Every new administration must find its footing with our adversaries. Amongst those adversaries today are China, Russia, and Iran.
Our new administration is struggling to find its own bearings at the same time. This is not only normal, but it is also confusing because the positions of the new admin are radically different versus its predecessor.
This normal transition, the unusually aggressive posture of China, Russia, and Iran taken together with the internal policy confusion makes for a fine kettle of fish.
China and Iran have just cozied up to each other with a 25-year alliance.
How will this resolve itself? Our adversaries will test us — plain and simple, no surprise there. They are currently testing us right now.
The Chinese find themselves globally in an awkward position:
1. The Chinese Virus has put them in the spotlight in an unflattering posture. Any goodwill the Chinese may have enjoyed has been consumed in their intransigence in the Chinese Virus saga. The Chinese do not like talking about the China Virus.
2. The Chinese were picked some six years ago to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, a matter of considerable prestige to China. Sort of an invite to sit at the Big Kids Table at Thanksgiving.
There is a move afoot to boycott the Beijing Olympics based on China’s record of genocide in regard to the Uyghurs, child/slave/prisoner labor, organ harvesting, the suppression of freedom in Hong Kong, the continuing controversy surrounding the dozen islands/atolls militarized by the Chinese in the South China Sea.
3. Since 1949, Red China has had an insane fixation on pretending that Taiwan is a renegade province of China and that any member of the world who acknowledges that Taiwan is the remainder of the Republic of China, China’s adversary in the revolution, has committed an affront of monumental proportions.
It really is sophomoric. Of course Taiwan is not part of China. Sorry.
The predecessor American administration sold weapons to Taiwan which Red China took poorly.
Recent Chinese utterances on Taiwan — from the government of China, from the Chinese Communist Party, from the Chinese diplomatic corps, and from the Chinese military — have become increasingly bellicose and coordinated.
This quick summary is the flavor of the US – China relationship with the leader of China, President for Life Xi Jinping, looking at the new admin and wondering how it will behave versus its predecessor.
Xi has been in power since March 2013 and has worked with/against three American administrations (Obama, Trump, Biden) and has personally dealt with President Biden when Vice President Biden had the China portfolio under President Obama.
It is my working hypothesis that if the Chinese are thwarted in any manner in regard to the Beijing 2022 Olympics, if the world boycotts the Olympics, if Chinese sensibilities are in any way bruised, the Chinese will move militarily against Taiwan.
The Russians stole Crimea with an almost bloodless coup de main. The then current admin denied Ukraine deadly military support opting for bandages and body bags.
The Trump admin provided Ukraine with deadly anti-tank and anti-attack helicopter weapons that have put the Ukraine on a decent footing against the Russian incursion on its eastern border. The Russians and the Ukrainians — pretty decent soldiers and army — have been at war since the Crimea incident.
1. Russia is emboldened by their seizure of Crimea and the absence of any response from the west.
2. Ukraine has applied for NATO membership — maybe, maybe not — but they are not NATO members. The Russians have no problem testing the resolve of NATO since they are currently pretending that the Russians in Ukraine are just similar “separatists” a tactic they employed in Crimea.
3. The Russians have recently — right now as we speak — moved tens of thousands of regular army troops, tanks, and artillery to marshalling areas near the Ukraine border. In addition, they have moved supply depots, maintenance facilities, and headquarters elements. They have not taken much effort to describe this as “maneuvers” which is the usual Russian ploy.
Taken in its most favorable light, the Russians are modeling the NATO response to such a move. Taken in its least favorable light, the Russians are getting ready to broaden their effort to take eastern Ukraine.
Iran is an odd story. Nobody thinks Iran is trustworthy. Everybody agrees that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon — include Israel in that group.
Everybody acknowledges that Iran is the world’s largest exporter of terrorism. Still, the P5 + 1 (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, Germany) wants to pretend there is a good outcome in dealing with Iran.
The “deal” simply pushes off nuclear bombmaking uranium enrichment by 15 years starting in 2015. So, right now, we are nine years from a nuclear Iran.
Iran knows that the Biden admin sees the Iran Nuke Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA) as a cornerstone of its Obama 3.0 diplomacy. Former Secretary of State John Kerry (who cut the original deal) is a critical member of the Biden Cabinet (though with the climate change portfolio rather than State Department).
The whole thing about Iran gets down to this:
1. Without US sanctions on its energy and banking sectors, Iran can produce somewhere near 2.5MM barrels of oil a day and would have a ready market for that production thereby funding all of its nefarious deeds.
2. With US sanctions, Iran can produce about 0.3MM barrels of oil a day. China is hip deep helping Iran cheat, trust me.
So, does the world want an Iran teetering on financial ruin — they are just about out of foreign currency reserves — unable to fund its Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror commitments? Or, does it want a nuclear Iran in less than ten years?
Iran knows full well that the Biden admin places great importance on re-entering the JCPOA as a repudiation of the Trump admin and a return to Obama 3.0.
What is the call to action, Big Red Car?
Ahhh, so here we are. What can the United States do to stand for good v evil? The answer to that is, unfortunately, not too damn much.
As to China, weapons systems have developed in such a manner that the old strategy of sending a US fleet to park itself in the Strait of Taiwan is not a good plan as the Chinese possess weapons that would put the Americans on the bottom of the Strait most lickety split.
Current US thinking is to send an American aircraft carrier attack group south of Taiwan — 3-400 miles — and operate from there. Is this realistic? No, I don’t think so.
Do we want to go to war over Taiwan? No.
As to Russia, they are doing again what they did in Crimea. Is the west (NATO) willing to do more than it did in Crimea? Not bloody likely.
NATO is at the extreme east edge of its sphere of influence and Russia has a short supply line and a border with Ukraine. They will tear off a piece and then get the whole enchilada.
As to Iran, will the Biden admin release sanctions as a condition to doing a new deal? Not right away, but they will.
There will be a year long kabuki dance — not much different than how we got into this deal in the first place — and suddenly we will have a deal. When you peek beneath the covers, it will reveal that we rolled over and released the sanctions.
The Trump admin killed Iran’s terror mastermind and the current admin will treat the Iranians as if they are long lost brothers.
Bottom line it, Big Red Car
America’s adversaries have taken the measure of the new admin and are just about ready to test our resolve. I do not see a good outcome here.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Good day.