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Enter The Dragon & Bear - US is no longer the

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  • Enter The Dragon & Bear - US is no longer the

    Although Americans don't know it yet, America's reign as the world's undisputed superpower is officially over.

    WHILE most Americans were obsessing over Cindy Sheehan last week, the most important global power realignment since the fall of the Berlin Wall was under way.
    Russia and China were holding their first ever joint military exercise off China's eastern coast, a week-long sea, land and air operation involving more than 10,000 soldiers, sailors, paratroopers and marines, which ended Aug. 25 with salutes, smiles and congratulations from the Kremlin and Peking's Forbidden Palace — and with Pentagon officials reaching for the aspirin bottle.

    Although Americans don't know it yet, America's reign as the world's undisputed superpower is officially over. A new dangerous and uncertain era has begun. The fall of the Twin Towers was only its prelude, and we had better prepare ourselves.

    The Chinese-Russian war exercise, ironically dubbed "Peace Mission 2005," puts the seal on what was unthinkable just a decade ago: the growing military and economic alliance between these two former Communist rivals. What began with the forming of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 1995, creating a Central Asian version of NATO run by Russia and China, and Vladimir Putin's visit to Peking last year, reached its climax last week with the joint maneuvers.

    Russian and Chinese military officials claim they are preparing their forces to combat terrorism and ethnic strife in the Muslim-dominated former Soviet republics bordering on Russia and China. But those republics, like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, are landlocked. So why stage an elaborate amphibious landing and a lengthy anti-submarine exercise involving Russian missile destroyers, TU-95 long-range bombers and Chinese nuclear subs?

    Because the real target of the exercise was Taiwan, which China has been threatening to "reunite" with the Communist mainland by force and which protested loud and long against Peace Mission 2005. And now, if war comes and the United States has to go to Taiwan's help, we may have to wrestle the Russian Bear as well as the Chinese Dragon.

    This new strategic reality can't be understood using the old Cold War calculus of understanding international conflict in terms of competing ideologies, or even the War on Terror's "clash of civilizations." We live in a world like the one prior to World War One, when Great Powers like Russia, Austria, France and Germany looked for ways to counterbalance Britain's status (thanks to its powerful navy) as the world's lone superpower, in order to compete for global resources and regional advantage — ways that included military alliances.

    Russia and China aren't our sworn enemies — far from it. But experts like Vladimir Solovyov of the Independent Military Survey and the New America Foundation's Robert Kaplan agree that both countries are determined to displace American influence in Asia, and not just in the Taiwan Straits. Just last year, Uzbekistan closed the air base Americans had used for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, not from fear of an Islamic backlash but from pressure from the Russians and Chinese.

    Both countries also have a stake in accelerating their military buildup. Russia is now China's biggest supplier of arms, from Kilo-class submarines to long-range bombers, just as China wants its growing navy to safeguard its access to the oil and gas it needs as the world's second-largest fossil-fuel consumer — or if necessary, to take them by force. Meanwhile, the Russian-Chinese arms trade (which Reuters puts at nearly $60 billion this year) supplies the Kremlin with much-needed foreign cash.

    Are we ready to deal with this Sino-Russian challenge? Here, again, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, necessary or not, is proving a dangerous distraction. From a strictly military point of view, it is not a "war" at all; it is a prolonged counterinsurgency — and the longer it devours the Pentagon's budget, the fewer resources we have to confront a conventional opponent like China, which has the largest army in the world and a submarine force that will soon be the world's largest, as well as a militarily diminished but still nuclear-armed Russia. Car bombings and worries about armored HMV's shouldn't make us lose sight of what really counts in modern warfare: carriers, subs, bombers and tanks, and the technologies and people who drive and maintain them.

    Keeping vital naval bases open like New London, Conn., and Kittery, Maine, are steps in the right direction. But unless we find a way to maintain our military edge beyond the War on Terror, such as building two new nuclear attack subs a year instead of one as the Pentagon currently wants, we will be sending the wrong signals at precisely the wrong moment — and may find ourselves facing Peace Mission 2005 again, but this time for real.

  • #2
    Vapid doesn't even begin to describe this article...
    "Whaddya mean I hurt your feelings?"
    "I didn't know you
    had any feelings"


    • #3
      Let the UN ask them to police the world now.
      RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
      You'll never be forgotten.


      • #4
        Yes. Keeping naval bases in Maine and Connecticut will help combat China.
        Are you on the list?