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20 September 2007

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Montag

Reminds me of a Science Fiction story I read which consisted of correspondence among the governmental/military authorities on Mars. They become alarmed at the first space flights on Earth, so they send a fleet of battleships to order us to stop, because they perceive our efforts to be a nascent threat to their security. But even after we remain Earthbound for decades like good little savages they still regard us as an "existential threat." So they decide to build a larger fleet to exterminate us. The last letter in the story is from an Earth Expeditionary Force on Mars remarking at what a mess our nukes made of Mars when they materialized over their cities. Since space flight was forbidden to us, we developed teleportation devices instead. The Martians were right in the end about us being an existential threat--because they MADE us one.

fasteddiez

To Charles:

RE: your quote- "This usually entails quite a bit of carnage before the utility of sharing painfully bubbles to the surface like foamy blood around a sucking chest wound - if the patient doesn't die first."

That is really nice...poetic, allegorical. May I humbly submit an addendum. You come upon a patient in such a predicament as you describe; a neophyte "new meat" corpsman treating the wound (the men are not of your platoon). You notice that each time the patient's heart beats, geysers of blood shoot up (old faithful like) from various locales in the victim's extremities. The corpsman is on Spazz factor eight, but can get no assistance because his medical confreres are similarily indisposed. With his back to you, you tell the corpsman "Hey doc, you missed a few spots!" You want to help, you feel that your comment is not salutary, but at the same time, realistic enough to give the new guy advice on how to slow down and concentrate. The worst part is that you cannot help, because you are moving, more often that not, in a reactive, not necessarily tactical response, ordered by other neophytes, as they, like the corpsman, learn their unforgiving metier. Also, because the victim is not one of yours, and you should husband your energies for your most immediate companions. Again Charles, nice wordsmithing.

ked

"...my god, what choice do we have?"

Whenever you have absolute faith that there is no alternative to a bad course of action - you are screwed.

William R. Cumming

Again Paul Bracken's 1999 book "Fire in the East" explains a different nuclear targeting strategy for South Asian nations that oppose the US. Specifically, large US military/civil deployments within the striking range of IRBM. I guess history will sort out whose right on this one.

anon

Some links below about the supposed reserve currency and petrodollar angle. Important to read the interview below with Chris Cook, who has been involved in establishing Iran oil bourse.

I am cynical enough to believe that Cheney and Bush might start a war in order to preserve "petrodollar hegemony." The question is, are they and their advisors that economically and financially illiterate to think it would do anything good economically? Its just sutpid from start to finish.

I am not sure that I am cynical enough to believe that they would start a war to keep their US oil and financial buddies rich. They are the only people who would take any near term hit from move away from petrodollar.

Finally, a question about this hypothosized Russia/China threat to grab all the oil somehow. Why are we so afraid of them? Russia has the financial resources to credibly set up its currency as the reserve currency and petrocurrency of choice? How? China has shown no signs of being able to find a substitute for the US market for its goods. How will their economy be affected by a US economic and financial meltdown? Will they invade the ME and just take the oil? Would they be more welcome that we are?

There are many technical reasons why a huge petro-euro/rouble/ etc market destroying the dollar overnight is a fantasy. Traders have to hedge. Hedging requires speculators. That requires vast amounts of liquidity that dwarfs that used in transactions on markets for real goods. Also requires transparency. How do you get that in today's Iran? Read the Cook interview below for more details.

-----

SPEAKING FREELY
What the Iran 'nuclear issue' is really about
By Chris Cook

“ It is therefore with wry amusement that I have seen a myth being widely propagated on the Internet that the genesis of this "Iran bourse" project is a wish to subvert the US dollar by denominating oil pricing in euros.

As anyone familiar with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will know, the denomination of oil sales in currencies other than the dollar is not a new subject, and as anyone familiar with economics will tell you, the denomination of oil sales is merely a transactional issue: what matters is in what assets (or, in the case of the United States, liabilities ) these proceeds are then invested. “

www dot atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HA21Ak01.html

----
Iran's Oil Bourse: A Threat to the U.S. Economy?
Niusha Boghrati
Worldpress.org correspondent
April 11, 2006

‘ A number of economists believe that establishing the bourse will prove to be an impossible task for Iran.

