“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Chinese Plan to Sucker Punch The United States Military

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces. (“The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion,” according to the Rand report.) Once this hard-and-fast assault on U.S. bases commenced, the Chinese army would “swiftly divert” its forces and “guard vigilantly against enemy retaliation,” according to a Chinese expert.

Hypothetical attack on U.S. outlined by China

By Patrick Winn - Staff writer Air Force Times
Posted : Monday Jan 28, 2008 16:46:24 EST

In a hypothetical future scenario, the U.S. and China are poised to clash — likely over Taiwan.

The democratic Republic of China, commonly called Taiwan — which America backs and the communist People’s Republic of China considers part of its territory — frequently irritates Chinese leaders with calls for greater independence from the mainland. But while the American military mulls its options, Chinese missiles hit runways, fuel lines, barracks and supply depots at U.S. Air Force bases in Japan and South Korea. Long-range warheads destroy American satellites, crippling Air Force surveillance and communication networks. A nuclear fireball erupts high above the Pacific Ocean, ionizing the atmosphere and scrambling radars and radio feeds.

This is China’s anti-U.S. sucker punch strategy.

It’s designed to strike America’s military suddenly, stunning and stalling the Air Force more than any other service. In a script written by Chinese military officers and defense analysts, a bruised U.S. military, beholden to a sheepish American public, puts up a small fight before slinking off to avoid full-on war.

This strategic outlook isn’t hidden in secret Chinese documents. It’s printed in China’s military journals and textbooks. And for much of last year, Mandarin literates and defense experts — working for the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Rand Corp. on an Air Force contract — combed through a range of Chinese military sources.

They emerged with “Entering the Dragon’s Lair,” a lengthy report on how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would likely confront the U.S. military and how the Air Force in particular can brace itself. In many cases, the theoretical enemy nation China’s officers discuss in these scenarios isn’t explicitly named but is unmistakably the U.S.

“These aren’t war plans,” said report co-author Roger Cliff, a former Defense Department strategist and China military specialist who spoke to Air Force Times from Taiwan. “This is the military talking to itself. It’s not designed for foreigners or even China’s general public to read.”

Element of surprise

When it comes to conflict with the U.S., Chinese military analysts favor age-old schoolyard wisdom: Throw the first punch and hit hard.

“Future conflicts are likely to be short, intense affairs that might consist of a single campaign,” Cliff said. “They’re thinking about ways to get the drop on us. Most of our force is not forward-deployed.”

China’s experts concede its army would lose a head-on fight, with one senior colonel comparing such a scenario to “throwing an egg against a rock.” Instead, the Chinese would attempt what Rand calls an “anti-access” strategy: slowing the deployment of U.S. forces to the Pacific theater, damaging operations within the region and forcing the U.S. to fight from a distance.

“Taking the enemy by surprise,” one Chinese military expert wrote, “would catch it unprepared and cause confusion within and huge psychological pressure on the enemy and help [China] win relatively large victories at relatively small costs.” Another military volume suggests feigning a large-scale military training exercise to conceal the attack’s buildup.

The Dragon’s Lair

Striking U.S. air bases — specifically command-and-control facilities, aircraft hangars and surface-to-air missile launchers — would be China’s first priority if a conflict arose, according to Rand’s report.

U.S. facilities in South Korea and Japan, even far-south Okinawa, sit within what Rand calls the “Dragon’s Lair”: a swath of land and sea along China’s coast. This is an area reachable by cruise missiles, jet-borne precision bombs and local covert operatives. Air Force bases within this area include Osan and Kunsan in South Korea, as well as Misawa, Yokota and Kadena in Japan. And in a conflict over Taiwan, any nation allowing “an intervening superpower” such as the U.S. to operate inside its territory can expect a Chinese attack, according to China’s defense experts.

China is designing ground-launched cruise missiles capable of nailing targets more than 900 miles away — well within striking range of South Korea and much of Japan, according to the report. Cruise missiles able to reach Okinawa — home to Kadena Air Base — are in development.

The Chinese would first launch “concentrated and unexpected” attacks on tarmacs using runway-penetrating missiles and, soon after, would target U.S. aircraft. Saboteurs would play a role in reconnaissance, harassing operations and even “assassinating key personnel,” according to another military expert.

Chinese fighter jets would scramble to intercept aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes sent to shuttle in fuel, munitions, supplies or troops. High-explosive cluster bombs would target pilot quarters and other personnel buildings.

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces. (“The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion,” according to the Rand report.) Once this hard-and-fast assault on U.S. bases commenced, the Chinese army would “swiftly divert” its forces and “guard vigilantly against enemy retaliation,” according to a Chinese expert.

