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Thread: South China Sea and China (2011-2017)

  1. #201
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    JMA:

    Point taken on never saying never.

    Bob's World:

    Here is a hypothetical for you. You probably know what is coming. Imagine a situation where Red China is going to, no threatening to, but going to violently invade and conquer Taiwan. The Taiwanese, after a vote 90% to 10%, have decided to meet violence with violence in order to preserve their independence. The Taiwanese then ask us to comply with treaty obligations and help them fight the Red Chinese invasion. That is it. That is the situation, nothing more or less.

    What are you going to tell them?
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  2. #202
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    There are a couple of fascinating assumptions recurring here.

    First, even assuming (though it's very questionable) that China is bent on storming out of its borders and acquiring new territories, either through conquest (less likely) or by absorbing them into a sphere of influence (more likely), why do we assume that this ambition would be directed into the Pacific and in the direction of the US? I'd think it far more likely that such an ambition would be directed toward prying Central Asia out of the Russian sphere of influence and into a Chinese sphere. I'd think over the next few decades China/Russia conflict, with Central Asia as a flashpoint, would be more likely than conflict with the US. If you were China and intent on gobbling somebody up, why would you gobble SE Asia when you could go for Kazakhstan (30 billion barrels of oil, 85 trillion cubic feet of gas) and Turkmenistan (265 trillion cubic feet of gas)? Not that I think China is likely to invade these countries (or SE Asia), but they could definitely try to move in offering resource deals, trying to build political influence, and generally trying to supplant Russia as the dominant power and the dominant resource outlet. Russia is likely to object. Where that goes is anyone's guess, but there's certainly potential for conflict, especially since there's something tangibly worth fighting over.

    China's next external military venture may not be a neighborhood conquest. There's a real possibility that China could end up in a FID/COIN situation if a compliant government protecting major Chinese investments is threatened by insurgency, especially if that insurgency takes an anti-Chinese position. Most likely scene would be Africa. Hard to say how China would respond to such a situation, but it could emerge.

    Again, all of these are speculative (as is the assumption that Chinese aggression in the Pacific is inevitable), but the assumption that west into the Pacific is the sole or most likely target of Chinese military development is certainly questionable.

    The second questionable assumption is that conquest or expansion are primary agendas for the current Chinese leadership. This site by its nature focuses on the military side of things, and it's easy to forget that the primary business of China is still business and that China's economy is heavily dependent on trade. While China's leaders will undoubtedly push and shove as far as they can without provoking actual conflict, I think it most unlikely that they have any desire to push to any point that might rock their economic boat. It's also worth noting that the economic boat is not nearly as stable or secure as it's sometimes claimed to be. The Chinese government's management of its primary security threat - its own populace - has been heavily dependent on the ability to generate continuous economic expansion, and that's getting harder and harder to do.

    The current dispensation is not ideal, but it is manageable. The single biggest thing to fear, for me, is that a serious internal upheaval (a very real possibility if economic problems emerge) could result in the emergence of a hardline communist/militarist government that aims to purge all those effete capitalist businessmen and get back to ideological purity.

    Again, all very speculative, but the assumption that the current Chinese regime is necessarily bent on conquest and expansion definitely needs to be questioned.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I don't think any opinion stated here has any inherent credibility. I pointed out that one might expect those with the most to lose from a given threat or potential threat to be the ones most concerned about it. In this discussion, for whatever reason, that appears not to be the case.

    I do suspect that those closest to the events in this case may have been following the situation more closely for a longer time than some others in the discussion, and that this may have something to do with the attitudes displayed, but that's only conjecture.
    Slice it up as you like, it still is a suggestion that propinquity makes for better judgment, a poor argument in this case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    You may persist in saying there is no threat, but their perception of threat is more important than our ever so impartial assessment of threat, and they perceive a threat, justifiable or not. We do maintain significant military forces in Korea, Japan, and Okinawa, and along their key commercial arteries in the Middle East... would we feel threatened if they had forces in similar proximity to our mainland and our vital commercial routes?