"More than 68 percent of the global international oil exchange is in U.S. dollars, and by abandoning dollars Iran will put its own economy in greater danger," said an unnamed Iranian professor of Economics in Paris.

Other experts believe that even if the IOB commences operations, there is not much harm it can do to the U.S. economy.

"Given the fact that Iran's share of the international oil market is somewhere around 5 percent, I do not believe that it can really absorb enough customers around the globe," said Russian economist Natalia Arlova. ‘

www dot worldpress.org/Mideast/2314.cfm

-----
Interview with Chris Cook, Originator of the Iranian Oil Bourse
Posted by Chris Vernon on August 20, 2006 - 2:20pm

“ Now many many people, the Russians particularly, the Norwegians are talking about a euro-denominated oil bourse, are beginning to question whether they want to put their assets into a dollar-denominated debt or dollar-denominated assets. Let's face is the Americans are reluctant to let foreigners buy key US assets anyway. There aren't very many places you can invest in the US other than T-Bills. “

“ If we could just look at the Euro first - there aren't enough Euros to go around to even begin to cope with demand that would be needed if we were to start pricing in euros, and I don't think the European Central Bank would start printing those quantities, that would be almost a declaration of war by the ECB on the US. I don't see that as a practicable proposition. Other currencies I see as pretty peripheral.

I don't see any other currency other than the dollar being fit for purpose. “

www dot theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/13/71557/8571

----

Nouriel Roubini's Blog
Oil at $80, or 90 or 100 This Year? And the Oil-US Dollar Links…
Nouriel Roubini | Jul 23, 2007

--informed speculation on current dynamics of oil prices and weakening dollar (based on the assumption that it is what you invest and hedge in, not the currency you pay in, that influence which currencies are reserve currencies and which are not. I believe that assumption is true.)

www dot rgemonitor.com/blog/roubini/207061

Eric Dönges

b2,

you write: "The stakes are immense and this is why there can be no withdrawal. Defeat is simply unthinkable. Attacking Iran is really a desperate maneouvre, like Hitler striking south to Stalingrad and Chechnya, but my god, what choice do we have? We *must* succeed."

You could work overtime to find a viable alternative energy source - we're going to have to find one sooner or later in any case, so why not start now. This is guaranteed to be cheaper than wasting trillions of dollars on a war that you are certain to loose unless you are willing to resort to genocide, and then still having to find an alternative energy source once the easily accessible oil reserves are depleted X years from now.

In the meantime, you could engage the Iranians with trade instead of hostility.
For extra points, you could call Tel Aviv, read the Israelis the riot act, and broker a peace for the Middle East. Perhaps the Arabs would then stop hating you.

Clifford Kiracofe

b2,

Thanks. The "global full spectrum dominance" scenario to control hydrocarbons and thereby maintain the position of the US dollar as the main international reserve currency would seem to me to result eventually in imperial overstretch. Bread and circuses for Karl Rove's (and his ilk in the other party) masses may not suffice.

Throughout history, hegemonic powers have been confronted by coalitions seeking mutual protection against the hegemon of the day: ie, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler.

Academics (not just the neocons by any means) in favor of US hegemonic policy have argued that powers will "bandwagon" with us rather than oppose us. This remains to be seen. Others write about a "center-periphery" scenario in which the US at the center of the international financial-economic system ensures the periphery joins into the game (and behaves) one way or another (another being use of force).

I think these folks engage in magical thinking about the US as a "superpower" without really considering the fuller meaning/s of "power" in the contemporary world.

Superficially, other major powers appear to be taking "soft" balancing positions against us. Will this morph to "hard" balancing?

The question may be put as: Can cosmopolitan transnational elites such as those represented in the Bilderberg and Trilateral clubs "manage" the international system via US hegemony thereby lining their pockets?
For some of these types in the 19th century, Napoleon (and France) was their tool and for some in the 20th Hitler (and Germany) was their tool.

Zanzibar's, observation about the long term economic consequences raise the issue of inflation-stagnation(recession) just as we saw it for a couple decades after the Johnson escallation of the Vietnam War.

b2, from the scenario you outline, what is your sense of the question as to whether the US can get away with it? Over what period of time? What internal domestic consequences?

