From Zero Hedge:
Fast forward to 2:08: “It is puzzling to some that Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor from the Chinese National Defense University, said China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War. Professor Xia Ming: “Zhang Zhaozhong said that not hesitating to fight a third world war would be entirely for domestic political needs….”
Now, I don’t think a Third World War will really be of much benefit to China right now: they are strengthened by the status quo; power and wealth is flowing from West to East. They have humungous treasury and FX reserves that would be better discharged into productive assets, physical assets, etc.
But perhaps I underestimated the strategic importance to China of keeping America out of Eurasia, and retaining access to Iranian oil.
Ultimately — unless America unleashes a nuclear holocaust — it is a war that I think China would be certain to win, slowly, painfully and excruciatingly. The key card China holds is that it retains control over many American supply chains, not just for finished goods, but for components and resources. America has grown hugely dependent on importing energy and resources through the global trade web; a global trade shutdown would trigger hyperinflation in America, and force a long, painful transition period. America — even with European support — does not have enough manpower or enough leverage over global resources and energy to win a conventional war against Russia, China, and Iran.
I hope that sanity prevails, and there is no new war against Iran.
Iran war is becoming inevitable.
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The West has for many years participated in an orgy of credit. The markets being linked like never before in history, they have created the greatest bubble and subsequent bust ever known. The situation is simple yet complicated by all the various national interests, including the major upheaval of power structures and balances throughout the Middle East. With my limited knowledge I see two possibilities: 1) The debtor nations of the West can default and allow the banks to fail and the economies to reset. 2) The banks can take substantail losses but survive with massive tax payer funded bailouts leading to massive inflation. Option #1 probably makes more sense and is more equitable. Those investing in soveriegn debt made a bad bet. However, I do not think the international banking system will allow this. The populations of the West will also most likely choose the path of least perceived immediate pain. Of course, a major war would be the easy way to make everyone see option #2 as the only solution. A major war makes printing more money the only option and diverts all attention from the action. It allows all the governments of the world facing internal dissention to rally the troops and the people behind them. The more tax payers fight for option #1, the more likely a war becomes.
Very good analysis Richard.
I’d say if it goes to WWIII West is going to be on the wrong side, but will emerge victorious. Mainly due to USA naval and air power. China could mass submarines to hamper the carriers but that seems to be pretty much it. USA may have supply lines spanning entire globe, but will take both Pacific and Atlantic with no problems. This puts entire coastal side of China in a difficult position, even more so if Japan entered on side of the West. East would have to outlast West to win this. With better manufacturing capabilities as the time progresses and only if it can limit casualties to sustainable levels (which I doubt) it could start to gain upper hand. If you could measure value of World’s militaries right now – USA would be worth many times more than China, Russia and Iran combined. Consider also devastating difference in technology. J-20 is not even finished and it’s not clear if it can even hold ground (or air) against F-22 & F-35. From some time western vs eastern fighters were complete hands down win to the West. On the seas, US was recently testing gauss destroyers… if this was complete while WW3 raged on rocket destroyers would be pretty much obsolete and China driven off the surface of the water completely. Drafting even tens of millions against this will not be enough.
I’d much more expect Iran to be another Vietnam. If Russia and China helped covertly (they don’t need complete secrecy, just not enough casus belli for all out war against them) this could go different way. Let Americans come, let them in the valleys, cities and homes – and kill them there. Better still – reignite Afghanistan and Iraq while they’re stretching. F-35 might take down dozens of expensive fighters down before taking the hit. Squad of infantry in an alley can be wiped out by few poorly trained guys with AKs and some explosives… and it will not be poorly trained guys in Iran significantly backed by China and Russia. US might swallow thousands of coffins arriving in the time of WW3, but will they persist over yet another adventurist belligerent invasion?
I’d say a WW3 would result in the pyrrhic victory of the West. With South Korea and Japan being able to strike Beijing with surface-to-surface missiles and respectively having Asia’s second strongest army and the mightest navy, China won’t have any chance to advance eastward to America. America is also allied with most Southeast Asian nations, millitarily embracing China. In addition, I doubt Russia would take China’s side in such a war – with its diminishing population, Russia is in serious fears of Chinese money and population dominating its far east periphery and ultimately overwhelming themselves.
Piotr & Cloud:
Russia and China will do whatever they can to undermine American hegemony.
They have a superficial ideological similarity (industrial authoritarianism) but their true commonality is hatred of America, particularly American involvement in Eurasia.
When we consider military capability, we need to look beyond the headline figures, and look toward what is actually feasible in terms of deployment.
I don’t doubt that America has by far the strongest conventional military in the world. I just doubt that they can use it effectively. With the global energy trade severed, America will face a very painful choice: use domestic oil to maintain basic infrastructure (e.g. oil agrobusiness and transportation), or use domestic oil to power the American war machine in a slow, gruelling and bloody war in Eurasia and accept the breakdown of a lot of non-military domestic infrastructure and productivity.
That’s the choice you have to face when you are not energy independent. The DOD knows this, and that’s why I believe Bush and Cheney failed to trigger a new war with Iran — the Pentagon just would not accept the probability of dragging Russia and China in. There are many wise realists in the Pentagon (military science is highly empirical). But there are also many of the same crazy neoconservatives who will support Israel and American imperial dominance at any cost, ignoring the reality that in spite of a technological advantage, America is very overstretched and dependent on hostile externalities.
South Korea fears Japan, not CHina.
Good point about Russian paranoia of a Chinese land grab. Russia is the remnants of the Kievan Rus State in Kiev Ukraine. Russians are mostly Ukrainians (Many peasants shifted to Siberia to populate the area after the Urals were crossed) After WW2 most of the European blood Russians were killed and Asian Russians married the girls.
The Russians would sell land to the Chinese. THey sold Alaska!
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