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Source: (consider it) Thread: End of the South China Sea conflict?
mrWaters
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I've recently read an interview with Graham Allison, author of the Thucydides Trap hypothesis. In there he claims that "Chinese—believe the contest in the South China Sea is basically over...and that they won." and backs this up with opinion of "a former Australian foreign minister, and he said he thought it was over too. He basically said the Chinese have achieved their objective: all the governments in the region now ask first what will China do, and look first to China rather than the U.S. over the contest in the area."

US clearly lost a lot when they pulled out from TPP and China has been on the rise with their program of massive Naval expansion like their new Aircraft Carrier (plus all those artificial isles on the South China Sea).

Is this conflict really over with China being victorious? Does US have any options to regain its power in the region?

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Dark Knight

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This is a very interesting post, though I disagree re the TPP, which had nothing to do with American decline in the region and was really about increasing the power of multinational corporations rather than nation states.

China has an advantage that the former USSR did not have - as the world's factory, it makes most of the US' consumer goods, and can exercise an economic authority over the United States that no other power in the world can.

I have had James Bradley's The China Mirage sitting on my bookshelf for ages, this thread may be an excuse to read it.

I am in Australia, and in our region we have benefitted both from China's economic rise (creating a nearby market for Australian raw materials) and American hegemony in SE Asia (ostensibly guaranteeing our "freedom" - though I remain to be convinced the Yanks would lift a finger to help us if we needed military support). Regardless of that parenthetical point, the end of American hegemony is probably not good news for Oz.

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Ian Climacus

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With DK; not sure the US lost much from the TPP. In my view it gave corporations too much power (suing governments? Piss off!)

America still has a great deal of power and a number of allies in the region. Every empire has its day, but I'm not prepared to write them off in the region just yet. Africa may be somewhere where China has more of a foothold. Though China looking out, as to me it always seemed to preference looking in for most of its history, is something new. Not sure what it means.

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I don't know much about int'l trade. But China lent the US a boatload of money (more like a whole armada), and I think that's very, very bad for the US. At *best*, China is a frienemy.

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Ian Climacus

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BBC, ex-ABC, China reporter comments on geopolitical shift.

[ 10. November 2017, 10:22: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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simontoad
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I also agree with the above comments regarding the TPP. It was a great deal for very large corporations run out of the United States and it severely curtailed our sovereignty. I'm glad it's gone. Canada didn't show up to sign off on a replacement deal today. This is very new, and the report I read was brief, saying that nobody knew what the Canadians were up to. Interesting...

As long as Chinese sovereignty over the South China Sea is challenged, it is not over. All we want is freedom of navigation though. It's China's immediate neighbors that are the parties to the territorial dispute.

America did a half-pivot to Asia under Obama, and we have more rec. facilities being used by the yank sailors up in Darwin. I say we should encourage the yanks to base as much stuff here as they can fit. If we house their hardware, the Generals are more likely to come to our aid when Indonesia goes to the dogs again and this time goes feral. Tomorrow When the War Began is a docco, ladies and gents.

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Dark Knight

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Nonsense. The strategy must be exactly the opposite. The more US bellicose presence in Australia, the bigger a threat we are to China.

If there is anything that trade over the last decade has proved, it is that in the new order it is inviolable. As long as Oz has stuff China wants, our sovereignty is not threatened.

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mrWaters
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I need to disagree with everyone. TPP was a flagship US project to connect via trade all its allies and EXCLUDE China. It was designed to enrich all of the US' allies and keep them close to the US. It took a ridiculous number of years to negotiate and a lot of interest groups were involved. That is why the final effect was so complex that no one liked it. Sure some provisions were outright harmful to everyone, however this was the flagship US project in the region. They invested a lot to negotiate it and spent a lot of good will to have it ratified by everyone. Then they pulled the rug.

It is irrelevant to the geopolitical discussion whether TPP was a good or a bad deal. It was an important deal which would strengthen US' position in the Pacific and weaken the Chinese. I'll comment on more stuff in the evening as I'm running out of my lunch break time.

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Gramps49
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Just a few comments about the Chinese aircraft carriers.

One the two carriers are really quite small. The most aircraft they carry is 32 compared to the average of 64 aircraft on an American carrier.

Two: they are hardly deepwater carriers. The one is basically used as a training carrier. The other may sail into the South China sea, but they do not have the armada that normally accompanies an American carrier.

Three: the launch and recovery capabilities are much slower and more limited than an American carrier. I get the impression that they can do one and then the other, unlike the American carrier which can launch and recover at the same time.

I understand the Chinese are building two other aircraft carriers with some greater capabilities. I am thinking they are still on a learning curve.

BTW, depending on who's counting, America has ten active carriers and 9 amphibious assault carriers.

