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Thread: Great Power contentions

  1. #1
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Great Power contentions

    Thought I'd make a thread for looking at the current interplay between the US, NATO, EU, China, and Russia. At present it seems China and Russia are testing to see what the limits of Biden's foreign policy will be.

    Russian activity in/around the Ukraine:
    Increased activity in the Ukraine border.
    https://www.dw.com/en/us-asks-russia...ons/a-57105593

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56616778

    While I don't think that Russia will do anything more overt in the Ukraine soon I think it's banking on a Biden foreign policy that was as weak as Obama and Trump when it came to great power problems. I know we have a Ukraine thread so I think I'll leave this for more general great power contentions.

    China's grey zone incursion into the Philippines:
    https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/22/asia/...hnk/index.html

    With Duterte being a 'friend' of China and enemy of the US it places both the PI and USA in a poor position to do anything. Duterte will likely do little to nothing as he's more or less opposed to the US. The Philippines is weak economically and militarily, even if they were to try and compel fishing boats to leave it is more or less impotent and with Duterte in charge it is very unlikely that this pushes him back to the US camp or to ask for US help. The US and Philippines have a Mutual Defense Treaty in place but these 'gray zone' incursions are difficult to counter.

    China's testing the limits of Taiwan's independence and what support it has abroad:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/chin...-idINKBN2BT055

    https://www.dw.com/en/taiwans-army-i...ack/a-57102659

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/ar...her-than-later

    Taiwan remains the most dangerous powder-keg in Sino-US relations. It seems that China is working to draw a line in the sand so that they can make it clear that they will at some point take back Taiwan by force and that any effort to stop it will not be worth the economic problems. Sec State Blinken's diplomacy blitz around the Asia-Pacific region has done a lot to shore up support as he gauges support from key allies (S. Korea, Japan, Australia, UK, EU).
    It seems to me that China sees the 'the West' as economically vulnerable and politically divided and in a state of irreversible decline so that if were to force the issue and invade (perhaps one of Taiwan's outer islands first) that so long as they don't directly attack outside military forces that no one would dare to get involved. The annexation of Crimea seems an example they can take to show the impotence of the 'the West'
    The recent sanctions and boycotts over the Uighur issue have shown some US leadership and an attempt to take back a moral high ground but do you think the US can garner support over Taiwan too?

    Here's a good read by the RAND Corp if you want to consider what a Sino-US conflict would be like, it's a little out of date (2016) but makes considerations for a 2025 scenario too.
    https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1140.html

    The US track record at standing up for it's allies in a 'Danzig Crisis' haven't been too good, do you think the US would intervene if the PRC invaded Taiwan but didn't directly attack US forces in the region? Doing so would risk the economic health of the US and Europe which in today's political climate may make even a 'just' intervention on behalf of Taiwan difficult in the West as likely no one has a stomach for WWIII on the behalf of an island on the other side of the world which is theoretically part of the same nation.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Props for not using the word "competition."

    I'm not sure China bothers to take the risk and expense of an amphibious invasion of Taiwan before the US and other countries have already succeeded in forming "values" blocs that marginalize economic and cultural links with China. It's not inevitable that such blocs succeed, nor that they marginalize links to China if they do succeed.

    Crimea, for Russia, had some key features that Taiwan lacks:

    1. Immediate military and strategic benefit for Russia (naval bases)
    2. Recent history of Russian control and infrastructure
    3. Related to above, numerically-dominant ethnic Russian population
    4. Annexation doesn't totally destroy Ukraine or precipitate total conflict
    5. Actually easy to physically seize, geographically and militarily
    Edit: 6. More tenuous, but Putin might have thought it would be easier than it turned out to be to push Ukraine and Europe/US in a favorable direction after the fait accompli.

    Though China is not Russia, it will have noticed the sanctions regime that the Crimean annexation cost Russia, and China perhaps has more to lose.

    It's quite possible that the Taiwan-China relationship looks a lot like the US-North Korea relationship vis-a-vis nuclear weapons: is disarmament worth a full war?
    Last edited by Montmorency; 04-07-2021 at 04:30.
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  3. #3
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I figured contention seemed more appropriate, I thought the space race more a competition, proxy wars and gray zone actions in overlapping spheres of influence seem more 'contentious' to me.