Dumb and blind The PLA also would likely use less conventional attacks on the American military’s vital communications network. The goal, as one Chinese expert put it: leaving U.S. combat capabilities “blind,” “deaf” and “paralyzed.”

Losing early-warning systems designed to detect incoming missiles would be, for the Air Force, the most devastating setback — one that could force the service to exit the region altogether, according to Rand.

China could also launch a nuclear “e-bomb,” or electromagnetic explosive, that would fry U.S. communication equipment while ionizing the atmosphere for minutes to hours, according to the report. This would likely jam radio signals in a 900-mile diameter beneath the nuclear fireball.

The PLA could also employ long-range anti-satellite missiles — similar to one successfully tested last January — to destroy one or more American satellites. However, the PLA has a host of less dramatic options: short-range jammers hidden in suitcases or bombs and virus attacks on Air Force computer networks.

U.S. Air Force options

Shielding against a swift Chinese onslaught is, according to Rand, as simple as reinforcing a runway or as complex as cloaking the orbit of military satellites.

In the short term, U.S. air bases inside the Dragon’s Lair should add an extra layer of concrete to their runways and bury fuel tanks underground. All aircraft, the report said, should be parked in hardened shelters, especially fighter jets.

Parking larger aircraft — bombers, tankers and E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems jets — in hard-shell hangars would be expensive and difficult but likely worth the cost, according to the report.

U.S. fighter jets remain the best defense against incoming Chinese missile attacks. But, given China’s taste for sudden attacks, surface-launched missile defense systems must be installed long before a conflict roils. Because the PLA is expected to strike quickly, the report said, waiting for the first tremors of conflict is not an option.

The Air Force also should fortify itself against Chinese hackers by using software encryption, isolating critical computer systems and preparing contingency plans to communicate without a high-bandwidth network. Though China maintains a “no first use” nuclear bomb policy, the U.S., according to Rand, should warn China that nuclear electromagnetic pulse attacks will be considered acts of nuclear aggression and could prompt nuclear retaliation.

Rand insists the Air Force must defend satellites — which support communication, reconnaissance, bomb guidance and more — against China’s proven satellite-killing missiles. This could be accomplished in the Cold War tradition of mutually assured destruction by threatening to retaliate in kind if the PLA blasts U.S. satellites.

“That might be the one restraining factor,” Cliff said. “They might not want to start that space war.”

Or, Rand suggests, the U.S. could invest heavily in satellite protection or evasion techniques, including stealth, blending in with other satellite constellations or perhaps developing and deploying microsatellites capable of swarming to defend larger satellites, which the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working toward.

Could this really happen? The Chinese first-strike strategy is “more than hypothetical,” according to the report. But in the near term, at least, it’s considered unlikely.

If the most contentious issue is Taiwan, Cliff said, then the likely trigger would be Taiwanese elections, where assertions of complete independence from the mainland can infuriate Chinese leaders. China’s current president, Hu Jintao, has built up China’s military but also its ties with America. In 2012, however, when Taiwan holds an election and mainland China’s leadership is expected to turn over, perhaps for the worse, the risk of conflict could increase.

“It really depends on the circumstances,” Cliff said. “Would Taiwan be the provocateur? If so, it might be hard for the American public to support intervention.”

However, if China moves to capture control of the island, Cliff said he believes the U.S. would face a rocky dilemma.

“Are we really going to let a small, democratic country get snuffed out by a huge authoritarian country — especially when you think about how our own country came into existence?” Cliff said.

As China pours more resources into its evolving and expanding military, it buys the power to more strongly assert itself against America. In November, China denied U.S. Navy minesweepers shelter from a storm and, in another incident that month, turned down an Air Force C-17 flight shuttling supplies to the American consulate in Hong Kong. Experts speculate this was a rebuff to American arms sales to Taiwan, as well as President Bush’s autumn meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of another state China claims, Tibet.

“If this conflict happened today, I’m certain we’d prevail,” Cliff said. “But as time goes on, that’s not a given.”


  1. The so-called conservatives, who are discussing the possibilities about voting for Obama or Clinton, had better get a grip and face the world as it is. This article is not paranoia or all that unlikely. The election of an Obama or a Hillary could be lethal. Responsibility demands that the nonsense being espoused by the few broad asses holding a microphone stop.

  2. “Are we really going to let a small, democratic country get snuffed out by a huge authoritarian country — especially when you think about how our own country came into existence?” Cliff said.

