On the implausibility of a war with China

In the wake of the PRC’s actions around the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increasing speculation in some circles that the PRC might be preparing to wage war against the United States, or at least some sort of regional war (such as an invasion of Taiwan) in which treaty obligations would involve the U.S.

I’ve actually been considering this possibility, from my perspective as a wargamer and military-history buff, for over a decade – ever since China began seriously flexing its muscles in the South China Sea. And the risk of war has undoubtedly been rising recently.

The PRC has given U.S. and other trade partners ample reason to conclude that they need to decouple their economies from Chinese supply chains. Threats by China to use its control of most of rare-earth production for economic blackmail have been followed by much more serious threats to use its dominance of the manufacturing of basic pharmaceuticals as a weapon.

Post-COVID-19, it’s now strategically vital for other nations to develop supply chains for critical goods that are domestic, or at least better guarded against the political and epidemiological risk of relying on Chinese manufacturing. While necessary, this shift does mean the PRC has less to lose in the event of going to war.

Nevertheless, I continue to judge that the odds of China launching a war are very low. Nobody can entirely rule out enraged, irrational behavior by the PRC, but in the remainder of this post I will attempt to demonstrate why the war options available to the PRC hold out little or no prospect of a satisfying victory and entail severe terminal risks.

To wage a winning war, you need to formulate a set of war aims that are achievable with the tools and resources you have. Your strategy derives from your war aims, which have to be grounded in some notion of how you will manage the peace following a military victory to your advantage.

Historically, the overwhelmingly most common sort of aggressive war is a war of conquest. In these the war aim is simple – to conquer and annex some territory, and then integrate it into your state structure following victory.

In more sophisticated versions of this game you may be satisfied with the creation of a compliant client state from your conquest.

A step further away from raw conquest is war to maintain position as the dominant power (the hegemon) of a trade network that gathers wealth for your nation even without exerting formal control of the other polities in the network. Many wars that at first sight appear to be ideologically motivated can be understood this way, with political or religious ideology providing a rationale for hegemony that the entire trade network accepts – or can at least be made to echo.

Broadly speaking, land powers tend to wage wars of conquest, while maritime powers wage wars of hegemony. There have been exceptions in both directions. But in all cases, a set of war aims needs to hold out a better than even chance that the gains of war will outweigh the costs.

To understand how limited the PRC’s war options are, we can start with a grasp on how difficult and unsatisfying any war of conquest would be due to the geographic box China is in. The obstacles around it are formidable.

To the south, the Himalayan massif makes all of South Asia other than a narrow coastal plain on the Southeast Asian peninsula inaccessible to serious troop movements. There are no roads or rail links. The last time the Chinese tried pushing in that direction, in 1979, they were unable to sustain an offensive at any distance from their railheads and withdrew after less than a month. Their war aim – forcing the North Vietnamese to withdraw its troops from Cambodia – failed.

To the west, the vastness and comparatively undeveloped state of China’a western hinterland is a serious logistical problem before one even gets to the border. At the borders, the Tien Shan and Pamir ranges present a barrier almost as formidable as the Himalayas. External road and rail links are poor and would be easily interdicted.

To the north, movement would be easier. It might be just within logistical possibility for the PLA to march into Siberia. The problem with this idea is that once you’ve conquered Siberia, what you have is…Siberia. Most of it, except for a small area in the south coastal region of Primorsky Kraye, is so cold that cities aren’t viable without food imports from outside the region. Set this against the risks of invading a nuclear-armed Russia and you don’t have a winning proposition.

To the east is the South China Sea. The brute fact constraining the PRC’s ambitions in that direction is that mass movement of troops by sea is risky and difficult. I recently did the math on Chinese sealift craft and despite an expensive buildup since the 1980s they don’t have the capacity to move even a single division-sized formation over ocean. Ain’t nobody going to take Taiwan with one division, they’ve has too much time to prepare and fortify over the last 60 years.

The PRC leadership is evil and ruthless, but it’s also cautious and historically literate and can read maps. Accordingly, the People’s Liberation Army is designed not to take territory but to hold the territory the PRC already has. Its mission is not conquest but the suppression of regional warlordism inside China itself. The capability for the PLA to wage serious expeditionary warfare doesn’t exist, and can’t be built in the near-term future.

It’s often said that the danger of aggressive war by China is a function of the huge excess of young men produced by covert sexual selection and the one-child policy. But to expend those young men usefully you need to get them to where they can fight and are motivated by some prospect of seizing the wives unavailable for them at home. The PRC can’t do that.

The military threat from China is, therefore, a function of what it can do with its navy, its airpower, and its missiles. And what it can do with those against the U.S. is upper-bounded by the fact that the U.S. has nuclear weapons and would be certain to respond to a PRC nuclear or EMP attack on the U.S. mainland by smashing Chinese cities into radioactive rubble.

Within the constraints of conventional warfare waged by navy and air force it is difficult to imagine an achievable set of PRC war aims that gains more than it costs.

This isn’t to say the PRC couldn’t do a lot of damage if it wants to. Anybody with a brain has to worry about U.S. carriers looking like big, fat, slow targets in the modern naval battlespace. There’s intelligence that the PRC is working hard on hypersonic ship-killer missiles, and I certainly would be in their shoes. It may already be unsafe for hostile carriers to operate inside the first island chain.

The problem is this: after you’ve surprised and sunk a couple of U.S. fleet carriers, what do you do for an encore? How do you convert that tactical victory into strategic gains? You’re not going to do it with your army, which can’t get anywhere more interesting after the sinkings than it could before.

Your problems are compounded by China’s extreme import dependence. You need a constant high volume of imports of coal, oil, and steel to keep your economy running. These have to be imported through sealanes that are extremely vulnerable to interdiction, notably at the Malacca Straits and in the Persian Gulf.

In a lot of ways your strategic situation is like a scaled-up version of Japan’s in 1941 – you could seize the initiative with a Pearl-Harbor-like initial shock, but you can’t wage a long war because without sealane control you’ll run out of key feedstocks and even food rather rapidly. And unlike the Japanese in 1941, you don’t have the kind of serious blue-water navy that you’d need for sealane control outside the first island chain – not with just two carriers against up to eleven U.S. Carrier Battle Groups you don’t.

There is one way an aggressive naval war could work out in your favor anyway. You can count on the U.S.’s media establishment to be pulling for the U.S. to lose any war it’s in, especially against a Communist or Socialist country. If your war goals are limited to ending U.S. naval power projection in the Western Pacific, playing for a rapid morale collapse orchestrated by agents of influence in the U.S. is not completely unrealistic.

It’s playing with fire, though. One problem is that before you launch your attack you don’t know that your sucker punch will actually work. Another is that, as the Japanese found out after Pearl Harbor, the American public may react to tragic losses with Jacksonian fury. If that happens, you’re seriously screwed. The war will end with your unconditional surrender, and not sooner.

You’re probably screwed anyway. Given even minimal spine in the U.S.’s civilian leadership, the U.S. Navy can strangle your economy in a matter of months by interdicting a handful of chokepoints well outside of the area where you can sustain naval operations at a wartime tempo. Those hypersonic missiles are all very well if you actually have them, but even if you could could reach out and touch the Malacca Straits with them they’re not going to do much against attack submarines.

Again I note that the PRC leadership can read maps. It is probably more aware and less self-deluding about the economic precariousness of its situation than American politicians would be if the positions were reversed, because Marxist doctrine insists that politics is an epiphenomenon of economics.

The PRC can start a war, but they don’t have the capability to win one. That’s why, barring a Hitler-scale episode of insanity in the PRC leadership, it’s not going to happen.

UPDATE: A reader trying to evaluate the plausibility of an invasion of Taiwan asked “What’s the PLA’s NCO corps like? What’s their ‘Marine’ troopers quality?”

Confucian culture, Communist doctrine. No successful military adventure ever unless you count bloodying the U.S.’s nose in Korea (and they didn’t win that one, South Korea exists). With that record I don’t think anyone can know for sure, but I know which way to bet.

The way to bet is that Chinese NCOs are good at dealing with pitched attacks along a well-defined threat axis, but otherwise almost incapable of operating without clear command direction. Expect their Marines (and other troops) to be individually tough and skilled, but incapable of tactical initiative and vulnerable to morale collapse when faced with an enemy that gets inside their OODA loop.

Ordinary line troops will fight better than Arabs and Arabized tribesmen, because they have a much higher average IQ and more ability to form loyalties above the familial/tribal level. They’ll certainly be much more effective users of military technology. But they’ll have the same tendency to shatter when faced with Americans or Brits or Germans or Israelis who really get high-intensity maneuver warfare.

Overall I’d expect battlefield performance somewhat better than Warsaw Pact troops once their feet are dry, but they’re going to make a lot of costly bonehead mistakes in naval and amphibious operations due to inexperience and inflexible combat psychology. Their senior officers will, on the whole, be technically competent but cautious and unimaginative (nails that stick up get pounded down in their culture).

A tiny handful of their special-operations troops may be better than I’m describing so far. Because their population is so large they might be able to collect enough super-warrior outliers to field SpecOps teams that are world-class (comparable to Americans/Brits/Russians/Israelis). Russian Spetsnaz are the precedent here. But they’ll have a hell of a time replacing those troops and will be poor at integrating them into normal combat operations (again, see Spetsnaz).

They won’t be particularly atrocity-prone. Along this axis expect: (1) way way better than pre-1945 Japanese, (2) way better than Nazis, (3) better than Arabs, (4) possibly better than Warsaw pact troops.

271 thoughts on “On the implausibility of a war with China

  1. If Russia initiates the attack on the USA, with France and England being neutral, China could see an opportunity to send it’s Navy via Alaska to pin down the west coast. Agree China needs to develop it’s Navy more before this would happen. Probably ten years minimum or even 30-50 years. If they do or did already stockpile enough feedstocks and fuel to last a year of wartime operations that would neutralize the chokepoint problem.

    • If Russia initiates the attack on the USA

      Why?

      And Russia’s military is barely capable of conducting operations in Crimea. And that is with their loose rules of engagement and leaning heavily on their most elite units.

      • If Russia initiates the attack on the USA

        Why?

        Never mind that, HOW?

        They could barely get troops into the Crimea in 2014, and that didn’t involve airlift.

        • Getting troops into Syria? They mostly aren’t, and the trickle they have comes in by commercial airliner and they gear comes in on commercial container ships.

          • Interestingly this is actually an interesting method of nonconventional warfare, that as far as I know only Moldbug was analyzed seriously.

        • I should have said “they couldn’t get trucks and tanks into the Crimea”, which technically is a bit of an overstatement, they could get *some*, but had a lot of breakdowns and logistics problems.

          Russia isn’t even a paper tiger anymore, the only leverage they have is threatening to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe, but even that is cutting off their nose to spite their faces.

            • Given the maintenance and service on their tanks, capital ships and some of their aircraft they may not have functional nukes.

              • Given they still send a lot of satellites to space using post-soviet rockets, they do have functional nukes. Or at least way to transport them.

                • Nuclear weapons degrade over time – warheads have to be replaced at regular intervals, radiation fries electronics, and causes structural degradation and metal fatigue in missiles and other delivery systems – a nuclear missile can be destroyed by a pair of pliers dropped accidentally – and it’s happened. The skin is about the thickness of a beer can, a dent or hole at launch velocity can destroy the missile long before it reaches the target. Same case for metal fatigue caused by radiation damage.

    • The chokepoint problem isn’t fueling and supplying China’s Navy. It’s fueling and supplying their economy in general. It’s pretty much a given that any shooting war between the US and China is going to involve an embargo on both sides, and the US is almost certainly going to embargo any nation that trades with China. It’s highly likely in a shooting war that the US is going to blockade China, including unrestricted submarine warfare against any cargo vessel stupid enough to announce it is headed to or from China.

      Unless China can quickly demonstrate remarkable success in ASW, most shipping insurers are not going to insure China cargo, and therefore most cargo ships are not going to go to China. And then the Chinese economy shuts down, stockpiles or no, because they don’t have anyone to sell their goods to.

      China might be able to keep the Malacca Strait and other chokepoints in the South Pacific open. I don’t see how they could do that and keep the Straits of Hormuz open, and they have no hope of preventing the US from controlling the Panama Canal. The Suez Canal, Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Horn are also probably going to be closed to China friendly traffic. So China’s economy will dependent on selling stuff to India, southeast Asia, southeast Africa, and the west coast of South America, and that’s a best case scenario for them. It’s more likely that the key battleground will be the minds of the insurers at Lloyds of London, and they are extremely badly positioned to win that war.

      China really does not want to get involved in a war that involves them losing their overseas trade. That means not getting involved in a war with the US, which means they need to focus on enemies that aren’t US allies. That leaves them Vietnam, which they lost to in 1979, and Russia, which has nukes and a reputation for ruthlessness.

      I agree with Eric. China is in a box without a military solution. It’s best for them to play the waiting game and wait for Russia and the US to wither, then move in to become the new hegemon after the US can’t afford to maintain its Navy.

      • Presumably, the Chinese strategy will be more Russia-in-Crimea (i.e.,slow escalation + formal deniability) than Pearl Harbor. Assuming that:
        1) the virus puts a ton of pressure on the U.S., both in terms of budget deficits and in terms of manpower required for a wartime operational pace
        1.1) we’re still committed in the Middle East.
        2) if the PRC doesn’t attack the U.S. proper, they probably can count on a relatively indifferent popular response e.g., “who wants to die for Taiwan?”
        2.1) I think you are right that the Press won’t help rally the public
        2.2) slow escalation makes it tough for a President to ever sell going to war over the latest step.
        2.3) if they do miscalculate, PRC just denies involvement and backs down one notch. Rinse and repeat 6 months later.
        3) “Unrestricted submarine warfare” and the like against neutral flagged shipping isn’t going to win us any friends internationally.
        3.1) the PRC has bought a ton of international friends see e.g., WHO.

        • This is more plausible, but this isn’t really a war between the US and China. And because of the fact that Taiwan is offshore, it’s hard to play slow escalation games the way the Russians did in Crimea – you cant just walk over. They need a good-sized fifth column in place, realistically, in order to pull that one off. I don’t know Taiwanese politics well, but if they have that level of popular support, a formal negotiation of some sort might be a better thing to aim for.

        • The problem with Taiwan is that Taiwan doesn’t need the US to defend itself if it can get South Korea and Japan to commit. And both SK and Japan have significant reasons to do so.

          Even better if they can get the Phillipines and Vietnamese on board as well, which is possible if the right deal on the Spratly’s is made (ie lets all split China’s share).

          The reality is that Taiwan wins or loses in the air and at sea, and if they can get Japanese and Korean air assets involved, as well as the JMSDF’s ships, they win. The PLAN and PLAAF do not have the capability to fight all their regional enemies at once and while there’s still a lot of bad blood between those enemies, they all share the reality that this is all in their backyard and they don’t want China owning the single most strategic part of it, Taiwan.

          The US brings a lot to the table, but the reality is that Japan’s surface combatants are direct analog’s to the US Navy (The JMSDF’s main combatants are all Arleigh Burke variations) and Japan is a nicely unsinkable aircraft carrier.

          • China is currently rising economically

            For as long as they can keep cooking the books, and no one pokes them too hard.

            But then people believed that the USSR was an unopposable economic juggernaught back in the day as well. People are too quick to believe known liars.

            • “I have a theory about the Cold War. We win, they lose”
              –Ronald Reagan.

              Who, BTW had a degree in economics.