    The US maintains an enormous Navy in the face of no threat. The Russians, British, French, Italians maintain significant navies in the face of no threat. Actual or aspiring major powers with extensive maritime trade maintain navies, threat or no threat. Been that way for centuries, why would it change now?
    I persist in saying there is no threat to peacetime Chinese maritime trade posed by the USN because there is not a threat. None. The Chinese economy has not been hampered in the slightest by their having had a small navy in the past. Not a bit. But now you say they see threat. If that is so, they are wrong and their buildup of a big navy in the face of no threat is dangerous to all. It has been mentioned before that it is similar to the Germans building up a big navy before WW I in the face of no threat. That did not work out well for the world.

    The various countries you name do indeed have small navies. And they are small in relation to the world. And except perhaps for the Russian navy which I know little about, none of those navies are built to challenge the USN. Not one, nor the Indian navy nor the Japanese. But the Red Chinese navy is. Why?

    As I said many posts before, the buildup of forces wouldn't be all that worrying except it is combined with provocative actions and belligerent talk. That worries me.

    And as I also said many post before, the USN grows and contracts depending upon the threat. Wars, cold & hot, it grows. Peace, greater and less, it shrinks. Plus we have relationships and responsibilities that go back generations. Plus we took over from the RN in keeping open the worlds sea lanes, including those to mainland China. All that means we need a few more ships than the other guys.

    The Red Chinese are building big fleet in peace. That fleet is structured to fight the USN. They talk fight a lot and they keep bumping into other people's boats. It may not worry you but it does me.
    Last edited by carl; 04-16-2012 at 02:24 AM.
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  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    JMA,

    Do not judge the U.S. by our recent actions. They do not define us.
    If a bet on life and national fate is being made, you darn well had better judge us upon our recent actions. They do define us. Lincoln isn't going to come back from the dead and lead the risen divisions of the Army of the Potomac to anybody's rescue.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  5. #205
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Gertz is an ideologue with a specific ideological agenda, and I wouldn't base an opinion on anything he writes or publishes.
    Is the factual accuracy of his reporting in dispute?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  6. #206
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    We don't keep the lanes open. Nobody's threatening to close them, and we could pull our entire Navy back to our shores without putting commerce at risk, except perhaps near Somalia. What we maintain is the capacity to interfere if we choose to do so. That's kind of like a nuclear bomb: you don't have to use it to maintain the threat, because everybody knows it's there.
    Actually, we do, with a bit of help from others, but nobody but us can do it with reasonably strong force in every ocean. And nobody is threatening to close them because of those various naval vessels out there that may kill them if they try. We could disband our Navy completely and there would be no threat to commerce, for a little while. But you are right, we maintain the capacity to interfere with those who would interfere with freedom of navigation.

    That is what concerns me. Given the totality of Red Chinese actions, if they manage to run off the USN, I think they may try to interfere with freedom of navigation. I just can't bring myself to trust totalitarian police states. As you yourself note below, they seem to want to do some shoving around. When murderous police states want to some shoving, I get worried.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Aside from the perception of threat, we have to consider the generalized Chinese desire to force their way into the top table, to be taken seriously, to be a player with military weight equal to their economic weight. If you've followed Chinese commentary over the years, you'd have noted a phase of public exasperation over what was considered an absurd situation: that has-been nations like Britain and France had more potent navies, greater expeditionary capacity, and more perceived influence on global affairs than China. China's in a "coming out" phase, blending great arrogance with great insecurity... the US went through a phase like that in its own history. It may not be entirely rational and it's not the only influence out there, but it's not a factor that can fully be discounted either.
    We may have had a coming out phase, maybe not. But if we did I don't remember us challenging the RN for control of the Atlantic. We let them handle that kind of thing while we made money. The Red Chinese would be wise to do the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    India has in fact built a quite substantial Navy, and the British still maintain a Navy that might be considered out of proportion to their economic needs. The difference is that you don't perceive these nations as a challenge. Again, remember that China's dependence on maritime commerce is greater than that of any other nation on earth. A hostile power that could cut off Chinese access to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, which could be done far from China's shores, could bring their economy grinding to a halt in no time. Powers exist that can do this, and those powers are not entirely friendly. In their position, would we not perceive a threat? If China could, at any time of their choosing, cut us off from our primary commodity imports and merchandise exports (to the extent that we have any), would we not see that as an issue?
    None of those navies are built to challenge the USN. And no, Red China's dependence upon sea trade is not greater than anybody else on earth. If all sea trade were to stop tomorrow, I am sure the Japanese would perish first.