    That depends. How soon do you need us?

  3. Why wouldn't we respond with B-2's Sub-launched ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and etc?
    Not to defend Taiwan, but in response to them killing our troops?
    Obama, of course, might just bend over and hold his ankles.

  4. Kevin James has a great point:

    McCain says he's gonna be tough on border enforcement.
    Kevin says,

    "Why Gonna?"

    Duncan Hunter has new Fence Legislation in the works, we should all be writing McCain, the media, are Congressmen and telling them to start carrying out their promises NOW.

    Otherwise, we're just surrendering to what we had w/Bush:

    He said he WOULD do x,y, and z, AFTER comprehensive reform passed.

    But Bush was already in Office, McCain ain't!

  5. Why wouldn't we respond with B-2's Sub-launched ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and etc?

    - Doug

    Then what?

  6. Oh, right. There IS no "then what."

  7. Why?
    What are they going to do about it if we impress them with our seriousness?
    If they want to commit suicide, that's their problem.
    Sure can't see us doing nothing, waiting, and see what happens next.
    That means WE'RE Committing Suicide!

  8. Since when did large-scale attacks on our troops not represent an act of war?

  9. "Pearl Harbor Attacked.
    State Dept to conduct wide scale study of why they don't like us.

  10. "If they want to commit suicide, that's their problem."

    Have you just absolutely motherfucking forgotten the past seven and counting years?

    And now you want to take on China? Directly?

    Jeezus fucking Christ.

    Is the AF paying you? They can damn well pick up the whole motherfucking job.

  11. The last 7 years was the Army.
    They attack us with missiles and aircraft, and we either engage in a land War w/China or do nothing?

  12. Secure Taiwan. That's the idea, is it not?

    The AF can't do that.

    It has its uses. But it can't do that.

  13. Fuck.


    *OUR BASES!*

    It ain't rocket science, it's a rocket ATTACK!

  14. And all you think about is business done from the air.

    It can all be done from there.

    What the fuck else do you know?

  15. But you don't even know that.

  16. We should have a meet and greet or something.

    I want to see Trish and Doug in hand to hand combat.

  17. From behind glass, of course.

  18. I know if we are attacked from the air, we don't respond by mobilizing the Army for Ground Combat in China!

    ...and if Okinawa was attacked, I don't think Japan would be as unimpressed as they might be by Taiwan being over-run!
    What am I missing here?

    Our troops and bases, the Japanese homeland, are expendable punching bags?

  19. "Air Force bases within this area include Osan and Kunsan in South Korea, as well as Misawa, Yokota and Kadena in Japan.

    And in a conflict over Taiwan, any nation allowing “an intervening superpower” such as the U.S. to operate inside its territory can expect a Chinese attack, according to China’s defense experts.
    And you think I'M Crazy!
    ...or a warmonger.

  20. It does posit a first strike, not a strike in response to our defense of Taiwan, so what am I missing?

  21. Maybe Barry deserves a second look from you!

  22. Maybe.

    See you in the morning, Doug.

  23. Unless China attacks Pearl overnite, of course.

  24. Hey, gang:
    What do you have to say about Kevin James ideas?

    ...he also says TWENTY FIVE states have been in touch with Oklahoma about their immigration laws which have now passed Three tests in court.

  25. Kind of a race against time:
    If a bunch of states outlaw illegal employers before the New Democrat Congress and McCain take over, AND a fence gets built before anything else, a hell of a lot of "immigrants" won't be here anymore, or they'll all be in CA and Texas, who will just be getting what they asked for:
    Total Destruction.

  26. ...or Hillary, or Barry.
    Barry will probly sign an executive order nullifying the State Laws.
    ...and issue drivers licenses valid throughout the Americas to all illegals.
    We'll still have to wait in line at the DMV, and be strip-search when crossing state borders.

  27. Gotta Run.
    Pray I'm not vaporized overnite, please!

    But if I am, March for Peace!
    And learn to meditate.

  28. Please don't say "Hey gang"

    Rufus said "Hey guys..."

    We're not.

    That's okay.

  29. China too is dependent on resources from the outside world. Sink all their tanker traffic. So says General Bob.

    I bet the Japanese could put together some nukes in about ten days. I imagine they've got all the makings sitting on a shelf in a bunker somewhere.

  30. As an alternative we can send Handsome Hu to woo them. They couldn't handle his combination of good looks and laser like intellect. The only danger would be the Chinese women, who might lose their 'collective' minds over Hu, and, trying to get a piece of him, tear him limb from limb, like in an old Greek Dionysian frenzy.

