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January 18, 2016


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Its not in the US interest to provoke a short war. We could kick in the teeth of the PLAN, to be sure, but it will cost us. Likely a carrier and not to the carrier killer missile everyone goes on about. Rather to a sub. And not to a nuclear sub either.

FWIW, the Chinese could afford to lose its carrier(s) more than the US can. They can replace them faster due to industrial base decisions in the US. Frex, the Zumwalt had problems with its electrical systems and so they pulled in all the electricians at the ship yard. This delayed work on other ships, enough so that the yard had to warn the US gov (burkes, I think).

Its far more in the US interest to provoke a few very small clashes and ratchet the tensions into a cold war. It then organizes the smaller nations into opposing the Chinese and ally with the US and forces the Chinese to heavily invest in the military, far more than they do now, just to counter the problems on all sides now.

It's in the Chinese interest to avoid that situation and keep the neighbors from uniting. However, I think the Chinese leadership is feeling the pressure from the nationalist side now: why else start pressing now rather than in 10 years for the South China Sea claims? What changed?

There's a category error will. The post doesn't say anything about American interests. Rather, it asks about the interests of a beleaguered American administration.

Some nativists in this country are already licking their chops at the idea. Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller reported this from Myrtle Beach the other day:

"Bill Cowan at SC tea party convention: Every Chinese restaurant sleeper cell for China. Would be on China's side of US-Chinese war"

The South Carolina Tea Party convention is not a meeting of a fringe group; it's a key Republican get-together in the primary process, as the Republican frontrunners know. South Carolina's GOP primary is in four weeks.

I wonder what level of violence against American citizens of adversary national background current institutions will tolerate. Probably quite a bit, as long as it looked decentralized.

I wonder, and this is just a gut response, but I really wonder about your question of what would sell it to the American public and also ensure support from other East Asian countries.

It seems to me that in the post Iraq War world we have a somewhat higher threshold for going in for regime change. And if we aren't pushing for regime change in China, what are we doing? A lack of a clear objective would muddle public opinion, left and right.

That, plus hesitancy from East Asian countries, may be the check on a beleaguered administration. The knowledge that the public is going to be a hard sell.

I would think the risk of open war with China turning into a nuclear holocaust would be an obvious deterrent. It ought to be, at least.

From your description, doing this right would take longer than the practical time horizons of a beleaguered administration.

From the POV of an administration, I think the risks are simply too high, both to the nation and itself, plus the payoffs, given the Gulf War, are likely to be too fleeting.

Additionally, you have the negative results and memories of the Gulf of Tonkin and Falklands War to weigh in on that.

So, downvote on the likelihood of an American administration trying to do a short victorious war with China.

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