The United States still sails it ships through the South China Sea and overflies the area from time to time. It looks like there will remain an uneasy standoff for the near future.

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Dark Knight

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It makes no sense to claim that whether or not the TPP was a bad or good deal is irrelevant. That is a logical failure.

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mrWaters
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China's Aircraft Carriers are indeed training vessels. It is actually incredibly hard to create a reasonable Carrier Strike Force and China is not likely do develop one in the next 5 years. However their investment in creating one certainly improves their standing and enhances their capabilities.

China is primarily interested in keeping the sea routes open as most of its trade goes through South China Sea (but on their own terms) and a secondary objective is gaining possession of the natural resources. China fears being boxed in by hostile nations like Japan, Philippines and others. There are narrow straits, easily blockable by US Navy and local artillery. All those countries are coming closer to China now and they care a lot for its opinion. If they were to break their allied status with the US, the contest for the region would certainly be over.

Pacific is huge and to have an upper hand you need a lot of bases and you need to keep the straits in allied hands. All those carriers will not affect much if they cannot be supplied and cannot reach the conflict zone. The true contest is over allies and bases. Let's also remember that immediately after it became clear that TPP is dead in the water, China started negotiations on its own free trade agreement in the Pacific. And remember, basically no trade deal is a purely economic affair. China is improving its position, for instance Philippines are rapidly becoming China's ally in the region.

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Dark Knight

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I guess you have some evidence the TPP was going to actually weaken China? This might be a good time to bring it forward.

Regardless, US hegemony in the region has been on the wane for some time, and even if the TPP could stem that (which is not conceded, btw), it would be too little too late.

China already has a fta with Australia (there is actually no such thing as "free trade" - there is free-er trade, but it is always conditional), supporting their groovy kind of communism (which is really capitalism in many ways). The ascent of China to superpower status is largely complete.

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mrWaters
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TPP certainly wouldn't bring back US' hegemony in the region. Its success would improve America's position in the region due to improved trade ties (US as a huge export market). I cite its failure as a blow to the US' position (especially as they invested a lot of political capital and negotiated for years to bring it forward).

China would be weakened as it would not be a part of this free trade zone (yeah, I know it is not true free trade, true free trade deal would have 1 page and not 20.000). Not to a grand degree, but its idea was to counterbalance China's economic power and indirectly weaken it.

Is China a superpower? Depends on your definition. I define a superpower as a country that has interests in every place in the world and acts to preserve them. China is certainly very involved in Africa, Oceania, to some degree Europe and Asia. However I do not see them as having grand influence everywhere, I would think they are currently an ascending Great Power. Similarly I do not consider the US to be a superpower since 2013, merely a very strong, but waning Great Power.

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Like other free trade agreements, TPP allows countries to sue governments when a country's regulations prevent something. For example, not allowing certain agricultural chemicals or products, and labour and enviro regulations.

I wondered if China might do a version of America's Munroe doctrine: which said the western hemisphere was America's playground.

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mrWaters
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I'm not sure why everyone wants to drown TPP so much once again (I'm fairly sure there was this 500-post topic about this deal on the Ship a while back). It has failed already, there is no coming back. Sure, the new trend in international deal of using 'impartial' 3rd party to mediate between states and corporations is very very iffy but the deal is 5.000 pages long. It contained countless rules which would improve economic activity, due to its complexity there is no way for anyone to decide if it is a bad or a good deal.

Still, this is not the issue. Let me show you how TPP's failure affects US-China rivalry in this handy example. There are two bullies on the playground - Don and Jimping and a lot of small kids. Don has been trying to befriend the kids by getting them to come for his birthday party. He was putting a serious effort into it, he gave away a lot of candy to the small kids so that they come to the party. A day before the party Don decides that his party sucks and tells everyone not to come. Wouldn't Don lose authority in the playground? Wouldn't the kids respect Don less and inadvertently respect Jimping more?

[ 11. November 2017, 15:10: Message edited by: mrWaters ]

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Gramps49
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MrWaters

You posted

quote:
Similarly I do not consider the US to be a superpower since 2013, merely a very strong, but waning Great Power
I am curious, what happened in 2013 that caused the US power to start to wane. Not that I disagree with you overall. But what was the triggering event for you?
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mrWaters
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
MrWaters

You posted

quote:
Similarly I do not consider the US to be a superpower since 2013, merely a very strong, but waning Great Power
I am curious, what happened in 2013 that caused the US power to start to wane. Not that I disagree with you overall. But what was the triggering event for you?
I base it on my definition of a superpower - country which has interests in every part of the world and acts to preserve them. In 2013, the US withdrew from the Syrian conflict. After the famous 'red line' declaration, the US has decided not to act when the 'red line' was crossed. Again, the decision was probably the right one, however once an ultimatum has been issued, a superpower needs to act on it to remain credible. Would you give a different timeframe and reason for the US to lose its superpower status?
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Gramps49
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quote:
In 2013, the US withdrew from the Syrian conflict.
We did not withdraw from the Syrian conflict. We still have special ops military involved in the conflict. Our Air Force controls the sky over most of Syria--though we have to do a delicate dance with the Russians.