  31. Hu

    He's not really from China, he lives in Montana, not far from me, and herds sheep for a living.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Republicans Vote For Safety If Krauthammer is right, maybe McCain should offer the VP spot to Petraeus.

  34. Deuce,
    Your Comment/Explanation Here
    and my later comment about your comment, didn't stop even MORE responses to Mr GitOut!
    ...must be revealing of several important characteristics of many BC commenters!

    Well done, Mr. Gitout!

  35. No. They don't respond unless you draw them a map.

  36. More I think about it Petraeus might be a good choice. Then we'd have a national security team on one side, and a bunch of crap on the other, and if the crap wins, and the situation goes to hell, the choice would have been clear and stark, and a lesson for the future, if there is one.


  37. I have been thinking about China for some time. Business takes me there on occasion. Certainly, I am no expert, but they really do think differently. They are determined to roll us out of their area militarily and are very patient people. We made a mistake at Tora Bora, by not using tactical nukes.

    It would have been cheap insurance and would have bought us thirty years of additional coverage. Certainly Iran would not be dallying with nuclear weapons.

    The foolish nonsense of an Obama presidency will only confirm to the world that the United States of WWII and the Cold War is gone. This time for good.

    The Chinese do not respect us. They would not trade away their industrial base the way we did. They see what we allow them to get away with in Africa and South America and they are very very confident. Let me give a small example.

    In Costa Rica, they are going to build a soccer stadium. They are brilliant. It will last fifty years and probably will cost them less than it does to operate an aircraft carrier for one month. We do not take care of business in our own back yard. Why would we in theirs?

    If we did not have the political courage to take our some mountain caves in Afghanistan when New fucking York was smoked, why would we do that over Taiwan?

    There is no Air Force solution to the scenario they paint. It is Chinese Take-out. Shock and Awe for the crowd that is afraid of MSG in their noodles.

  38. With each passing year it appears more unlikely that the US and China will come to blows over Taiwan. Politically, for the US, I suspect absolutely zero domestic support for intervening militarily.

    It is more likely, that the US will eventually bless a reunification plan.

    Same with So Korea.

  39. So China plans to sucker punch its main meal ticket?

    Ah the games defense analysts play.

    At least we'd get the Panama Canal back.

  40. "We made a mistake at Tora Bora, by not using tactical nukes. "
    No shit.
    And there were a whole bunch of other inexpensive offensive options that had Democrat approval in the early days that were wasted.
    As if shock, awe, and momentum have no value, even as there were contemporaneous examples galore.

    How people like Hugh and Rush and a whole slew of Neocons still regard W as a great War President is a sad commentary.

  41. Instead, Bremmer dismantles the Army, defunds widows and orphans, and we go into defensive mode with outrageous roe's!
    ...if the objective is 5 years of stupendous waste.

  42. brother, I would love to have been at the discussion table and have heard you make that point! good one!

  43. Sat Feb 09, 08:36:00 AM EST
    - How did I forget Wretch and a cast of thousands?

  44. Whit, it could be Chinese deterrence. Make the case that the US would have to pay an unacceptable military and political price for Taiwan and the Chinese will never have to make the US pay the price. The new MAD.

    Those who are believers that the markets rule all will have to look at the current market trend. If Costa Rica breaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan and recognizes China, by Nobel Laureate President Arias, and gets a nice new football stadium in return, the Latin American market is voting China.

  45. Doug mentioned cruise missiles and I launched (no pun) senselessly into an anti-USAF tirade?

    Oh my.

    All that fine Merlot...and what an embarrassment.

  46. Trish,

    Is there anything you think you can do? I mean, other than asking for hundreds of billions in welfare funds.

  47. Without getting too bogged down in details, and remembering that everything is contextual:

    A) So long as the Chinese don't intervene, we shouldn't need to defend South Korea. If they can't handle a smaller, poorer country, it is their own fault and I've got little desire to ride to the rescue. Thankfully, we're no longer sitting right in front of the bulldozer, but I'd get the rest of our troops out as well.

    B) The same can be said for Taiwan with regard to an invasion. Think of all the prerequisites of D-Day. You need to get enough troops and supplies across, over the long haul, to beat a country with hundreds of thousands of reserves at hand. Aside from the skill of managing what is going to be such a chaotic enterprise without opposition, you need to win the air battle, the naval battle, and then the ground battle. Good weather, no successful counterattacks on the beach-heads.

    So long as the Taiwanese spend a decent amount on defense, don't completely blow the initial defense, and don't fold under missile and air attack, they should be okay. It doesn't take much to spoil a landing operation of that size against determined opposition, particularly one wealthy enough to buy basic defense needs. As with the ROK, it's pretty much in their hands, so far as I see.