              I’ve always been amazed by the people who think EVERY WORD coming out of the mouths of our government officials are oppressive lies, but we should believe the official statistics and pronouncements Communists and the like. Well, except when they threaten us directly, that we’re supposed to understand a posturing.

        • > isn’t going to win us any friends internationally.

          We have very few friends to start with, and the ones that *are* friendly are also military liabilities we go to war.

          We’re already on our own, so why bother pretending?

          • Also, if we’re enforcing a naval blockade against China, ships that are openly trading with China are attempting to evade the blockade. Which is their right, of course, but at the risk of being sunk by the US Navy.

            I suspect that even if we established a blockade, no one aside from perhaps the North Koreans would make a serious attempt to evade it.

  2. I recently came across “The Secret Speech of General Chi Haotian,” of admittedly dodgy provenance, which is nevertheless of interest. Supposedly from 1992, it talks about using bioweapons for an initial surprise attack on the U.S. Note that the reference to Yellow Peril seems to be to a 1991 Chinese language science fiction novel of that name.

    Personally, I don’t think COVID-19 was initially intended as a biowarfare attack, but was a leak from a lab doing bioweapon research. Once it got out, though, I think the CCP decided to turn it into an accidental, deniable bioweapon. There are many instances of Chinese people intentionally spreading the virus in other countries, and I suspect they are not all sociopaths acting independently.

    • Or possibly somebody taking every known video of an ethnic-Chinese person doing something a bit gross and turning them into a racist panic?

      Can you really imagine large numbers of people who live in liberal democracies being ordered to do that, with not even one of them saying “WTF?” and calling the cops?

      • You do know how sleeper agents work, right? And if any of them did refuse, they’d probably call the FBI, and we wouldn’t yet know about that part of it.

        • Yes, but they tend to be way more common in fiction than reality. I could see a bunch of people who like China passing back a bit of info here and there, or taking down pro-Hong-Kong flyers from bulletin boards at universities, but biological warfare? That’s not something people take lightly, and asking it would be a good way to blow up your spy network.

          Fair point about the FBI, though.

  3. This is why China’s best bet is to back, and back hard, the Democrat candidate for the President of the United States. Biden has already been bought. Any replacement candidate will quickly be brought in line too.

    The meddling in the election by China will be epic (you could say Wuhan Flu is part of that meddling). They will push as hard as possible to try and convince America to elect a politician tat will bow to their wishes. And the media will push their propaganda gleefully turned up to 11.

    The question is. Will America be dumb enough to elect a Democrat that will make China going to war with us unnecessary anyway?

    • The combination of TDS and 20/20 hindsight is very powerful. My Facebook feed is filled with people who think this is all Trump’s fault. Never mind the actual history, and all the mistakes made by Democrats, and the fact that it’s ultimately China’s fault. The DNC and the media (but I repeat myself) have seized on this as another chance to get Bad Orange Man. At this point, they are rooting for the virus.

      • He screwed up a few things, but so has almost every other world leader. He’s a lot less evil than Xi.

        (Though he should still shut his stupid mouth about epidemiology, and let people who actually have a fscking clue speak instead. His actions aren’t bad, but his words on this topic have been seriously painful.)

      • They are rooting for the virus AND rooting for China.

        The WAR China can win is the US 2020 election. Democrats WILL not bring our manufacturing back from there if they win. The hate middle America more than they hate China.

        • What do the Democrats have to do with it? 99% of manufacturing is private-sector, not public-sector.

          • Democrats are pro-tax, pro-regulation, pro-union: all the things that drove manufacturing out of the US in the first place. Bringing it back will require easing or eliminating those burdens, and they’ll fight tooth and nail against it.

            • The US hasn’t lost manufacturing overall – the value of goods produced in the US has been on a steady upward trend. Jobs have left, yes, but that’s more the fault of automation than of China. The availability of low-cost labour overseas(spurred more by the gigantic revolution in oceanic trade than by China per se) has also hurt employment levels, as the low-value, high-labour stuff (shoes, etc.) has moved out of the country. But that’s the smaller factor of the two.

              And taxes, regulations and unions are smaller than either of those. Again, they don’t help – one of the few Trump actions I really like was lowering your rather antiquated corporate tax rate to a level that was actually competitive with Europe and Canada. And while I don’t think he’s really moved the needle all that much on regs, he deserves some credit for trying. But they’re not the big issue. The biggest issue is that both factory equipment and Third Worlders are cheaper than Americans. Unless you have a job that needs a well-educated or locally-knowledgeable human(e.g., jet engines), or your logistics are impractical(e.g., bottled water), why would you hire someone in the developed world?

              • The biggest issue is that both factory equipment and Third Worlders are cheaper than Americans.

                You’re almost there….

                Now why is that the case?

                • Because Americans have a fairly high standard of living, mostly. Welfare is a better income than anything that’d make us price-competitive with Vietnamese labour, if it’s just a simple question of man-hours.

                  We have factories here in the developed world because of trade barriers, cultural barriers(where you need people who understand our society – just ask anyone who’s outsourced tech work to India about the surprising barriers), logistical concerns, or the need for a large and educated workforce. But on the pure price of labour, even a US with no unions, no regulations, and no minimum wage would still be much more expensive than Nigeria for the same number of man-hours.

                  • And American workers also provide more value per hour than Chinese slave labor.

                    But the fact that American workers would still be more expensive in Libertopia seems a little silly when in the real world you can’t go a day without running into some sort of imposition that penalizes productive work.

                    When you get down to it, it is a miracle we have any employment. I guess bureaucratic incompetence extends to not *quite* throttling the economy as thoroughly as it would like.

          • 99% of manufacturing is private-sector

            Take a look at the Code of Federal Regulations. “Private sector” in the US doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  4. China is Mahan’s Despair. Their SLOCs must pass through easily interdicted chokepoints.

    If they controlled Taiwan, they might have a way out of the box, but they don’t, and they can’t take control anytime soon.

    • The Brits managed it for most of the period 1859-1945 without too much trouble. And the Bombay-London route went through the Bab el Mandeb, the Suez, and Gibraltar, the widest of which is 16 miles across. (The only one who managed to block free commerce was Mussolini, of all people)

      China just never got the colonial empire that the Brits did. If they owned Malaysia and Egypt and a few others, they could do just fine in such a war. They’re not Russia, they have thousands of miles of coastline on the open ocean in temperate climes.

      • The Brits owned Gibraltar and effectively controlled Egypt for most of the period. And had the option of taking the long way around either way if they really had to. And, not for nothing, controlled or neutralized Ireland as well, in the period.

        (And unrestricted submarine warfare still strained them mightily.)

        As you say, if they had Malaysia, that would also get them out of the box. I think they need both Malaysia and Taiwan, at a minimum, and a neutral India.

        • Fully agreed. My point wasn’t that China, as it exists today, is out of the box. My point is that simply having naval traffic go through chokepoints isn’t an issue in and of itself. You just need to be able to dominate the chokepoints. That’s a solvable problem, if a hard one.

          Subs mostly hurt the Brits in open water, not chokepoints. I haven’t studied this one in too much detail, but my impression is that chokepoints are just as good for sub-hunters as they are for subs.

          • While the problem of chokepoints being as good for ASW as for subs is broadly true, there is one element that subs have now, that they didn’t have back in WW2: cruise missiles. The US doesn’t currently have a sub-launched anti-ship cruise missile (barring the fairly short-ranged Harpoon, which a given sub might or might not carry), but work is already underway to re-introduce an anti-ship version of Tomahawk.

            A dozen or so subsonic seaskimmers is pretty marginal if your target is a Ticonderoga or a Kirov, much less a CVBG protected by 1-2 CG and 2-5 DDG, but it’s just fine if wrecking mostly-defenseless container ships is all you need. In a pinch, you can load even more Tomahawks on a sub than will fit in the VLS by substituting torpedoes. Accordingly, especially if accidental neutral casualties are acceptable, the sub doesn’t actually have to lurk in the chokepoint itself, just coordinate a salvo to arrive there at the same time as a ship or convoy. This could tie up an awful lot of escorts – doubly so if the subs occasionally sink an escort. If you need AAW escorts, churning out the 2020s equivalent of Flower-class corvettes isn’t going to happen.

  5. What makes you think China is going to start it? From the look of things, the USA federal government is going to be Republican dominated for the next twenty years, and the last three Republican Presidents were rather happy to go to war. If China were to get itself into a weak enough position and follow through with its “map warfare” (i.e. Made-in-China globes and world maps mark a chunk of India as part of China and the entire South China Sea as territorial waters) thinking the rest of the world wasn’t going to notice (as it has, to a large extent, not noticed the map changes), they might annoy the next President after Trump enough to pull it off. Also as for starting the next war, it was dumb of Japan to attack the US in 1941, but they did.

    • From the look of things, the USA federal government is going to be Republican dominated for the next twenty years

      Every time someone says this, their party loses the next election. The gods of democracy hate hubris like the gods of ancient Greece did. Just a heads-up ;)

    • > three Republican Presidents were rather happy to go to war.

      One was happy to go to war, one had war (Afghanistan at least) thrust upon him, and Trump has been VERY parsimonious with troops, but has made it clear that there are things that WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN.

      Obama was the titular president for 8 years, failed to do anything about Syria, fucked up in Libya, got us “kicked out” of Iraq (and that went well, didn’t it? The only thing worse than going to war is going to war and failing to win the peace), and we’re STILL in Afghanistan.

      Clinton also got us involved on a war (Balkans) and–rather infamously–launched a couple cruise missiles that hit an aspirin factory and IIRC an empty tent. The Feckless Turd ™ Carter…the less said the better for my blood pressure.

      Nixon was a mixed bag. He tried to get us out of Vietnam, but the likes of the traitor John Fucking Kerry made it hard, and then the (majority Democrat) Congress failed to live up to the agreement with South Vietnam leaving them to be killed and “reeducated” by the North Vietnamese.

      Do you really want to go into the war records of Johnson and Kennedy?

      On the whole I think we can give your post 2 Pinocchios.

  6. Terry > and the last three Republican Presidents were rather happy to go to war.

    Trump has actually been rather abstemious when it comes to committing U.S. troops to foreign military adventures.

    I might’ve lost count, but I believe that Trump has only bombed/cruise missiled two countries since he’s been in office (both of which we were already bombing before he got in), while Obama bombed at least eight.

    esr> Its mission is not conquest but the suppression of regional warlordism inside China itself.

    That makes total sense given Chinese history. While there have been a few cases of foreign barbarians taking over (Mongols, Jurchen/Manchus, the European gunboat hegemony of the 19th and early 20th centuries), the typical fate of a Chinese dynasty is to get clobbered by internal warlords.

    It’s easy to forget just how much experience the Chinese have with things going pear-shaped, followed by the collapse of the central government. It’s happened *a lot*. It puts me in mind of Motie society in Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye.

    With respect to territorial ambitions, I think the long-term plan of the CCP is to grab Africa. What about the people who are living there now? Well… a government that doesn’t blink an eye at murdering 60 million of its own citizens isn’t likely to balk at getting rid of Africans.

    Western leftists believe (or pretend to believe) that only white European-descended males can be racist. That is not actually the case. While most Chinese (and East Asians in general) view Europeans as barbarians, they typically view Africans as subhuman.

  7. You have to separate China from its rulers in you consideration of this matter. China can’t win a war of conquest but the rulers may see a war against the US as a way to secure their power. If they instigate a war on the US with a sneak attack, what are we going to do? Sink their navy? Blockade? Invade? So? Would the leadership miss a single meal over it? Sure, lots of people may die, but the elites would remain in power. Would you rather rule a nation of a billion starving people or be hung from a lamppost?

    • >Sink their navy? Blockade? Invade?

      Sink their Navy, for sure. Probably not invade. Why bother when blockading them will crash their economy and quite possibly induce mass starvation?

      >Would you rather rule a nation of a billion starving people or be hung from a lamppost?

      From a Chinese point of view the choice isn’t that simple. Famines are a sign that the Mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn. Legitimacy collapses are serious business in China; the first would be quite likely to lead to the second rather than being an alternative to it.

      • We could sink every surface ship in their navy within 24 hours of the beginning of hostilities, given the air and missile superiority we hold. We could probably take out every major port in the same time, if we wanted to.

        The problem is not our ability, but our willingness, to do those things. We always have to fight with one hand tied behind our backs just to make it fair.

        • >We could sink every surface ship in their navy within 24 hours of the beginning of hostilities

          Eh. Probably.

          The wildcard is whether our CBGs can operate in Chinese littoral waters. Odds are they still can, in which case you’re quite right. But if the Chinese really have hypersonic waveriders and can do target acquisition good enough to sneak-shoot capital ships the game changes a lot.

          That still wouldn’t give the PRC the capability to win a long war. We could lose a couple of CBGs and still have the capability to smash the Chinese navy, interdict imports, and crash their economy. But it just might make them think they can win a short war by shocking/subverting our political class into folding its hand. Hey, it worked for Nguyen vo Giap!

          • That still wouldn’t give the PRC the capability to win a long war.

            Given how every large military project tends to be decades late and >10x overbudget these days, it’s not clear how well we would do in a long war either.

            • >Given how every large military project tends to be decades late and >10x overbudget these days, it’s not clear how well we would do in a long war either.

              Fortunately, we could defeat the Chinese with what we have already deployed. The war wouldn’t run long enough for new projects to become an issue unless our leadership had a rush of shit-to-the-brains and decided we needed to invade the Chinese mainland.

              • The war wouldn’t run long enough for new projects to become an issue unless our leadership had a rush of shit-to-the-brains and decided we needed to invade the Chinese mainland.

                The odds of just that sort of rush of shit-to-the-brains occurring if we’re in a war with China that lasts more than six months is rather disturbingly non-zero.

              • >The war wouldn’t run long enough for new projects to become an issue unless our leadership

                How many wars has that been said about?

                • >How many wars has that been said about?

                  I know what you’re driving at, but naval wars are more predictable that way than land conflicts. It’s not difficult to project when an opposition fleet will run out of oil, nor is it hard to spot when their ops patterns change because fuel is getting scarce.

                  That’s why my qualifier was a land invasion. It’s not so much that I expect the Chinese per se to be particularly difficult opponents in a land war; I don’t. It’s that any war on land has a way of turning into a tar baby for all parties, and there’s no equivalent of “Sir, there’s no fuel to put in the oilers” to force one side’s capitulation.

                  See also: why the Allies reckoned that A-bombing Japan would cost fewer Japanese lives than a land invasion.

      • > Probably not invade. Why bother when blockading them will crash their economy and quite possibly induce mass starvation?

        Are you sure that the American public and politicians would be willing to accept mass starvation?

        The media would be constantly showing pictures of starving Chinese kids on the news. The “right-wing” media would be calling for a land invasion for “regime change” (ie: yet another embarrassing defeat for America), and their left-wing allies would be calling for an end to the blockade or so many exceptions that it might as well end.

        • >Are you sure that the American public and politicians would be willing to accept mass starvation?

          Against an enemy that opened the ball with a Pearl-Harbor-like act of overt military aggression against the U.S. itself? Yes.

          The historical record is pretty clear on this. Find, if you can, Walter Russel Mead’s essay “The Jacksonian tradition”; I read it years ago but and would link to it here but have only found a locked Google Drive link. It explains the value substructure underlying the ferocity of American popular response to sneak attacks.

            • >The American populace has been substantially replaced since then.

              That’s one of the really interesting things about Mead’s essay. He describes how the Jacksonian value structure underlying the American way of war survived and reasserted its dominance despite a previous population replacement in the early 20th century.