H.G.

b2-

Using Germany and Japan as examples is rather appropriate, but I doubt in the way that you meant. I don't believe that the U.S. was an existential threat to Japan until they decided to attack us and they overreached by invading China, spreading themselves thin through the region. Likewise, Russia wasn't an existential threat to Germany until Hitler invaded them and had the Sixth Army obliterated in Stalingrad.

These are of course not exact comparisons to our current situation but I think somewhat similar in the following respect. Col. Lang is right that Iran is not an existential threat to the U.S., however, should we invade (or possibly "just" bomb) them that will be an overreaching misstep of such an egregious magnitude that it certainly will be an existential threat, to the U.S. as well as to the current oil-driven Western-dominated global economic and political power balance.

I'm sure many wish they knew a way to stop this idiot Bush from choosing to go ahead with this incredibly dangerous plan. Hence all the Kremlinologist-like divining of his intentions such as Clemons.

rjj

Can anybody tell me ....

What does a high airburst shot accomplish?

How high is high?

What are the effects on the ground?

What are the effects on underground facilities?

How would such an attack physically neutralize what has been defined as "the threat" ?

What happens to the people under it?


Chatham

"They were never pro-US as such but they liked & admired America. Even the Iranian government funded students for studying in the US universities (“Gotta learn from the Great Satan!”) Certainly for many young people their dream was to visit US."

Yes, that's what I meant. I suppose the term "pro-US"/"anti-US" is used by some to describe those who are for/against the current administrations policies. I use it to describe a general affinity for a country (and the government only in the most abstract sense).

"On the other hand, that sentiment is long past, in my opinion. I think those of the Iranian people who would think about such things are no longer positively disposed towards the United States and, in fact, they expect an un-wanted war with US."

Sad to hear, though I imagine that there's an understanding that the Bush administration doesn't represent the US? (that's often countered by "then why did you guys elect him?", though hopefully in a country like Iran with some form of elections it's easier to understand)

I have hear anecdotal evidence that there is still a warmness towards Americans, but it's just that, anecdotal. I was thinking about visiting Iran in the near future, although these developments seem to make such a trip seem more and more unlikely.

"The leadership of Iran, in my opinion, has concluded that the differences between Iran and US cannot be abridged. Their aim is now to limit the cost to Iran."

The leadership keeps talking about their willingness to negotiate. They may believe that that is not likely going to happen, but I doubt they'd turn down an offer to do so.

W. Patrick Lang

rjj

A high air bust with a nuclear weapon is intended to kill and destroy through the media of blast, heat and direct radiation. Fall out is minimized because the fireball does not touch the earth and does not throw a lot of material up into the sky to drift around and fall somewhere else. The height of burst is calculated according to the yield of the weapon and therefore the diameter of the fireball.

Deeply buried underground structures are less affected than with kinds of bursts in which the fireball touches the earth or the detonation occurs beneath the surface. pl

China Hand

@anon: I agree in principle with you.

The problem is not that the people constructing this present conflict fear immediate meltdown.

The problem is that they are willing to risk immediate meltdown to protect their own power interests; because an "immediate meltdown" would adversely affect only "the people", while the economic and political elite would merely see their foreign credit ratings drop. Also, I think there is a considerable bit of ethno-superiority at work.

China will, in the not-too-distant-future, be a power that controls a very large sphere of influence; once they work out their differences with Taiwan (which they probably will, provided the U.S. doesn't provoke a war first), that sphere will include most of East Asia, from Japan down to Indonesia, and parts of Central Asia on over to the Philippines.

Sino-Russian military cooperation has developed much, these last 10 years. The longer that trend continues, the more likely it is that China's military will rival that of the U.S. sooner, rather than later.

The gaps in Russian and Chinese knowledge and ideology complement each other well, and if they begin to enthusiastically supplement one another then they will create a bloc like none other ever known.

That's what the new-cons fear.

Needless to say, petrodollars coupled with permanent bases in Iraq, Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus and the Balkans empower them with a lot of control over that.

Clifford Kiracofe

From the various points in this thread, do we sense that a US attack on Iran will include a target set which goes beyond so-called WMD related sites and the Rev Guard infrastructure?

