are the millenials--but that generation is coming to an end, with the next likely to be far more conservative and skeptical in their approach to politics. That, at least, has been my rather limited experience, with my students.

I get a lot of questions about history from my students, these days. The separatist movements here in Taiwan have largely discarded all the old public school history books, and replaced them with a watered-down version of history that doesn't make sense to any of the kids, here. The Sunflower Generation was the first to be raised on that, and is also, of course, the first Smartphone/Internet generation.

Here's hoping the backlash against all that will be strong. My younger friends who are about to have their first child certainly share that skepticism. Only time will tell where these currents and eddies will carry us.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 18 2020 23:23 utc | 224

uncle tungsten @Nov18 19:27 #202You mean this doll?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 18 2020 23:56 utc | 225

Pacifica Advocate @Nov18 21:21 #215

I have been patiently explaining to everyone that Taiwan is currently a pawn being pushed by the US to try and provoke a war with China.

I agree with your POV.

Strange how we much we hear about how USA can't possibly start a war with Iran or China.

IMO smacking down upstart China is a greater priority than regime-change in Iran.

Yet any war has a good chance of expanding into WWIII.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 19 2020 0:13 utc | 226

Pacifica Advocate @227--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, I know of the Sunflowers and their effort to erase Taiwanese's Chinese roots. Like Hong Kong's hooligans, they don't represent the whole of Taiwan's society. It appears the Mainland is trying to be patient and allow Taiwanese to discipline their own, but have taken to shaking the fist more often as TrumpCo tries to deepen its wedge. IMO, the Outlaw US Empire's actions are 100% irresponsible, counterproductive and based on what amounts to hysterics over a word--Communism/Communist--and the fact that China's system works much better than anything the West has to offer.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 19 2020 0:27 utc | 227

@229 Jackrabbit

fine point of difference - but I think the idea us that Taiwan does all of the fighting (with US hardware. the more the better, incidentally). It is almost** a classic proxy conflict. The outcome at the local level is not so important that way.

Direct involvement by the US, on the other hand, has a risk. Any outcome short of a clear US victory further undermines the so-called credibility of the monopolar world order (i.e. US reputation as unstoppable). That includes the most common scenario where the major parties smash up the proxy very thoroughly, but aren't willing to commit to really going at each other.

**The only catch is that Taiwan is not currently disposable to the US nor Chinese nor world economy, so it's not quite an ideal proxy war candidate

Posted by: ptb | Nov 19 2020 0:44 utc | 228

@pfb, 224

That is not to celebrate the possibility of another Cuba missile crisis etc, but rather to not take the idea of the "invasion" rhetoric literally. I.e., I'm questioning the expectation that, once begun, the typical series of escalations goes all the way to full conventional war. As opposed to being able to stabilize at some low or intermediate level, at which the hawks have been satisfied.

Thank you for this question; it provoked an "a-ha!" moment.

From a US tactical perspective, the most problematic question of a hot war between China and the US is China's tactical nukes. The Chinese Dong Feng ballistic anti-ship nuke can be described as "tactical" because it targets ships and not cities, but in point of fact it is a ballistic nuke. Similarly, the hypersonic ship destroyers that China has developed also have, presumably, nuclear capability, and I would suspect that these are the two Chinese systems the US currently most fears.

Now, remember when b posted about how the US was trying to sabotage or "delay" the New START treaty negotiations by demanding China be included? In light of your question, that now takes on a whole new angle: it seems that the US wants to include China in the New-New START treaty precisely because of China's overwhelming deterrence of US Navy force-projection into the western Pacific and East Asia, as a whole.

Prior to US and Russia negotiating nuclear agreements (which I hope we can both agree have been sabotaged by US withdrawal and cheating), the only guarantee against full-scale nuclear war was MAD. Currently, that is the only principle keeping the US and China from waging nuclear war--and that, of course, has always been the threat of tactical nuclear warheads: that once a tactical nuke is used, the war will inevitably escalate to full-scale nuclear war.

