Originally posted by finnegan
The world is shifting east; but the astonishing vision of Eurasia from China is barely understood in the West. The ‘New Silk Road’ is a ribbon of trade, ports, pipelines and high-speed trains all the way to Europe. China, the world’s leader in rail technology, is negotiating with 28 countries for routes on which trains will reach up to 400 kilometres ...[text shortened]... e his guns and go home.
A couple of his facts are dubious. The two I spotted concern military equipment. The bare facts are correct, but I'm skeptical of his interpretation. The first concerns THAAD
These ‘partners’ include South Korea, an American colony in all but name and the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea. As Professor Postol points out, it targets China.
This is correct, THAAD has been put in South Korea by the US. What concerns me are the words aimed at
, it implies that the system is offensive, which it basically isn't unless you are concerned about the welfare of ballistic missiles. It's not aimed at North Korea, it's aimed at anything coming from North Korea, who are currently busily testing missiles and nuclear warheads. So the bare fact is correct, but the interpretation makes it sound a far more aggressive move than it actually is. Given North Korea's nuclear testing it's a reasonable response, although not naming a list of countries 'The Axis of Evil', including North Korea in it and then going on about regime change might have been a more effective method of preventing North Korea from developing nuclear ambitions.
The second thing that caught my eye was the stuff about the B61 mod 12.
A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that ‘going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable’.
With an intended yield of 50 kilotons it's significantly larger than either the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. It's intended for use against hardened targets and is more precise than older air dropped bombs, which tend to be in the megaton range using explosive force to make up for imprecision. This means that the surrounding civilian population is less of a consideration when selecting targets as the collateral losses will be a lot
less than those resulting from a multi-megaton blast. There would be less fall out and so survivors would have a less difficult time. The smallest weapon (that I know of) in the US arsenal was the, now retired, W48 155mm artillery shell with a yield of 72 tons of TNT. The largest non-nuclear weapon the Americans have is MOAB with a yield of 11 tons of TNT, the Russians claim a fuel air weapon with a yield four times that. So, there are two problems with the notion that they want to miniaturize the bomb to make its use more acceptable. The first is that they have already done it, the W48 was never used, I think the various administrations to which it was available understood that even with the low yield they would be crossing a line they needed not to be crossing were they to use it. The second is that it misses what is being made more acceptable - namely the targeting of specific military assets in proximity to civilian populations in a situation where the use of nuclear weapons is already on the table.
Having said that I think his basic point is reasonable enough. The vaguely farcical episode with the submersible drone China grabbed is a symptom of this. The Chinese are going to be a lot more touchy about the US mapping the ocean in their vicinity if the Americans are planning for war, as the exact topography is important to submarines carrying things like SLBM's.
I have to pour derision on this person though:
Andrew Krepinevich is a former Pentagon war planner and the influential author of war games against China. He wants to ‘punish’ China for extending its defences to the South China Sea. He advocates seeding the ocean with sea mines, sending in US special forces and enforcing a naval blockade. He told me, ‘Our first president, George Washington, said if you want peace, prepare for war.’
If you want peace don't seed the ocean with mines, send in special forces and attempt a naval blockade. I wonder if this guy ever wonders why the parabellum bullet has the name it does.