    Powers exist that could cut off Japanese access to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Those powers could cut off trade to Brazil, India, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and on and on and on. But they don't seem too worried. If the Red Chinese are worried about that, the only way to assuage that worry is to control ALL of the worlds oceans, ALL the time. That will lead to a great big war if they try it.

    So if that is what they are worried about, world domination can solve that. I don't think I will cut them slack on that and say I understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Did they chase off the USN? When did that happen, I must have missed it. The 7th fleet flagship was parked in Manila a few weeks ago, so it must have been recent...
    Now Dayuhan, don't be cute. Read the whole paragraph.
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    US, Filipino troops start drills near disputed sea

    MANILA, Philippines—U.S. and Philippine military officials say nearly 7,000 American and Filipino troops have begun two weeks of major military exercises but they stress that China is not an imaginary target.

    Philippine army Maj. Emmanuel Garcia said Monday that the annual drills, called Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder, will include combat maneuvers involving the mock retaking by U.S.-backed Filipino troops of an oil rig supposedly seized by terrorists near the South China Sea....

    Beijing has protested military drills involving Americans near the South China Sea, where it is locked with the Philippines and four other nations in territorial rifts.

    http://www.boston.com/news/world/asi..._disputed_sea/
    It does indicate that those who are affected and those who live as expatriates, think differently.

    This vindicates what I have been stating, ad infinitum, that one has to be a citizen and native born to realise what is a threat and what is not, to their country.

    Those who are citizens seem to feel that China is a threat.

    I reckon they should know better!
    Last edited by Ray; 04-16-2012 at 08:10 AM.

  8. #208
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    It does indicate that those who are affected and those who live as expatriates, think differently.

    This vindicates what I have been stating, ad infinitum, that one has to be a citizen and native born to realise what is a threat and what is not, to their country.

    Those who are citizens seem to feel that China is a threat.

    I reckon they should know better!
    Balikatan is an annual event that goes back decades; they typically focus primarily on CT, COIN, and disaster response. This exercise is certainly not some sort of response to the recent confrontation; it was planned and the dates publicly announced months ago.

    As far as the citizens go, there's a wide range of opinion on both China and the US, as there is on most issues. Some feel threatened by China, some by the US, some by both. Some want to get rid of the US military presence and end the exercises, some want to expand them. Many (I'd guessed most, but that's not based on any scientific survey) are not much concerned with either and are more focused on domestic affairs.

    Certainly many Filipinos are concerned to varying degrees over China, but these annual exercises are in no way evidence that "the Filipinos" collectively are responding to "the China threat".

    The Philippine left is rabidly opposed to the exercises (has been for many years) because they see it as an attempt to build the Philippine military's capacity to fight the NPA.

    After a general downgrade following the removal of the bases (exercises still happened, but less frequently and on a much smaller scale), the US was able to build more of a presence, not because Filipinos feared China, but because they wanted US help in suppressing the Muslim rebellions in the south. That was the lever that opened the door to US troops moving in and to larger exercises; there was very little talk of China in those days.

    Hard to put these events in context if you don't know the context.

    The US presence and the exercises do not appear to be deterring the Chinese from making probes... in fact, as I said in a previous post, it's possible (though not certain) that the Chinese deliberately timed the incursion to coincide with the exercise.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If a bet on life and national fate is being made, you darn well had better judge us upon our recent actions. They do define us. Lincoln isn't going to come back from the dead and lead the risen divisions of the Army of the Potomac to anybody's rescue.
    Our recent actions only define what our leadership has bought into over a period of significant change in the global environment, while having their thinking deeply rooted in the lessons learned from 60 years of Cold War. Now leaders are looking at lessons learned from 10 years of chasing "terrorism" to set the next course, still resting upon that Cold War foundation.

    No, the Cold War era does not define us, nor does the 20 years of post-Cold War. One has to look at the whole, and of the whole, these two recent eras are far more anomalous than definitive of the American character and nation.

    You can't measure a 10' pond with a 6" stick. Same is true for history. We do seem to be forgetting who we are though and that is sad. A lot of short sticks in DC. Read that anyway you want.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    JMA:

    Point taken on never saying never.

