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Willisms

« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 348 -- Sarbanes-Oxley Is Bad For America. | WILLisms.com | Leftist Bloggers Catblog While Middle East Burns »

Trying to see the big picture

As an amateur military scholar (very amateur), one of the things I've learned is the difference between strategy and tactics. There are a lot of ways to differentiate the two: strategy is what you want to do, tactics is how you do it; tactics are used by small groups, strategies by large; and so on.

The basic principle, though, is simple: there is a difference between small-scale, immediate concerns and large-scale, long-term goals. It is a key difference, though, and oftimes it is extremely difficult to differentiate between the two. In fact, many major blunders in world history have resulted from conflating the two; some historians even argue that World War I arose from the leaders at the time focusing on tactical concerns to the point where not a single one had any grand strategic vision.

Right now, the United States faces many challenges and crises. Looking at them, though, most of them can be considered tactical problems, deriving from two strategic concerns.

The first big threat is Islamism (or, if you prefer, militant Islam). This is an ideology, a mindset, that divides the world into two spheres -- Dar Al Islam (House of Islam) and Dar Al Harb (House of War). The first sphere is the portion of the world currently under the sway of Islam. The second is everything else. And the goal of its proponents are to have the first subsume the second.

There are numerous factions working towards this goal, all using their own best ideas to achieve them. Iran thinks that the key is in obtaining nuclear weapons, and using that clout and prestige to become the dominant power in the Middle East. Al Qaeda believes it is the West's influence in the region that holds it back, and is attempting to drive us out. Others are obsessed with Israel living in their midst, and want to first destroy them before moving onward.

Each group has their own map, but they all share a common destination.

Likewise in Asia, we have the Chinese with their strategic goal: the domination of their region in every meaningful area: economic, social, military, technological. Towards that end, they are engaging in numerous tactical moves aimed at increasing their prominence and diminishing that of their rivals -- mainly the US and Japan; South Korea, India, and Australia to a lesser extent. In service to that overarching goal, they are waging a covert economic war on the US; they are encouraging (or, at least, tolerating) North Korea's antics; they are fomenting trouble among the Islamist factions in many nations; and they are working on a space program, which will yield them untold benefits on all four fronts.

When fighting a grand strategy, it is critical to make note and attempt to counter their tactics -- but the danger is in seeing those tactical moves as the end product.

In the struggle against Islamis, Osama Bin Laden is a tactical piece. He has been largely neutralized. On a purely emotional level, I want to see him dead -- preferably after lengthy suffering, but as long as he's dead I'm happy. But intellectually, I've stopped caring about him. He is an irrelevancy now. Where he once ruled a vast network and held sway over an entire nation, he now ekes out a living in hiding, stripped of the trappings of his former prestige, a shell of his former status.

Likewise, Al Qaeda has been more than decimated. Almost all its senior leadership is dead or imprisoned. They had their moments of glory, but ever since they peaked on 9/11, they have not been able to pull off any operations that come close to that magnitude. Their most prominent figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ended up alienating far more people than he swayed, and is now dead.

Iran was heading towards the limelight, but then Hamas and Hezbollah pushed their way to the front pages -- and aren't exactly shining in the renewed attention from Israel.

But again, these are tactical concerns. While certainly important, they are not the be-all and end-all. Iraq itself -- an operation I've often called "the Iraqi campaign in the War on Terror" -- is not the summation of the conflict. While it is certainly a major element in the war, victory or defeat for the US and the West will not be the end.

And in Asia, North Korea's tirades and tantrums and threats are -- currently -- serving Chinese interests. They force the US and our allies to focus attention on that tiny portion of a single peninsula, force us to ratchet up our military, and give the Chinese a good look at our systems in action. They provide the Chinese a way of testing our resolve -- and our abilities -- without risking a face-to-face confrontation. How we deal with the North Korean threat will directly affect our future struggle with China.

The key to working towards strategic goals is to continually play "and then what?" and "what if this plan doesn't work as we wish?" without extending too far, overrunning our headlights, and degenerating into the paralysis of analysis. Right now, I think the Bush administration is playing just the right game with the threat from Islamism, but I don't think they quite have the right handle on the Chinese issue.