But what if a tactical nuke is used on a naval ship? The logic of full-scale escalation doesn't really make much sense, then, because the ships disappear, fall into the Mariana Trench, and cease to be any kind of bother for anything except deep-ocean life forms. Can the US justify a nuclear response on Chinese civilians? That seems a hard line to sell to the world, and I'm sure the Pentagon has recently woken up to that fact. If a bunch of US ships simply disappear in the middle of the Pacific, and then a US sub surfaces and wipes out Shanghai, that would certainly result in an international outcry and isolation of the US--the blowback would be nearly inconceivable, from today's perspective.

To address your core question: the Chinese position, that's crystal clear: war will be declared the moment there is any Taiwanese declaration of independence, or any recognition of Taiwan as an independent state by NATO/the US. Any attempt to place troops in Taiwan will be interpreted as an act of war. That is its clearly stated position, and it is fully prepared to follow through, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

The US perspective is not so easy to state. In the past the US believed that the miracle of US capitalism would persuade China to abandon the CCP and reform the nation so that popular elections based on a Western model would be put into place--elections which, as the recent US election amply showed, Western elites excel at manipulating and rigging. The reasoning was that this would make the Chinese portion of the world safe and compliant for US/uk/NATO bankers and corporations. Now, however, it is clear the CCP isn't going away and that China is going to continue to grow in strength without such a transition, and this is going to significantly erode the already fragile US economy. Rather than reform itself and curb the overweening wealth and hubris of its elites, the US is getting desperate to counter that growth in any way possible. Unfortunately, the US is no longer a "modern" nation: it is essentially a 3rd world country with an export economy entirely subservient to weapons technology/production, oil, and grain (which it uses to extort other nations), along with some niche technology sectors.

So the US seems destined to push things in the west Pacific until some sort of hot war erupts, wherein it can re-assert dominance over the region and "put China in its place."

Meanwhile, China has made it clear that it does not fear a hot war with the US.

Back when the US and Soviet Union were prancing around, creating proxy wars in foreign lands, both countries were fearful of coming into direct conflict with one another; I don't get the sense that the US fears a hot war with China, but I honestly don't see how it could win one, in any conceivable scenario. The oceans that surround China are too large, the mountains too high, the deserts too barren. Any conflict that might arise in Taiwan would be a short and quick affair; there are too many people here in Taiwan who would happily defect, when offered a chance at advancement, and there is little will to fight.

So the idea of using Taiwan as a sort of "Vietnam," to tie China down in some sort of quagmire, is rather silly: Taiwan's an island, and it's damned close to China. Quarantining the island from outside forces would be a relatively simple affair, and the only way the US would be able to break such a blockade would be direct attacks with its navy. Taiwan has some awesome mountain redoubts, but how useful would those be? Taiwan couldn't be turned into a Lebanon, or an Iraq, for the same reason: it's an island, and boats are easy to detect.

So the way I see it, if there is some sort of war over Taiwan between the US and China, it will be either a hot war in response to a declaration of independence, a US attempt to set up shop here, or a full-scale Chinese preemptive invasion. In each case, the length and scale of the war will be determined primarily by what belligerents get involved: Taiwan vs China? It'll be over in weeks, with martial law in place perhaps a decade or more.

China vs the US? God only knows....

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 0:58 utc | 229

Pacifica Advocate #215

Apparently you missed my point, tungsten. I have been patiently explaining to everyone that Taiwan is currently a pawn being pushed by the US to try and provoke a war with China. So "not agreement capable" does not hold any water in this instance, because Taiwan is a means-to-an-end that folks in Washington perceive as an "acceptable loss," should it result in the eradication of the PRC's rapidly developing economic and political lead (it wont).

Taiwan will not go the distance being pushed. It will not choose annihilation to spite its Chinese relationship. It will not go that far - is my point.

Taiwan cannot rely on any agreement they have with the USA - therefore Taiwan and China will seek a compromise between them selves leaving out the USA. USA will push them together if tries bullying belligerent pawn playing. Time will tell.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 19 2020 1:11 utc | 230

Pacifica Advocate @232--

And as you probably know, the PLA has gamed out all potential scenarios and has announced it cannot lose. Given your correct appraisal of the Outlaw US Empire's geoeconomic position, the Empire would be absolutely crazy to provoke a war since it would lose every supply chain connected to China and possibly the ASEAN via Chinese interdiction--China has a Navy too. No Western Pacific "ally" would back the Empire in such a war. The reality is lose-lose for the Outlaw US Empire. But it made its choice because of its demonic, irrational hatred of the term Communism/Communist--it's like political rabies and the entire Deep State's afflicted.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 19 2020 1:16 utc | 231

ptb @Nov19 0:44 #231

...not quite an ideal proxy ...