The threat to bomb the Syrian chemical munitions prompted the Russians and Syrians to agree to a UN-monitored destruction of those munitions. However, we know now the Syrians lied about how many chemical weapons they had.

I would say our leadership began to wane when Trump assumed power.

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
MrWaters

You posted

quote:
Similarly I do not consider the US to be a superpower since 2013, merely a very strong, but waning Great Power
I am curious, what happened in 2013 that caused the US power to start to wane. Not that I disagree with you overall. But what was the triggering event for you?
I base it on my definition of a superpower - country which has interests in every part of the world and acts to preserve them. In 2013, the US withdrew from the Syrian conflict.

If that's all it takes to lose superpower status, you're at least 40 years late.
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mrWaters
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
quote:
In 2013, the US withdrew from the Syrian conflict.
We did not withdraw from the Syrian conflict. We still have special ops military involved in the conflict. Our Air Force controls the sky over most of Syria--though we have to do a delicate dance with the Russians.

The threat to bomb the Syrian chemical munitions prompted the Russians and Syrians to agree to a UN-monitored destruction of those munitions. However, we know now the Syrians lied about how many chemical weapons they had.

Obama claimed that he will intervene militarily after this red line was crossed consistently until he decided not to do so, just after the Commons vote not to take part. Afterwards the US did use military assets to bomb into submission ISIS and only ISIS (which coincidentally does not posses planes). No military assets are used to help the so called allies on the ground in their main struggle. Similarly the 'secret' program to arm Syrian rebels has been sluggish and incredibly unsuccessful from the start. US did the right thing - they had no idea how to improve situation in Syria so they did not act. On the other hand they also removed themselves from the conflict.

Trump's policy is certainly reaffirming that the US should be called a Great Power and not a Superpower. It is also showing that it is likely to be a long-term trend.

Dave W. - Yes, Vietnam and fall of Saigon was a disaster for American foreign policy. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was more of a fluke as the USA became incredibly active everywhere quite soon thereafter.

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
[QUOTE]Dave W. - Yes, Vietnam and fall of Saigon was a disaster for American foreign policy. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was more of a fluke as the USA became incredibly active everywhere quite soon thereafter.

Withdrawing from Vietnam was a far bigger turnaround than declining to do something stupid(er) in Syria. What makes you think the latter is so much more significant, to the extent that you've concluded that the US is now no longer a superpower? Nothing stopping the US from becoming "incredibly active" once again, is there?
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The USA is the only superpower. By far the most economically powerful, and it is militarily able to strike anyone anywhere.
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mrWaters
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quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
[QUOTE]
Withdrawing from Vietnam was a far bigger turnaround than declining to do something stupid(er) in Syria. What makes you think the latter is so much more significant, to the extent that you've concluded that the US is now no longer a superpower? Nothing stopping the US from becoming "incredibly active" once again, is there?

I actually meant letting Saigon Fall rather than withdrawal. But, you are right. US does have the capability to step-up and again become an unquestionable superpower. On the other hand I think that it is overextended and internally divided. Yes, so it was in 1970s, however there is no evil superpower that needs to be destroyed anymore.

Time will certainly tell, however can you imagine the US entering another Afghanistan? What would the US need to do to regain its authority in places like the South China Sea for example?

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Gramps49
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This is a timeline of the events of 2013.

Constitutionally Obama was constrained in his threat to attack Syria. Congress was refusing to pass the necessary resolutions, American Allies were refusing to participate in any attack--we would have had to use NATO bases to carry it out.

Nevertheless, Obama did get a commitment from the Russians and Syrians to destroy Syrian chemical weapons. Of course, they did not destroy all of them.

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mrWaters
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:

Constitutionally Obama was constrained in his threat to attack Syria. Congress was refusing to pass the necessary resolutions, American Allies were refusing to participate in any attack--we would have had to use NATO bases to carry it out.

Somehow the Libyan Intervention of 2011 was not constrained constitutionally.

Doesn't the fact that the USA's closest military allies did not want to allow use of their bases reinforce my point that the US is no longer a superpower?

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
[QUOTE]
Withdrawing from Vietnam was a far bigger turnaround than declining to do something stupid(er) in Syria. What makes you think the latter is so much more significant, to the extent that you've concluded that the US is now no longer a superpower? Nothing stopping the US from becoming "incredibly active" once again, is there?