I'm not ready to panic about that yet, though. The Chinese are long-term thinkers and planners, and their vision will take years and years to come to fruition. The United States, on the other hand, has made an art out of responding to crises faster than anyone thinks possible, and pulling rabbits out of our hats at a moment's notice.

I'm just not overly sanguine over depending on that factor.

Posted by Jay Tea · 15 July 2006 07:00 AM

Comments

I WATCHED YOUR VIDEO SHAM ELECTION & I'M CONFUSED??????

YOU NEED TO LOOK AT ISRAEL’S INVOLVEMENT IN 911 & OTHER TERRORIST ACTS THAT MOSSAD HAVE ORCHESTRATED.

MOSSAD ARE THE HIGHLY FUNDED, HIGHLY TRAINED, HIGHLY EQUIPPED, HIGHLY FINANCED, TERRORIST OF THE YEAR 2000+

YOU SAY AMERICA WANTS TO BRING DEMOCRACY TO EVERY MUSLIM & BLACK COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WHY?

ARE WE UNCIVILISED DO WE THROW PISS OUT OUR WINDOWS, DO WE SLEEP WITH OUR SISTERS OR HAVE SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS.

IS IT NOT THE BLACK & ASIAN PEOPLE WHO FIRST CIVILISED THE WORLD, BROUGHT ASTROLOGY, MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, SPIRITUAL AWARENESS, LOVE, PEACE, UNDERSTANDING…

SO HOW COMES NOW WE NEED BUSH TO COME TO OUR COUNTRIES & TELL US WHAT TO DO?

REMEMBER HITLER, I BRING HIM UP BECAUSE BUSH'S GREAT GRAND FATHER HELPED FUND THE NAZI WAR MACHINE.
CHECK OUT www.myspace.com/urbanstreetsdvd

NOW BUSH'S NEW FRIEND IS BRITAIN ISRAEL & AUSTRALIA.

STRANGE HOW THEY ARE ALL WHITE SUPREMES COUNTRIES, WITH LONG HISTORY OF RACISM, DICTATORSHIP, MURDER, CAPITALISM, TORTURE, LIES, CONSPIRACIES, ASSASSINATIONS, FAKE ELECTIONS PLUS.

BUSH IS THE SAME MAN WHO AVOIDED MILITARY SERVICE IN THE US ARMY, THE SAME MAN WHO STANDS BACK WHILE MISSISSIPPI STILL REMAINS FLOODED & BLACK PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS, THE SAME MAN WHO IS SENDING INNOCENT AMERICANS TO DIE FOR ISRAEL'S AGENDA.

THE GOVERNMENT THAT WANTS TO INTRODUCE MARTIAL LAW, BIO CHIPS, BIOMETRIC SCANNING & AS WE SPEAK ARE RELEASING TOXIC CHEM TRAILS OVER THE MAJOR POPULATIONS OF AMERICAN CITIES.

THE SAME GOVERNMENT THAT COULDN’T STOP 911 BUT LET IT HAPPEN?

DO YOU THINK BUSH HAS ANY REAL LOVE OR LOYALTY FOR AMERICA OR GOD?

YOU SEE WE ALL KNOW THAT BUSH IS IN THE SKULL & BONES SOCIETY & THE BOHEMIAN GROVE (BURNING OFFERINGS TO A GIANT OWL).

SO HOW CAN HE BRING DEMOCRACY WHEN HE HIMSELF IS A TRAITOR TO HIS COUNTRY & GOD THE ALMIGHTY?

HE’S NOTHING BUT A DICTATOR...

IF YOU ARE IRANIAN YOU SURELY WOULDN’T WANT BUSH IN YOUR COUNTRY, YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NOT!!!
OR YOU JUST HAVEN’T LOOKED AT ALL THE FACTS...

SHAM ELECTION YOU DON'T KNOW THE MEANING?????
JUST LOOK AT HOW GEORGE W BUSH GOT INTO POWER,

THAT’S A SHAM?


PLEASE WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO IF YOU ARE A RESEARCHER OR WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH!!!