              • Also interesting: Mead presents Jacksonianism as one of four persistent schools of American foreign policy thought, weaving in and out as needed to address the issue of the moment, and consequently leading to American success not seen in other nations, similar to the Ten Brothers from (ironically) China.

                I highly recommend Mead’s book, Special Providence, which lays all this out.

            • I was thinking I had seen it recommended there. I wonder what would be Steven’s take on our current world and predicament. He’s missed, by me at least.

  8. The US does not have a treaty obligation to defend Taiwan because we don’t recognize them. China insisted on that before they would open diplomatic relations with us during the Nixon administration. I didn’t think it was a good trade then; I feel sure we ought to undo it now and dare China to do something about it. They need our trade a lot more than we need theirs.

    What we do have is an ordinary federal law from around that time in which we promise to defend Taiwan from attack by China. Whether that will actually happen is very iffy, and depends mostly on who is in the White House when China strikes the first blow. The Constitution says foreign policy is the President’s power, not a power of Congress, so that law can never be enforced if a president doesn’t feel like obeying it.

    Now look at the politics of the last several years, in which China has built bases on disputed rocks and atolls in the South China Sea to assert its claim that it owns the entire sea. Several area nations, including South Korea and the Philippines, no longer want our troops there, and it’s partly because we have sit back and let China grab things and fortify places. I expect China, not us, to be the dominant country in the western Pacific in ten years if it isn’t already.

    In short, we are in the position of Britain in 1900. Our empire is unsustainable because it is now too expensive to defend. We don’t realize it yet, but in the next 20 years there will be a world war to drive the point home.

    The silver lining is that I don’t think China will find it any cheaper to police the world than we do.

    • The silver lining is that I don’t think China will find it any cheaper to police the world than we do.

      China conquered Philippines by a long process of emigrating merchants. Duterte’s power base is among the Chinese businessmen. He is a populist voice of Chinese doctrine for example in the realm of law & order. This originated while he was mayor of Davao City, wherein he protected the interests of the Chinese merchant class while carving out a safe haven in the Christian side of Muslim Mindanao.

      China is now exporting their merchant class to Africa and all points along the Belt & Road initiative.

      I liken this to the Mexican or Hispanic La raza cósmica — they’re displacing the European in all warm climates in the Americas.

      Americans were too insular. We didn’t emigrate in sufficient numbers to the Philippines in the middle of the 20th century because life was too good in the homeland and the Philippines was a squalid shithole (and still mostly is, lol). The Chinese and Hispanics are accustomed to living like rats. Europeans moved on from that after the Black Death which reduced the population so that technological innovation in agriculture could proceed. Before the Black Death there was no economic incentive to develop for example stronger horses because human labor was too cheap due to overpopulation.

      • It isn’t insularity, it is population growth, specifically among the elite. If elite fertility is higher then the proles, there is a constant need to find more jobs for them which involves colonialism. If elite fertility is less, society declines.

    • The silver lining is that I don’t think China will find it any cheaper to police the world than we do.

      They’re not saddled with our hippies.

  9. “a wargamer and military-history buff, for over a decade”

    Eric, the breadth and depth of your interests and expertise continue to amaze me.

    Having said that :-), my immediate reaction to your post was “history is full of countries starting wars they had no realistic prospect of winning (in the sense of achieving lasting strategic outcomes)”. Who in their right mind invades Russia? (Napoleon, Hitler) Who goes to war against Nazi Germany to protect Poland? (how did that work out for England and France, even though they ‘won’ WWII?) A hundred years later, does anyone really understand the reasons Europe went to war in 1914? Did any of the belligerents achieve anything close to their initial war aims? And remember the greatest blunder of all time, even greater than going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line, is getting involved in a land war in Asia. Yet the US did it not once (Vietnam) but twice (Afghanistan) even after Vizzini warned them!

    • Land wars in Asia historically haven’t been all that bad. The Brits won about a million of them. The US record isn’t bad either – even ignoring the western half of the continent (the Gulf War was easily the most one-sided ass-kicking of any war in living memory), the Philippine invasion and rebellion were US wins, there was a lot of land warfare in the Pacific in WW2 (including on larger landmasses like the Philippines), there was the Boxer Rebellion, and while Korea wasn’t quite as impressive as it looked to be in 1951, we still achieved our goal of preserving South Korean independence. The only one the US has ever lost in that theatre was Vietnam, and that was the only one where the US didn’t try to win – they tried to fight, but in a way that frankly made not a goddamn bit of sense.

      Vizzini made a Vietnam joke, he did not give serious advice.

        • >I’ve tried crossing [Mindanao] by foot, oh my.

          Oh shit. I just figured out who FYI is. He’s one of the only two people (along with Roger Phillips) that I’ve had to ban for being committably delusional nutcases. I don’t know what this one’s real name is, but he’s done the wall-of-text thing promoting unhinged conspiracy theories before. He’s reappeared a couple of times and, like Roger Phillips, can sound lucid for a while before veering into completely bonkers.

          I will ban him and delete as much of his spludge from this thread as I can without making it incomprehensible. I apologize to the regulars for not twigging sooner. The reference to being on the ground in the Philippines finally did it – in the past he’s made some remarks implying residence there and that he finds it easy to have sex with a lot of Philippine girls. For their sake I hope the latter claim is merely part of his delusional system.

    • > Who in their right mind invades Russia? (Napoleon, Hitler)

      Also Vikings and Mongols, both of which won. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth bit off a big chunk of Russian territory back in the 1600s.

      Hitler would’ve almost certainly won, too, if Stalin hadn’t been propped up by massive support from the United States.

      • Hitler would’ve almost certainly won, too, if Stalin hadn’t been propped up by massive support from the United States.

        Probably not. The USSR used the same strategy in WWII that it used against Napolean–as the Germans attacked in the spring and summer the Soviets engaged, then fell back drawing the Germans further and further north and east along a relatively narrow front. Then when Winter (it’s a Russian winter, it gets a proper noun) sets in cut the supply lines and starve the poor bastards to death.

        Yeah, the Germans probably had superior weapons, equipment and training, but the Soviets had a physical toughness and the weather.

        • Without the massive, and I mean MASSIVE, influx of American trucks, food, and other materiel via Lend-Lease, Stalin would’ve been chewed up and spit out by the Wehrmacht. It was a damned near thing even with that help. Damned near.

  10. Eric, your analysis is sound, but it overlooks the strategic maneuver that China has already been executing for decades now: progressive encroachment in the South China Sea. They’re repeating the Co-Prosperity Sphere, but they recognized they needed to boil the frog. I would be surprised if we don’t see straight-up puppet regimes installed in several of these minor locations under the headline of “humanitarian disease management”.

    • That is true, but in the last two months there has been a major shift of perception around that, and I expect further shifts in the next few months. You can’t really use China’s performance on such tasks when it is essentially unopposed to project how it’s going to do when it is actively opposed.

      IMHO while I see the temptation, it is a grave error for China to be presenting the US as an active enemy to its people right now. It will inevitably result in sharpening the US public’s perceptions of China as an active enemy as an obvious second-order effect over time. This is going to cause them all sorts of problems going forward while buying them very little. (Internationally, anyhow; it may build cohesion behind the regime at home but that doesn’t really get them ahead so much as simply maintain the status quo. That’s a steep price to pay to tread water.)

  11. The CCP strategy for global conquest is known as the “Belt and Road” initiative and has been ongoing for about a decade now. The overt aspect of this plan is largely to foster economic dependence in client states leading to covert domination. A secondary aspect of this plan involves bribery and blackmail of foreign government politicians, media, and bureaucrats. This provides them with cheaply obtained critical intelligence and also a backdoor form of treachery and subversion. And they are doing this on a global scale. And yes, this is a winning strategy because of the moral depravity and decay infesting most Western nations. Why wage a hot war when deceit and treachery are so easy.

  12. Stephan Molyneux is one of the proofs that Sophism isn’t entirely confined to Progressives or the left in general.

    Nevertheless he completely explained this: serious war between the American global empire and rogue state China is impossible because the guy with the power to declare war would be risking his own hide. He might catch a nuke with his face. It will never be declared, or even seriously risked. QED.

  13. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1Scrapbook of the Plague Year 2: Prancercising for Fitnessing in Place

  14. “In the wake of the PRC’s actions around the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increasing speculation in some circles that the PRC might be preparing to wage war against the United States, or at least some sort of regional war (such as an invasion of Taiwan) in which treaty obligations would involve the U.S.”

    If there is anyone who wants a war between China and the USA, it is the GOP. Trump will need a war or else accept defeat in November. We know quite well he would be happy to fight till the last American to keep in power.

    But war between countries with nuclear arms is Dr Strangelove stupid. Every political leader knows that. Except , obviously, Forest Gump’s evil brother who currently rules the USA.

    But I know the lot of you is all to happy to start a war, even if it would be to stop losing an election. You remind me of Yugoslavia’s Serb and Croat nationalists before the civil war.

    • You’ve laid down your marker. I’ll enjoy you attempting to dance around it on November 04, 2020.

    • > Trump will need a war or else accept defeat in November.

      Once again proving that Winter doesn’t have the first fucking clue about how Americans actually think.

        • As a “based” European, I don’t like it very much when we all get generalized and seen like everybody is a Winter-like superliberal here. There are some people who voted for Salvini and co., you know.

          Just for the record, I am aware that there was a fairly big shift on the US Right, away from hawkish neocons and more or less accepting that antiwar paleocons like Pat Buchanan were mostly right. I think there are plenty of “based” people here who are aware of this.

          As for Dems, Biden is weird. He might be bought by China now, I have no idea, but do you remember he floated – denied in a way that everybody understoods is not really a denial, because it brings something unthinkable into the domain of the thinkable – war on them a few months ago? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjg2qpVgp30

          Because apparently China is being really tough on Muslims… muh human rights. Seeing the US as the world police policing human rights abuses is definitely a liberal thing. Unfortunately, that definition of liberal also includes Republicans… of the neocon [1] type. But not Trumpist Republicans, I think.

          [1] Neocon does not mean Jewish, I have to point that out. A Neocon is someone who thinks all countries who do not do Gay Pride parades deserve to be bombed.

          • [1] Neocon does not mean Jewish, I have to point that out. A Neocon is someone who thinks all countries who do not do Gay Pride parades deserve to be bombed.

            I realize this is a mostly futile attempt to push back against the degeneration of the word “neo-con” into an almost asemantic insult (a process “neo-liberal” is also undergoing), but that is not at all what they supported.

            • I admit it was a bit of a hyperbole. But, say, books like https://www.amazon.com/End-Evil-How-Win-Terror/dp/0345477170 are indeed on the hawkish side, right? OK it is about Islamic terror and not Gay Prides, it is just that two rather correlate in the cases of Muslim countries, the only way to stop terror is to make them less Muslim, and it is unlikely that they would become Christian or something, the most likely outcome is them becoming more liberal. Combine that with stuff like hostility against Russia and you get a certain picture. Hence the hyperbole.

              I am aware that first-gen neocons were very different, but time goes on, Bill Kristol has markedly different views than his father used to.

              Neolib was indeed becoming just an insult for libertarians, but interestingly Scott Alexander and his circle are now reclaiming the original sense of the term. https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/ea-neoliberal/ “Neoliberalism was an intellectual and social movement that emerged among European liberal scholars in the 1930s as an attempt to chart a so-called ‘third way ‘ between the conflicting policies of classical liberalism and socialism.”

              Although, for that, a way better term is “mainstream”. Basically they won, and then their label became an insult towards their libertarian opponents. Isn’t life funny?

              • >Neolib was indeed becoming just an insult for libertarians

                It’s not that simple. I have encountered people who use “neoliberal” as an insult, and it’s not targeted specifically at libertarians. It seems to be an item of contemporary Marxist cant tossed around by the sort of person who takes Slavoj Žižek seriously, and designates a large range of beliefs spanning libertarianism, classical liberalism, and the conservative “Washington consensus” around global free trade and open markets.

                I’ve actually had a serious conversation with a left-leaning Venezuelan academic who seemed genuinely startled to learn that pro-free-marketers who are strongly anti-monopolist exist. He didn’t understand libertarianism well enough to direct an insult at it. That’s the kind of person who flings the term “neo-liberal”.

                • In my experience, it’s more than that. Being “anti-neo-liberal” is something that one can build a broad coalition around, containing both people who are basically libertarians opposed to the UN and creeping world government, and socialists opposed to free trade.

                  As long as one is engaging in tweeter debates the fact that the people mean very different things by “neo-liberal” can be papered over, with both parties either not noticing this difference or believing that once they acquire power it’s the other guy that’ll get thrown under the bus.

          • As for Dems, Biden is weird. He might be bought by China now, I have no idea,

            Given Biden’s apparent mental state these days, what he says probably has more to do with what whichever member of his staff handed him that speech thinks.

      • >Once again proving that Winter doesn’t have the first fucking clue about how Americans actually think.

        Accordingly, very well qualified for a job in U.S. journalism.

      • Trump already has the War on COVID-19, which, due to the Leftist-controlled media’s hysterical projections of a quarter million US deaths, is going to be widely seen as a massive victory when the real fatality numbers are much lower.

    • Winter, your TDS is getting the better of you, in my lifetime Trump is the president least likely to rush to war, he has been pushing to get out of Afghanistan for years.

      Cutting off US food exports to China is an existential threat to the CCP, as noted above famine there means the regime has lost the Mandate of Heaven. They know it and Trump knows it.

      • You are both wrong: Trump isn’t going to kill us all because we are all already dead from when he started WWIII on the first day of his presidency.

        • I’ve been declared dead so many times I don’t even know where to begin. Most recently I’ve been killed by the withdrawal from the Paris Accords, the Failure To Sustain Net Neutrality, The Metaphysical Existence of Donald J. Trump.

          And what do I have to look forward to? Less than 12 years of continued existence until the GreatGretaApocalypse (GGA) kills me yet again.

          (I can’t count how many times I’ve been killed since Paul Ehrlich began his Malthusian Maunderings. Or how many times I’ve been drowned by radically rising sea levels…)

          Now I know what Duncan Idaho felt like.

    • > If there is anyone who wants a war between China and the USA, it is the GOP. Trump will need a war or else accept defeat in November. We know quite well he would be happy to fight till the last American to keep in power.

      You mean you want a war between China and the USA so your globalist masters won’t be defeated in November. After all, we know quite well that you and your masters would be happy to fight to the last American to keep the globalist elite–who have more in common with each other than with the countries they rule–in power.

      Remember, SJWs like Winter always project. What they say we want is actually what they want. We don’t want war; Winter wants war.

    • If there is anyone who wants a war between China and the USA, it is the GOP. Trump will need a war or else accept defeat in November. We know quite well he would be happy to fight till the last American to keep in power.

      Dude, and you have the temerity to talk about conspiracy theory’s ON THE RIGHT?

      That’s the same level of delusion as Ken saying that the Democrats are going to get rid of Trump and Pence, and then Granny Winebox will **ASK FOR CHINESE TROOPS**.

      Serious, I know that we have significantly elevated the THC levels in pot over the last couple decades, but you HAVE GOT TO PUT THE BONG DOWN AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY.

    • Not that it’ll do anything to change your mind, but …

      US presidents can start limited wars if they like, but it never helps them win re-election. If they’ve judged the military situation correctly and win the war quickly, the voters will be mildly impressed, but they won’t change their votes. And if the war drags on, or the troops are defeated, the president gets blamed for needlessly spending American lives and his opponent picks up a lot of votes. Starting wars for partisan advantage is a mug’s game in US politics.

