Monday, January 22, 2007

China's answer to the hegemonic Howard Hughes

David Seaton's News Links
Why has China's shooting down of one of their own satellites got Washington's knickers in such a twist? Because it goes straight to the cartoid artery of American military power. America's military supremacy is based on overwhelming air superiority: on being able to control the airspace over any country anywhere without suffering appreciable losses.

As we can see in Iraq and Afghanistan American ground forces are limited in their effectiveness even in small, underdeveloped countries. Without its total air superiority, America could never hope to impose its will on Iran and much less the immensity of China. Therefore, defending against the United States, is basically about anti-aircraft technology. If Russia, for example, is selling advanced, but purely defensive, anti-aircraft systems to Iran, the United States protests. Russia is simply "selling Winchesters and whiskey to the Indians". The right to American air superiority trumps any claims to national sovereignty or the basic right of self defense.

Of course, the United States has its own wonderful anti-aircraft technology too and has nothing to fear from an foreign air attack, but here is the irony: to feel safe, Americans must feel able to attack anyone anywhere from the air or outer space with impunity. Nothing less will suffice.

That is probably the most dangerous mentality in the world. On a national level the United State has become like an obsessive neurotic that spends his days washing his hands in terror of microbes. A hegemonic Howard Hughes. What sort of guilt feelings lie at the heart of such a mentality? And in this neurosis is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if the United States is basically a problem of anti-aircraft defense, then the world will ultimately find a solution to that.

The New York Times report below, speculates on why the Chinese haven't made any announcement of their achievement or any comment to alarmed inquiries, Why should they? The message is crystal clear: America cannot humiliate China on the cheap. The United States may be able to get away with doubting Iran's sovereignty, but not China's. DS

U.S. Officials Try to Interpret China’s Silence Over Satellite - New York Times
Abstract: Bush administration officials said that they had been unable to get even the most basic diplomatic response from China after their detection of a successful test to destroy a satellite 10 days ago, and that they were uncertain whether China’s top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, were fully aware of the test or the reaction it would engender. In interviews over the past two days, American officials with access to the intelligence on the test said the United States kept mum about it in hopes that China would come forth with an explanation.(...) It was more than a week before the intelligence leaked out: a Chinese missile had been launched and an aging weather satellite in its path, more than 500 miles above the earth, had been reduced to rubble. But protests filed by the United States, Japan, Canada and Australia, among others, were met with silence — and quizzical looks from officials in The Chinese Foreign Ministry, who seemed to be caught unaware. The mysteries surrounding China’s silence are reminiscent of the cold war, when every case of muscle-flexing by competing powers was examined for evidence of a deeper agenda.(...) The threat to United States interests is clear: the test demonstrated that China could destroy American spy satellites in low-earth orbit (the very satellites that picked up the destruction of the Chinese weather satellite). Chinese military officials have extensively studied how the United States has used satellite imagery in the Persian Gulf war, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in tracking North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — an area in which there has been some limited intelligence-sharing between Chinese and American officials. Several senior administration officials said such studies had included extensive analysis of how satellite surveillance could be used by the United States in case of a crisis over Taiwan. “This is a wake-up call,” said Robert Joseph, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security. “A small number of states are pursuing capabilities to exploit our vulnerabilities.” As a result, officials said, the Chinese test is likely to prompt an urgent new effort inside the Bush administration to find ways to counter China’s antisatellite technology. Among the options are efforts to “harden” vulnerable satellites, improve their maneuverability so that they can evade crude kinetic weapons like the one that destroyed the Chinese satellite and develop a backup system of replacement satellites that could be launched immediately if one in orbit is destroyed. READ IT ALL

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