Posted by: BLAYDEZ at July 15, 2006 10:57 AM

HERES THE VIDEO

Posted by: BLAYDEZ at July 15, 2006 10:58 AM

YOUR SITE WONT ALLOW ME TO POST MY VIDEO
SO HERES THE LINK


http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2307458672511591841&hl=en-GB

Posted by: BLAYDEZ at July 15, 2006 11:00 AM

Hey, another adherent to the "IF I SHOUT REALLY LOUDLY, MAYBE THEY WON'T NOTICE I'M FULL OF CRAP AND LYING THROUGH MY TEETH" school of rhetoric...

J.

Posted by: Jay Tea at July 15, 2006 11:01 AM

I as going to post something about the prentiousness and uselessness of neo con Victor David Hanson type "military strategy", but now that I know about this MOSSAD fellow, maybe these guys are on to something.

Posted by: lester at July 15, 2006 11:33 AM

Lester, Victor Davis Hanson has forgotten more about military history than you will ever know - you are in no position to even evaluate his knowledge and opinions, because you are not equipped to do so.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at July 15, 2006 12:02 PM

While saying nothing about the Middle East I think this is wrong about China. They are not making trouble or our enemy.

China is prospering. They have some internal social problems but seem to be going the right direction, albeit slowly.

With economic and industrial power comes military power. Get over it. They will become more powerful.

Analysis of Chinese policy since 1950 shows they always are fierce when conflict approaches their border - Korea, Vietnam, disputed borders with India, Viet Nam, and the USSR. They are determined when they have a reasonable historical claim - Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong.

Right now China is contending with Japan and the Philipines about territorial limits and minor rocks in the oceans between the nations. Exact boundaries were never settled. But now the area has become valuable for undersea drilling.

Is China nice about border disputes. No. But they have not shown any tendency to go beyond these.

It is not in China's interests to have North Korea triggering a war in the area. There just isn't anything in it for them. But it is not in their interest that North Korea totally collapses and millions of people cross from there into China proper. So I doubt that China is secretly helping North Korea start conflict.

China has repeatedly said they do not endose NK behavior. They also almost never vote for sanctions on anything in the United Nations. Sometimes appearances are reality. For now I accept that China's policies are what China says they are.

Posted by: K at July 15, 2006 01:57 PM

ken- he is a janitor posing as a professor

Posted by: lester at July 15, 2006 03:53 PM

"ARE WE UNCIVILISED DO WE THROW PISS OUT OUR WINDOWS, DO WE SLEEP WITH OUR SISTERS OR HAVE SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS."

One thing we don't do is support terror groups who like to slowly saw people's heads off in an attempt to get what they want. And since your post didn't have ANY critical words for them I can only suppose who support his type of action. Which is a lot worse thatn the things you mentioned.

IS IT NOT THE BLACK & ASIAN PEOPLE WHO FIRST CIVILISED THE WORLD, BROUGHT ASTROLOGY, MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, SPIRITUAL AWARENESS, LOVE, PEACE, UNDERSTANDING…

The Greeks and Romans had a LOT to do with that too.

STRANGE HOW THEY ARE ALL WHITE SUPREMES COUNTRIES, WITH LONG HISTORY OF RACISM, DICTATORSHIP, MURDER, CAPITALISM, TORTURE, LIES, CONSPIRACIES, ASSASSINATIONS, FAKE ELECTIONS PLUS.

Your obvious hatred for the US and Israel makes you a racist yourself buddy. And btw, the US was the first country in the history of the world to abolish slavery.

BUSH IS THE SAME MAN WHO AVOIDED MILITARY SERVICE IN THE US ARMY, THE SAME MAN WHO STANDS BACK WHILE MISSISSIPPI STILL REMAINS FLOODED & BLACK PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS, THE SAME MAN WHO IS SENDING INNOCENT AMERICANS TO DIE FOR ISRAEL'S AGENDA.

Is this Dan Rather or Mary Mapes? Cause you sure are repeating the liberal mantra in your post. BTW, this is a volunteer army we have so no one is sending anyone anywhere by force.

THE GOVERNMENT THAT WANTS TO INTRODUCE MARTIAL LAW, BIO CHIPS, BIOMETRIC SCANNING & AS WE SPEAK ARE RELEASING TOXIC CHEM TRAILS OVER THE MAJOR POPULATIONS OF AMERICAN CITIES.