That is to say, will the US seek to damage Iran's economic base: industry, hydrocarbons, and infrastructure? And to what level and for what purpose? [Remember Madeleine Albright's little Balkan war?]

Targeting economic infrastructure might be rationalized as causing some pain that would result in "regime change" by locals.

Tageting economic infrastructure might be rationalized as an element of resource denial to China, for example.

Presumably, Iran would "recover" at some point, then what? Whack them down a notch again? Pesky wogs....flatheads might say.

A well-known inside the Beltway Neocon groupie [whom I have known for about 25 years] told a retired European (continental) military friend of mine in 2002:
"First we are going to hit Iraq, then Iran, and then we will hit North Korea to send a message to the Chinese." The Colonel then asked the groupie, "But will the White House actually do this?" Says the groupie, "The President is with us."

Minnesotachuck

b2's post at 9:21 pm on 9/20 brings to mind the writings of John Perkins, the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and Secret History of the American Empire, which were published in 2005 and this year, respectively. Perkins asserts that during his 20 plus years of employment with the architect & engineering firm Charles T. Main, Inc. of Boston, he was actually a part of a deeply covert, government-guided program for selling developing countries on infrastructure projects whose primary beneficiaries were usually US-based extractive industry companies (oil, metals, etc.), and their corrupt cronies in the host countries' elites. These projects were funded by the World Bank (which now is/was effectively under US control), and when the host countries ran into economic troubles because the purported benefits did not sufficiently trickle down to the peons and thus the tax base couldn't support the debt, the IMF (also US-controlled) was called in to enforce the terms of the loans with draconian measures. The effect of these practices was to keep these developing countries with coveted resources economically subjugated to the USA, and Perkins asserts that this was a deliberate objective of US policy.

In his latter book Perkins not only includes additional anecdotes from his own experience, but also those of other "economic hit men" (and women) who contacted him in response to his first book. More troublingly, the Secret History also includes the stories of some people who emerged the more deeply black elements of the government who provided intimidation services when the IMF actions didn't work, services that included the use of violence up to and including assassination.

I tend to be skeptical of conspiracy theories; in most cases I'm more inclined to credit plain old incompetence, mis-communication and/or unintended consequences for what goes wrong. (And also, occasionally, for what goes right.) But Perkins' assertions seem quite plausible to me. And if he is on the level, this history that dates back world-wide to at least World War II (and much longer in areas such as Latin America and the Philippines where our hegemony predates that conflict), together with the rapid rise of economic power elsewhere in the world now that China and India have turned the development corner, could explain the push-back we're starting to see from the likes of Hugo Chavez and the leaders of places like Singapore and Malaysia.

If deliberately keeping the peons in their places has indeed been a cornerstone of our foreign policy these last 70+ years, in spite of our supposed ideals to the contrary the day will soon arrive, if it hasn't already, when this will no longer work. We don't have the national will, not to mention the fiscal resources, to maintain the increasing amount of force capability required to smack down the increasing hordes of cockroaches popping out from under the carpet who have the temerity to assert their own rights to a decent share of the world's economic pie. Perhaps is time for a radically new approach to national strategy that takes these desires of people in developing countries into account. We're going to need to do this anyway in order to cope with the now-emerged worldwide threats of peak oil and global warming.

Bismarck once said something to the effect that statesmanship involved placing your ear to the ground to listen for the hoof beats of history, figuring out which direction he's riding, jumping on his back when he comes by and hanging on for dear life. We are not now going in the direction of history.

Chatham

China Hand-

China is a "rising power" in a region of "rising powers" (and risen ones, like the world's second largest economy - Japan). It's also, like many of the other rising ones, full of internal problems. As such, it's not going to be controlling very much.

Will

In 2003 when Dumbya had his way w/ Irak, weak kneed Gorbachev was presiding over the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Saddam had made a statement at one time that little fish could swim between the interstices of the big powers. Once the world became unipolar SH's luck ran out.

Today we have a resurgent Russia. If Putin were so inclined, what could he do to derail the "Chooser's", our modern Caligula-Nero-Commodus-ElGablulus rolled into one, from his mad plans.