    Bob's World:

    Here is a hypothetical for you. You probably know what is coming. Imagine a situation where Red China is going to, no threatening to, but going to violently invade and conquer Taiwan. The Taiwanese, after a vote 90% to 10%, have decided to meet violence with violence in order to preserve their independence. The Taiwanese then ask us to comply with treaty obligations and help them fight the Red Chinese invasion. That is it. That is the situation, nothing more or less.

    What are you going to tell them?
    Carl,

    First, and most importantly, there are no "treaty obligations" for the US to defend Taiwan. Period. I think you are referring to the old treaty that ended in 1980. (This is a biased, but I believe fairly factually accurate laydown: http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/20...nse_huang.aspx)

    Second, this is an internal Chinese matter. That is our official position.

    Third, the US is probably the most important economic partner for both parties and controls the seas that both receive and ship all manner of goods through. We have all kinds of leverage beyond simply racing into the middle of someone else's internal dispute. How would you have felt if Great Britain had sent in a massive force to prevent the US from reconsolidating the nation during the civil war? Do think there would not have been a century of conflict following, as half a dozen weak nations came to be where the US exists today? Not our fight, and we have no legal obligation to make it our fight.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 04-16-2012 at 12:25 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    First, and most importantly, there are no "treaty obligations" for the US to defend Taiwan. Period. I think you are referring to the old treaty that ended in 1980.
    Well Bob if the following is in any way accurate here is the reason why the US (government that is) can not be taken seriously and certainly not trusted:

    The Taiwan Relations Act does not require the U.S. to intervene militarily if the PRC attacks or invades Taiwan, and the U.S. has adopted a policy of "strategic ambiguity" in which the U.S. neither confirms nor denies that it would intervene in such a scenario. - wikipedia article
    The one Carl is no doubt thinking about is this one:

    One agreement that was unilaterally terminated by President Jimmy Carter upon the establishment of relations was the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty; that termination was the subject of the Supreme Court case Goldwater v. Carter.
    Thanks to 'people' like your Jimmy Carter the world (outside the US) can be forgiven for believing: With friends like the US who needs enemies!

    Bob, it is impossible for honest Americans (which I assume you to be) to sell the virtues of the US as you see them when quite frankly your political administrations have the honour and ethics of a crack whore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Carl,

    Second, this is an internal Chinese matter. That is our official position.
    Yes and after that little 'face to face' with the Chinese army in Korea back then there lies the reason for dumping Taiwan to its fate.

    One bitten, twice shy. The world is not blind.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Carl,

    First, and most importantly, there are no "treaty obligations" for the US to defend Taiwan. Period. I think you are referring to the old treaty that ended in 1980. (This is a biased, but I believe fairly factually accurate laydown: http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/20...nse_huang.aspx)

    Second, this is an internal Chinese matter. That is our official position.

    Third, the US is probably the most important economic partner for both parties and controls the seas that both receive and ship all manner of goods through. We have all kinds of leverage beyond simply racing into the middle of someone else's internal dispute. How would you have felt if Great Britain had sent in a massive force to prevent the US from reconsolidating the nation during the civil war? Do think there would not have been a century of conflict following, as half a dozen weak nations came to be where the US exists today? Not our fight, and we have no legal obligation to make it our fight.
    Ok fair enough. My ignorance on the treaty part is fairly and properly exposed. Let me rephrase the question. I want to see exactly what you position is without the frills.

    Here is a hypothetical for you. You probably know what is coming. Imagine a situation where Red China is going to, not threatening to, but going to violently invade and conquer Taiwan. The Taiwanese, after a vote 90% to 10%, have decided to meet violence with violence in order to preserve their independence. The Taiwanese then ask us to help them fight the Red Chinese invasion. That is it. That is the situation, nothing more or less.

    What are you going to tell them?
    Last edited by carl; 04-16-2012 at 01:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    No, the Cold War era does not define us, nor does the 20 years of post-Cold War. One has to look at the whole, and of the whole, these two recent eras are far more anomalous than definitive of the American character and nation.

    You can't measure a 10' pond with a 6" stick. Same is true for history. We do seem to be forgetting who we are though and that is sad. A lot of short sticks in DC. Read that anyway you want.
    So the cold war, which lasted a lot of years, does not define us. And the post cold war, which lasted 20 years does not define us. So the upshot is that our actions since WWII do not define us. That sounds like a sales pitch to me. "Trust us. After all, look at Lincoln."