Don't know about that but I think there are some toxic chem's where you are. That could be the only explanation for your insane post.

SHAM ELECTION YOU DON'T KNOW THE MEANING?????
JUST LOOK AT HOW GEORGE W BUSH GOT INTO POWER,

THAT’S A SHAM?

No, it's called D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y!!!!!!!!

I really feel sorry for you. But hey, you've managed to memorize the liberal talking points very well. Congratulations.


Posted by: kirktoe at July 15, 2006 04:56 PM

Analysis of Chinese policy since 1950 shows they always are fierce when conflict approaches their border - Korea, Vietnam, disputed borders with India, Viet Nam, and the USSR. They are determined when they have a reasonable historical claim - Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong.
Yet they're completely comfortable with Kim Jong-Il, madman, playing with nukes and missles right next door.

Or it at least seems that way when they drag their feet and otherwise have nothing to gain from friendship with NK other than to watch the US get suckered into being the one who has to resolve the NK problem.

Posted by: jpm100 at July 15, 2006 05:10 PM

"ken- [Victor Davis Hansen] is a janitor posing as a professor." ~ lester


Well, golly gosh gee. I had no idea that scholarship was so disregarded by the 'reality-based community'! (Well, actually I did, but it's still surprising to actually confront such idiocy.) So, if VDH is this janitor running around teaching classes and giving lectures, what does that make Jimmy the Dhimmi? An amoeba posing as a higher life form, and not necessarily a human one?


Let's get armchair-serious here. And talk real history. The Dems, going back to JFK, do not have a very successful record of confronting evil in the form of totalitarian regimes. Cuba, Viet Nam, Iran, Somalia, to name a few. Cuba still sucks (even though it’s Sugar Daddy collapsed), Viet Nam is better, but only after millions perished, like in the Cambodian killing fields in the late ‘70’s. But now it is the more recent examples, like Iran, Somalia, and the Sudan that are places where the situation is currently going to hell in a handbasket. Now we have Israel being the nation to finally act on the words of 'you are either with us or against us'. And they've clearly stated the 'who' of their campaign: Hisb'Allah, another one of the vicious islamofascist thug gangs trying to pretend at being a 'government', legitimate or otherwise. Iran created Hisb'Allah as their action-packed proxy army, and fund it to the teeth (Iranian missiles, fired by Iranians, hit an Israeli destroyer and sank and Egyptian ship, cargo, I believe). Jimmy the Dhimmi completely screwed up with Iran back in 1978-79. Israel, and all of us, are still paying for his folly. [And this man, a graduate of our own Naval Academy, cavorts with thugs like Castro and Chavez, and just gushes over terrorists? Israel and/or the US will now have to take on his most problematic and lingering foreign policy failure.] Some may say that Reagan did nothing when Hisb'Allah blew up 241 Marines in Beirut in '83. Well, he was a little busy winning a thing called the Cold War. That Berlin Wall came down, remember? Ya gotta luv Ronnie Ray-Gun.


Now look at Somalia, another festering shithole turning into the new islamic Afghansitan, complete with sharia murder for watching the World Cup. I'm sure banning kite-flying is up next on the agenda, along with burning Christian churches. But, worrying early about his legacy, Clinton did nothing but cut and run. That foreign policy failure is already paying dividends for the alphabet soup of islamic gangs of murdering thugs. But just recent historical examples of such gangs holding to islamic religiosity and taking over whole countries does not bode well. Throw the Sudan into that mix. Along with Chechnya. Pakistan is still a problem, and has been for years.


Clinton treated terrorism like a law enforcement problem. What we ended up with is now the acceptance of terror, of knowing that eventually it will come again in some new manifestation of grandiose evil. Guantanamo Bay? Great place, best place for such jihadis, no matter how long we hold 'em. Napoleon wasn't given a trial before he was shipped to the isolated island of St. Helena to die. At least Cuba is a Caribbean vacation hotspot, complete with 'religiously' mandated meals. But the principle is the same: Keep 'em away from normal people, preferably on some heavily guarded island. And that works for me, though a little too well. These people being held at Gitmo have already been given a reprieve from a summary execution just by being taken and held alive, being in violation of the Geneva Conventions like they were. But that's another little tidbit of historical reality the intellectually dishonest and the ignorant of facts will blissfully choose to ignore. And good for you. I'm glad that you are so determined in your condemnation of facts, and of people like VDH who explain and teach such facts, no matter how inconvenient they may be. Because, my dear Watsons, when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth. Of course, Occam's Razor kicks in there somewhere, too.