I actually meant letting Saigon Fall rather than withdrawal. But, you are right. US does have the capability to step-up and again become an unquestionable superpower. On the other hand I think that it is overextended and internally divided. Yes, so it was in 1970s, however there is no evil superpower that needs to be destroyed anymore.

Time will certainly tell, however can you imagine the US entering another Afghanistan?

What do you mean, "entering another Afghanistan"? Isn't the current one bad enough for you? Do you think the US doesn't kill enough people to be considered a superpower?
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Gramps49
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Somehow the Libyan Intervention of 2011 was not constrained constitutionally. Doesn't the fact that the USA's closest military allies did not want to allow use of their bases reinforce my point that the US is no longer a superpower?

The Lybian Intervention was a NATO-led operation under the auspices of a UN resolution,=. As a member of NATO, the US is bound by treaty to be involved. Under US law, Obama did let Congress know of the planned intervention and Congress would have had 60 days to order our withdrawal. However, Congress had no real objection to the intervention BTW--it was the French and the British who spearheaded the intervention, the US role was largely supportive.

Ever since WWII, the United States initiates a status of forces agreement with host countries. These agreements allow the host countries to have a say on how American bases on their soil will be used. We had a status of forces agreement with the French once, but Charles De Gaulle ordered American bases on French soil closed. We had no choice but to accede to the French and close down the bases.

Consequently, when Turkey, Italy, and Germany refused to allow bases on their soil to be used in any retaliatory move against the Syrians, on the basis of the Status of Forces agreements, we had no choice but to abide by their wises.

Let's face it, even if we had gotten permission from the allies to use those bases, and even if we had attacked Syrian chemical munitions, there would have been no guarantee we would have been able to completely destroy the weapons. Whatever weapons that would have survived would not only have been used against Syrian citizens but also against Isreal.

On top of that, we were involved with ongoing talks with Iran to limit their nuclear program. To have attacked their ally, Syria, would have given Iran reason to back out of the talks and even become more aggressive to American interests in the area.

As it was, by not dropping a bomb or firing a missile, Obama got the Syrians and Russians to agree to agree to a UN-monitored reduction of chemical weapons in Syria.

To me, that sounds like the threat of the use of American power achieved our goals through diplomatic means. The reduction of chemical weapons was our goal, and it happened. That is the sign of a superpower.

Little tidbit, of the 20 active aircraft carriers in the world, 11 of them are American. We also have two in reserve and one that has just been launched for sea trials. In other words, we have more than all the other sea powers, friendly or not so friendly, combined. Oh ya, there is only one country that controls the seas. I think that means we are indeed a superpower.

[ 15. November 2017, 02:41: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

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Indeed, neither North Korea nor Iran are Afghanistan (nor Iraq).

Maybe trumpy could inform his foreign policy by watching The Princess Bride (this year is the 25th anniv of the movie), which might improve the general intelligence of smarmy-pants's decision making: "you fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia". But that's "inconceivable" because it's beyond both his intellectual and emotional level. It was beyond Nixon's (Vietnam loser and criminal), who could have read the book, though I don't think there's confirmation that either of these pervert-buggers read anything.

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Dark Knight

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Ah, np - you and I don't always see eye to eye, but I enjoyed every syllable of that post. [Overused]

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Wronger than a drooling idiot on stupid juice - but I understand his argument.
mousethief (paraphrase)
----
Love is as strong as death (Song of Solomon 8:6).

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Gramps49
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Point of clarification. Our involvement in the Vietnam War actually got started during the French Indo-China conflict. We were funding it, and we already had military advisors there in 1950. It gradually increased through Kennedy and into Johnson's administration. Nixon actually got us out of Vietnam. When Ford became president, South Vietnam collapsed during the North Vietnamese spring offensive in 1974.

At this point, Vietnam would rather have a stronger American presence in the area to counter Chinese influence.

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The Libyan Intervention, at the beginning, was a series of separate operations by different regional players. France and I think Italy started it and then other countries joined. NATO took operational command later (after a series of communication problems). The US ended up making the most sorties by far (there goes the theory about a 'supportive role'). The Obama administration certainly did some creative interpretation of the US law to bomb Gaddafi, it just didn't care enough to do the same to al Assad. Ahh, one more thing, I do not believe that existence or lack of UN resolutions makes any difference when it comes to the US Law. And it certainly does not make that much difference to a superpower's calculations.

France during de Gaulle was still a colonial empire which had interests in most places in the world. Nowadays not so much, but still a little. Look at Turkey which after the Syrian War started turned from a regional powerhouse to a very minor power. Plus what about bases in Cyprus or Iraq? Iraq did not have capacity to refuse.