    If I was overseas, I would view much of American history with great admiration, but make my decisions based upon American actions since WWII and place more emphasis on the more recent events. It would then be prudent to reach the same conclusion as JMA.
    Last edited by carl; 04-16-2012 at 01:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    The Taiwanese then ask us to help them fight the Red Chinese invasion. ...

    What are you going to tell them?
    That's an easy one Carl, let me help Bob here, those brave souls in the White House and at State are not going to answer the call.

    The Taiwanese will "just hear that phone keep on ringin' off the wall" (apologies to Glenn Campbell)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If I was overseas, I would view much of American history with great admiration, but make my decisions based upon American actions since WWII and place more emphasis on the more recent events. It would then be prudent to reach the same conclusion as JMA.
    Prudent for sure, wrong quite probably. Misjudgement of the US and what it can or will do has led to most of our wars...

    I doubt that will change in the near future.

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    Carl,

    If the couple across the street from your family, who have been brawling for years, got into a gunfight one night, how many of your kids would you send over to break it up?

    As to your Taiwan scenario? There are many powerful lobbies that have dangerously shaped US foreign policy throughout the post WWII era. Saudi, Cuban, Jewish and Taiwanese are four. All 100% dedicated to their own interests with no regard to US interests. The US does not have a lobby pushing for our interests, though plenty that sell either liberal or conservative spins as they play to those respective parties/positions.

    As an American? If we let this just sit and fester as is until someday your scenario actually pops up, we will most likely react rather than respond. As I stated earlier this is a no win situation for the US and a no lose situation for China. It is also played on China's doorstep. I cannot imagine a reason to play such a game. Remember the Joe Pesci character in "Goodfellas"? Give a litte guy a big gun and back him up with a powerful organization and he is apt to cause all kinds of trouble he would never have caused on his own. We need to be careful not to create a "Joe Pesci" leader in Taiwan (or elsewhere). Support has limits. We have defined our limits with Taiwan. We would be wise to ensure they appreciate we are serious about those limits. Our actions, however, could reasonably lead them to believe we are not serious. That is dangerous.

    It's not in China's interest to destroy Taiwan, even if this went violent it would likely be over before we could do anything anyway, and life would be back to normal within months. Certainly life in the US and US interests would be little affected. Not true if we lost a couple carriers and a couple dozen top end fighters destroyed in the process. Not every fight is our fight. I stand by that.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Councilor, answer the question as posed please.
    Last edited by carl; 04-16-2012 at 05:03 PM.
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    Dayuvan

    Notwithstanding your justifications, I go by what is written.

    It is written

    MANILA, Philippines—U.S. and Philippine military officials say nearly 7,000 American and Filipino troops have begun two weeks of major military exercises but they stress that China is not an imaginary target.
    Now, if you claim that the Philippines Armed Forces are hopelessly daft, even though they are native born and understand their fears and worries, and you are the one who is right because you feel that all is well and hyped, then so be it!

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    here are many powerful lobbies that have dangerously shaped US foreign policy throughout the post WWII era. Saudi, Cuban, Jewish and Taiwanese are four. All 100% dedicated to their own interests with no regard to US interests.
    I am a bit surprised. Do you mean that US has no policy of its own and it is driven by immigrants? Apart from the lobbies mentioned, is the Anglo Saxon and German lobbies defunct?

    Second, this is an internal Chinese matter. That is our official position.
    if so, why is the US wasting money, when it is no position to waste money?

    US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...d-of-Guam.html

    Third, the US is probably the most important economic partner for both parties and controls the seas that both receive and ship all manner of goods through. We have all kinds of leverage beyond simply racing into the middle of someone else's internal dispute. How would you have felt if Great Britain had sent in a massive force to prevent the US from reconsolidating the nation during the civil war? Do think there would not have been a century of conflict following, as half a dozen weak nations came to be where the US exists today? Not our fight, and we have no legal obligation to make it our fight.
    Valid point.

    Why did UK intervene in WWII?

    It was only an issue with Germany and a few European countries.

    It was not in the interest of Germany to capture them. All the wanted is a wee bit of Lebensraum.

    Support has limits.
    Not as per the US and George Bush.

    You are either with us or against us!
    Last edited by Ray; 04-16-2012 at 05:02 PM.

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