[If this thing doesn't give me paragraphs, sorry, but I previewed.]

Posted by: RickZ at July 15, 2006 05:39 PM

Jay et al,

I am not nearly as sanguine about our overall strategy in the WoT as you indicate you are. I do of course acknowledge that of necessity there is much we cannot be privy too.

My criticisms lie in the abysmal failure to explain substantively the overall structure of terrorism to the public and the reasons for the administrations current strategy. Reasons that make the implementation of democracy into the M.E. essential in the long term strategy for success in the WoT.

In the overall structure of terrorism, I am refering specifically to both the rogue nations that support and direct terrorism and the 'enabling' nations of the status quo, who out of geopolical and economic interests block all meaningful sanctions against the rogue nations.

Terror groups are quasi-military 'stealth' arms of aggression for the rogue terrorist states. Like the ancient mythical hydra, we can never defeat terrorism if we limit attacks to the terror groups alone.

I realize this is a 'long' war though I have substantial doubts as to the American publics 'stomach' for a protracted conflict.

As bad as the rogue nations are, they pale in importance next to the obstacles to progress imposed on the WoT by the 'enabling' nations.

To the best of my knowledge, I see no pressure being exerted upon the enabling nations to create consequence for their actions.

Just as people don't change when there are no consequences for actions taken, nations do not 'change their tack' when national interests do not require change.

The devestation we have wrecked upon the terror networks can be easily repaired by the rogue nations once the US 'rests upon their laurels' as the attention span of the american public returns to the 'good life'.

In the short run tactics I agree, we are doing fine, it is in the long-run strategy where my concerns lie.

Once Iran acquires nukes, the EU countries will suddenly become much more agreeable to taking 'appeasement' to a whole new level.

There are rumours of an impending mutual defense pact between Iran, Syria, North Korea and Russia and China. Should that nightmare scenario come to pass, things begin to get really nasty and much more complicated.

Since we are talking long-term strategy in the WoT and to a lesser degree China, the developing demographic time bomb ticking in EU countries
which will erupt in approxiately 10-15 yrs. is another important factor.

As most no doubt know, the birth rate in traditional ethnic and racial groups in EU countries has declined below replacement rates while Muslim birth rates are approx. 3 times higher.

According to Muslim tradition when the Islamic population of a country reaches 33%, the country is considered Muslim and Islam teaches that Muslims have the divine right to demand the imposition of Sharia law.

In ALL countries having Sharia law it is held as being of greater authority than secular law. Islam does NOT recognize seperation of church and state, they are one and the same.

If Turkey is inducted into the EU, as a Nuclear Iran will surely push to 'influence' the EU nations to do, Turkish citizens as new 'EU' citizens will gain the ability to travel freely with no passport restrictions.

Turkish terrorist groups will then be able to easily smuggle into the primary EU cities nuclear devices acquired from Iran. When the demands for Sharia law reach a crescendo, what a 'coincidence' it would be to see the simultaneous announcement of the terror groups for "submission to Sharia law, or else".

A nightmare scenario? Surely and of course no one can predict the future. But all the pieces for this possible outcome are on the table and it is well within the possibilities of how the future may yet play out. It's certainly how I'd play the geopolitical 'game' if I was an Iranian wackjob President.

Finally, regarding China. It appears to me that at this point, economic manipulation is the only 'weapon' we have to employ. Other than the long-term benefits of China's involvement in economic capitalism, I see NO strategy for China. Perhaps others with greater knowledge can contribute to that discussion.

Posted by: d_Brit at July 15, 2006 05:40 PM

While saying nothing about the Middle East I think this is wrong about China. They are not making trouble or our enemy.