    For China, I think they are banking on everyone's economic dependence on them to limit any real ability to intervene. With the supply chains so tied up in China can even the current countries with manufacturing sectors in Europe and the Americas switch off from China's/SE Asian suppliers?

    Just look at the current micro chip shortage and its affect on manufacturing not to mention all the other medical production shortages over the past year.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...?ocid=msedgdhp
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    Taiwan says may shoot down Chinese drones in South China Sea
    By Yimou Lee

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan has spotted Chinese drones circling the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea and may shoot them down if they stray too close, a government minister said on Wednesday, a move that could dramatically increase tensions with Beijing.

    Speaking at parliament, Lee Chung-wei, who heads the Ocean Affairs Council under whose purview the Coast Guard falls, said that they had recently spotted Chinese drones circling the Pratas, though they have not flown over the islands.

    "They have never entered our restricted waters and airspace, they've just flown around them at a certain distance," Lee said.

    While China recognises no Taiwanese claims of sovereignty, its aircraft and ships generally stay outside Taiwan's restricted zone, which extends 6 km from its coast.

    Asked how the Coast Guard would react if a Chinese drone entered that restricted zone, Lee said they had rules of engagement.

    "After it enters it will be handled under the rules. If we need to open fire, we open fire."

    The Pratas lie at the top end of the disputed waterway, and have become a relatively new source of intrigue between Chinese-claimed Taiwan and Beijing.

    In recent months Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese air force activity near the islands, which Taiwan's Coast Guard only lightly defends though there are periodic deployments of marines. There is no permanent civilian population, only occasional visiting scientists.

    In October, Hong Kong air traffic controllers warned off a Taiwanese civilian flight flying to the Pratas on a routine weekly supply run, forcing it to turn back.

    The Pratas, the closest Taiwan-controlled territory to Hong Kong, have also taken on extra significance since anti-government protests began in the Chinese-run city.

    Taiwan has intercepted at least one boat close to the Pratas carrying people fleeing from Hong Kong trying to make their way to Taiwan.

    Taiwan's other main South China Sea island is Itu Aba, also known as Taiping Island, which is part of the Spratly archipelago.

    Lee said they have not spotted Chinese drones there.

    Apart from China and Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also have competing claims for islands and features in the South China Sea.

    (Reporting by Yimou Lee; Additional reporting and writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
    Last edited by spmetla; 04-07-2021 at 19:31.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I don't know what this is.

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    Vitiate Man.

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies, the same defeats


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  5. #5
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Yeah, that is a weird one from the embassy. Perhaps it just didn't translate well though I think we get the message.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...?ocid=msedgntp

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    Chinese Fighter Pilot Sends 'Airspace' Warning in Latest Fracas With Taiwan
    Kamala Harris moves into her new home
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    A Taiwan air force radio operator attempting to warn off an intruding People's Liberation Army aircraft was told "this is all Chinese airspace" as four warplanes buzzed Taipei's defense radars on Tuesday.
    Kamala Harris moves into her new home
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    A Taiwan air force radio operator attempting to warn off an intruding People's Liberation Army aircraft was told "this is all Chinese airspace" as four warplanes buzzed Taipei's defense radars on Tuesday.

    a flock of seagulls flying in the sky: Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016.© Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016.
    In the brief exchange between 5:19 p.m. and 5:21 p.m. local time, a radio officer with Taiwan's Air Combat Command said in a standard warning: "This is the Republic of China Air Force. The Chinese military aircraft currently flying at 6,600 meters in Taiwan's southwestern airspace, you have entered our airspace and are affecting aviation safety. Turn around and leave immediately."
    The response is partially scrambled, but a PLA pilot retorted: "This is all Chinese airspace."

    The correspondence happened over the aeronautical emergency frequency 121.5 MHz and was recorded using software-defined radio, according to the moderator of flight-tracking Facebook page "Southwest Airspace of TW."

    The administrator shared a similar incident last week, when a Chinese pilot, replying to Taiwan air force warnings, said of the self-ruled island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ): "This is all ours."

    The page moderator, who did not wish to be named, told Newsweek that the Taiwanese air force issued 10 radio warnings to Chinese military aircraft in the island's ADIZ on Wednesday. The warnings began at 4:29 a.m.—the earliest on record this year—and continued until 1:58 p.m. Taipei time.