      Now in a real crisis, when US voters think they’re in actual danger, a president can become far more popular than he was … but 1) crises can’t be ginned up from nothing, even by a president, and 2) the president has to at least appear to get a grip on the crisis and deal with it competently. If he doesn’t he’ll be destroyed.

      Finally, Trump in particular doesn’t need a major war to save his presidency, because he’s in the midst of a crisis right now – and as far I can tell he’s risen to the occasion, and the voters are rallying to him. Moreover, his opponents have not risen to the occasion, but have chosen to treat a serious public emergency merely as an opportunity for political theater. And to top it off, the origins of the crisis can be traced to precisely those policies that Trump opposed in 2016 – the “open borders” project of the Western ruling class, and that class’s pretense that the PRC is an honest and responsible state. “I was right all along” is a powerful argument in US politics, and now it’s at Trump’s disposal.

      • > Moreover, his opponents have not risen to the occasion, but have chosen to treat a serious public emergency merely as an opportunity for political theater.

        Well, Cuomo. From what I can tell at least, he has been very focused on 1) the problem, and 2) trying to solve the problem. Here’s what happened in the last 24 hours, here are our projections for the next day/week, these are the supplies we’ve gotten, these are the ones that still might go critical in the next few days unless etc. Maybe I have been fooled and it is all just more political doublespeak, but he is the first democrat in… pretty much my whole life that I would remotely consider voting for.

        But yeah, he is pretty much the only potential exception to the great pig-piling in progress. (It is hilarious watching CNN, where in one mostly-medical segment they harp on how horrible it is for Trump to be worried about the economy when we’re in the middle of this horrific medical crisis; then fifteen minutes later in an economics-focused segment another batch will be wailing Oh Noes the Economy, when is Trump going to start focusing on getting the country out of this mess and back to being a productive service economy for distributing those wonderful Chinese goods???)

        • >Well, Cuomo. From what I can tell at least, he has been very focused on 1) the problem, and 2) trying to solve the problem.

          If that were true, he wouldn’t have tried to block NY doctors from prescribing the HCL/Z-Pak cocktail. You don’t solve a medical/epidemiological problem by tying the hands of the front-line clinicians.

          • > You don’t solve a medical/epidemiological problem by tying the hands of the front-line clinicians.

            Doh. Fauci had said multiple times that it wasn’t a sure thing yet, that it still needed (non-anecdotal) testing, which is certainly true… but I hadn’t heard the part about it being actively blocked (which kinda defeats the purpose of accumulating said testing data).

            So much for my starting to take one of them at face value.

            • >but I hadn’t heard the part about it being actively blocked (which kinda defeats the purpose of accumulating said testing data).

              It’s actually worse than that. Cuomo’s order effectively bars NY doctors from using the Trump cocktail until the patient is at death’s door, at which point the drug is unlikely to be effective. All indications are that you need to administer early, before the cytokine storm kicks in.

              • Correct for the most part, but it doesn’t seem to be a cytokine storm this time. Instead, there’s a one-two punch of lung fibrosis and direct viral destruction of hemoglobin. HCQ appears to provide some benefit in terms of direct immune support and also to almost completely prevent SARS-CoV-2 from binding to heme. (This is probably related to the crossover malaria–COVID-19 effectiveness.)

          • Cuomo probably got good scientific advice. The research which says hydroxychloroquine works is crap and has been highly criticized:
            https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/chloroquine-for-coronavirus-i-mean-the-trumpvirus-evidence-is-weak/

            The TL:DR here is this: The trial wasn’t randomized. It wasn’t double-blind. The patients were not all at the same institution (and thus not all receiving the same care) and one of the authors of the paper is the Editor in Chief of the journal where it was printed.

            and this is the list of nasty side effects from hydroxychloroquine:
            https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Plaquenil-hydroxychloroquine-sulfate-1911#10

            The TL:DR here is that this is really, really nasty stuff, with a gigantic list of nasty drug interactions and the tendency to kill when improperly used. Meanwhile, people who the drug actually helps, those who suffer from lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, are reporting that the drug is unavailable to them.

            • So you’re telling me that we haven’t had years of double-blind studies proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t treat a new disease? You don’t say!

              Meanwhile, in the real world, many doctors are finding it works. Plus numerous anecdotes. But let’s ignore all that and wait a few years until “real science” tells us what to do. It’s not as if there’s any need to rush!

              Shorter Troutwaxer: Trump is for it, so I’m against it.

            • >the research which says hydroxychloroquine works is crap

              There is no one “the research” that says HCQ+Z-pack works, but multiple studies and field trials done all over the planet. The very successful South Korean containment effort has, for example, been using it for weeks and has been reporting excellent results.

              Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, issued an order like Cuomo’s only to reverse herself and go begging to the Feds for supplies to treat COVID-19 patients with. I expect a similar move from Cuomo will be in the offing.

              There are some caveats about the treatment:

              (1) It needs to be administered early. If you wait until the patient is on vent its effectiveness drops – you can get last-minute saves (several like this one have made the news), but it’s not a magic bullet at that stage. This actually makes sense, as it’s believed to help by interfering with viral replication and thus won’t necessarily do a lot of good if the patient already has tissue damage and ARDS.

              (2) Zinc really matters. I’ve noticed that the treatment protocols which include zinc as a third ingredient seem to return significantly better results than the ones that don’t.

              (3) You have to be careful about the chloroquine variant you get. The main risk with HCQ is actually overdosing – it has a narrow therapeutic band. There are a couple other quinine variants, including non-hydroxylated chloroquine and chloroquine sulphate, that have much broader and nastier side effects. I think there’s been some confusion among these in the news coverage.

              When you need to evacuate an airplane in mid-air, you don’t wait on double-blind tests to be sure the parachutes work; you just watch who goes splat and who doesn’t. Trump called this one right – he was either smart or very lucky.

              • Trump called this one right – he was either smart or very lucky.

                I can’t tell how smart Trump is, because he is very, very lucky, and smart enough to take advantage of this.

                • >I can’t tell how smart Trump is, because he is very, very lucky, and smart enough to take advantage of this.

                  I admit to being similarly confused. The way he talks makes me want to dismiss him as a dimwit, but he has been uncannily prescient about a number of significant things. He’s been advocating disengagement from China and tighter border controls for decades, both of which are going to be very hard to argue with post-pandemic.

                  • >>The way he talks makes me want to dismiss him as a dimwit

                    That’s your prejudices showing. He sounds like people I grew up with.

                    • >That’s your prejudices showing.

                      Yes, it is. But at least I’m reasonably self-aware about them and can compensate.

                    • Yes. You’re not the only one don’t worry.

                      I was going to elaborate, I find a lot of what Trump does cringingly awful, and have for decades. It’s that he’s so *tacky*.

                      He’s a peasant made good. There are millions of other people of similar backgrounds, descendants of peasant immigrants who make good, find some success in business or the professions… for many such people it is important to cultivate the refined tastes of those who weren’t peasants 2 generations ago. To be nouveau riche tacky is humiliation, to be associated with such is ruinous to the aspirations of any self-important I’m-special-cause-I-climbed would-be aristocrat. (sigh, my family and social circle are full of such people and some of that soaks in).

                      Trump EMBRACES the nouveau riche tacky and succeeds anyway, and he’s still loyal to the peasants. So naturally to any right-thinking person (the type who feels they personally are important) Trump must be destroyed.

                    • I think President Trump may be more complicated that that. IIRC, he’s actually from a fairly wealthy family.

                      Many scions of wealthy families seem somewhat embarrassed by their good fortune. Most put on a “I don’t care about money act.” Trump, imho, went a different route. He identified with lower/middle classes, and thus, tries to emulate what they would have done in his position.

                    • DJT’s father made his fortune as a builder, starting with his own two hands before he was a legal adult.

                      The family before that had an uneven history- DJT’s grandfather had emigrated from Germany young and poor and had made some money for himself but then died when DJT’s father was young.

                  • The way he talks makes me want to dismiss him as a dimwit….

                    FWIW, Scott Adams, after meeting with him privately, reported that he talks a lot differently one-on-one than in speeches, and comes across as very bright and well-informed.

                    • It’s almost as though the impresario of pro wrestling knows something about playing a public character to shape narrative.

                  • I think people have to read Scott Adams in order to understand Trump. He talks that way intentionally for persuasive purposes. I recommend the book Win Bigly, excerpted here.

                    • I find it incredibly ironic that the elites can’t even conceive of the idea that someone wanting to be a leader of the people would try hard to talk to and communicate to the people in a way they can understand.

                      The left is obsessed with talking down to even the people that support them. They just can’t understand looking people eye to eye and saying things in a way to be understood. They can’t handle not “being” “elite”. So they hate Trump for doing it.

                      Ironically Bill Clinton was almost as good at this as Trump, but the left still to this day doesn’t understand what actually made Bill Clinton tick.

                    • >Perhaps he is playing a variant of the “Asimov Game?

                      That is possible. Perhaps it should have occurred to me.

                  • He actually listens to the people he surrounds himself with. Not having the fundamental technical base to understand the stuff, he’ll be wrong occasionally.

                    Not having a firm philosophical or ideological base means that when you *show* him he’s wrong, he accepts that.

              • Trump called this one right – he was either smart or very lucky.

                Trump is not a doctor so this probably means he was listening to someone who is. Either a formal advisor, to possible an informal advisor he found on social media.

                • >Trump is not a doctor so this probably means he was listening to someone who is.

                  The exact kind of smart I would expect from a really successful businessman is a shrewd sense for which “experts” are not full of shit.

                  I’m not speaking theoretically. I was at one time on the Board of Directors of a publicly traded company. I learned that the absolute most important skill you can have in that role is being able to tell when a person reporting to you is lying or (more often) self-deceiving.

                  • Whatever else you want to say about him, Trump knows a good patter and can tell the difference between patter and the real thing.

                    (Not the least of reasons being he can lay down a good line of patter when he doesn’t want you to watch his hands).

              • Naw. Trump owns stock in Sanofi, one of the companies which makes the stuff:

                https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-malaria-drug.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

                Quoting the SEC press release: “The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Paris-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi has agreed to pay more than $25 million to resolve charges that its Kazakhstan and the Middle East subsidiaries made corrupt payments to win business.

                According to the SEC’s order, the schemes spanned multiple countries and involved bribe payments to government procurement officials and healthcare providers in order to be awarded tenders and to increase prescriptions of its products…”

                https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2018-174

                To put it very gently, that’s not a good look for the President of the United States.

                • >Trump owns stock in Sanofi, one of the companies which makes the stuff:

                  That stock is in a in a blind trust. Do you not understand this concept?

                • And Trump owns even more AT&T stock through those trusts than he owns Sanofi. That must be why he’s constantly praising and promoting AT&T-owned CNN!

              • Having noted the President’s financial interest in a pharmaceutical company, (the post is currently in moderation) let me address some of your points:

                The very successful South Korean containment effort has, for example, been using it for weeks and has been reporting excellent results.

                Per the article linked below, “South Korean experts are also recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with the anti-HIV medication.” The question of what’s doing the heavy lifting here is obvious:

                https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/03/12/South-Korea-experts-recommend-anti-HIV-anti-malaria-drugs-for-COVID-19/6961584012321/

                (2) Zinc really matters.

                Zinc is a very important mineral for the immune system, and IIRC it strengthens the cell walls. If someone is prescribing the HCL/Z-Pak cocktail PLUS zinc, then advertising the HCL/Z-Pak, I’d have to question their clarity of thought; my guess is that the zinc is doing the heavy lifting here.

                (3) You have to be careful about the chloroquine variant you get. The main risk with HCQ is actually overdosing – it has a narrow therapeutic band.

                Not to mention all the problems from my PDR link above. Many Swedish hospitals have stopped using it due to the bad side effects:

                https://www.newsweek.com/swedish-hospitals-chloroquine-covid-19-side-effects-1496368

                • >The question of what’s doing the heavy lifting here is obvious:

                  Not in the way you think it is, or they’d have simply dropped HCQ altogether to avoid the possibility of ODing one of their patients on it. The fact that they’ve kept it in the cocktail means they think the HCQ is heavy-lifting.

                  I advise you to not pick this hill, Troutwaxer, because you will die on it. I don’t know whether Trump got smart or lucky, but I can see the way the wind is blowing. In another week or two general mockery of the HCQ downshouters is going to be savage. And deserved.

                  • I’ve replied to you below. You’ll probably have to pull it out of moderation, because there’s a ton of links.

              • Yeah, while the Americans are holding out for a miracle cure that’ll probably never come as their only hope against a virus that will be around for months if not years and leave hundreds of thousands to millions dead, the Kiwis are showing everybody how it’s done. Strict lockdown, strict quarantine measures, and extensive testing as soon as the virus appeared. And now it’s on the decline. THIS is how you respond to a pandemic.

                Of course, leadership of Jacinda Ardern’s caliber is just about extinct in the USA. All we have is a sort of democracy theater, politicians pretending to address the needs of the people while pandering to their corporate sponsors. And that goes for both parties. We did have Bernie, but he never stood a chance against the Democratic money machine.

                • a virus that will be around for months if not years

                  If that is true in the way you mean it then there isn’t any hope of “dealing with it”. Reopen and take the hit.

                  • I guess you don’t care about the elderly, the immunocompromised, or those poor enough to be unable to afford appropriate care.

                    The virus will linger around in the USA because the solution to slowing or stopping its spread — lockdown together with extensive testing and quarantine — is currently politically untenable. We will see if that holds when the country is staring down the barrel of a megadeath-scale pandemic.

                    • Years of quarantine (which is in fact the wrong word) will kill those people, plus many many more.

                      Stupidity like that is how you turn megadeaths into gigadeaths.

                    • “Years of quarantine (which is in fact the wrong word) will kill those people, plus many many more.”

                      It does not in Korea, nor in China. Being vigilant will cost money, but less than what laiser-faire will cost.

                      The cost of the lockdown+financial package in the USA now already is probably way more than a vigilant testing & containment policy starting end of January would have cost.

                      What will happen now is to ride out this wave, and then the USA will yet have to start the Korean policy.

                      And we all know that having all these old GOP voters die is not an option.

                    • I guess you don’t care about the elderly, the immunocompromised, or those poor enough to be unable to afford appropriate care.

                      Really? SRSLY?

                      “Republicans just want people to die”.

                      So next November when the influenza cases start back up, and you going to argue for shutting down the economy?

                      Do you realize just how badly this is blowing up our supply chains? Of course not, you’re rich enough that you don’t care that the store brand product has been gone for weeks, and all that’s left is the premium product.

                      I am currently between jobs, and to keep the lights on and food on the table another week I’ve been doing a “gig economy job” shopping and delivering groceries. I’ve delivered groceries to 23 people/families in the last 6 days, Easter stuff to one, and some “just moved in” stuff to another one.

                      It’s empty out there, and the longer people are put in house arrest the worse it’s going to get.

                • You would admire Ms. “iSlAm AnD mEnTaL iLlNeSs ArEn’T tHe PrObLeM, gUnS ArE tHe PrObLeM!”

                  Ah yes, the only solution is a complete, indefinite lockdown where nobody but self-important bureaucrats like Fauci can do anything and millions will starve to death around the world and millions more will die in social unrest because we shut down the economy so farmers can’t produce! And all because of a damn flu that just happened to originate from China, just so some bureaucrats can feel important like they did something, and so they can have everything and we get nothing! Oh, and we can’t reopen, because that would just cause the virus to start spreading again because we didn’t develop herd immunity! Now we get to have draconian measures forever!