The Chicoms have causing trouble every since Mao was the head nut of the Chinese Communists. He destroyed the Nationalist Government set up by Chang Ki Shek in the late 1940s. They also interfered in a war that they had no business in (Korea), although, the Soviets were in there too.

One way or another the Chicoms have been after our military and industrial secrets since they got into power. With the help of the previous administration, they got a big boost in missile and rocket technology. Now they are using Iran and North Korea as proxies in their war against the United States and the rest of the West.

It is not in China's interests to have North Korea triggering a war in the area. There just isn't anything in it for them. But it is not in their interest that North Korea totally collapses and millions of people cross from there into China proper. So I doubt that China is secretly helping North Korea start conflict.

Now that last one is a load of bull. There is everything for the Chicoms to gain in making North Korea attack the interests of the United States, Japan and most of Eastern Asia. They have a toehold in Tibet and other countries on the borders of their country. They want to control everything in the Western Pacific, from the Asian Continent to Australia and they will use any means to do it,

Posted by: stan25 at July 15, 2006 05:49 PM

you right wingers are melting down. seriously you need to chill. I've been reading sites like this one, betsy's page, american future. all i hear are demented futuristic "military strategy" , conspiracy theories involving every american enemy since king george, and sort of maniacal laughing denial of reality. What has happened ? It doesn't have to be this way. you can be a LITTLE isolationist can't you?

Posted by: lester at July 15, 2006 06:34 PM

seriously you need to chill.

Anger is all they've got.

Posted by: jpe at July 15, 2006 06:39 PM

you can be a LITTLE isolationist can't you? Posted by: lester

Not when dealing with Nazi levels of fanaticism you can't.

"As Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, “It is in our revolution’s interest, and an essential principle, that when we speak of Islamic objectives, we address all the Muslims of the world.” Or as a female Muslim demonstrator in Toronto put it: “We won’t stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.”

"Anger is all they've got."Posted by: jpe

Spoken like a true dhimmi.

BTW, you mistake seriousness for anger.

Or is your 'mistake' intentional?


Posted by: d_Brit at July 15, 2006 07:18 PM

d_brit. I agree with your last about China. There isn't much we can do. A strong China is tough to control short of total war. But so is any substantial country. And why should we be using ecomonics as a weapon? A weapon for what? To hurt a country we have had steadily increasingly good relations with for thirty years?

The main gripe about China seems to be that they are becoming powerful. Too bloody bad! If our policy becomes 'destroy the powerful' we will have interesting times indeed.

Other gripes are that long dead Chinese leaders didn't like us, even fought us at times. Well, Hitler and Tojo and various Soviet leaders didn't like us either. They are dead too. Just what does that have to do with today?

You may notice that jpm100 and stan25 seem to rely upon magic information. One knows they are comfortable with NK playing with nukes and missles. The other knows China gains when NK spars with Japan and the US.

My answer: First, China has said repeatedly that they do not support what NK is doing with nukes and missles. Or with Japan. Those may be lies but where is evidence they are lies? If they wanted NK to have nukes and missles they could have supplied them decades ago or given them the materials, parts, and technical aid.

Second. Where has China acted that disproves my statement that they react when conflict is near their border or when they do not have some historical claim to territory? I did not say they were right in all these cases. I said that is their pattern. They show much less interest far from home.

China voted for sanctions on NK today. The sanctions were not the toughest possible but they were not trivial. Only blockade, invasion, or seizing assets could have been much tougher.

But today's sanctions won't convince those who believe that they really mean the opposite.

l-brit. No one has greater knowledge in these tough foreign situations. But many have greater experience. Don't confuse the two. I make my argument and only in history's rear view mirror will we know.

Posted by: K at July 15, 2006 08:09 PM

I understand the distinction between tactics and strategy. I understand that Iraq is tactical. I understand that the grand strategic objective is neutralizing the jihad.

What I want to know is if a person, when presented with the opportunity, smacks a moron or makes a moonbat cry, would that be strategic or tactical? Or should it be justified merely because it might be damn satisfying?

Posted by: Walt at July 15, 2006 09:35 PM

To me, strategy is the process of selecting the appropriate trade-offs, fully understanding the implications of same. Tactics are the implementation of these goals.