I agree that bombing Assad would have been fairly stupid. I agree that it would have messed up a lot of international agreements and made the mess worse without many actual results. On the other hand, NEVER make threats if you are not prepared to do them.

Putin certainly gave the US a way out by proposing to destroy chemical weapons. Not that they were actually destroyed.

The US may have arguably achieved some diplomatic success (though everyone seemed to agree at the time that it was Russia's success), but it was only AFTER the weapons were used. Shouldn't a great power have enough influence to do so beforehand? That is the reason why a power of any kind makes threats, to force other countries to do as it wants. Syria did not do so and did not suffer serious consequences. It merely lost some of its chemical weapons stockpile as proposed by its ally - Russia.

About Aircraft Carriers, US may rule the waves but it certainly does not control (arguably) the most important sea in the world - South China Sea. War changed and nowadays Aircraft Carriers are much less important than during WW II.

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Point of clarification. Our involvement in the Vietnam War actually got started during the French Indo-China conflict. We were funding it, and we already had military advisors there in 1950. It gradually increased through Kennedy and into Johnson's administration. Nixon actually got us out of Vietnam. When Ford became president, South Vietnam collapsed during the North Vietnamese spring offensive in 1974.

At this point, Vietnam would rather have a stronger American presence in the area to counter Chinese influence.

Yes, yes, yes. It was shameful how the US wouldn't lift a finger to help South Vietnam after so many promises.

Vietnam has always had complex relationship with China so it would certainly want more US power in the region. You can't always get what you want.

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Trying to cover two of your posts at the same time, MrWaters

First in regards to the Lybian War, it was France that conducted the most air strikes (35%) Norway and Denmark actually actually bombed the most targets (17%) in proportion to the number of planes involved. Heck, even Sweden got involved in the action. The point is, it was not a solely American action. It was done under the auspices of a UN resolution in 1973 and was largely a NATO operation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_military_intervention_in_Libya#Forces_committed

Now, to the point of Vietnam. We were a war-weary country. The vast majority of the American population was against any further involvement. Congress refused to authorize any more aid. Ford had no choice.

But this all goes to a basic principle we forgot since WWII. George Washington himself said we should not get involved in foreign wars. We had to in WWI and WWII. We really do not have the option of going back at this point, but I do think we are better off if we can disengage.

Oh, ya, another point, after Iraq refused to agree to a status of forces agreement, we do not officially have any military bases in Iraq.
We have no military base on Cyprus. There are two British bases. I cannot recall if the British would have supported bombing Syria. Nevertheless, we would still have needed the agreement with other countries in the area for overflight and recovery in case of emergencies.

Just because we have the largest military around (more total than the next 13 combined) does not mean we should bully other nations around to get what we want.

The South China Sea is still an open question. I do not think anyone wants to go to war there. I think it will be subject to negotiations in the near future--that is assuming we can get a new president who knows how to negotiate.

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Now, to the point of Vietnam. We were a war-weary country. The vast majority of the American population was against any further involvement. Congress refused to authorize any more aid. Ford had no choice.

You are right, Ford had no choice on the matter as the congress specifically passed a bill to prohibit any aid to Vietnam. Nevertheless, wasn't it shameful how South Vietnam was treated in its last days?

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
First in regards to the Lybian War, it was France that conducted the most air strikes (35%) Norway and Denmark actually actually bombed the most targets (17%) in proportion to the number of planes involved. Heck, even Sweden got involved in the action. The point is, it was not a solely American action. It was done under the auspices of a UN resolution in 1973 and was largely a NATO operation.

You are in fact mostly right about this, I actually never checked just wrote based on my memory. Though data is all over the place and I don't think that one can find a nice table with all mission data outside of NATO headquarters. However I believe that I am correct that the US made a significant contribution (according to the Guardian it really made a lot of sorties in the first 5 months of 2011 -
https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/may/22/nato-libya-data-journalism-operations-country). Additionally, US provided commanders for both Unified Protector and Odyssey Dawn. Can you really claim that it was a supportive role and not a leading role?

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
But this all goes to a basic principle we forgot since WWII. George Washington himself said we should not get involved in foreign wars. We had to in WWI and WWII. We really do not have the option of going back at this point, but I do think we are better off if we can disengage.

You and me both. Still, I hope you understand why I've been consistently claiming that being right or wrong is largely irrelevant when it comes to authority (such as great power authority).

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Oh, ya, another point, after Iraq refused to agree to a status of forces agreement, we do not officially have any military bases in Iraq.
We have no military base on Cyprus. There are two British bases. I cannot recall if the British would have supported bombing Syria. Nevertheless, we would still have needed the agreement with other countries in the area for overflight and recovery in case of emergencies.