                  FUCK. YOU.

                  • Quit trying to deflect attention from the root cause here. New Zealand’s gun laws were passed with overwhelming support from the Parliament and the people as a response to the massacre at Christchurch. The Christchurch shooter was not mentally ill, he was radicalized by the far right. And Muslims were the victims, not the perpetrators, of the shooting.

                    Identifying the dead and wounded in those mosques as part of “the problem” is — there’s a word for it… oh yeah, victim blaming. How fucking dare you.

                    It’s been shown time and time again that mass shootings are what you get when you mix toxic whitedude politics with guns. Were it not for easy access to firearms, Brenton Tarrant would have been just another alt-right troll fulminating in his parents’ basement, not the man who brought horror to the second most peaceful country in the world. White supremacy is on the rise, so eradicating it is more challenging than ever; until that is done, the best solution is to do what Jacinda Ardern has done, and treat gun ownership as a privilege, not a right.

                    As for the lockdown, Ms. Ardern is looking to end it by the end of April, if not next week. Meanwhile in the USA, it’ll be a miracle if extant nonessential business will be open by June. Some will never open again.

                    Again, this is what leadership looks like. Watch and learn, America.

                    • > the best solution is to do what Jacinda Ardern has done, and treat gun ownership as a privilege, not a right.

                      “‘Ow d’you know ‘e’s a king?”
                      “‘E ‘asn’t got shit all over ‘im.”

                    • >the best solution is to do what Jacinda Ardern has done, and treat gun ownership as a privilege, not a right.

                      “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjugated races to possess arms.” – Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, 1942.

                      “The possession of unnecessary [arms] makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to foment uprisings.” – Toyotomi Hideyoshi, dictator of Japan, August 1588

                      “One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms.” – Constitutional scholar and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, 1840

                      I’m seeing a pattern here.

                    • > As for the lockdown, Ms. Ardern is looking to end it by the end of April, if not next week.

                      Am I the only one who finds it hypocritical that when Trump said a couple weeks ago that he wanted to “reopen everything by Easter”, he was loudly roasted for it in the media (fine by me, since I thought it an unnecessarily dumb thing to say at the time); but when Ardern says it she’s a Visionary Leader?

                      Do you blueshirts _really_ not give a shit about anything other than who is wearing the blue shirts and who the red?

                    • > It’s been shown time and time again that mass shootings are what you get when you mix toxic whitedude politics with guns.

                      Can I ask why the vastly greater number of (predominantly black) deaths in inner cities (read: already under strong gun control) are not worthy of a proportionally even greater moral outrage?

                      Or is that already the one of the desired outcomes of the left’s “politics with guns”?

                    • White supremacy is on the rise, so eradicating it is more challenging than ever; until that is done, the

                      To the VERY TINY extent that it is, you know why? Because the Progressives in this country have spent the last 60 or 70 years splitting up and turning EVERY pressure group against each other, and white people are starting to get the idea that African Americans hate them, Latinos hate them, Chinese are indifferent to them, etc.

                      So they’re starting to think that *maybe* they should band together.

                      Y’all made this bed.

                    • New Zealand’s gun laws were passed with overwhelming support from the Parliament and the people as a response to the massacre at Christchurch.

                      Parliament yes, the people less obviously. Especially in a small country with not a lot of diversity in it’s media.

                      The Christchurch shooter was not mentally ill,

                      Yes, he is. No matter how radicalized one gets, shooting complete strangers in cold blood is the act of a psychopath. This is true whether it’s Tarrant shooting up a mosque, Two idiot brothers packing rice cookers with explosives and shrapnel, or 4 “islamic militants” shooting up a mall in Nairobi.

                      > you get when you mix toxic
                      > whitedude politics with guns.

                      What was the political point of the Las Vegas shooter?

                      he was radicalized by the far right.

                    • > New Zealand’s gun laws were passed with overwhelming support from the Parliament and the people

                      Uh huh. That’s why less than a thousand weapons have been turned in and a (generous) estimate of compliance is 20%.

                      See, this is the problem with having an establishment media that is incestuously in bed with your political class. After a while the political class sees nothing but the bullshit “consensus” it invented to keep the peasants in line reflected back at it. After a slightly longer time, it starts to believe its own bullshit.

                      Then it’s surprised when 80% of the peasants don’t surrender their guns.

                      But this surprise never leads the permanent political class towards any better adjustment to reality. Epistemic closure is never broken. Oh no. Instead, some way is found to dismiss the peasants as deplorables who have demonstrated their backward and troglodytic nature by refusing to bow before the enlightenment of their betters.

                      And then a thing like Donald Trump happens, and the elites are utterly clueless why.

                    • Speaking of [lack of] compliance to firearms regulations a lot of people tend to have an exaggerated idea of the effect of Australia’s ’96.

                      Apparently several companies where importing SKSes in mass back in the 80’s; I’ve heard numbers between 1 and 3 million in total. In comparison probably* less than 100,000 semi-auto rifles where handed in during the buyback.

                      I assume anyone reading this can do the maths on just how low the response rate must have been. (And of course SKSes are only one of the many semi-auto rifles that where being imported or manufactured in that time period, though possibly the most numerous)

                      There’s also a bit over 3m licensed firearms in Australia, and “scary black rifles”, while not as common as in America, do make up a larger portion of that then a lot of people believe.

                      And every now and again you hear even Australians talking about how this gunban totally prevented us from having “any more school shootings”, despite the fact that I can only find evidence of two such school shootings in Australian history, both of which happened after 1996.

                      * I’ve only ever seen a break-down of types of handed in guns for one state, Victoria, all the other states seem to have only reported totals, but assuming the ratio was the same in other states you end up with around 30k semi-auto rifles country wide, the rest being hunting rifles and shotguns.

              • If Trump were smart, he would have ordered a lockdown and commenced testing and contact tracing immediately — like Jacinda Ardern did.

                • That might have been an option if the CDC/FDA hadn’t screwed up so badly early on (which might go down as WWV’s Pearl Harbor)

                • Or the South Koreans. I should have noted this in replying to Eric’s post above about S. Korean success in dealing with Covid-19. The main ingredients in their successes have been widespread testing and contact tracing. As for use of Hydroxychloroquinine, their death rate seems to be the same 2% as everyone else (whose hospital systems didn’t get overwhelmed.)

                • > If Trump were smart, he would have ordered a lockdown and commenced testing and contact tracing

                  The company I work for (admittedly not large, about 40 people) had an emergency IT meeting on Thursday morning March 12 to announce the C-levels’ intention to switch everyone to working from home, and what we (IT) would need to do to make that happen. Friday this plan was announced to the whole company, and as of Monday March 16 the majority were indeed working from home, ramped up to all but a skeleton crew that stayed in the office (basically the one IT guy who actually needed to keep all the connections going, as opposed to vanilla devs like me who don’t actually do (hardware) IT stuff). This (counting from March 12) was a good week and a half before the Illinois governor issued the shelter-in-place order for our state (on March 21).

                  Maybe if we as a species were smart we would be able to do these things ourselves without waiting for Bad Orange Man or Bad Big-ears Man or (back half a century ago) Bad Hairbrush Mustache Men to tell us what to do. “No libertarians in a pandemic” my ass.

                  > immediately

                  And in the parallel universe where Pmurt ordered a national lockdown “immediately” in mid-January, he had also done that the previous fifty or so times five or six people contracted a virus the DCD had never seen before, and neither Daer Ffej nor anyone else on the anti-left are bothering to mock him for being a boy-who-cried-wolf idiot whackjob, because it just isn’t news anymore.

                  Yeah, nobody gives a shit about false positives once actual shit has hit an actual fan; but when we’re talking policy (long term policy, not just reacting to something that has already been happening for a few months), then “smart” people kinda do need to take them into account. If you’re really claiming you would want the country to go through what it has in the past 3 months every single time five to ten people contracted a novel virus then I am gonna call bullshit.

                  > like Jacinda Ardern did.

                  Yes, with a two month lead time (first US cases mid-January, first NZ cases mid-March according to google), and with the media furor that had begin ramping up by the end of those two months, and with a population (just under 5M) of a largish US city, (and with I would bet rates of visitors to and from the country several orders of magnitude lower than the US), they managed to do a good job. And again, a job that can be wholly attributed to the moral qualities of the political leaders in question — if only we had a Truly Good Leader that we could obey like the good little proletarians we are!

                  • Frith up a tree, even after getting spanked about Cuomo I am _still_ taking lefties at their word instead of doing my own dang research.

                    From https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-current-situation/covid-19-current-cases#curve:
                    First NZ case was 27 Feb, and as of April 7 there were about 1200 cases. So at the 5 week mark there were about 1200 per 5M population, or 1 per 4000 people.

                    From https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html, the “Cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases” graph:
                    First US case was 22 Jan; by Mar 4, there were around 100 cases. So at the 5 week mark there were about 100 per 330M population, or 1 per 3 MILLION people.

                    I hope none of Trump’s advisors have done a Fermi calc like this. If he went on the air and said we were doing a thousand times better than NZ, CNN would have kittens repeatedly for weeks to come.

                    • Or we could look at population density. When I read the NZ population was almost 5 million, the image subconsciously in my head was NYC or Chicago (which is silly, cuz of course they wouldn’t have filmed LOTR in either of those places. :P)

                      The NZ population density though is like 46 people per square mile; if you look at a US state population density list like on wiki, that’s a tiny bit above Maine (43 / mi^2, 38th on the list of states by density). But Maine only has a pop of 1 million; a better example might be Oregon, with a density of 41 and a population of about 4 million.

                      Google claims Oregon’s first case was around Feb 28, and that they are now up to about 1300 or so. If you go back to the NZ graph I linked to above, that matches almost exactly with their start date and current infection total.

                      So no, of course we are not actually doing a thousand times better than NZ (relax, that was a joke), but (under comparable conditions) we aren’t doing embarrassingly worse either.

                • He literally COULD NOT. He doesn’t have the authority or the power.

                  And what power he DID have, to prohibit people from China coming into the US, was called “racist” and “over reaction” by THE THE ASSHOLES ON THE LEFT.

                  Is your memory that short? Have you been toking up with Winter?

                  Trump has been following federal law and historical procedures on this one–letting the governors handle their states and they can request specific assistance from the Feds.

                  Kinda funny that y’all want him to be a dictator now when you’ve been complaining that he was going to *start* being one RSN.

                • > Trump… would have ordered a lockdown

                  Here’s another question you can maybe walk me through step by step.

                  CNN for the past couple of days has been exclusively hammering on how Trump does not have the authority to lift state shelter-in-place rules, or “lockdowns”; of course, only the governors can do that, right?

                  So… under what political theory did Trump have the authority to “order” such lockdowns in the first place?

                  If you’re in legitimate possession of a key, then you are authorized to lock the door, and to unlock it. If you don’t legitimately possess such a key, then you are not authorized to lock the door, or to unlock it.

                  Which is it?

                • >Evidence seems to be mounting showing that this treatment is indeed effective against COVID-19.

                  What Bismarck should have said:

                  “There is a special providence that guards drunkards, fools, the United States of America, and Donald J. Trump.

                • >Evidence seems to be mounting showing that this treatment is indeed effective against COVID-19.

                  Yes. And I think the major reason the evidence looks so mixed is timing.

                  Daniel Franke and I have both been following the treatment reports and we’re now convinced that the major variable controlling the effectiveness of the treatment is how far the disease has progressed.

                  Catch it early and the HCQ/Z-pac/zinc combo reliably stomps the crap out of the virus. Wait too late and you’re rolling dice – you’ll get some miraculous saves from at death’s door (those are the ones that make the papers) but the drug is mostly going to whiffle because the ARDS tissue damage has already gone down.

                  Daniel and I are both pretty sure that the studies showing weak or no clinical effect screwed themselves by trying to use the drug mainly as a late intervention in severe cases.

    • I’m a pretty huge Trump skeptic – I was known to refer to Clinton as the right-wing candidate in 2016. And I still think you’re out to lunch here.

      Trump can win re-election. If the nation (or rather, its swing voters) think he did a good job with coronavirus, he’ll probably win. In normal times, he had a perfectly reasonable chance – I was putting his odds around 40% a few months back.

      Trump is perhaps the least warmongery President the US has had since…Carter? Nixon? Hoover? And while I think he’s useless as a thinker, he is not Emperor Cartagia. Neither suicide nor omnicide appeals to him, and he does understand the concept of nuclear weapons.

      • The biggest variable is who he’s running against. The presumptive nominee is Joe Biden, who is clearly past his use-by date.

        Cuomo might have a chance, but he didn’t go through the primary process which will upset some people, an d he’s got one or two other issues.

        Given the amount of voter-fraud-by-mail going on it’s going (Colorado will always vote Democrat until we can get rid of it), Trump has pretty big hurdles to clear.

        We’ll have to see what comes out of the DNC convention.

    • > We know quite well he would be happy to fight till the last American to keep in power.

      Trump has bombed two countries since he took office, both of which we were already bombing before he got in.

      President Peace Prize bombed at least eight.

  15. Interesting post. In the post and comments I did not see anything considering China + Russia acting as allies. I’ll just say that the two would be stronger than China acting alone. Russia today is relatively weak, but they do still have respectable competencies. Their government doesn’t mean well toward anyone but Russia, has ambitions to dominate Europe, and a revival of the alliance with China would offer them opportunities to participate or just synchronize their adventures with China’s mischief, if the upside offers a net plus, or even staves off crises relating to their own internal discontent.. America’s ability to respond to more than one regional conflict at a time is seriously limited.

    One other thought: The post-WW2 dropping birthrates of Europe and Russia have had a profoundly negative impact on the future relative importance as world economic powers and corresponding ability to project power. Everything involving them is constrained by that.

  16. Historically, the Chinese Army has a very poor track record against pretty much everyone except Chinese civilians. They lost badly to the Japanese twice, they got kicked around by the British and an international coalition, they lost to the Manchurians, and they lost to the Mongols.

    Their foreign adventures have turned out badly. They failed to conquer Japan, failed to beat Vietnam on multiple occasions, failed to subdue various steppe nomads, and failed to conquer Korea. Their wars with India have been stalemates (though that’s about what both sides want anyway).

    They did manage to defeat Tibet, with a 100-to-1 population advantage and a century’s technology edge.

    The contrast between their massive, bloody, and complex civil wars and China’s abysmal performance against foreigners is really startling.

    • They fought pretty well in Korea in the 1950s.

      Of course they were fighting a UN mission lead by the US that had drawn down WAY too much after WWII, and wasn’t really prepared.

  17. 30-odd years ago I heard a talk by a China Watcher, I thought his insight was quite interesting.

    His belief was the CCP gained power post war by guaranteeing three things: No more fear of the Army more than criminals, No more Famines, and China will be respected (no more European humiliations).

    Tienanmen Square (and now Hong Kong) have damaged #1.

    African Swine Flu decimating their pig herds hurts, having the US cut off food exports would hurt #2 even more.

    The likely response to Wuhan Flu will be shunning, breaking #3 for years. I expect Italy to start unwinding their participation in Belt and Road in the coming year.

    The CCP may be as politically constrained today as they are geographically.

    The Red China was never a ally of USSR when they were both Communist and Russia has even less reason to support them now.

    Read “Operation Solo: America’s Man in the Kremlin” for more info, Nixon knew the USSR wasn’t going to back Red China in anything and the level of hatred between them.

  18. China’s goals are not expansionist. They are paranoid about being cut off from trade and strangled. They are so dependent on imports/exports that they mainly fear being strangled by blockades.