Sometimes we re-evaluate our trade-off decisions. 9/11's aftermath was such a time. We realized that the amount of effort we put into tracking down terrorists and stopping them was insufficient to prevent a probably large loss of life. We articulated a new strategic decision, the Bush Doctrine. Specifically, we would devote resources, change policy, and make a priority the identification of terrorist groups and those states that support them and work to end that support.

Note the verbs on that table of contents page. "Strengthen", "Expand", etc. This is an indication that the priorities and activities of the United States government had changed.

The old policies that appeased some non-Democratic states and tolerated states that supported terrorism clearly were invalid. They have changed. The Taliban was easy to see as beyond the pale as well as being vulnerable to military defeat.

Saddam Hussein, with a history of supporting terrorism, was another relatively easy target. The existence of a free Iraq has drawn out many elements into the open where they can be identified and defeated.

We explained the issue of changed priorities to Libya and Pakistan and they hastened to support us or submit to us.

Also, by attacking Iraq we have removed our reliance on a non-Democratic Saudi Arabia to base assets in the region.

Iran and Syria get some of our attention for the same reasons as the Taliban and Iraq, but clearly the trade-off of stretching our military and civic approval has been reached.

The strategy gets evaluated and adjusted. The dance continues. Tactics, however, are dictated by the situation. Strategy is still used to create situations favorable to our goals.

Posted by: Josh Poulson at July 15, 2006 09:45 PM

O.K. some valid points, but may I just point out that China (People's republic of) is anything but a good system. There are literally billions of people under the thumb of a dictatorship, but they're really not that bad? They may not have the screaming, shoe-banging maniacs in charge, but they oppress the citizens of their country just the same. Oh, sure, the economy of China isn't as dismal as the Soviet's was, but the same totalitarian theories apply. The goal here, as I see it, is freedom for all, not just the western hemisphere, or europe and israel. Sure, China does a great job of looking like the good guys, but that's hardly a miracle when the government controls the press.

Posted by: Chad at July 15, 2006 11:13 PM

K at July 15, 2006 08:09 PM

K, my prior comments were general in nature and I was not specifically addressing your comments.

That said, I agree and disagree with you.

I agree with your assertion that historically, China has not been expansionistic and that in the past they only assert themselves when border or territory disputes become issues.

Of course you are correct that with economic and industrial power comes military power and I also agree with your implication that we must 'adjust' to the situation.

Regarding: "They have some internal social problems but seem to be going the right direction, albeit slowly."

I think the 'jury's still out' on whether they are heading in the 'right direction'. Time will indeed tell whether that is the case. In the meantime we have no choice but to wait and hope for the best.

I was not suggesting that we should use economics as a actual 'weapon' toward China. At least nothing so 'heavy handed', as that would be counter productive.

I was suggesting that we use our economic relationship as a tool to encourage China to move in the direction we wish and BTW, NOT in a direction strictly defined by our national interests. Recognizing that they have legitimate national interests is essential as well. Indeed our economies are directly linked for the foreseeable future.

We are making a 'bet' that capitalism will accelerate movement toward openness before their communist system acquires capital resources and sufficient technology to seriously challenge us.

In my view it is naive to think that, as presently formulated, China's communist 'philosophy' is not inherently hostile toward democratic values.

I partially disagree with your statement,"It is not in China's interests to have North Korea triggering a war in the area. There just isn't anything in it for them... So I doubt that China is secretly helping North Korea start conflict."

My disagreement stems from my perception that you have somewhat misconstrued the situation. They do not seek to start greater conflict, such as a war, between the US and NK. They do seek increased tension, as everything they are doing supports that contention.

It suits Chinas' geopolitical strategy for the NK to be a 'thorn' in the side of the US.

This is no small matter because the NK regime's only source of outside income is through the sale of weaponry and, the proliferation of Nuclear weapons into the hands of terroist groups through North Korea is a very real danger.

So I disagree with your assertion that China, "They are not making trouble", they most certainly are 'making trouble' and that is a concensus view from military analyists and scholars.

"They are determined when they have a reasonable historical claim - Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong.",China's policies are what China says they are."

I also disagree that while mainland China remains communist and Taiwan democratic, that they have a valid claim upon Taiwan. I am unaware of any reasonable claim to Tibet by China whatsoever. At present, Hong Kong is settled.

