Everybody remembers that scene at the beginning of Indiana Jones. The tomb has been quiet for hundreds of years until Indy walks up to the gold idol sitting on the plinth in the centre of the room and – takes it… As soon as the treasure is touched, the whole temple starts to fall apart.
Taiwan is the treasure in the Pacific. As soon as China touches it, the entire region will begin to collapse around them into a state of war.
What does this observation have to do with Ukraine? The two conflicts are conjoined by the limited resources of those fighting. It’s not that the world doesn’t want to save Ukraine, it’s that Western leaders know they can’t.
Do not mistake this as a replay of Hong Kong, where the world’s only nation-city was consumed ahead of schedule by China. No one came to Hong Kong’s aid because its infrastructure left it dependent on its conqueror for water and power. With no way to sever the two entities, a military victory would have been followed by an immediate cessation of resources. The city could not be saved.
Ukraine is defensible. Not only does it have rich deposits and a reasonably autonomous infrastructure, there are enough friendly countries around its edges to buffer an attack from Russia. In contrast to the people of Hong Kong, Ukrainians are willing to pick up weapons and fight the Russian incursion street to street. There are no peaceful umbrella protests. Taking Ukraine has to be done with tanks, troops, and missiles. With enough help, Ukraine has an excellent chance of surviving. That help isn’t coming.
That promised help is meant to come from Europe – be it NATO forces or friendly nations looking to contain Russia. NATO exists to protect Europe from Russia’s empire-building ambitions, but NATO spent decades sitting on its hands, feeding off American money while failing to prepare its forces for a real war. The little military strength it does have is nullified by Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and gas. One of the reasons Putin wants Ukraine is to cut off Ukraine’s oil to Europe and further entrap the continent. Ukrainian independence is important to the wider protection of Europe, but in this war Europe stabbed itself before wandering into battle without a sword.
This is why America was crucial to NATO. Although America dabbles in Russian oil, it is by no means fatally addicted. America has the ability to attack Russia on behalf of Europe and yet it has sent only a token force of 7,000 to Ukraine.
For America to invest itself in Ukraine would mean abandoning its strength in the Pacific. It’s a close thing, but most experts still believe that America has the world’s largest military. It can withstand an attack from China or Russia. Not both. ‘Sanctions’ have been used for many years as a means to mask this weakness. As a weapon, they are the easiest to overcome – with both China and Russia absorbing wealth from Islamic nations to cover the gap during the conflict phase of this century.
America’s interests naturally lie in the Pacific. To defend the region – which is already fighting a soft war against China’s territorial disputes, debt-trap diplomacy, ethnic hostility, and water politics – America cannot risk splitting its forces or it will lose both wars.
Unfortunately, Barack Obama made a lot of recent mistakes in the region, offending and double-crossing nations hostile to China because of ‘political fear’ that defending small nations in Asia might hurt America’s trade relationship with China. In the same way that Europe allowed its reliance on Russian oil to weaken its security, generations of American presidents weakened their defence against China by over-investing in the dictatorship.
The political situation is recoverable. Asian nations encircling the South China Sea are prepared to forgive America in exchange for safety. Here, at least, the world is more clearly able to see the nature of the communist monster bearing down on the region – jaws open.
Make no mistake, the Pacific is where the real war will take place.
When the war starts it is no longer up to America. Taiwan sits as a big red button. It is the territorial line that cannot be crossed because, aside from the moral argument, it represents a crucial strategic position on the global stage.
Japan has said that they will go to war to stop Taiwan falling into Chinese hands. There are complex historical, financial, and geographical reasons for this. The short of it is that Japan is prepared to launch a full scale hot war against China despite China’s threats of pre-emptive nuclear war.
If Japan jumps, so too will a handful of nervous Asian nations sitting around China’s heavily militarized islands and atolls. It’s one thing to owe China money for that shiny new deep water port, but quite another to allow warships to park themselves in it.
Similarly, India cannot allow China to hold control of the Malacca Strait – especially as China already occupies the lease on a key port in Sri Lanka. China has also been threatening India’s water supply from dams built in Tibet and has spent recent years testing India’s mountainous borders. Dominance over trade routes in the Pacific is a line India has already said that it will not tolerate being crossed. The world’s two most populous countries entering into a conflict leaves America with no choice but to join in. They have to anyway due with their standing commitment to defend Australia.
It was assumed that India would stay out of any joint Russia-China war until the Pacific conflict began due to India’s special relationship with Russia during the Cold War. Surprisingly, Russia decided to side with Pakistan, declaring India’s Kashmir region a ‘disputed territory’. Nothing is more likely to incite India into war than stirring trouble in Kashmir and so one can only assume that Russia and China’s global strategy is to create as much chaos as possible – to unleash all the dogs and wolves of the world upon each other. In a way it makes sense, civil war might slow India down when it comes to external conflicts – keeping the giant busy.
As for Taiwan, like Ukraine it will fight for its survival and it has the means to do so. Successive regimes have spent years fortifying the islands belonging to Taiwan into a nightmare of tunnels and traps. Taiwan’s geography nullifies numbers – slowing armies down and leaving them to be picked off by local forces. It is estimated by experts that it would take the largest naval force in human history to take Taiwan – and that is without the help of foreign powers.
America will be one of those powers. War in Taiwan will have no pretext of ‘peace keeping’. It will be bloody and unimaginably violent. China is expected to use overkill to wipe out Japanese forces, but if it tries, America will go for China’s throat in Beijing.
The thing about enormous military forces like Russia and China is that they are weakened by the sheer complexity of keeping their armies and civilization alive.
To win a war against China, only a foolish nation would expect to beat them on the battlefield. Instead, America, Japan, and India should go directly behind enemy lines and destroy key Chinese infrastructure. Dams, pipelines, energy plants. The only way to overcome overwhelming force is to weaken it from behind.
Xi Jinping is a leader on the edge, sitting atop serious domestic political power struggles with a nest of rivals waiting to drag him off the throne.
War is an opportunity to solidify his dictatorship, but while the fighting is on, leaders are at their weakest. Their necks are out, their armor is shifting around and exposing weaknesses.
Taiwan holds the defensive position on a major aquatic artery controlling the trade of fundamental resources. While wars are talked about in terms of ideology, they are fought on geography. Pacific wars, in their jungle environments, are famously nightmarish. Conflict will either be sudden and excessive, or protracted and devastating. Either way, Russia wins by encouraging its ‘mate’ to expend all its energy on Taiwan so that later, when Russia and China inevitably come to blows for the final struggle for the throne, Russia will come out the victor.
If, however, America wins decisively in the Pacific, they will be free to turn their attention to the mess in Europe and once again save their ancestors from idiocy.