    China’s objective is not to conquer or subjugate their weaker neighbors, but to keep trade routes open since they are so dependent on imports and exports.

    They are mortally afraid of being cut off from food and oil. The build-up of power in the South China Sea is not to project power into other nations, but to keep themselves from being blockaded and strangled.

    The Belt and Road Initiative is a hail-mary attempt to create overland trade routes and pipelines that could serve as a backup if they are cut off by sea.

    The “Chain of Pearls” strategy is an attempt to build up maritime trade partners in Africa and South Asia so that even if oil from Arabia/Iran is cut off, they can import food and oil from Africa. Building up ports and infrastructure in various countries in the Indian Ocean both gives the Chinese some bases for their navy if they need to fight pirates/weak countries, and builds up the local economies of client state trade-partners.

    Even the decision to keep much of the 30-40% of the population tied to rural farming villages (and out of settling permanently in cities where they would be much more productive) is in the hope that if food imports were cut off, at least those internal migrants could go back to the family farm and produce a bit of food for themselves or the starving cities.

    The Marshall Plan was the USA’s way of “buying” an Alliance against the USSR, as well as creating a market for US exports. China is doing a similar thing with the BRI. Even China’s obsession with Taiwan is more about the potential for the US (or some internal warlord) to use it as a landing strip from which to invade mainland China.

    At this point, even if the USA just walked away, Chinese imports of food and oil could be easily cut off in many different ways: Japanese blockades around Singapore, open war between Saudis and Iran, unpoliced pirate activity, etc. etc.

    • No doubt; but since the USA is the one power on Earth that could impose a blockade and cut off China’s foreign trade, any strategy that risks provoking the USA into doing so carries an unacceptable risk to China. And trying to claim the South China Sea and dominate the islands adjacent to it is just such a strategy. Interfering with the freedom of the seas is the one action most likely to make America declare war.

      IMO the best strategy for China to follow to secure its foreign trade is like the one America followed between 1865 and 1914: accept a “junior partner” role to the naval hegemon, build up the navy but use it strictly to defend freedom of navigation, and wait for the hegemon to overstretch itself and collapse. But I doubt that the Chicoms have the humility and restraint to follow that strategy.

    • >They are mortally afraid of being cut off from food and oil.
      >as well as creating a market for US exports

      I am a supply-sider in economics. That means supply is what matters, that is the stuff people actually use, and generating demand is a roundabout way of generating supply. That is, the reason for exporting is simply to be able to import.

      This is often overlooked. I hear stories like the economy of South Korea was built in exporting to postwar Japan, Sweden’s economy was built on exporting to postwar Germany. But what did they import? As without importing, exporting makes no sense. Assuming that the bombed-out economies had not much to export, the imports had to come from somewhere else.

      Everybody sees China is exporting a lot of manufactured goods, but the imports are less visible. So thanks for mentioning it. Although in case of oil I don’t know why don’t they just rely on Russia. It would make a lot of geopolitical sense.

      So what you are saying makes a lot of good supply-sider sense, except the part about the Marshal Plan created a market for US exports. OK but what was imported in turn? As without imports exporting makes no economic sense. In that case it is a political move, basically the government putting tax money into exporting firms in a roundabout way.

      • Both Supply and Demand are meaningless concepts without the other side of the coin. Supply a proverbial ocean of a product, if no one wants it the only demand you will get is people paying you to get rid of it. Demand the moon and if no one can supply it you will be left with sputtering about how much you want it.

        Which in this context is why 95% of “balance of trade” screeds are 200-proof crap.

        • Supply is constrained by inputs (somebody put time and money into that ocean of product that they didn’t put into something else); demand is close to limitless and expands to fill all available disk space.

          • Not so, because the proper definition of demand is not only people wanting stuff, but people also being able to pay for it. Printing paper is easy, so just offering paper money does not really cut it in itself, that paper must be able to buy other goods, hence being able to pay for it boils down to being able to pay for supply with other supply.

            The Italian language has a neat expression, domanda solvibile, i.e. solvent demand. I think English needs to borrow this. Solvent demand. Just wanting something is not enough. No business transactions happens without offering value for value.

            • I understand the general idea of where you’re coming from, but this misses that for most goods, consumers’ marginal utility stays at least positive-epsilon nearly forever. See, for example, aluminum foil contra Napoleon’s aluminum dinner service.

            • It’s worth stressing that the value of the items exchanged need not be equal. But if it is a voluntary transaction, then each party values what he receives more than what he gives up. (Not that I think you’re making this mistake, but someone who reads what you’ve written *might*).

              This simple mistake, thinking that the value of the goods exchanged must be exactly equal, or the trade wouldn’t happen, was Marx’s central mistake, and leads down a very deep rabbit hole.

              • Yes, absolutely. But this mistake Marx borrowed from Adam Smith. Briefly, Smith’s labor theory of value said that if it takes 2 hours to gather a unit of berries and 1 hour to gather a unit of mushrooms, then on the barter market the running price will be 2 units of mushrooms against 1 unit of berries, because if it was much different, people would go on to go gather on their own.

                This logic is not bad logic in certain cases, like a manufacturing firm deciding whether to make a subassembly on their own or buy it, depending on which one costs less.

                But this logic only works in those cases when you can decide whether to do the work yourself or buy it easily. It is only true in a very narrow subset of situations. It happened to me, my wife is a professional cook, so when I told her hey there is this new restaurant with some interesting food we never ate she told me she can cook it at a much lower cost at home. But the whole logic does not work when you cannot make the item for yourself at all.

                • >But the whole logic does not work when you cannot make the item for yourself at all.

                  Or, to put it more precisely and technically, the logic breaks down when the cost of the capital goods required for production is non-negligible.

                  Adam Smith had a tolerable excuse for not knowing this; he wrote TWoN at a time when the Industrial Revolution was just beginning to spin up or by some accounts not even begun yet. In 1776 nobody had really grasped how much leverage mechanization was going to provide.

                  Marx, writing 50 years later, had no excuse.

                  • Yes, and I would also add human capital: skill to it. If only some people can tell poisonous mushrooms from edible ones, while everybody can recognize edible berries (not true, but it is just a hypothetical example now), then it will not trade 1:2 because the time of the mushroom expert is more value, because more scarce, because not everybody can just then go and DIY it. This, in theory, would have been knowable in 1776…

                  • The reason why the LTV fallacy refuses to go away is that it is impossible to sustain production in the long run if the customers are not willing to pay the cost of production. Thus a product with twice as much labor or other cost inputs will either sell at around twice the price (but assuming an efficient market not much above that) or will not be on the market at all in the long run. Thus, the price of products that are on the market and are selling and have a sustainable business model, and assuming an efficient market (i.e. small margins), the going price will actually be closely related to the magnitude of its cost inputs, including labor cost. The LTV fallacy exists largely due to ignoring products that failed.

        • This is theoretically true but “optimize for the common case”. That is, “no one wants it” can be true for a very special gadget, but for more generic stuff like wheat or oil, it seems in the short and medium run demand will not dry up for them.

  19. The PRC can start a war, but they don’t have the capability to win one.

    But do “they” know that? I mean the leaders.

    Do they know how bad their own quality control is? Are their Army, Navy and Air Force leaders telling the civilian leadership something resembling the truth about their capabilities? Hell, do THEY know the truth about their own capabilities? Do the leaders have *good* intelligence about the capabilities and relationships of their enemies?

    Remember when we went into Iraq in 2003, not only did ALL of our intelligence services (and those of most of our allies) think Saddam had chemical weapons and was trying to get nuclear, SADDAM’S GENERALS THOUGHT SO TOO. They just thought some other division had them. There is some evidence that Saddam thought he had a semi-active NBC program.

    We see now that the reporting mechanisms for passing information about the Wuhan Virus failed, and that mid to senior level Chinese *punished* those trying to tell the truth. What evidence do we have that Xi really does know what his country is and isn’t capable of?

    What if it’s not a “Hitler-scale episode of insanity”, but simply a belief that the Chinese really *are* that much better and capable than the rest of the world?

    • >But do “they” know that? I mean the leaders.

      I really don’t see how they can avoid knowing it. Their geostrategic problem is glaringly obvious to anyone who is historically literate and can read a map. With only two partially-worked-up carriers they can’t be under any illusion of winning a stand-up fight with the U.S. Navy.

      Germany blundered unto wars it couldn’t win because it let generals and people who thought they were generals run its grand strategy. Because that led to world wars twice in the last century, Westerners are preoccupied with that failure mode and tend to project it onto every potential adversary.

      But China’s system, whatever other flaws it has, does not have that one. Generals are subordinate to Party (civilian) authority and career officers are effectively barred from the top ranks of leadership. The Chinese system would have to fail drastically to generate the kind of blunder-into-war behavior that was routine in Germany between 1870 and 1945.

      • > I really don’t see how they can avoid knowing it.

        Drinking drinking their own ink. They (or someone in their hierarchy) was trying to blame the US military for putting the virus in Wuhan.

        > Their geostrategic problem is glaringly obvious to anyone who is
        > historically literate and can read a map. With only two
        > partially-worked-up carriers they can’t be under any illusion of
        > winning a stand-up fight with the U.S. Navy.

        They may think they can avoid that by moving fast and taking Taiwan before we can get significantly more assets into the area.

        Remember why Stalin was killed.

        • >They may think they can avoid that by moving fast and taking Taiwan before we can get significantly more assets into the area.

          With only sealift for a short division? It’s not going to happen. They’d need at least 4x the sealift capacity they have to make an invasion of Taiwan even thinkable, and at least 12x before it would edge into the realm of military practicality.

          To do it fast would require another 2x to 3x in force capability. And fast is a strictly relative term in this context. Nobody is going to pull off a coup de main over 80 miles of open ocean.

          >Remember why Stalin was killed.

          It’s not generally accepted as fact that he was killed, as opposed to dying of cerebral hemorrhage consequent on atherosclerosis. I don’t get what you’re driving at.

            • >Remember the USA didn’t have much sealift capacity in 1941 either.

              That’s true. But it’s also much more difficult to hide sealift capacity from an opponent with satellites than it was in 1941 before such things existed. If the Chinese were on a shipbuilding trajectory that would get them to enough sealift to invade Taiwan in the foreseeable future that fact would not stay a secret. They aren’t.

              I don’t think it’s any real mystery why they aren’t. Any competent military planner would contemplate the costs and risks of that operation and quail. It wouldn’t be like Normandy, a short transit over well-controlled seas against an opponent that had had only three years of preparation time and not a lot of resources allocated.

              • > But it’s also much more difficult to hide sealift capacity from an opponent with satellites than it was in 1941 before such things existed.

                Or even 1971.

                I reread “The Hunt for Red October” not long ago. At the beginning of the book, an agent manages, at great personal risk, to smuggle out some still film of the secret sub. While we did have satellites then, they weren’t really good enough for that task. You had to send a guy into enemy territory to take pictures in person.

                Nowadays you, or I, or anyone, can pull up that former Soviet (now Russian) submarine base on Google Earth and look at the subs tied up at the dock any time we feel like it. They’re clearly visible and recognizable. Likewise for the planes on the flight line at any air force base in the world.

                https://www.google.com/maps/@69.2601901,33.3267959,738m/data=!3m1!1e3

                And, remember, this is the unclassified civilian stuff, available to anyone with a net connection. One can only imagine what the secret DoD stuff is like.

                I’m constantly being surprised by just how much the world has changed.

              • ” But it’s also much more difficult to hide sealift capacity from an opponent with satellites than it was in 1941 before such things existed. If the Chinese were on a shipbuilding trajectory that would get them to enough sealift to invade Taiwan in the foreseeable future that fact would not stay a secret. They aren’t.”

                For a short sea trip, what’s to stop them from converting tens of thousands of cargo carriers into troop carriers, food/weapons/etc carriers, whatever else might be needed, and then just loading them onto a bunch of container ships? If they could hide loading the containers, why couldn’t they get to, say, Tiawan?

                This idea just occurred to me. I haven’t thought yet about where they could send the ships from (in particular how many port cities they could use), how long it would take to get to Taiwan, or how close they could get without raising suspicions, etc.

                • >If they could hide loading the containers, why couldn’t they get to, say, Tiawan?

                  Because the rate at which they could deploy troops out of the containers at the destination would be too slow to overcome any opposition at all.

                  To make an amphibious invasion work you have to arrange things so that tens of thousands of men hit the shore at the same time – a large enough mass of troops to overwhelm an entrenched and prepared enemy. Dribbling them out in container-sized penny packets to be destroyed in detail won’t do.

                  That means you need a lot of specialized shallow-draft landing ships or hovercraft that can nose up to a beach, drop a plank, and simultaneously disgorge a torrent of troops and armored fighting vehicles. You need to give the defenders so many targets that they can’t traverse their guns fast enough to kill a critical number of troops before you swarm their entrenchments.

                  • Only the US/UK/ANZAC have managed to pull off successful industrial-warfare opposed amphibious landings (and even then they were near run things for a while). And Gallipoli was a failure for the UK against an indifferent Turkey. It requires a certain amount of “being able to complete missions when the chain of command is not only broken, but atomized.”

                    What’s the PLA’s NCO corps like? What’s their “Marine” troopers quality?

                    • >Only the US/UK/ANZAC have managed to pull off successful industrial-warfare opposed amphibious landings

                      Looks like the Sri Lankans, of all people, may have pulled this off during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers. But yeah, exceptions to your rule are pretty hard to find.

                      >What’s the PLA’s NCO corps like? What’s their “Marine” troopers quality?

                      Confucian culture, Communist doctrine. No successful military adventure ever unless you count bloodying the U.S.’s nose in Korea (and they didn’t win that one, South Korea exists). With that record I don’t think anyone can know for sure, but I know which way to bet.

                      The way to bet is that Chinese NCOs are good at dealing with pitched attacks along a well-defined threat axis, but otherwise almost incapable of operating without clear command direction. Expect their Marines (and other troops) to be individually tough and skilled, but incapable of tactical initiative and vulnerable to morale collapse when faced with an enemy that gets inside their OODA loop.

                      Ordinary line troops will fight better than Arabs and Arabized tribesmen, because they have a much higher average IQ and more ability to form loyalties above the familial/tribal level. They’ll certainly be much more effective users of military technology. But they’ll have the same tendency to shatter when faced with Americans or Brits or Germans or Israelis who really get high-intensity maneuver warfare.

                      Overall I’d expect battlefield performance somewhat better than Warsaw Pact troops once their feet are dry, but they’re going to make a lot of costly bonehead mistakes in naval and amphibious operations due to inexperience and inflexible combat psychology. Their senior officers will, on the whole, be technically competent but cautious and unimaginative (nails that stick up get pounded down in their culture).

                      A tiny handful of their special-operations troops may be better than I’m describing so far. Because their population is so large they might be able to collect enough super-warrior outliers to field SpecOps teams that are world-class (comparable to Americans/Brits/Russians/Israelis). Russian Spetsnaz are the precedent here. But they’ll have a hell of a time replacing those troops and will be poor at integrating them into normal combat operations (again, see Spetsnaz).

                      They won’t be particularly atrocity-prone. Along this axis expect: (1) way way better than pre-1945 Japanese, (2) way better than Nazis, (3) better than Arabs, (4) possibly better than Warsaw pact troops.

                    • Sri Lanka may be presumed to have inherited some ability from the Brits…

                • > For a short sea trip, what’s to stop them from converting tens of thousands of cargo carriers into troop carriers, food/weapons/etc carriers, whatever else might be needed, and then just loading them onto a bunch of container ships?