The more you claim that weak countries (and Iraq is a weak state) do not want to agree for the US to use their bases the more you prove my point. A true superpower usually gets what it wants. The British PM really wanted to bomb Syria, however the parliament didn't want to. I'm quite sure the bill did not include a specific prohibition to allow US planes to fly from British bases.

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
The South China Sea is still an open question. I do not think anyone wants to go to war there. I think it will be subject to negotiations in the near future--that is assuming we can get a new president who knows how to negotiate.

Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg after the Great War was asked what was it all for. He replied - "If we only knew...".

My understanding is that the chief concern for China is not to be surrounded and keep the lifeline of trade going via South China Sea. In order to achieve this they need to have influence over all the countries in the region. And my original question was whether they really do or do not. China may not have a great fleet just yet (but is building it intensively). However it produces incredibly cheap weaponry which can easily sink incredibly expensive fleet (even AEGIS system cannot cope with thousands of projectiles). China is also incredibly effective in using its economical power for its advantage. Just an example, a few years back the Philippines had to back down in the South China Sea because of a Chinese embargo on its exports.

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quote:
The more you claim that weak countries (and Iraq is a weak state) do not want to agree for the US to use their bases the more you prove my point. A true superpower usually gets what it wants. The British PM really wanted to bomb Syria, however the parliament didn't want to. I'm quite sure the bill did not include a specific prohibition to allow US planes to fly from British bases.
You miss my point. We did not have a base in Iraq from which to bomb Syria because they refused to sign a Status of Forces Agreement with President Bush or Obama. They have every right as a sovereign nation, to refuse to allow an occupying force to continue to operate within their borders.

Moreover, when the British parliament refused to get involved in bombing Syria in 2013, American planes could not use British bases.

You seem to think as a superpower we should have every right to do what we want when we want. Not so, a true superpower uses its power judiciously and only when absolutely necessary.

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Point of clarification. Our involvement in the Vietnam War actually got started during the French Indo-China conflict. We were funding it, and we already had military advisors there in 1950. It gradually increased through Kennedy and into Johnson's administration. Nixon actually got us out of Vietnam. When Ford became president, South Vietnam collapsed during the North Vietnamese spring offensive in 1974.

At this point, Vietnam would rather have a stronger American presence in the area to counter Chinese influence.

The USA should have honoured the draft Vietnamese constitution of 1946, and not perfidiously supported France to replace the Japanese occupiers. Both were shit in the country, France before WW2, Japan during, France after WW2. Then the USA had a turn, which was probably totally avoidable.
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Agreed, the United States should have stayed out of Vietnam from the get go.
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Agreed, the United States should have stayed out of Vietnam from the get go.

It was very well said in the recent The Vietnam War series by Ken Burns. US entered Vietnam purely because of great miscalculations, misunderstandings of US Presidents and their successors' unwillingness to admit the truth.
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Moreover, when the British parliament refused to get involved in bombing Syria in 2013, American planes could not use British bases.

By the way, just because country does not want to bomb another itself. It does not mean that it will close all bases to a friend who wants to. I couldn't find the actual text of the bill they were voting on, but I seriously doubt there were such specific provisions. I mean the UK does not bomb Somalia, yet on the biggest unsinkable Aircraft Carrier called Diego Garcia, there are lots of drones that do so.
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
You miss my point. We did not have a base in Iraq from which to bomb Syria because they refused to sign a Status of Forces Agreement with President Bush or Obama. They have every right as a sovereign nation, to refuse to allow an occupying force to continue to operate within their borders.

Just because you have a full right to do something it does not mean you will do it. In the US I believe you can always refuse to answer questions that the police may ask you. On the other hand, you usually do, because the police has more authority than you. You are intimidated. Superpower should intimidate as much as police, shouldn't it?

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
You seem to think as a superpower we should have every right to do what we want when we want. Not so, a true superpower uses its power judiciously and only when absolutely necessary.

I think you are trying to add moral dimension to the term 'superpower'. I hope we can all agree that around the time of Christ, the Roman Empire was a true superpower (of the world as big as it was back then). Yet there is no way to argue that they were a moral superpower. They were a bunch of arrogant aristocrats with a decent army. They could get whatever they wanted by using economic power, diplomatic ultimatums (like the one Obama gave to al Assad) and subsequently war.
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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
You seem to think as a superpower we should have every right to do what we want when we want. Not so, a true superpower uses its power judiciously and only when absolutely necessary.