    Blockade is possible, but is also complicated. They'd immediately be putting themself at odds with most of the world's shipping, in crowded sealanes, with little ability to tell who's who. Not going to make friends, at the Germans found out. It also would give us some time to get our own shit in order.

  48. Sure, mat. I can ignore your ignorant, no account, ankle-biting Canadian ass. For free.

    Dear host,

    A tactical nuclear weapon in mountainous terrain is of limited value. What would work? Sliming the routes in and out with chemical or, better, biological agents and effectively sealing it off for 20 years. In fact, this would work a charm in Waziristan. But no national command authority in your wildest dreams would give that proposal more than two seconds' consideration. And for the same reason we didn't push the Easy Button in Fallujah or 15 other places.

    Was it a "mistake" not to slime the Spin Ghar? Is it a "mistake" not to do so now in Pakistan? It was never an option and, as you indicated, under the circumstances never will be.

  49. Trish,

    How's life in your 400 sqft marble gilded toilet? Any reason US taxpayers should continue to fund it?

  50. Fuck off, mat. You have not a clue what I'm doing here.

  51. Trish,

    I only go by what you told me. If I'm ignorant, please educate me.

  52. Trish, however for pure theater, and foreshadowing a promise of an abbreviated future, nuclear is the tonic to cleanse an enemies mind.

  53. I agree with deuce. We should have nuked Tora Bora to make the statement-enough. Whether it would have killed anyone deep in those caves I don't know but it would have sent a message.

    We end up relying on some Afghans to help us out with the predictable result that Osama walks into Pakistan, where he sits, evidently, to this day.

  54. Far as I can see, from reading "Deception', we might as well consider all of Pakistan an enemy, for all the good our current ways are doing us.

    But, it's a complex subject.

    Obama will be able to use rhetoric to solve the problem though, so we'll be ok.

  55. Congress weighs in on the 2nd Amemdment case before the US Supreme Court with a friendly brief, which you can read Here and note that Obama and Hillary did not sign the petition, although a great majority of congress did. And Dick Cheney too! one man who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a gun.

  56. Trish,

    I'm still waiting for that education. So far all I'm seeing produced by you is verbal diarrhea.

  57. Colombian minister: We want to strengthen relations with Israel
    Peres recalled his first visit to Colombia 56 years ago when serving as head of Israel's defense delegation in the US. Moreover, he revealed, Israel has every reason to be grateful to Colombia which in the early years of the state was willing to supply Israel with a great deal of arms when it was difficult to acquire them elsewhere.

    Colombia stood firm with Israel during a period when other countries imposed an arms embargo, said Peres, and this was not something that Israel was likely to forget.

    In recent years, he added, there has been the closing of a circle in that when Colombia needed Israel's support, Israel was able to give it.

  58. Into The Wild (2007)

  59. For 1/10 the cost of that Soccer Stadium, we could have a Massive PR Campaign convincing the citizens that WE PAID FOR that stadium w/our generous contributions to Wal-Mar.
    The Pay Back in Goodwill is unimaginable.

  60. So the trick in this thread is to be too drunk to catch the Suckerpunch and talk about defending Taiwan.
    If I had only known.

  61. Sat Feb 09, 06:08:00 PM EST

    Thankfully, I don't think there's any such compromising photographic evidence of me out there.

  62. "And for the same reason we didn't push the Easy Button in Fallujah or 15 other places."
    The "Easy Button" would have been to finish Fallujah I, but that would have been far too easy in comparison to the Bush-Bremmer way.
    Construct a Fantasy World of War for 4 years, then do it again, later.

  63. "If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed."

  64. If you wonder where that came from it is from the intro essay to the fire of humperhumpersloins "Lolita" talking about 'involution' in Na bo a kov.

  65. That would make Trish, a period?
    Doug, an apostrophe?
    Me, an accent?

  66. hmmm, you'd be a question mark, Mat, I think.... :?)

  67. [:/) I'm Goucho Marx with a cigar.

  68. "Instincts seem to sense the threat of a loss so huge and irreparable that the mind balks at taking its measure. I begin to wonder if I understand what Chris is saying any longer. But I catch myself. In doubt I remember that these are not the parents he grew up with. That in the forced reflection that comes with loss, their faces had changed. Indeed, everything Chris is saying, has to be said. And I trust him that everything he is doing has to be done. This is our life."

  69. Is anyone here old enough to remember the tv program "This Is Your Life"?