Paraphrasing Rumsfeld: You go to war with the proxy(s) you have.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 19 2020 1:30 utc | 232

The allegation apparently is that King George V on Aug. 2, 1914 ordered Foreign Minister Grey to find a justification for Britain entering World War One. The next day, Aug. 3, Grey made the speech for the government in Parliament calling for going to war, using the German invasion of Belgium as justification. And on Aug. 4 Britain declared war.

None of the histories of the matter I have read so far mentions this royal intervention, or Grey's reluctance to enter the war. Amazing how this apparent new evidence has not been discussed since it was revealed six years ago.

Posted by: lysias | Nov 19 2020 1:33 utc | 233

Pacifica Advocate @Nov19 0:58 #232

... war will be declared the moment there is any Taiwanese declaration of independence, or any recognition of Taiwan as an independent state by NATO/the US.

I think it's worse than this in reality.

Taiwan is being pressured to buy advanced arms to defend themselves. Lions don't eat porcupines is the reasoning.

This creates a race condition: how much arming of Taiwan will China allow? Especially if this "porcupine" strategy could eventually lead to Taiwan attaining ballistic and/or hyper-sonic missiles?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 19 2020 1:39 utc | 234

@235 Jackrabbit

Paraphrasing Rumsfeld: You go to war with the proxy(s) you have.


Posted by: ptb | Nov 19 2020 1:42 utc | 235

USA/Empire may not need a war to smack-down China.

Civil unrest from a poor economy could do the trick. Even if it doesn't result in toppling the CCP, the turmoil would be an effective speed bump.

Shutting down Chinese trade like Iran has been shut down would not be easy, but the Empire is moving in that direction via the many outrages that are cited: Chinese trade practices (and claimed currency manipulation); "Chinese Virus"; Hong Kong crack-down; threats against Taiwan; treatment of Uighurs; Chinese-Indian tensions; South China Sea land grab island grab; etc.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 19 2020 2:02 utc | 236

@Pacifica Advocate 232

Lots of unanswerables in there for sure.

Just to entertain that scenario, from my layman's perspective:

Wouldn't the response simply be to retaliate in kind? That would then become a possible stabilization point in the escalation. Such a stabilization would leave the outcome unresolved overall. Would break a hypothetical blockade. Would preserve Taiwan's status as a US ally -- a prize that gains nothing at all in material terms, however. Opportunity to score some serious PR points by having China take the first shot. But at the cost of US Navy having to keep a safe distance thereafter. They'll have forced a showdown, but done nothing to defeat China in a lasting way while they had the chance, which was the actual reason for the urgency. And I think all that would be true whether the naval exchange was a small one or a big one, unless Fluornoy's fantasies are borne out on some real short notice, which is doubtful.

Anyway, my perhaps hopeful feeling is that there is a roughly analogous stopping point, a threshold for hesitation, that is many levels lower than anything like that. Ideally before any direct military exchange at all between US-China at all. I'd also repeat that scenarios that degenerate into a boat-building contest are not attractive to the US.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 19 2020 2:40 utc | 237

Pacifica Advocate @227,

Thank you for your detailed comments.

I am surprised to learn that you got a lot of questions about history from your students. Could you elaborate more on which periods your students feel interested in about Taiwan- Qing Dynasty, Japanese occupation, KMT-Two-Chiangs (1949-1989), post-Chiangs?! Since Lee took over the presidency in 1987, he started to systematically change education in grade schools in Taiwan, especially in history and Chinese literature. After Lee's 13 years, Chen's 8 years, Ma's 8 years, and Tsai's 4 years (and counting), it's been 30+ years. People below 40 today are educated by that and the younger the less Chinese elements in what's taught. Therefore, it seems to me the youth in Taiwan would have less Chinese connection than the elders, especially those above 50. In addition, history typically is not a popular subject for students in Taiwan so your observation is very interesting. How people below 40 think about China is a result of deliberate political calculation and implementation over 30 years. I believe China knows this since it experiences the similar first hand in HK. The curriculum in HK grade schools is even hostile to China. Practically speaking, the 2 to 3 generations of people between 10 and 40 in Taiwan now are basically gone from China's political perspective, IMHO. It would take time to "correct" these people's thinking, which is not guaranteed to succeed. Unfortunately, these generation may be "Fei-Cai" (wasted unusable wood) from political standpoint. What China implements in HK now may show some hints about what it may do later in Taiwan. CCP is practical. It will try a few things somehow somewhere to see how it works and adjust accordingly to meet its goals.