I think you are trying to add moral dimension to the term 'superpower'. I hope we can all agree that around the time of Christ, the Roman Empire was a true superpower (of the world as big as it was back then). Yet there is no way to argue that they were a moral superpower. They were a bunch of arrogant aristocrats with a decent army. They could get whatever they wanted by using economic power, diplomatic ultimatums (like the one Obama gave to al Assad) and subsequently war.
The world then was as big as it is now. It's just that the Eurocentric approach to the ancient world so many of us were raised in ignores anything east of Persia or west of the Atlantic coast of Europe.

[ 17. November 2017, 23:54: Message edited by: Gee D ]

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Funny that you would mention the police, MrWaters. Just the other day I was stopped for speeding. The cop was not allowing me to explain what I was doing. I finally told him to stop talking so I could tell him what happened. I didn't get a ticket.

I interact with cops quite a bit. I have learned you just have to stand your ground. Often they will back down--probably helps that I am white, though.

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Dave W.
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You seem to have an idiosyncratic sense of what it is to be a superpower, mrWaters. Apparently you think it's a rank the US had, then lost around the fall of Saigon, then regained at some later (as yet unspecified) time, then lost again when it failed to bomb Syria in 2013, which is a little dizzying. I'm not sure how you'd square this timeline with the fact that, at the height of its post-Cold War dominance, the US bowed to the wishes of the Philippine government and withdrew from major military bases it had maintained in that country for decades. (Maybe there are more interruptions in America's on-off superpower status that you haven't yet mentioned.)

I don't see any compelling argument for adopting your sense (whatever that may be) of the word superpower, but anyway I hardly think that trying to maintain such a label is or should be a major foreign policy goal of the US.

I think it would be wise for the US to acknowledge the fact that given China's size and continuing economic development, it will inevitably be the dominant power in the region; the goal should be to manage this transition so that it takes place as much as possible on terms that are compatible with US security and economic interests.

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mrWaters
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Dave you are right in many ways. I do have a fairly strict idea of what superpower is. Superpower to me is a big bully that keeps everyone in check (and I do not have enough detailed knowledge about US foreign relations to give a consistent timeline of US status). Nevertheless I believe that the US lost a lot of authority and its bully status in recent years.

Similarly, I don't think it would be good for the US or the world if Washington began to behave very aggressively. And I do not see a way for the US to regain its former glory in the near future any other way.

It would be very wise for the US to watch its relationship with China and vice versa. Beijing is gaining power and will soon start to compete directly with Washington. As Thucydides claimed "It was the rise of Athens and the fear which it instilled in Sparta which made the war inevitable". Both powers need to work hard so that they can escape the same relation dynamics as in ancient Greece.

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Leaving aside idiosyncratic definitions of "superpower," Australians tend to regard US involvement in the region as important for maintaining Oz security. This is evident in the recent "White Paper" emerging from the Foreign Office.

Ms Bishop seems to simply assume that the US have an interest in the region. Because she says so? What if the US decide that their dependence on China is more important than its "interests" in maintaining a presence in the region? Or is it more intertwined than that?

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I think the US will have continuing interests in the South Pacific to the Indian Ocean for a very long time. We want to maintain the freedom of the seas because of the trade routes through the Indonesian archipelago
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Nowadays, theoretically speaking I do not see how US would risk war with China. The Middle Kingdom does own enough of US currency and debt to plunge it into recession. Similarly, no US forces would nowadays dare to enter China's neighbourhood as it has capabilities to destroy them relatively easily (no going back to the 90s). On the other hand, as China is taking over the US and becoming more active, the tensions are going to rise. Plus it's not that there aren't any flashpoints between Washington's closest allies and China.

Good thing for states in the Pacific. China tends not to enforce its will by military action against weaker opponents but it tends to use economy in those cases (embargo here or there).

Australian government probably believes that US will care because there is no other alternative. It is the same for Poland. All politicians claim, that US guarantees independence and it always will. In 2014, one of polish politicians claimed that it is much more iffy and Poland can't rely on the US. Soon after that speech, he had to quit politics altogether.

I've actually been watching Mr. Robot and this season in the background, there is this UN vote on Chinese annexation of Congo. As much as I hope this is only a dystopian fiction, I cannot get out of my mind the idea, that it could actually happen.

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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
Nowadays, theoretically speaking I do not see how US would risk war with China. The Middle Kingdom does own enough of US currency and debt to plunge it into recession.

Really? How exactly would that work, do you think?
quote:
Similarly, no US forces would nowadays dare to enter China's neighbourhood as it has capabilities to destroy them relatively easily (no going back to the 90s).

Are you sure? I don't know if you'd consider Hong Kong harbor to be "China's neighborhood", but if so the 7th Fleet seems to dare.
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mrWaters
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I'll answer both questions subsequently.