    Taiwan's defense ministry later revealed that 15 PLA warplanes had flown sorties into the southwest ADIZ. The fleet, which came at different hours, included 12 fighter jets, one anti-submarine plane and two early warning and control aircraft.
    Taiwan scrambled its own fighter jets to intercept, the ministry said on its website.

    However, Taipei did not log the movements of a U.S. Navy EP-3 that was reported in the vicinity around the same time as the Chinese warplanes.

    According to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI)— a Peking University think tank—the American reconnaissance plane transited the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan at just after 3 a.m. local time before flying in a circular pattern south of the Taiwan Strait.

    SCSPI, which tracks U.S. military movements in the East and South China seas, described it as a "rare flight path in rare time," apparently referring to the earliness of the overflight.
    Kamala Harris moves into her new home
    Tom Brady joining latest trend by launching an NFT company

    A Taiwan air force radio operator attempting to warn off an intruding People's Liberation Army aircraft was told "this is all Chinese airspace" as four warplanes buzzed Taipei's defense radars on Tuesday.

    a flock of seagulls flying in the sky: Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016.© Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi Air Base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016.
    In the brief exchange between 5:19 p.m. and 5:21 p.m. local time, a radio officer with Taiwan's Air Combat Command said in a standard warning: "This is the Republic of China Air Force. The Chinese military aircraft currently flying at 6,600 meters in Taiwan's southwestern airspace, you have entered our airspace and are affecting aviation safety. Turn around and leave immediately."

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    The response is partially scrambled, but a PLA pilot retorted: "This is all Chinese airspace."

    The correspondence happened over the aeronautical emergency frequency 121.5 MHz and was recorded using software-defined radio, according to the moderator of flight-tracking Facebook page "Southwest Airspace of TW."

    The administrator shared a similar incident last week, when a Chinese pilot, replying to Taiwan air force warnings, said of the self-ruled island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ): "This is all ours."

    The page moderator, who did not wish to be named, told Newsweek that the Taiwanese air force issued 10 radio warnings to Chinese military aircraft in the island's ADIZ on Wednesday. The warnings began at 4:29 a.m.—the earliest on record this year—and continued until 1:58 p.m. Taipei time.

    Taiwan's defense ministry later revealed that 15 PLA warplanes had flown sorties into the southwest ADIZ. The fleet, which came at different hours, included 12 fighter jets, one anti-submarine plane and two early warning and control aircraft.

    15 PLA aircraft (J-10*8, J-16*4, Y-8 ASW and KJ-500 AEW&C ) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on Apr. 7, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/p4KOVDDcFI pic.twitter.com/TWYcYsCQcg

    — 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) April 7, 2021
    Taiwan scrambled its own fighter jets to intercept, the ministry said on its website.

    However, Taipei did not log the movements of a U.S. Navy EP-3 that was reported in the vicinity around the same time as the Chinese warplanes.

    According to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI)— a Peking University think tank—the American reconnaissance plane transited the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan at just after 3 a.m. local time before flying in a circular pattern south of the Taiwan Strait.

    SCSPI, which tracks U.S. military movements in the East and South China seas, described it as a "rare flight path in rare time," apparently referring to the earliness of the overflight.

    USN EP-3E Surveillance aircraft is operating in the southern airspace of the Taiwan strait since about 03:00 AM (local time). Rare flight path in rare time. April 7. pic.twitter.com/23T1znH8YF

    — SCS Probing Initiative (@SCS_PI) April 6, 2021
    Wednesday's PLA flights into Taiwan's ADIZ marks the fifth day such activity has occurred in April and the 67th day this year. Together with Monday's 10 military aircraft, China has now flown 29 sorties around Taiwan in the past three days.

    Analysts say PLA warplane incursions into the ADIZ, which are increasing in frequency and quantity, are part of Beijing's "gray-zone" warfare against Taiwan, which the Chinese government claims is part of its territory.

    China plans to tax Taiwan's meager air force with the routine flights while intimidating the island's population into submission, according to some analysis, while others have noted the political messaging behind each Chinese military operation.

    Earlier this year, defense officials in Taipei revealed the air force had flown 1,000 extra hours deterring PLA aircraft around the island, driving up fuel, maintenance and manpower costs.


    I guess as the article says, this is all a gray zone intrusion too, if Taiwan won't defend their air space with force then the Chinese can turn what they consider theirs de jure airspace into their de facto air space.
    Sort the same with the fishing fleets, if Taiwan uses force they will seem belligerent not to mention it may lead to an escalation they and the US are not ready for.