                  What are our (and, soon, Taiwan’s) submarines doing while these undefended (and indefensible) container ships are making a sudden, unexplained, and en masse detour toward Taiwan?

                  Note that Trump has recently licensed a shitload bunch of submarine technology to Taiwan, and Taiwan has been soliciting bids for a fleet of fast-attack diesel-electric boats.

                  • >Taiwan has been soliciting bids for a fleet of fast-attack diesel-electric boats.

                    Huh. I’d been assuming they had those already on the down-low. It’s such an obvious move.

                    They should be able to afford a bunch of these because for this application they don’t need more than a couple hundred miles’ range to do extended war patrols in a strait that’s 80 miles wide. Give a dozen of them fleets of torpedo-carrying parasite drones, deploy them four up, four back, and four on refit at any given time and you’re done – the PRC won’t be able to get so much as a toy boat over.

                  • “What are our (and, soon, Taiwan’s) submarines doing while these undefended (and indefensible) container ships are making a sudden, unexplained, and en masse detour toward Taiwan?”

                    Well, I don’t know what the shipping lanes are, but if they’re within a fairly short distance (timewise) from the coast, subs far away aren’t going to help. The whole point of container ships was camouflage.

                    But the mass landing issue is one I hadn’t even thought of and an obvious problem in retrospect. I suppose if you had some kind of way to turbo the ships sideways at the shore and then have one entire side fall over and all those troops jump out at once you could do it, but that doesn’t seem very reasonable.

                    • Container ships would be the last possible method for carrying troops. They are extremely specialized for carrying vast numbers of standardized boxes and having them loaded and unloaded by onshore facilities. They are difficult to get on and off off without the cooperation of the port authorities.

      • The worry is that they (China’s leadership) are not rational. Like the war faction in Japan’s leadership that progressively intimidated and assassinated their way into power in the 20’s and 30’s, until things got out of hand.

        Difficult to rationally model irrationality. Communist states by their very nature prevent ANYONE inside them from having accurate information about anything.

        If their leadership is half as ignorant, mal-educated, sheltered, and incompetent at any task other than manipulating the levers of governmental power as our traditional elite (and as recent events have shown, insecure and malicious to boot), we’re all screwed.

        • >If their leadership is half as ignorant, mal-educated, sheltered, and incompetent at any task other than manipulating the levers of governmental power as our traditional elite (and as recent events have shown, insecure and malicious to boot), we’re all screwed.

          Nah. They’re screwed. If they’re irrational they might start a war, but they can’t win one – they can only do damage as they go down.

    • “Remember when we went into Iraq in 2003, not only did ALL of our intelligence services (and those of most of our allies) think Saddam had chemical weapons and was trying to get nuclear, SADDAM’S GENERALS THOUGHT SO TOO. They just thought some other division had them. There is some evidence that Saddam thought he had a semi-active NBC program.”

      Dr. Goebbels would be so proud if he could have put over such lie. Saddam had a chemical weapons program. Past tense, as of 2003. We know he had such a program as he used chemical weapons on Iran, for years. But after Gulf I, he closed it down, and got rid of most of it. But he continued to lie about it. And why wouldn’t the agencies believe his boasts that he not only had WMDs but even more than before. And of course any WMD program would be extremely well hidden and secret. No wonder the intelligence agencies thought he had WMD’s. Even his Generals all thought so. A brilliant obfuscation program by Saddam. A brilliant program by a paranoid psychopath. Of course, he ended up hoist by that petard *as one of the reasons to knock him over was that he had WMD’s and boasted he would use them*.
      And left-over chem weapons *were* found by US troops, some of whom were injured by them, or who suffered weird health problems from unknown chemicals.

      But gee, there were no WMD’s so Bush lied.

      You piss me off.

      • You need to reread the section you quoted. He was NOT pushing “Bush lied” and you appear to be in violent agreement with what he did say.

        His context was that the ability to get reliable information out of dictatorships is practically nil.

  20. We don’t really need China to be destroyed. We just want them gone. Out of our economy, out of our universities, out of our media and corporations, just go away and be in the other hemisphere and leave us alone.

    And take *our* communists with you.

  21. “from my perspective as a wargamer”

    I’ve always wanted to assemble a small list of games which, if mastered, would give one a really good grounding in both tactics and strategy.

    Any recommendations?

    • >I’ve always wanted to assemble a small list of games which, if mastered, would give one a really good grounding in both tactics and strategy.

      That’s not a small list. And good strategy games are rarer than good tactics games.

      If I were you I’d start by learning small-unit tactics. Recommended: the Conflict of Heroes series by Academy Games.

        • >ASL is too complicated? Maybe ASL Starter Kit?

          ASL is obsolete, in part because of the CoH games (I think GMT’s “Combat Commander” is better, too). The Academy Games CoH system gives you, in my opinion, the tactical authenticity of ASL or CC without all the heavy-duty simulationist apparatus.

          I say this knowing that a lot of old-school wargamer grognards of approximately my age will condemn it as vile heresy…

          • As an old school wargaming grognard, I would condemn the idea that ASL or Combat Commander have any tactical authenticity ;-)

            I say that with great respect for the late Chad Jensen.

          • Wait, what? People still talk about ASL?

            Is there a market for ASL items? I still have unpunched original copies of several of the modules I bought back *just* before my Squad Leader gaming group fell apart.

  22. “Threats by China to use its control of most of rare-earth production for economic blackmail have been followed by much more serious threats to use its dominance of the manufacturing of basic pharmaceuticals as a weapon””

    Actually China does not control anything. Dominating a market because you are cheaper than everyone else is not the same as controlling it. And being cheaper than everyone else is good for your customers…

    Which is why neither China, nor the rest of the world, has any interest in starting a war. War is bad for business. The leaders of China may still perform lip service to communism, but they are greedy capitalists through and through. And if there is a class of people I trust not to start wars it is greedy capitalists…

    • >Actually China does not control anything. Dominating a market because you are cheaper than everyone else is not the same as controlling it.

      Might as well be, until somebody has actually made the capital investment required to compete. Theoretical capacity is not actual capacity.

      Don’t be silly about this. I’m a libertarian, I get it about free markets and how they react efficiently to attempts at this kind of blackmail. But the Chinese are not idiots – if they didn’t know they had a credible short-term threat in hand they wouldn’t have made it.

      • Plus our regulations fight on their side.
        The reason we’ve come to depend on them so heavily is a long and sorry tale from environmental regulations making building practically impossible, to our minimum wage laws (which are bloody stupid as minimum wage would never be/mean the same across the entirely of the country in terms of spending, to the Thor Power Tools case in tax law that makes it easier to “store” inventory abroad under shell companies owned primarily by Chinese. (And fostered JIT messes.)
        I’d like to think this will be swept away, but I doubt it.

        • >Thor Power Tools case in tax law that makes it easier to “store” inventory abroad under shell companies owned primarily by Chinese.

          Huh. That’s an angle on the Thor Power Tools disaster I was unaware of.

          I know how it killed off the SF midlist, of course.

        • Congress could have voided the Thor Power Tools case in any of the tax reform bills it had passed since then. It hasn’t.

      • A large subsurface mining facility for rare earth metals was constructed at Mountain Pass CA about 7 years ago. It was shutdown due to it’s operational expense vis-s-vis China’s subsidized under-pricing, and most of the added expense was due to environmental compliance (removing tramp heavy metals from wastewater). It can be restarted in about a two weeks if need be under the auspices of the Defense Production Act.

  23. Nice analysis!

    As a Vietnam veteran, I’ve got experience watching out media win a war for the enemy. They would be China’s biggest ally, as they were for North Vietnam. The US had won that war in theater starting with the Tet Offensive, but it was too late – it was lost in Congress after media lies. For example, the Tet Offensive was portrayed as a victory for the enemy (naturally, portrayed as rebels against imperialists), when it was a devastating disaster, almost completely eliminating the Viet Cong as a credible force. The My Lai massacre was portrayed as typical behavior of US forces, when it was a very notable exception.

  24. You’ve overlooked or deliberately ignored the biological warfare scenario. Might be alarmist to discuss it in current circumstances.

    But they don’t have a good situation for using nukes or chemicals against the US.

    The way their apparent assets were pushing insecurity on the Mexican border raises the possibility that they were preparing the capacity to deploy a biological agent in Mexico and let the porous border carry it into the US.

    Now, I might be overly broad in classifying Chinese assets, and it is very plausible that their aims were instead in support of their ties to the drug trade.

    But the Chinese nuclear deterrent seems pretty weak. There continues to be the question of whether they think of their biological capabilities as their true deterrent? Or are they, despite all other evidence, content to play in the minor leagues?

    Peace is the exception, not war. Peaces can only be maintained between parties capable of sticking to bargains. The PRC is capable of sticking of a bargain, of not waging conventional war against others, because they are very nearly incapable of that. (Yes, the Indians do take them fairly seriously as an opponent, but India is not necessarily an easy conquest.) The PRC may be Communist enough that it cannot refrain from war with others as long as it has the capability. And it definitely has the capability for the low level conflict that we can see traces of all over the place.

  25. I wrote a short story once. China builds in secret, and then launches several million ton orion spaceships, armed with remainder of their nuclear stockpile and lots of lasers and ABM rockets.

    World domination, achieved.

  26. “I don’t know whether Trump got smart or lucky, but I can see the way the wind is blowing. In another week or two general mockery of the HCQ downshouters is going to be savage. And deserved.”

    I think you’re 100 percent wrong. (If we ever agree on anything it will probably be a sign of the apocalypse.) At any rate, this is a general collection of links on the subject of hydroxychloroquine. Note the generally negative tone about the therapy. In particular, note that hydroxychloroquine has been tried on viruses over and over again, with a very interesting effect. It always has great anti-virus potential in-vitro, and that effect is never seen in-vivo. I find this very interesting. Also note that while Trump is pushing the therapy, Fauci is definitely not doing so, and this shows up in several of the articles and critiques. So rather than lionizing Trump, you might actually consider the evidence.

    I’ll also note something else; how terrible it is that this basic science has become so very politicized. In a better time we actually took scientific results seriously. Now we worry about whether they’re ideologically correct. What’s obvious to me is that we’re seeing ALL the usual signs of bad science here. Low p-values. A lack of randomized, double-blind trials. Lots of anecdotal evidence being treated as fact. And nobody is commenting on this except to say things like, “this is a Democratic plot against Trump.”

    It’s nothing of the kind. The science is showing all the usual signs of being crap, as you’ll see below:

    “Patients with lupus, arthritis, other conditions are *already* on hydroxychloroquine.

    And we are diagnosing them with covid19 *LEFT AND RIGHT* – MD on Twitter

    https://twitter.com/jeremyfaust/status/1246801663345618944

    “The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine offers no additional benefit to coronavirus patients already being treated with current methods, including bed rest and antiviral drugs, say authors of a pilot study into the drug’s effectiveness for COVID-19.” – Newsweek

    “No Evidence of Rapid Antiviral Clearance or Clinical Benefit with the Combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin in Patients with Severe COVID-19 Infection” – Pre-Publication Paper on Sciencedirect.com

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0399077X20300858

    “Fauci has repeatedly said there’s not enough evidence to support using hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.” Statnews.com (I don’t know why I’m providing a link to Fauci’s opinion, which is very well known, but here it is:

    https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/06/trump-hydroxychloroquine-fact-check/

    “Altogether, the assessment of previous trials indicates that, to date, no acute virus infection has been successfully treated by chloroquine in humans.” – Paper on Sciencedirect.com

    I should note that if you carefully read the paper, that hydroxychloroquine vs. any virus is a little like fusion. Successfully results in the petri-dish, but nothing useful in-vivo:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354220301145?via%3Dihub

    Here’s another paper, which notes all the in-vitro results with chloroquine, but doesn’t note any actual successes in-vivo. I suspect there’s something going on in-vitro which doesn’t happen in-vivo, perhaps something is lost during digestion?

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(03)00806-5/fulltext

    “The drugs work by decreasing the acidity in endosomes, compartments inside cells that they use to ingest outside material and that some viruses can coopt to enter a cell. But the main entryway for SARS-CoV-2 is a different one, using its so-called spike protein to attach to a receptor on the surface of human cells. Studies in cell culture have suggested chloroquines have some activity against SARS-CoV-2, but the doses needed are usually high—and could cause serious toxicities. – From Sciencemag.org. (So hydroxychloroquine doesn’t actually treat method used by the virus to enter a cell.)

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/who-launches-global-megatrial-four-most-promising-coronavirus-treatments?utm_campaign=NewsfromScience&utm_source=JHubbard&utm_medium=Twitter

    “A day after President Donald Trump declared an anti-malaria drug a “game changer” in the fight against the novel coronavirus, the nation’s top infectious disease expert downplayed any role it might play in the fast-moving pandemic and said signs of the drug’s promise were purely “anecdotal.”” – ABC News

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fauci-throws-cold-water-trumps-declaration-malaria-drug/story?id=69716324

    The French study is withdrawn by the publisher: “The ISAC Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.”

    https://www.isac.world/news-and-publications/official-isac-statement

    “I see a lot of problems with this study.

    First of all, it does not mention whether risk factors – such as hypertension or diabetes – were taken into account. The table provided for randomization doesn’t show them either.” – Prepublication of Chinese hydroxychloroquine study with critiques in the comments below:

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.22.20040758v2

    More critiques of two French studies – Sciencemag.org

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/are-hydroxychloroquine-and-azithromycin-an-effective-treatment-for-covid-19/

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/hydroxychloroquine-and-azithromycin-versus-covid-19/

  27. Replying to comment here.

    Jeff, you’re reverting to idiot-mode again.

    > The Christchurch shooter was not mentally ill

    Disagree; evidence of his illness is that he did what he did. If you don’t count that as evidence of mental illness, I think you have a uselessly narrow definition of it.

    > It’s been shown time and time again that mass shootings are what you get when you mix toxic whitedude politics with guns.

    What, exactly, are “toxic whitedude politics”? Does one need to be caucasian to possess these politics, or merely toxic? If skin color/genetics are not relevant, why do you feel the need to describe it so? What does toxic even mean here?

    Once again demonstrating how Progressive ideology is nearly indistinguishable from overt racism.

    > White supremacy is on the rise

    Citation needed, and I don’t mean motivated news reports claiming it. You also need to define it, because it seems too many people equate someone merely maintaining the position “it’s OK to be white” with “white is superior.”

    > the best solution is to do what Jacinda Ardern has done, and treat gun ownership as a privilege, not a right.
    > Watch and learn, America.

    Given the population disparities, both in size and in diversity, between NZ and USA (not to mention land size), your words here suggest that you desire reducing the population of USA towards that of NZ, doing so via the forced confiscation of weapons from white people who get uppity, so that hideously draconian measures can be enacted without resistance.

    I don’t think you actually hold this position, but I also don’t see a huge gap between this and what you’re saying.

    OTOH, it is nice to see old Jeff again every so often. Reminds a person that some things at least remain fairly constant.

  28. Am I the only one who finds it hypocritical that when Trump said a couple weeks ago that he wanted to “reopen everything by Easter”, he was loudly roasted for it in the media (fine by me, since I thought it an unnecessarily dumb thing to say at the time); but when Ardern says it she’s a Visionary Leader?

    Are you really that dense? I don’t want to believe so. In case you’re missing something, let me walk you through it, step by step.

    New Zealand has a population of 4.9 million people. It has, as of today, 1,283 cases of COVID-19 and only two deaths.