China owns more than 1 trillion dollars worth of US debt (it is not insignificant % of all debt). If even a quarter was to be suddenly released to the market, the prices for US bonds would collapse and government would have trouble paying for itself. Similarly with currency. Due to the trade balance, Beijing gets a lot of US currency and is stockpiling about 3 trillion $ in hard currency. Again, if a significant amount like 100 billion was to be exchanged to any other currency(don't quote me on this precise number pls, no one really knows how much would be needed), it would cause dollar prices to rapidly collapse. Other investors would then start selling dollars, just like the Great Crisis but with international currency this time. Subsequently US would plunge into recession as it couldn't pay for imports.

US military forces near China - I actually meant forces with hostile intent like the ones during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. It couldn't happen anymore due to People Liberation Army's advances in area denial weapons. Similarly even US' DOD suggests that in the event of a war with China, US forces would stay over 1000 miles from the mainland (somewhere around the 1st island chain probably).

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quote:
Originally posted by mrWaters:
China owns more than 1 trillion dollars worth of US debt (it is not insignificant % of all debt). If even a quarter was to be suddenly released to the market, the prices for US bonds would collapse and government would have trouble paying for itself.

I find this hard to believe. Total US government debt is currently about $20T. You're suggesting that if China tried to sell $250B, all of 1.25% of the total, prices would collapse? Even though daily trading volume in USG debt is already $500B?
quote:
Similarly with currency. Due to the trade balance, Beijing gets a lot of US currency and is stockpiling about 3 trillion $ in hard currency. Again, if a significant amount like 100 billion was to be exchanged to any other currency(don't quote me on this precise number pls, no one really knows how much would be needed), it would cause dollar prices to rapidly collapse.

This isn't any more convincing. About $4.5T is traded on the open market every day.
quote:
Other investors would then start selling dollars, just like the Great Crisis but with international currency this time. Subsequently US would plunge into recession as it couldn't pay for imports.

Even if such a sale had this kind of effect (and I don't see any compelling reason to believe it would), this amounts to suggesting that the Chinese attack would essentially consist of trying to destroy their largest export market by burning their own pile of savings.
quote:
US military forces near China - I actually meant forces with hostile intent like the ones during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. It couldn't happen anymore due to People Liberation Army's advances in area denial weapons. Similarly even US' DOD suggests that in the event of a war with China, US forces would stay over 1000 miles from the mainland (somewhere around the 1st island chain probably).

"Hostile intent"? I hardly think the US was threatening an attack.

And are you quite sure you know where the first island chain is? "Over 1000 miles from the mainland" and "somewhere around the first island chain" really aren't particularly close to being the same thing. There are parts of the first island chain that are that far, but also parts that are much closer - and some of those parts already have large US bases on them,

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There is a huge difference between random sales of bonds and currency by millions of people and one big investor flooding the market at the right moment. This usually creates panic because other investors start asking themselves - does he know something I don't? Subsequently they tend to sell as they see the price going lower and lower and the circle begins.

Agreed, such act would hurt China too (in both currency and bond version). Although Beijing is putting a lot of effort and having a lot of success in the development of internal demand for goods and services (for example China's car market may soon be twice as big as US'). Nevertheless, no sane leader would do such a thing unless war was imminent.

Hostile act may have been slightly too strong word, however the armada from 1996 was a threat, a clear warning for Beijing. It succeeded as China pulled back.

In the event of a war, US Navy and US carriers would most likely be deployed beyond 1st island chain actually (misremembered before). As noted in a Air-Sea Battle doctrine, the US offensive would most likely take place by sending bombers on long range missions to eliminate Chinese area denial capabilities. Sure, there are US bases in South Korea and Japan, bad news is that they are largely within reach of Chinese missiles. True, it would probably be incredibly difficult to destroy them. On the other hand, it would also be very risky to launch any offensive from them.

[ 24. November 2017, 21:59: Message edited by: mrWaters ]

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Dark Knight

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Dave's argument is interesting, and applies here in Oz too. mrwaters, comparing Poland to Oz is a bit silly - the last country to occupy Australia was the colonial era British Empire, and they did it through massive technological advantage and both deliberate and accidental genocide of the Indigenous population ("accidental" was the introduction of disease).

Given superpowers have struggled to occupy Afghanistan, which is tiny compared to Australia but has some similar geography, there is almost no chance a hostile power could successfully occupy this absurdly large, mostly desert landmass.

Plus, to extrapolate Dave's argument to here, there is a symbiotic trade relationship, which granted is probably more important to us than China atm. Aus provides much of the raw materials for Chinese industrial production, China provides a market.

The threat is mostly economic - as some have mentioned, China's turn to Africa (annexing Congo, given how much of a clusterfuck it is right now, clearly bothers you more than me) might provide more of the raw materials it craves, without bothering to pay Australian prices.

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