How about Putin making a state visit to Iran, attending a Caspian Sea Powers conference there, and bolstering the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plans for Iran. All this reported at the atimes.com

Would he go beyond that and sign a defense treaty? That would stop the NeoKon plans cold or give them pause.

Or is it in Russia's interest to gamble that Amerika's quest for hegemony will fail and pick up the pieces as we self-destruct due to our spineless Congress being unable to stand up to the Imperator & AIPAC?

Will

my bust, I know Gorby was there for the first Irak War in 91. And I do get carried away in describing George POTUS, No. 43. I just can't comprehend how he got elected not once, but twice. But then, Larry Craig got elected even more times. (I myself was undefeated for city council, three two-year terms)

isl

John H:

Destroying middle east oil does not pose an existential threat to the US, we actually get most of our oil from elsewhere. It does pose an existential threat to SUV drivers. If the US can adapt to $150 - 250 bbl oil better than our main competitors, the US could even become stronger.

In contrast, the enormous US account deficit does pose an existential threat and makes such favorable economic adaptations unlikely, plus we start from an extreme disadvantage viz. our competitors.

The switch out of petrodollars has and will continue happening - the dollar has dropped to 66% of central bank currency reserves from over 80 ten or so years ago, Saudi's are no longer pegging to the dollar with the rest of the ME likely to follow, and China is focusing more on accumulating assets with its surplus (e.g., Carlyle today) than T-Bills. No one wants to hang onto devaluing dollars and war with Iran certainly doesn't help that!

Note, the $800 billion account deficit per year is 1/3 due to oil at current prices.

its fun (but pointless) to imagine the geopolitical implications if the US was oil self sufficient as the Carter energy plan would have engendered by this day.

China Hand

@chatham:

I do not see the weaknesses you refer to as approaching a Chinese crisis; they are obstacles that must be overcome and I do not doubt they will be.

At any rate, if Iraq has taught us anything it should be that it is not necessary for the Chinese to develop a military that rivals the U.S. It is enough for them only to find the means to make war too costly. Considering China's vast human and industrial resources -- and the current circumstances in Iraq -- that should not be too difficult for them to achieve.

Chatham

China Hand-

You, like many that take your title, may have no doubts. However the Chinese, and many that have studied the country in depth for a length of time, do. Funny that.

What the Iraq war taught us? Tell me, who has won that conflict? The US? Saddam? The Iraqi people?

Clifford Kiracofe

Two reports anent US, Iran, Russia etal hydrocarbons and strategy which should be read together:

"ISTANBUL, Turkey - A top adviser on foreign economic policy to the U.S. Secretary of State said Saturday that the Caspian region can provide Europe's natural gas without help from Iran.
.... Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are among possible alternatives to Iran as suppliers of natural gas, Jeffery said.
....Turkey and Iran are expected soon to complete an agreement to build some 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) of gas pipelines and transport up to 40 billion cubic meters (1.4 trillion cubic feet) of gas annually to Europe, through Turkey.

The United States has criticized the timing of the move, which could strike a blow to Washington's efforts to isolate Iran internationally for its nuclear ambitions..."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20919992/

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to go ahead with his visit to Tehran on October 16, much to the chagrin of Washington. The visit is in connection with the summit of the Caspian states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran) that is to take place in Iran, but Putin is scheduled to hold "bilaterals" as well with the Iranian leadership. This will be Putin's first visit to Iran.
....Russia couldn't be unaware that France is playing a double game. On the one hand, Sarkozy is closing ranks with the Bush administration's policies toward Iran. On the other hand, France is using US-French rapprochement to share the spoils of Iraq's oil wealth with US oil interests. France's Total and the United States' Chevron have agreed to collaborate on the Majnoon oilfields in Iraq.
...Looking back, the four-nation tour of the Central Asian capitals last month by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad, and his meetings with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders - with Putin, in particular, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - appear to have been crowned with success. Ahmedinejad succeeded in thwarting the US stratagem of containing Iran and to encircle it in Central Asia. It was no doubt a difficult and impressive diplomatic feat for Ahmedinejad that he got the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to agree to participate in the Caspian summit.