As I noted earlier on this blog, Taiwan's peak is early 1990s. Since then (the later part of Lee's regime), Taiwan started to use what it accumulated before. Since DPP took power, they try hard to benefit themselves but don't govern. Ma's eight-year was a waste. Ma is a hypocritical and incompetent leader. He basically took advantage of China in economic terms but did nothing else. The sunflower movement was during his time. It's political movement backed by DPP and assisted by then-legislature speaker Wang Chinping who is blue outside but green inside (blue: KMT; green: DPP).

Posted by: LuRenJia | Nov 19 2020 3:29 utc | 238

@LuRenJia, 241:

Could you elaborate more on which periods your students feel interested in about Taiwan- Qing Dynasty, Japanese occupation, KMT-Two-Chiangs (1949-1989), post-Chiangs?!

My elementary students know nearly nothing about Imperial China, Chiang Kai Shek, nor pretty much anything that has happened in the greater world surrounding Taiwan. Some of them know about the Japanese period; there is greater awareness, now, of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, but the other day I literally had a class of very well educated 5th & 6th graders insisting that "吃飽了嗎?" is not an idiomatic greeting like "Hello!" A couple of the mothers rather uneasily explained that they simply hadn't ever heard it, because they never have been around those parts of Taiwan which still routinely use it (that would be just a few neighborhoods away, btw).

Those same 5th graders don't know what 皇帝 means, or where he lived, nor even the slightest clue about the succession of dynasties. As they get older, they start to learn some of that, but in contrast my older students (Jr High/High School) know next to nothing about WWII, and only the slightest bit about CKS and Chiang Jing Guo. I really wonder what sort of history they're teaching the kids, these days, because if you're not teaching them about WWII (which is the absolute origin of modern Taiwan) then what the hell are they teaching them? The importance of STEM advocacy in local education?

On the other hand, there remains a good bit of classical Chinese and Chinese literature training--Tang Dynasty poems, which are really useful for the inculcation of a Nationalist mindset about protecting the country, personal melancholy at the costs of duty and such. Nothing about love in them.

So I've gotten a lot of questions about WWII, and from that a few questions about CKS--but hardly anything about the Imperial era, which kids here seem to only be exposed to via video games. From what I can tell they get a very truncated and distorted lesson on the 228 incident. I have tried to pique their interests regarding world history, but that just doesn't seem to ever catch on.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 6:53 utc | 239

Taiwan's energy situation is hopeless in any conflict. About 98% of its energy is imported with oil accounting for almost 50% of total consumption. Without China's willingness to allow a constant stream of large slow tankers to enter Taiwanese waters, any war would last until the oil ran out, and that would likely be measured in weeks. Taiwan has zero potential to sustain any conflict unless the US Navy takes on the suicidal task of escorting large slow oil tankers through an area controlled by land-based PLAAF fighters, with waters full of PLAN submarines, and within 100 km of the mainland's missile defenses. Any talk of war between Taiwan and the PRC that excludes the problem of Taiwan's hopeless energy situation is simply poor fiction.

Posted by: sad canuck | Nov 19 2020 7:04 utc | 240

@ptb, 240:

Opportunity to score some serious PR points by having China take the first shot. But at the cost of US Navy having to keep a safe distance thereafter.

The only reason the USN can sail the west Pacific currently is because there are no hostilities between the US and China. Chinese missiles will simply eradicate any US fleet that tries to impose US will on a China-Taiwan conflict. China doesn't want that conflict, but it is resolved to carry through if the US seeks to pry Taiwan away from China via a declaration of independence.