    In other news Putin extending is term limit again isn't surprising. Guess he'll be there until he's old and senile and likely murderously paranoid like most aging dictators become.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln

  6. #6
    Member Member Crandar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    About Philippines, the cause of the deterioration in the relationship between Manila and Washington was the reluctance of the Obama administration to protect the Philippines against the aggressive foreign policy of China in the southern Chinese Sea. To clarify, I think Obama was right, escalation was not worth it, but Manila was understandably frustrated, so they have been trying a different path, balancing between China and the US.

    In my opinion, this geopolitical change will be the prelude to a wider tendency, as China's influence in the region grows at the expense of America. Many analysts seem to believe that diplomatic alliances are set in stone, but, as cooperation with China becomes more profitable, there's little reason for her neighboring countries to remain attached to an alliance that provides no benefits. Even Vietnam, Japan and South Korea are not exempt from this rule, although, in their case, we are not talking about the immediate future.

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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I don't know what this is.

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    That was not a glib use of metaphor, was it? They actually got in the way of making their own point.
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  8. #8
    BrownWings: AirViceMarshall Senior Member Furunculus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    "Sec State Blinken's diplomacy blitz around the Asia-Pacific region has done a lot to shore up support as he gauges support from key allies (S. Korea, Japan, Australia, UK, EU)."

    Don't forget France.
    The future of the Indo-Pac contest on the Light side of the force looks set to be defined by "The Quad Plus Two".
    While a number of European nations have started to define Indo-Pac strategies, it is only France and the UK that really matter - in having both:
    A strategic culture built upon an activist foriegn policy.
    And the military assets and reach to contribute meaningfully.

    On Great Power definitions - there are many. But I always liked the following:

    Can a Great Power be defined in the 21st century as a Regional Power that is also a Middle Power? Or, is it only the necessary precondition for what may later become recognised (internally and externally) as a Great Power? Explanation – being a Regional Power without any opposing regional pole allows the freedom to magnify the projected effect of a Middle-Power into that of Great Power…… Example – By solving its strategic problem with Pakistan India would de-facto become a Great Power rather than merely a Regional/Middle Power.
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  9. #9
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I'd say that the middle powers such as France and Germany are able to exert influence as a Great Power via the EU and NATO and the WTO though less so for overt hard power. The UK within the 5 Eyes, NATO, and it's Commonwealth also has the ability to exert influence at Great Power level but only when they are leading a coalition of like minded nations.

    France/EU's focus on the Middle East with a US withdrawal from the levant area with a UK boost to the Gulf and Red Sea allow the US to focus more squarely on Russia/China while supporting/leading efforts elsewhere.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
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  10. #10
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    This might interest people: the US intel community put out a paper last month detailing various scenarios of what things might be like in 2040.

    Its not a short document, but its really fascinating.

    Pretty much gives five scenarios:

    A renaissance of democracies, where the US leads a resurgence in democracy around the globe.

    A world adrift, where China is the leading but not globally dominant country.

    Competitive coexistence, where the US and China both prosper and compete for leadership in a bifurcated world.

    Separate silos, where globalization has broken down and the world splits into economic and security blocs for protection.

    And finally tragedy and mobilization, where global environmental devastation spurs complete revolutionary change.
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  11. #11
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Skimmed through it a bit, interesting read and will need to read it completely at some point soon. Of the five scenarios I fear the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th are the most likely.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
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  12. #12
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Scenario 1 seems to be somewhat delusional - since the USA has never really been a free Democracy and voter suppression is still alive and well along with good old jerrymandering. For this to change would require a massive change.

    I don't think China would want to over extend and would rather consolidate - it does a vast amount of trade primarily to keep the domestic audience happy rather than anything else. And there would be regional powers such as India / Russia and Europe in some form or other

    I would imagine separate silos in a sort of love-hate interdependency / competition between different blocks which might even trade as they compete - the USSR bought grain from the USA and Canada after all.

    Whether some parts of the world are ungovernable wastelands (as they are now just worse) or not will be interesting - will there have been the will to rectify the situation or will the edges be patrolled by mercs and drones to keep the masses back. Mind you, the same scenario might hold true in several states in the USA.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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