Saturday 4 January 2020

Ringside Seat for China

Any pugilist welcomes the opportunity of a ringside seat where a potential future antagonist is on the bill.   Russia and the USA greatly enjoyed China's discomfiture in its ill-judged 1979 assault on Vietnam.  Three years later, the Russians took a close professional interest in our recapture of the Falklands, from which they learned several lessons.  Even more salutary for them was Gulf War 1 in 1991: they'd been skeptical as to whether the NATO AirLand Battle doctrine was workable, and discovered to their dismay that it was.  (This helpfully persuaded them to sit out the 1990s, when a less chastened Russia might have lashed out as a diversionary tactic against its post-Communist humiliation.)

Yes - better to discover what your future opponent has got in his locker by watching someone else lead with their chin.  It is therefore confidently to be anticipated that the Chinese will be watching Iran vs election-year-USA with considerable interest and close attention.

The Iranians pose a serious challenge - irrespective of any baby nukes they may possess, which they wouldn't squander anyway.  Amply capable of 'conventional' fighting, they must also be the most potent initiator of asymmetric warfare on the planet right now (of which the cyber variety is just one facet**).  For one thing, the Chinese will want to see how the Iranian drone fleet fares.  Don't be surprised if it is swept from the field ... but to achieve that, the US will need to show its technological hand. 

Likewise, even the slightest escalation of violence will tempt Trump to take out the Iranian nuclear programme - but again, using what technology?  (FatBoy wants to know the answer to that one, too.)  More broadly, what means will the NSA deploy to intercept small-but-deadly operations against US assets the world over?  Or to blot out Iranian comms across the spectrum?

Finally, and on a different theme: high-profile conflict in one theatre has often been used as useful cover for some other party to have a crack at something they've had on their own list for a while.  I still don't think China will go for HK (see Predictions 2020 quiz, qn 5), still less Taiwan this year - even on a wet Thursday morning when all eyes are on a spectacular going down in the Gulf:  but Someone will try Something.

Have a nice weekend!  Oh - and I wouldn't be taking a holiday in Cyprus any time soon ...

** cyber is a game lots of folks might start playing, in the hope it all gets blamed on Iran 


E-K said...

FFS ! Going out there in April. Aphrodite Brewery (Paphos) is the best ale tour I've ever been on so I'm not cancelling now.

Matt said...

Is the comment on Cyprus in relation to #BoycottCyprus or some proper reason?

The latter is the #MeToo crowd who would like all men to be declared potential rapists at birth and have any accusation of rape be instantly accepted as the truth and jail the (supposed) perpetrator for life.

No woman would ever lie about being raped obviously.

Which is where the courts come it - they make a decision as to whether the alleged rape can be proved. Note, not that it didn't happen, just whether is can be proven.

Yep, justice abroad might be crap (see Carlos Goshn) but surely everyone knows that if you don't visit bongo countries without prior thought for the consequences!

Raedwald said...

I once made an early national newspaper appearance as the first forces baby back into Cyprus after the peak of the 'police action' - in fact I was a War Office PR pawn, the insurgency was hardly over, and mother was cross when EOKA promptly exploded a grenade in next-door's garden. She kept both a Webley .45 and a 'Flit' bug sprayer by the door to see-off the terrs. Don't ask. My brother was born in BMH Famagusta. I would be rather upset in the circumstances to see an Iranian missile targeted on a UK sovereign base there. It would be almost personal.

Unlike Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell's make-believe Saddam threats, the crane-hangers can actually get a number of home-made missiles and drones into the air.

dearieme said...

"Someone will try Something"

Not the Falklands again, I hope.

Tell me, does anyone know what deterrent threats we've made to Argentina lest it try it on? Or to Spain re Gibraltar? Or to Dublin re the IRA?

Come to think of it, all those lovely "refugees" who invade our territory from the EU. Should we just "return" them to the only part of the EU with whom we share a land border? Do you know, I think we should consider it.

Nick Drew said...

Matt - this is C@W, so yes, a proper reason - need you ask?!

upon the lovely island of Cyprus are located some of Britain's most precious assets, the kind which make us a Power in the world, and which Corbyn most assuredly would have given up

just take a look at where Cyprus is located on the map: and remember that Turkey isn't reliable any more ...

I never minded going to places at 'awkward' times with a gun in my hand and a respirator pouch on my belt: but as a civvy? Not me, I'm a coward

Anonymous said...

Argentina pretty much have the same capability they had in 1980s. Same actual aircraft. Same ships. Just thirty five years older.

Mind you, We have rapier air defence on the Falklands. Which is what we had back then. And it wasn’t up to much at the time. More a deterrent than a true killing system.

Anonymous said...

Lose Mount Pleasant and we haven't got ships to get the Falklands back.

Damn stupid thing to do. Candidate Trump so much better than President Trump, not for the first time. He is surrounded by the people who thought Iraq 2003 was a good idea, and they think a war with Iran is a good idea too.

Matt said...

ND - Realised the importance when Raedwald mentioned missiles. Hope E-Ks brewery isn't near any of the bases!

E-K said...

No-one fucks with the mother-in-law, Matt. She lives there. Paphos.

I'm sure holiday jets will be a prime target.

andrew said...

If you are moving around strongly reccommend the mykonos brewing co.
Imo the best thing on the island.

Anonymous said...

"Iran has declared that it will no longer abide by any of the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. In a statement it said it would no longer observe limitations on its capacity for enrichment, the level of enrichment, the stock of enriched material, or research and development. The statement came after a meeting of the Iranian cabinet in Tehran."

The US neocons have got what they wanted, and we're that much closer to a fourth MENA war since 2003, plus quasi civil war in Egypt and the usual unpleasantness in Gaza/WB.

Matt said...


The Iranians have big problems with their nuclear programme, least of which is the US.
Getting hold of enough material and processing it is one problem.
The bigger one however is that if they get close, the Israelis will turn their nuclear processing sites into no-go zones for the next 1000 years.