My point is that the moment the Taiwan situation goes hot, China will immediately and relentlessly all-in until the conflict is over. Taiwanese Independence is the conflict that the PLA has been preparing for, these last 20 years.

Taiwan declares independence?
PLA is all-in.
US tries to set up military bases and missile installations?
PLA is all-in.
US tries to declare Taiwan independent?
PLA is all-in.

Do you understand me? There will be no proxy-war in the event of Taiwan trying to establish itself as the westernmost outpost of US force-projection. The CCP/PLA will not allow that, ever.

As we write, China has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Taiwan. That arsenal could cripple the island in hours, and then the PLA would follow up with a full-scale pacification campaign. If the USN approached, then hypersonic ship-destroying missiles would rain upon them and cripple the fleet. Then it becomes a submarine war, but as SadCanuck up there points out--submarines don't deliver things like oil and small arms.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 7:15 utc | 241

@Jackrabbit, 239

I am sure that the PLA does not fear any up-arming of Taiwanese forces. Back in the 90s, the Iraqi National Forces were ostensibly the third most powerful military in the world, and look at what happened to them.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 7:18 utc | 242

@karlof1 234

The reality is lose-lose for the Outlaw US Empire. But it made its choice because of its demonic, irrational hatred of the term Communism/Communist--it's like political rabies and the entire Deep State's afflicted.

Exactly. Couldn't've said it better myself.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 7:20 utc | 243

@uncle tungsten 233

Taiwan will not go the distance being pushed. It will not choose annihilation to spite its Chinese relationship. It will not go that far - is my point.

I once would also have confidently asserted this, but I'm not so sure, any more.

Taiwan cannot rely on any agreement they have with the USA - therefore Taiwan and China will seek a compromise between them selves leaving out the USA. USA will push them together if tries bullying belligerent pawn playing. Time will tell.

That's been part of my point, here, as well: Flournoy's posturing is explicitly to try and convince the Taiwanese rank-and-file (as well as their government) that the US is committed to Taiwan's defense. Moreover, it seems to be working with the Tsai administration, which owes its entire existence and ascent-to-power to the CIA.

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Nov 19 2020 7:23 utc | 244

Pacifica Advocate@247 seems to think the CIA is both powerful and exceedingly competent. This calls into question judgments even about local Taiwanese affairs.

On the issue of Taiwan being liberated by the national government? In capitalist roader politics, the slogan "one country, two systems" is increasingly read as "one sytem, two [or more] countries." Like the neocolonial concessions/SEZs, a practical division of the country can be very useful in the return of the chinese bourgeoisie (including the ones who live in Taiwan,) to untrammeled rule over the society. In my view, the Xi government simply does not want to advance socialism in any way whatsoever, not any more. The unrelenting pursuit of economic warfare against Korea proves this appetite I think. The national government wants the bourgeoisie to have its own state in Taiwan as long as feasible. And only if the Chinese bourgeoisie thinks it can successfully suppress the CCP will it risk Taiwan, one of its bases, in a gamble for the whole country. The CIA will not make them do anything.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Nov 19 2020 13:49 utc | 245

@Pacifica Advocate 244

Yes, you are perfectly clear. The PRC statements of their position are perfectly clear also. I just don't take it at face value - specifically the interpretation that PRC would immediately "go all in". In that metaphor, I'd put PRC down for being willing to call any US raises, after the red line is crossed, but that's not the same thing. And the same for the US based bravado.

Maybe one final thing to bring into the mix to motivate this. Goes to the strategic importance of Taiwan, which is of course true. Let's say a showdown takes place, and China ends up reuniting with Taiwan by force. Do they "win the game", secure their safety from US attack? I would say, no. There are still US forces in ROK and JP, not to mention US subs, and then the strategic ICBM arsenal.

Regards, and hoping absolutely none of this ever happens.
~ -----

Posted by: ptb | Nov 19 2020 14:39 utc | 246

@ sad canuck | Nov 19 2020 7:04 utc | 243

"Without China's willingness to allow a constant stream of large slow tankers to enter Taiwanese waters, any war would last until the oil ran out, and that would likely be measured in weeks."