Certainly, Putin's attendance by far elevates the Caspian summit's importance. The fact is, among all the Caspian littoral states, it is Iran that has taken a stance closest to Russia's on the issues affecting the status of the Caspian Sea. Again, Russian and Iranian interests overlap in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Russia remains Iran's main arms supplier. Russian oil companies have been marginalized in Iraq. Russia would be loath to see the Bush administration steamrolling yet another "regime change" in Iran - under whatever pretext - and thereby proceed to appropriate the oil and gas resources of the Middle East. Besides, an unfriendly, pro-US regime in Tehran (like the one engineered by the US in Georgia) would have catastrophic consequences for Russian interests in a wide arc of regions .....
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/II22Ag02.html


China Hand

Chatham: What is undeniable about the Iraq war is that it has badly weakened the U.S. position worldwide. Diplomatically, economically, and (more debatably, but I find it hard to contradict) militarily the U.S. is now weaker than it was before the war. Then, of course, there are the internal social and political problems it is generating.

Asking who "won" it is quite absurd. Nobody has won it, and it is unlikely anyone ever will. Even so, the people who have (relatively speaking) been hurt the least by it -- and possibly even strengthened -- are those who are most apt to support the Iranis: the Chinese, the Russians, and their allies.

The Chinese government is far less worried about any internal crisis than acts of U.S. aggression. Yes, there are serious economic imbalances in China; but that was as equally true for the newly industrialized French, British, and U.S. cultures, as well. They weathered it without falling, and so will the Chinese.

As for the opinions of those "that have studied the country in depth for a length of time", you should count me as one of them. I'm not going to recite my CV, but I will say that I am fluent in the language and that my contacts in business, military, and government are wide and knowledgable.

Chatham

"At any rate, if Iraq has taught us anything it should be that it is not necessary for the Chinese to develop a military that rivals the U.S. It is enough for them only to find the means to make war too costly."

"Asking who "won" it is quite absurd. Nobody has won it, and it is unlikely anyone ever will."

Meditate on these two statements for a moment, if you will.

Feel free to cite your CV. I'm referring to people who were over there since the 70's, fluent in both reading and writing, not just conversational. If you count your self among them, then I suppose you just represent a minority view. However, I've run into tons of people there with "extensive" connections and "fluent" in Chinese. By there standards, I would be one of them too.

The Chinese government is less worried about internal unrest than acts of US aggression? What do they think the US will do, invade? Help Taiwan if there is an invasion? The only real source of conflict would be Taiwan. The government is deathly afraid of any military action against the island, with or without US intervention, because failure would shake their standing at home.

Some economic imbalances? It's crossed the governments own red line, unrest is growing yearly, and much of the country is controlled by local fiefdoms outside of government control.

Again, another thing to remember is that China is surrounded by other strong states, not vassal states waiting to be absorbed, and that is why even if there were no problems, there will be no such Chinese sphere of control like the one you mentioned.

China Hand

"Some economic imbalances? It's crossed the governments own red line, unrest is growing yearly, and much of the country is controlled by local fiefdoms outside of government control."

Eh. This is obfuscation and exaggeration; Chinese government has always had a "hands off" attitude towards the local governments, and it is something they do quite well. Even during Mao's heyday -- and the gang of four -- this was basically true. The "local fiefdoms" you mention are under no illusion about the post-Jiang military: if they cross it, they shall reap the whirlwind.

As for the first part of your statement, these days it is much more applicable to the US than China.

I'd suggest that these are useful fictions the CCP allows, rather than accurate oustiide assessments.

I don't know what you mean by "surrounded by strong states" -- Thailand? Cambodia? Vietnam? Indonesia? Mongolia? Tajikistan? Uzbekistan? Pakistan? Or maybe you're thinking of Taiwan and the Philippines?

You could perhaps make the case for India and Russia (actually Siberia), but their situations are share broad similarities to China's. It sounds like you're really thinking of South Korea and Japan, which is hardly "surrounded", and neither of which have the slightest interest in aggression towards China.

China Hand

My apologies; I failed to address this above:

Yes. The Chinese are as worried over a conflict in the Taiwan straits as the US is. That is the most likely point of conflict between the two, and the Chinese have much less to lose from it than does the United States.

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