View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
It is with a little more than curiosity, this Review and the other cross posted on non use of nuclear weapons has appeared, today; still, mostly curiosity and some reflection that H-Diplo posts material which is indicated, of interest to State Dept. and foreign relations experts. Historically speaking, these two subjects and this one on the Chinese War to come with Taiwan actually indicates, from the Title, a forward looking sense of history ? Possibly, that conclusion is accurate and possibly not. What does strike attention with the Review, is a lack of content history indicating awayness of several points which mitigate against any such war, unusual for diplomatic history that one would think seeks out historical trends indicative of a peaceful outcome. Either way, the points not mentioned remained historically accurate and 'at play', if you will.n First of these is the US relation with Taiwan and the Nationalist Party History as contender for governmental authority over the mainland. Too easily has this been dismissed in western circles and history, given the dramatic change to a 'Two China" policy at the end of the 20th Century and the more recent formula of One China and Two Views approach to smoothing over political and historically different outcomes. I do not wish to dwell on these matter too long here. They are in themselves worth of another book and much more discussion than can be presented. Suffice to observe, I was most fortunate to attend one of the last social events given by the Chinese Embassy in DC before recognition was extended to Communist China as the seated member in the UN Security Council, while ousting the Nationalist Govt. The West's and UN's treatment of Nationalism and Taiwan as the seat of China Government will unlikely long be remembered in any future history. This aside, the US 7th Fleet remains a stumbling block to Chinese integration of Taiwan thru military force. Only political and diplomatic negotiations will reunite the two areas of China, if at all. The 7th Fleet history in guaranteeing peace and warfare's outcome should not be dismissed, as the Review here simply does not include. War with the US remains a historical prerogative. Perhaps this is why the Review appears today, given the Chinese mainland government's announced successful testing of a new defensive missile interceptor. Disclaimers to the contrary, this new development cannot be so coincidental as to reject its historical implications in relation to this Review and its subject matter or conclusion. Has history changed. I suspect not. [ED NOTE: I'm afraid that it's a coincidence. The Review originally appeared on H-Diplo in early December, 2009, and only reached me a month or so later] Wyatt Reader UCLA___Whittier College [Excerpted from the Review]: [Original Message] From: H-War Editor David Silbey <david.silbey@ALVERNIA.EDU> To: <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> Date: 1/12/2010 6:21:45 AM Subject: CROSS-POSTED REVIEW: H-Net Review Publication: 'The Coming War with Taiwan' John Wilson Lewis, Xue Litai. Imagined Enemies: China Prepares for Uncertain War. Palo Alto Stanford University Press, 2006. Illustrations. 384 pp. $63.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8047-5391-3. Reviewed by Walter Grunden (Bowling Green State University) Published on H-Diplo (December, 2009) Commissioned by Christopher L. Ball The Coming War with Taiwan " One of the hallmarks of superpower status is the ability of a nation to extend its power and influence over its neighbors and beyond. Such power and influence can be extended both economically and militarily, among other means. Despite the impressive growth of China's national economy over the last several decades, however, its military has not kept pace with rapid reform and modernization. Thus, China has yet to achieve superpower status, at least according to authors John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai. Their argument is compelling. In _Imagined Enemies_, Lewis and Xue argue that China has yet to become a military superpower largely because of lingering bureaucratic impediments, corruption, the continued obsession of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) with obsolete doctrines, and the failure of Deng Xiaoping to make military modernization a foremost objective in the agenda of national reforms initiated under his leadership. Yet the authors caution that China nonetheless poses a very real military threat to Taiwan, and it has recently geared the modernization of its military forces toward an "imagined" war with Taiwan and her presumed ally, the United States. Part 1, "History, Memory, and Experience in Chinese Military Thinking," offers an overview of the "traditional military mind-set or culture" of China dating back some 2,500 years (p. 27). In chapter 2, "The Threat of War, the Necessity of Peace," the authors offer a brief comparison of Eastern vs. Western military philosophies, and locate the origins of Chinese strategic thinking in Sun Tzu's _Art of War_, ostensibly written around 500 BCE. The authors also introduce one of the central themes of Chinese political and military history, that is, defending the nation against "inside disorder and outside calamity" (p. 21). P Part 3, "Modernizing the Main Arsenal," addresses preparations for "outside calamity" (p. 21). Chapter 6, "Redefining the Strategic Rocket Forces," offers a detailed history of the Second Artillery, China's primary strategic rocket force. The authors argue that the Second Artillery adopted a French-style deterrence policy, that is, adopting "the basic requirements needed by a small nuclear power to survive a nuclear attack and to launch a second strike in defense of its 'core values'" while remaining focused on cost-effectiveness by using "the fewest weapons for greatest effect" (pp. 209, 206). In preparation for the next "imagined" war, against Taiwan and the United States, China has only recently begun to revise its doctrine for fighting a conventional war toward fighting a "high-tech local war," for which, the authors argue, China is presently ill-prepared (p. 133). The comparatively backward state of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) is the subject of the next chapter, "The Quest for a Modern Air Force." Here, again, the authors explain how the U.S. war against Iraq influenced changes in policy and doctrine for the PLAAF. Having witnessed the wholesale destruction of the Iraqi air forces--mostly on the ground--the PLAAF had to reconsider its "no first strike" policy, invest more in science and technology, and develop plans for military preparedness again "from winning a conventional local war to winning a high-tech local war" (p. 232). Part 4, "National Strategy and Uncertain War," contains the final chapter, "Sun Tzu's Pupils and the Taiwan Challenge." Here, the authors apply one of Sun Tzu's principal aphorisms, "know your enemy," and assess how well China knows the military policies and strategic planning of its "imagined" adversary Taiwan. It is the specter of war with Taiwan, supported by the United States, that continues to shape and reshape the role of the PLA and its military doctrine. With its emphasis on U.S.-Taiwan defense strategy and scenarios for the outbreak of a regional war in East Asia, this final chapter may be of most interest to foreign policy specialists and U.S. State Department experts charged with monitoring potentially dangerous incidents in the Taiwan Strait. It is nothing less than a dramatic epilogue to an intriguing and fact-filled narrative that should be of interest to anyone interested in contemporary China. Finally, one might be tempted to criticize this work for the sources on which this study has been based. Most scholars, however, will sympathize with the authors' limited access to important primary sources, as much remains classified and inaccessible, especially to Western scholars. The authors are to be commended for their tremendous effort in accumulating, evaluating, and exploiting a wide range of sources for this book. One can imagine the challenge they faced as they attempted to obtain such sensitive documents in Chinese. Moreover, the authors are careful to qualify some of their conclusions and to indicate where the sources used were problematic. This level of honesty only adds credibility and integrity to their work, which is what we have come to expect from this team of scholars." "Wyatt Reader" <firstname.lastname@example.org> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----