OK, China is in the same situation than Taiwan, China imports more than 10 million barrels of oil/day, mainly from ME, and everybody and his mother knows the USN will close all the routes to the ME from or to China, it has dozens of bases scattered in SE, Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia and many others), and dozens in the ME, apart from the huge "unsinkable carrier" (Oz). The same day the hostilities begin, China will receive zero (0) oil from the ME or in general from the sea, only the russkies will provide some oil (very little compare with the needs of a industrialized country of 1,400 million people); in few months the population in big cities will start to starve, like Japan after the US launched a full submarine warfare in 1944- 1945.

Today the US has the shale oil, and has an strategic advantage in natural resources (mainly food and oil), and control all the main trade routes in the world (following the A.T. Mahan advice of how detroy an economic or military foe).
In industrial wars who control de sea wins (as in WWI and WWII)

That is the way global empires (try to) maintain dominance

Posted by: DFC | Nov 19 2020 15:18 utc | 247

uncle tungsten, jackrabbit: Good one. I fail to see how a corrupt, senile, hair sniffing Emperor Palpatine look alike and a casting couch skank/voodoo Queen could somehow be good for America and/or the world.

Posted by: Shadow | Nov 19 2020 16:57 utc | 248

@ 247 DFC

Attempting to deny China itself oil would be a declaration of war that possibly goes nuclear. It's life and death for China. The US would also immediately be cut off from all trade with Asia, store shelves would be empty, and looting would be everywhere. The reserve currency and Wall Street bubble collapse.

You expect the US to do that over Taiwan? A marginal, indefensible part of the empire. Please let's be serious. Uncle Sam will huff and puff, but when the going gets real, it has no stomach for real conflict with any remotely credible adversary (eg Iran). Especially 11,000 km from home.

Posted by: sad canuck | Nov 19 2020 18:41 utc | 249

Yes, there is lots to say about America {as USA} using proxies to project this or that force or intention or influence or control over other parts of the planet.

Whose proxy is America?

I know of several answers, all debatable, of course. The fact that there are answers can produce a large shift in point of view. And any shift in POV can be useful, even remarkable.

Answers could be another country/government or just a definable group of persons. England/The Crown or pre-1913 European bankers like the Warburg/Rothschild class come to mind. Or perhaps The Vatican. Or even Israel. Etc.

It is interesting that great accumulations of wealth existed long before America existed.

Just money itself, used as a projector of force/control, not only has a long history pre-dating America's existence, but an unbroken trail that includes North America's discovery and development...up to present time.

So I repeat the Q...Whose proxy is America?

Posted by: chu teh | Nov 19 2020 20:09 utc | 250

@sad canuck | Nov 19 2020 18:41 utc | 249

If China invades Taiwan, for any reason, USN will cut-off China from the last drop of oil regardless of the costs, China could threat of nuclear first strikes, but it will not work with the USA (or with Russia if they have a problem with them)

China could try to break the blockade by conventional means, but no, they couln´t.

On the other hand USA export a lot of food, and has many resources of oil, gas, etc...If China sink every ship in the Pacific that go to USA, they will disrupt nothing in USA

Of course the CCP and PLA know all of this very well

Posted by: DFC | Nov 19 2020 21:15 utc | 251

@ Posted by: DFC | Nov 19 2020 21:15 utc | 251

That's why China will wisely choose the time of invasion.

There's no hurry in directly taking Taiwan back. The island province is already decaying as it is right now.

The young Taiwanese, of course, is free to cross the bridge (there is one, a very busy one) and enjoy full citizenship rights in the Mainland - no need to even "renounce" their "Taiwanese passport". Just go and get your Mainland (true Chinese) passport and do whatever they want.

Posted by: vk | Nov 19 2020 21:30 utc | 252

DFC @ 251
"USN will cut-off China from the last drop of oil regardless of the costs, China"

Only if that was already in the US plans.

The only time I have seen them do something like that seriously was when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
It was the perfect excuse to do what they already wanted to do.

Iraq was one thing , China on the other hand is quite another thing.

Posted by: arby | Nov 20 2020 0:30 utc | 253

DFC@251 said "If China invades Taiwan, for any reason, USN will cut-off China from the last drop of oil regardless of the costs"

There is literally no point in discussing this issue if you actually believe that the USA would destroy the world economy and its own well-being for an asset like Taiwan which holds little strategic value. The USA will fight China to the last Taiwanese before tossing the deluded true believers away like a used diaper.

