by Austin Bay
October 11, 2023
FACT ONE: A major land war rages in Europe. Twenty months ago, Russia invaded Ukraine without provocation and the horror grinds on with mass casualties and World-War-I-like attrition.
FACT TWO: War in the Middle East. An Iranian proxy army, Hamas, launches a complex and well-planned attack on Israel. Mass atrocity by Islamist terrorists shocks the civilized world -- at least what's left of civilization.
OK, the Gaza Strip is a confined space. FACT THREE: Iranian proxies have fired into northern Israel -- from Syria and Lebanon. Israel could hit the proxies, then retaliate against Iran. Thus the Hamas War can quickly escalate to a regional conflict involving the Persian Gulf's energy-exporting states. The global economic effects are dire.
Is war in Asia the next explosion igniting World War III?
To be accurate, several wars afflict Asia -- and several of these wars involve powerful communist China.
China wages a frozen war with India in the Himalayas -- the Sino-Indian War of 1962 is not over. Since the 1990s China has waged a slow but calculated war of territorial aggression in the South China Sea. In July 2016, The Hague's international arbitral tribunal, relying on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty (UNCLOS), issued a ruling supporting the Philippines' claims that China had violated Filipino territory in the South China Sea by seizing islets and "sea features."
Despite having signed the U.N. treaty (and accepted the arbitration process), China's communists disdained the court's authority and ignored the verdict.
By ignoring the verdict, the Chinese Communist Party declared war on international order. Yes, that's a world war of a subtle but dangerous sort.
In 2023 China has major economic problems and faces demographic decline. Even usually benighted Washington think tanks wonder if communist China's strength is peaking. "Peak China" is the term.
A fading power can become a risk-taking power.
In 2023 the weak-willed and slow-to-react Biden administration runs Washington. I am certain the 2021 Afghanistan debacle encouraged Russia's Ukraine aggression and very likely encouraged Iran.
So, here's the right-now scenario. With Russia-Ukraine and Hamas-Israel diverting U.S. and global attention -- especially diverting their military power -- is this the moment Beijing attacks Taiwan?
FACT FOUR: In the past four months, China has increased its air and sea probes of Taiwan -- especially violating Taiwanese airspace at will.
In order to support Ukraine, the U.S. has expended its missile and artillery round stockpiles. The most optimistic estimates claim it will take six to eight months to replenish them.
In order to support Israel, the U.S. has moved naval assets to the Indian Ocean and eastern Mediterranean.
Does this expose the western Pacific to Chinese attack?
In a U.S.-China war in the western Pacific, sea power will play the preeminent role. And right now, the U.S. Navy is short of warships. If a TV admiral says otherwise, he's lying.
I grant this: It's possible that Beijing is as surprised as Israel, the U.S. and Europe are by Hamas' barbaric terror war.
That noted, Beijing and Tehran have been touting their improving diplomatic relations.
Here's another thought that might give wiser brains in Beijing pause: Iran and Hamas have poisoned world opinion.
I'll explain it to Beijing. Behead 40 babies, rape dancing pacifists, shoot 80-year-old women in the head, record these evils on video then with barbaric glee show the video to a global audience.
That's what Hamas did. What happens afterwards?
Intelligent and responsible humans prepare for worst cases. When the intelligent and responsible see videos of 40 beheaded babies, they correctly conclude the worst about the evil perpetrators, the perps' allies and their enablers.
Then they act on that knowledge -- act on the hard evidence -- to defend the intelligent and responsible.
Beijing, pay attention. Ayatollah Iran, Hamas, other Iranian proxies and their enablers worldwide now face this response.
The following historical reference strikes me as apropos. Isoroku Yamamoto, Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, said in the immediate aftermath of his surprise attack on Pearl Harbor: "I fear we have wakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."