    Louisiana, a single U.S. state, has a population of about 3 million people. As of today is has had 19,253 COVID-19 cases and 755 deaths — and growing. And that’s just one U.S. state! (Although Louisiana has the worst coronavirus spread per capita in the country.)

    The number of new COVID cases in New Zealand per day is declining, and most of those are Kiwis returning from overseas — who, per government policy, are being quarantined for 14 days before being allowed home. The end is in sight for coronavirus in New Zealand precisely because PM Ardern and the NZ parliament heeded the advice of health experts and implemented a policy of suppression, not just mitigation. They locked down the country and implemented extensive testing to identify and quarantine extant COVID cases within its borders.

    Do you understand the difference between merely making a promise and actually doing the work to back it up? Trump absolutely fucked the dog when it came to managing the pandemic, which is why he looked like such a tool making promises to open everything up by Easter. Ardern actually did what was necessary to manage the epidemic and the country is reaching a point where she now can legitimately make promises like that.

    • he looked like such a tool making promises to open everything up by Easter

      Fake news. He expressed a hope, he didn’t make a promise. Trump is positive thinker, a fan of Norman Vincent Peale, who was a popularizer of the New Thought movement. This is generally a good quality for a leader.

      FDR: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
      Jeff Read: “What an incompetent liar! We have many more things to fear!”

      • I think it would go more like this:

        Trump (both hands raised flashing the “V” sign): I am not a clerk!
        Jeff Read: “What an incompetent liar!

      • Trump is positive thinker, a fan of Norman Vincent Peale, who was a popularizer of the New Thought movement.

        New Thought, today, is mainly a motivational/psychological manipulation technique used by multi-level marketing scammers and other white-collar crooks so they can keep scamming you by convincing you that the first time you got ripped off was your fault. You might want to look into the histories of all the “teachers” mentioned in The Secret and the author herself, Rhonda Byrne. I did and it was… instructive.

        Oh yeah, Trump also has MLM connections in his history. That, alone, would make me willing to hold my nose and vote for Biden. (Just FYI, I consider MLM in general to be the nation’s second most dangerous cult behind Scientology.)

    • > Louisiana, a single U.S. state, has a population of about 3 million people. As of today is has had 19,253 COVID-19 cases and 755 deaths — and growing. And that’s just one U.S. state! (Although Louisiana has the worst coronavirus spread per capita in the country.)

      And Oregon’s curve — as I already mentioned — is nearly identical to NZ’s (a reasonable comparison I still claim, given the similar populations and population densities). And early on Italy was being touted as one of the “why can’t we be more like them” places… until things went pear-shaped there.

      Louisiana is definitely a bad case (the worst, as you yourself say). I’m not trying to downplay the tragedy there, and I admit right off to not understanding why it is so _much_ worse. (Compared to say, Oregon, which as I said looks really close to NZ; and Maine, which arguably looks a good deal worse, having started in mid March — two weeks behind NZ — but gotten to about 500 cases five weeks in, about 4 or 5 times worse than NZ given Maine only has a million people. That threw me at first, but I am starting to think you _can’t_ compare regions with different “start dates” just by sliding them along each other’s curves; the influx _into_ the curve of asymptomatic infected people coming into the region is going to depend on the worldwide infection rate, more than just as a second order effect. But I would have to sit down with a _lot_ of numbers from a lot of different places before I was confident in that guess.)

      The only thing I remotely could come up with is when I was googling, there was a map of where the LA cases are: maybe not surprising, a HUGE blob on Baton Rouge and then blobs that were smaller but scattered over nearly the rest of the state. So if you had a city, maybe not as dense as NYC but pretty damn dense, but not nearly as many resources as Cuomo was able to bring to bear in his own state, that maybe starts to look like a plausible outcome. Which of course is terrible in its own right — in before a long Winter screed on how horrible we all are — and LA should definitely be the next focus of attention in terms of resources. But is it _representative_ of the US situation in general? Outliers gotta outlie, at least in statistical terms.

      > Do you understand the difference between merely making a promise and actually doing the work to back it up?

      Do you understand the difference between a claim Trump made about what things would be like two weeks down the road, and a claim Ardern has made about what things would be like two weeks down the road? Maybe you could walk me through it, you know, step by step.

      I _really_ do hope Ardern is right, and that things look better in NZ two weeks from now. Cuomo has also been saying for several days now that there is hope NYC’s curve is possibly starting to flatten. I really hope that’s true too. Since NY has been our “epicenter” for weeks now (given your statement LA has worse per capita, NY still has bigger population, population density, and absolute numbers, and has been pretty much the CNN focus since mid March), that would give hope that the other hot spots lagging NY (like, as you say, LA) would see flattenings over a similar time scale (assuming people keep staying at home as they should, and medical equipment can get distributed as needed).

      But they don’t _know_. Are these actual short flat peaks in the curves, to be followed very soon by the drops we’ve all been hoping and praying for? Are they flat, but the beginnings of prolonged steady states, a fixed death rate per day that won’t subside (even given isolation) until treatments become available? Or have we just been statistically “unlucky” in the past few days — the observed slopes (deaths per day) happened to be lower those few days than the “true” values of the underlying distribution, and that anomaly will correct itself over the next few days? There are NO grounds — at least from the POV of statistics — for making a claim that one of those outcomes will _definitely_ come to pass in one case, but another outcome will definitely come to pass in another. Extrapolation is _least_ reliable when the starting point of the extrapolation has a slope of zero. (Yes, yes, if you know the curve is normal or whatever you can use the second derivative; but these _aren’t_, they’re quite skewed, and the skew itself is one of the variables of the model, presumably dependent on details of the population, population density, interactions among the population, and who knows how many others.)

      Call me dense, but I don’t believe there is _as yet_ enough information to be making such bold one-sided claims. Even if I did, I would refrain from betting on it, because people are dying out there (“how fucking dare you” as one might say). Doing so just to score talking points against one Glorious Leader of the People over another? Screw that. (Much as I disliked Obama, if this were happening under his watch, I’d have better things to do than finding ways to make this All His Fault.)

      • > Louisiana, a single U.S. state, has a population of about 3 million people.

        Hmm, going by wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_and_territories_of_the_United_States_by_population_density)
        it has a population of 4.7M (those are 2015 numbers, but the wiki page on population itself claims there wasn’t much change 2015-2019).

        However, its population _density_ is 108/mi^2, more than twice that of NZ (and OR as I mentioned). Assuming density is going to strongly influence spread, maybe LA isn’t as gross an outlier as I was willing to concede above. Also LA’s first case was Mar 9, a bit more then a week after NZ; if my guess above that later start dates actually mean _worse_ progression, then that’s another reason you’d expect LA to be worse than NZ (even before bringing any socioeconomic issues into the discussion).

      • If you search online you can probably find data on when “shelter in place” or similar orders happened, and what their details were, then relate them to the deaths in various places, keeping in mind that Covid-19 entered in the port cities (including airports) and will be spreading to “flyover” country in the next few weeks. I’m assuming that everyone has a Coronavirus tracker they’re using. If not I can post several URLs. (The one from John Hopkins has a very useful map!)

  29. I’m more worried that a united communist-mafia government is already getting too strong and on the run even with your current “best” conservative-candidate “shield” and Americans are sitting tight on their asses, caring only about their own little square boxes, neglecting and disregarding, as if they won’t be doomed. As if the communists don’t have patience to wait another 25 years for all older people like you who actually know a little bit better to die out ( you don’t have any children do you) and leave all the rotting filthy younger generation for them to rule and control (and ofcourse kill with impunity) you leaving them the best machines of control and surveillance and killing. With the brainsmarts of average americans this will surely happen in no time and for sure served on a lavish dish with icecream and pudding at the side.

    So, trying to talk about China is like a finger that points to the moon and hides it. Since American shortsightedness and addiction to powerful stimulants is brought to maximum it is ripe to be exploited, and we from other nations see that you are replaced thoroughly and with little to no resistance.

    At least “disarm” yourself and move out of way so people who do want to defend themselves can do it ! Get off that “world sheriff” role and stop interfering in foreign countries… you are still acting like you are just another regular country despite being a superpower and I suspect breaking the rules never meant anything special to your kind !

    Let me also remind you that It was you yourself who gave power to the Chinese and enabled illegal underage wage-slavery that could have never gotten legislated in your country ! *again* americans do outside their land what they are strictly and often lethally disallowed to do inside it. This hypocricy will eventually cost you soon enough as everyone will be watching you collapse and especially your friends whom you betrayed will simply stand aside to watch you without offering a finger to help.

    We have had enough of your dollar banana empire and since you are going down anyway, we will be here to rebuild and fight for a really free world, not just a remote off seas treasure-island who wears the mask of the british empire when it fits it but doesn’t act like it!

    Since your crimes are now echoed, God will catchup with you and payback when and how he see fits. You have unanimously agreed to join the eternal blacklist.

      • I think we’ve been visited by the 50 cent army, named for the .50 yuan they get for social media posts defending China and the CCP. Recently they got a pay boost to .70, though.

  30. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1Small World Scrapbook: Of Course

  31. ESR,

    You didn’t address the only PRC move that I consider militarily, politically, and economically feasible. Chinese military intervention into a destabilized North Korea. I really don’t think it would be a problem for the holders of Kim’s leash to remove him to incite internal destabilization. China could then use that as as excuse to move troops southeast.

    This would shake the political stability of the entire area. The US 7th fleet would be pinned down providing coverage for South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

    That would allow opportunities for misadventure elsewhere as well as providing a great deal of bargaining power to China.

    That’s been my worry since L’il Kim’s dad (forgot his name) was running the show.

    • >Chinese military intervention into a destabilized North Korea.

      And this would accomplish what for the PRC?

      When I first contemplated the idea I thought “Ah. Low-risk war that lets them expend a bunch of those surplus males.” But the Norks have nukes. Posing a mortal threat to an unstable dictator with nuclear missiles that put Peking well within range: what a brilliant idea!

      But let’s ignore the nukes for the moment. So you’ve conquered North Korea; now you have to feed the North Koreans. Oops? Now you have to run a beaten-down craphole of a country whose institutions are in a condition that, by comparison, makes Orwell’s Airstrip One look as welcoming as a Caribbean beach party.

      You’re going to be throwing money down that craphole for decades just to bring it up to the level where J. Random PLA Grunt won’t consider it a hardship posting. Haven’t you ever wondered why the South Koreans aren’t eager for a Kimocracy collapse?

      Good luck formulating a set of war aims where the anticipated gains make these acceptable costs.

      • Pre-nukes, it would have been the rhetorical Short Victorious War. But if the DPRK Rocket Corps can hit ANYTHING, it can certainly hit Beijing.

        And, hell, what if the DPRK decide blood is thicker than communism, and invite the ROK to come north to help? (I can’t tell how likely this is).

      • West Germany had a big problem assimilating the “Ossies” when the Wall came down. China dealing with North Korea, even with help from SoKo, would be an order of magnitude more difficult, messy, pick your adjective….

  32. The real question is why China would want to invade the USA when they already control it through the media, the Democrat Party, and the Millennial Generation (aka the Traitor Generation) which unanimously prefers China to the nation that gave them the neverending joyous orgy that is their lives.

  33. War is possible. We just need to secretly arm the fleet with tactical nukes, and shell them from the cost to break mutually ensured destruction. It would be a great crime against humanity.

  34. How could there possibly start a war if they literally have you by the “balls”?

    Ever since America let China run all its low-level manufacturing and processing, thereby exploiting geographic lawlessness so it can instead only pay “peanuts” to poor, sometimes teenagers, exploited employees in sweatshops so that few American capitalists will get disproportionally rich and powerful at their expense.

    Sadly all those American pamphlets for “freedom” and “equality” that one used to hear in the last decades and who I believe Eric still uses as the basis of his support of a rogue regime turned out to be vain pretentious words.

    The more a clueless person investigates the more he sees the lies of those who utter those, as historical outlook shows that the USA always based its economical power and “righteousness” on away-from-the-eye suffering of innocent, remote, powerless populations (children included).

    Sadly this sort of stubbornness where even today in 2020 America still refuses to change its innate plundering-nature is exemplified again in the choice of a voters base of a criminal- tax-hiding world-mafia collaborator cruel Capitalist sort of a president.

    Personally I hope you are not throwing sand in the eyes of your listeners and write honestly. Eventually, I suppose, we never really know what part you played that got you to move from poor and problematic Venezuela to the rich imperialist land and to become the leader of a capitalist market open-source version of ideology…

    • Hmm…

      * Blames America for exploiting Red China and Venezuela
      * Promotes the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis

      Sounds like a commie. Methinks the 50-cent army strikes again!

      • I sound like a communist for being against America supporting red China ? I can almost feel your brain melting. You are the bully betraitors and you always were. Osama got a good hit at your twins and certainly you aren’t even getting a quarter of what you deserve from the world.

        America aids Communists, Pedophiles, Dictators, whoever it can use for a moment of exploitation disregarding the innocents that will get hurt! It doesn’t help me you idiot, it is my impediment and every American’s but it’s also the destruction of its own very self. You are running wild and you should be stopped.

        America threw everyone who was a friend of it out the window, its foreign actions are the worse things this planet knew, and no I do not succumb to the notion that Russia is the evil because you are yourself building the most satanic monstrous societies and tools that will at a point be used to exploit and harm innocent human lives while pretending you are doing the exact opposite, while useful idiots like you keep propagandizing for it for free! America is the disease that the world should search for a vaccine to, nonetheless Corona.

        The traitor will end lonely, and all the wolves will gnaw their teeth at it at the right time. Not even 50 cents will help it.

        • The only thing that’s good and likable about America (and perhaps Eric too) is its Britishness or anything that is still reminiscent of old clean European taste. And since America has already decided to be done with it, nobody will shed a tear when it’s gone too.

          Of-course everyone that has felt the american club on its head is now dependent on the step-british bastard that robbed the world
          clean. You destroyed Britain because of your unsatiable greed and falling to the cheap lure that the traders race have put in front of you, throwing away eternity. Falling from grace and from eternity(=JESUS) you will soon discover how it is like to be perishable & ephemeral. Your betrayal will go in the history books as well.

        • its foreign actions are the worse things this planet knew

          America is the disease that the world should search for a vaccine to

          These are two of the most historically ignorant things I’ve ever read online, and that’s saying a lot.

      • > Methinks the 50-cent army strikes again!

        Sounds more like someone from Russia or a former Soviet satellite state. Lots of superficial venom directed at “communists” accompanied by latent praise of the cultures that gave rise to communism.

        (from BrChz)
        > America threw everyone who was a friend of it out the window
        I.e. instead of remaining Stalin’s catamite after WWII, having the gall to (continue to) set up shop west of the Iron Curtain.

        > the wolves will gnaw their teeth at it at the right time
        Now that’s a Russian (or at least Slavic) metaphor (modulo the mistaken “gnaw” for “gnash”) if I’ve ever heard one, or you can “spank me rosy” (to quote the great Col. Jack O’Neill).

        But A Random Xoogler is right to smell the common thread between them. It’s fine for the USSR to have megalomaniacal dictators like Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev; it’s America’s fault for “aiding” those dictators “for a moment of exploitation”. It’s fine for China to have sweatshops of slave labor cranking out cheap sneakers; it’s America’s fault entirely for buying those sneakers.

        • > It’s fine for the USSR to have megalomaniacal dictators like Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev; it’s America’s fault for “aiding” those dictators “for a moment of exploitation”. It’s fine for China to have sweatshops of slave labor cranking out cheap sneakers; it’s America’s fault entirely for buying those sneakers.

          I’ve never said any of that, sir.

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