Good day sir and off you go back to the Epoch Times comment section.

Posted by: sad canuck | Nov 20 2020 0:54 utc | 254

China is not in the same situation as Taiwan, it is laughable to compare an easily isolated island with the fourth largest nation on the planet, situated on the largest continent and connected to its Russia.

China is the top producer of Chinese Oil at around 25%, Russia is next at 16%, Malaysia and other SE Asian nations supply 5%. 46% of Chinese oil needs cannot be interrupted. Combined with huge stockpiles, and the natural frugality of the Chinese People, it isn't possible to starve China of oil in the event of war.

China knows the USA will cut them off from ME oil if it needs to forcefully reunify Taiwan and has prepared accordingly. I agree with Pacifica Advocate's analysis by and large, but particularly about Chinese redlines in regards to Taiwan.

Posted by: Haassaan | Nov 20 2020 1:44 utc | 255

I seriously doubt that the US could successfully cut off China's oil supply without cutting it's own throat. As for Taiwan, sooner or later they'll realize that the us can't protect them and swing to China for economic reasons. You see, China can dump all their US treasuries and tank the market. Am I wrong?

Posted by: Shadow | Nov 20 2020 3:15 utc | 256

@Don Bacon #207
Really? Perhaps you could spell out some of these yuuge gains?
Would the US and EU consider China's military takeover of Taiwan acceptable? Positive? Would they not be spurred to some type of action: economic if not military?
Economically: how would taking over Taiwan benefit China? The first things to be destroyed would be the chip fabs in Hsinchu. It isn't hard - a few minutes with a crowbar, by one or two people in each Fab, would do the trick. Perhaps you think semiconductor process designers can be made to work like Nazi rocket scientists? Only they would have to do so without any equipment...
The rest of Taiwan's economy is heavily subsidized by the US in many indirect ways - with that gone, it would be a net negative as Taiwan has to import all of its energy and a lot of food.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 20 2020 14:27 utc | 257

@256 Shadow
Dumping the treasuries would be a short blip, as the FED would buy them. Dumping the dollar on the other hand would be the end, but to do that China would have to counter US ability to force third parties to keep using $, and the foundation for the persuasive argument for $, at the end of the day, are "security guarantees" within the US-led world order - cynically but not unrealistically interpreted as persuasoon by force of arms.

As for Taiwan, sooner or later they'll realize that the US can't protect them and swing to China for economic reasons.

Yes, but "later". Now is "sooner". US policy has woken up to the fact that current lack of industrial and tech competitiveness would make it impossible to sustain "leadership" or "primacy", aka hegemony and empire. Continuing economic competition under established "rules" would mean China pulls ahead even further.

The policy makers figure they have 5-10 years or so to shut down Chinese industrial and technological growth. Because they are committed imperialists with the neocons pushing the hard decisions, the foregoing is "by any means necessary", though the preference is still for a relatively honorable means. Problem is they missed the window for the other options.

They totally bungled the option of leverage through energy or natural resources, by alienating Russia, Iran too. Add in Pakistan because of Modi, which makes the grographic network a tight one, and China also picks up very secure integration with central Asia.

Technology embargo is a rearguard move that had been played, buys another 5 years, maybe. Persuading EU to stop all trade would be impressive, but ther US itself hasn't got anywhere in doing this in the home market, which is telling.

Regime change tactics fall flat, because too many clients have been screwed over economically once their resolutions have served their purpose. And now China has a PR victory in manahing Covid, that's impossible to understate.

Seems what's left as an option to halt Chinese industrial and technological growth, is direct strategic bombardment of Chinese industry. So behind the scenes, when imperialist policy wonks they're trying to envision "winnable" scenarios, what they're looking at are ones that provide an excuse for direct attack on vulnerable points in the mainland (power plants, ports, etc). *Before* such time as China fully develops the ability to return the favor.

None of this is necessary for the prosperity of the US, because maintaining the empire is in reality a drag on human development at home. We have to make enormous economic giveaways to keep countries like Japan on side. But current US policy world is dominated a the sociopathic marriage of neocon imperialists (who actually believe it is possible and desirable to extend the post cold war monopolarity) and their neoliberal enabler (dome of who still have a naive belief in benevolent hefemony R2P etc, and the rest are knowingly representing financial interests in the policy world. But note that corporations can outlive any loss of flesh and blood).