To assert that China's policies can be accepted at 'prima facie' value is either naive wishful thinking or being purposefully obtuse.

What with the direct threat of Islamist terrorism and the growing threat of North Korea, I suspect that your reluctance to consider another 'area of concern' regarding China, may be causing you to 'minimize' the reality China presents to the West.

Besides the above, my greatest concern lies in the cultural divide that is created from China's 'communality' and American individualism. That divide can certainly be bridged by perceptive individuals but nations have their own destiny's and individuals are frequently swept along by history's tides.

Posted by: d_Brit at July 15, 2006 11:29 PM

Is China nice about border disputes. No. But they have not shown any tendency to go beyond these.

The Chinese started out as a tribe in the Yang-tze valley, and from there have absconded with approximately one fourth of the Asian continent. No tendency to go beyond their borders? Their "historic claim" to Tibet is "we want it".


China has repeatedly said they do not endose NK behavior.

Irrelevant. Arafat sent a nice sympathy card to the US after 9-11, too. What world leaders [or nations] say in public is as irrelevant as what the magician says on stage. If you listen to those words, you're being distracted, and if you believe them, you're a fool.

You keep your mouth shut, and what what they do.

Now, you're correct that it's not in China's interests to have NKorea implode or explode, either one. It's bad for business, and China is currently attempting to rewrite socialism in the form of neo-capitalism. Wars on your borders is about as useful to a national business-model as it is to have a gangland turf war the next block over from the 7-11.

So China's going to allow its mini-me to act up just enough to occupy and distract the west while not acting up so much as to hurt their business.

Posted by: rwilymz at July 16, 2006 08:50 AM

Some good replies by l-brit and others. And you were mercifully silent about some of my typing mistakes. I tend to write fast and proofing bores me. That is not good, it is just what I do.

To me we can only work from what China does and says. To assume what the say is irrelevant leads where? Maybe to some sort of schoolyard 'am not', 'are too', 'am not', 'are too' tantrums.

What is China actually doing? It is pretty hard to know. Consider how accurate and complete our information about Iraq was even though it was a small country much more open to intellegence gathering.

And our military holds that we don't have enough targeting information to precisely take out Iran's nuclear effort. Sometimes we just can't know.

But back to Chinese aims. Time is on their side about Taiwan. If they wait and behave sanely the people on Taiwan will sooner or later elect a government open to reuniting the nation. For about 40 years China did not have the power to attack Taiwan. For the last decade or so they could have made it a tough fight. What have they done? Answer: they make tough statements that Taiwan must not declare itself a separate nation. They hamper Taiwan diplomatically.

No one knows what a future Chinese leader will decide to do about Taiwan. My guess is that they wait. They could easily have taken Hong Kong but they waited for the lease to expire - all shipshape and Bristol fashion.

All militaries collect signal intelligence and watch any potential rival. Things like missile tests and war games at sea reveal a lot. The US is not exactly timid about watching others. I notice the Chinese were allowed to observe our recent fleet exercises in the Pacific from the flight decks of our carriers.

Maybe spying and testing military capabilites is nasty but China is hardly alone in doing so.

Tibet? I'm no expert but here is my understanding. China was very weak in the 19th century. At various times they had ruled much of Southeast Asia but most had slipped away. They also ruled Tibet but Tibet was off no value - full on yaks, herders, and totally mystic monks who made little sense to the Chinese.

The Chinese Revolution ended the ancient empire around 1910. Administration disintegrated and the country fragmented among warloads and contending parties. Tibet became independent in fact if not in Chinese eyes. No Chinese government ever formally agreed but a distant and pretty much worthless province was the least of Chinese troubles. Eventually the communists won and immediately marched into Tibet as soon as they could.

So they do have a reasonable historic claim. That is not the same as being nice or fair. But they believe it, period. Experts in Chinese/Tibetan affairs are welcome to comment.

All large nations have expanded from tiny areas. They got large by winning. And many small nations are the ashe of huge empires. The size of Chin 4000 years ago may guide someones foreign policy. Not mine.

Posted by: K at July 16, 2006 01:23 PM