Posted by: ptb | Nov 20 2020 14:47 utc | 258


Not sure whether you noticed that China states that Taiwan is one of its core interests. Although Taiwan is not in the top 3 at the moment, Taiwan is still in the list and its position may change as circumstances change.

Semiconductor industry is the few sections that Taiwan leads. However, it is important but NOT core. China may not target the fabs. If some people in Taiwan do what you described, that means Taiwan shoots itself not in the foot but in the chest at least. If it's done by amerikkans (whick is quite likely), it means to sabotage the fabs and prevent China from utilizing it.

In addition, I am not aware amerikka subsidizes Taiwan's economy. amerikka does happily takes the protection fees that Taiwan submits (via weapon sales). To my knowledge, amerikka only subsidizes its own 0.0001% and no one else. Do you mind providing the source for your assertion?! On the other hand, Taiwan's economy heavily depends trades with China. My impression it accounts for about 40% of Taiwan's trades (source, combining China and HK).

Posted by: LuRenJia | Nov 20 2020 15:52 utc | 259

@ Posted by: LuRenJia | Nov 20 2020 15:52 utc | 259

Taiwan only dominates the semiconductors sector because the USA allowed it to (during the High Cold War).

Taiwan is 100% fake. A figment of the Empire's imagination.

Posted by: vk | Nov 20 2020 16:02 utc | 260

@vk 260
Taiwan only dominates the semiconductors sector because the USA allowed it to
Yes, although historical sense that was only part of it. Part of it was that semiconductor manufacturing involves toxic chemicals, and offshoring them was a way to work around US environmental regulations.

Another part that is interesting and I don't know enough about was historical, especially as it ties into US competition with Japan in the 1980s. US-Japan industrial relations were then in a situation that was analogous in some (not all) ways to the US-China industrial relations now. Japan was pretty clearly on track to match and exceed US industrial, technological, human development, which they have done anyway. They were on track to dominate international banking for complicated reasons, and semiconductors because they invested a lot and were good at it. The situation was settled behind in a way I am not entirely clear on, and Japan was forced to basically dial back attempts to gain economic dominance.

The banking sector was probably the most deeply concerning area of competition for the US. Part of the outcome there, to "repair" the financial imbalance -- i.e. counterbalance the competitiveness of JP interest rates and financing power using exchange rate adjustments -- were the Plaza accords.

On semiconductors, there were major trade efforts to prevent Japanese semiconductor suppliers from gaining dominance, and ended with the 1986 US Japan semiconductor agreement, again to "repair the imbalance". So as part of this I think moving US semicon manufacturing to elsewhere in Asia (as opposed to Europe, for example) might've been a part of the US strategy at that time, or a side effect of the US-Japan semiconductor tarriff war, which I think was considered strategic.

Posted by: ptb | Nov 20 2020 17:03 utc | 261

also to clarify, I do not agree that "Taiwan is fake"

Posted by: ptb | Nov 20 2020 17:13 utc | 262

Thank you for your comment. All valid points. I admit I haven't paid much attention to geopolitics lately, given our myriad domestic problems here in the belly of the Beast. If/when Biden Harris are seated, I suspect Americans will be treated to more lessons in geography.

Posted by: Shadow | Nov 20 2020 17:44 utc | 263

sad canuck | Nov 20 2020 0:54 utc | 254

"There is literally no point in discussing this issue if you actually believe that the USA would destroy the world economy and its own well-being for an asset like Taiwan which holds little strategic value. The USA will fight China to the last Taiwanese before tossing the deluded true believers away like a used diaper."

Exactly the same argument "well informed people" used just before 1914, when a war between big powers was "unthinkable" due to the interconnections of their economies (was a period of true globalization), the kinship of royalty in all Europe (all of them relatives of the queen Victory), the huge costs expected in human and economic losses, etc...All that was not enough and when a competition for the world domination (or the threat of it) is at stake all the economic calculations means nothing.

Money is a way to achieve power, not the other way

This is a lesson history shows many many times

Posted by: DFC | Nov 20 2020 18:46 utc | 264

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