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China tells U.S. not to play with fire over Taiwan

China paper tells U.S. not to play with fire over Taiwan

(Reuters) – China’s top official newspaper warned on Friday that “madmen” on Capitol Hill who want the United States to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan were playing with fire and could pay a “disastrous price,” as the Obama administration nears a decision on a sale.

The People’s Daily, the main paper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said the United States should excise the “cancer” of the law which authorizes Washington’s sale of weapons to the self-ruled island of Taiwan that China considers its own territory.

Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier, the United States is committed under a 1979 law to supply it with the weapons it needs to maintain a “sufficient self-defense capability.”

Taiwan hopes to buy 66 late-model F-16 aircraft from the United States, a sale potentially valued at more than $8 billion and intended to phase out its remaining F-5 fighters.

The arms sale debate has been building steam in the United States, with U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, where Lockheed Martin Corp manufactures the F-16, saying killing the sale would cost valuable U.S. jobs.

“At present, some madmen on Capitol Hill are making an uproar about consolidating and expanding this cancer,”
the People’s Daily said in a commentary, adding these politicians were “wildly arrogant.”

“If these crazy ideas come to fruition, what kind of predicament will Sino-U.S. relations find themselves in?”
the paper wrote.

The commentary appeared under a pen name “Zhong Sheng,” a name suggesting the meaning the “voice of China,” which is sometimes used to reflect higher-level opinion.

While China and the United States have sparred over everything from trade, Tibet and the internet over the past few years, ties have improved drastically following President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have “not easily reached the point where they are today, and need to be cherished and protected to the greatest extent,” the commentary wrote.

“Some people want to turn back the tide of history, but they must be clear about the disastrous price they will have to pay,”
it added.

“A word of advice for those muddleheaded congressmen: don’t go too far, don’t play with fire.”

U.S. President Barack Obama is due by October 1 to say what, if anything, his administration plans to do to boost Taiwan’s aging air force.

Beijing strongly opposes the potential arms sale to the island it deems an illegitimate breakaway province. But Taiwan says it needs the jets to counter China’s growing military strength.

The request for the new F-16s has been pending informally since 2006. Taiwan in 2009 also requested an upgrade to its 146 old F-16 A/B models. Then-President George H.W. Bush sold Taiwan its first F-16s in 1992.

Analysts have told Reuters a full package of new jets is unlikely to be approved by the Obama administration, but that it may instead offer Taiwan an upgrade on existing F-16A/B jets worth up to $4.2 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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The Day The Carriers Die

The War Nerd: This Is How the Carriers Will Die
By Gary Brecher

I’ve been saying for a long time that aircraft carriers are just history’s most expensive floating targets, and that they were doomed.

But now I can tell you exactly how they’re going to die. I’ve just read one of the most shocking stories in years. It comes from the US Naval Institute, not exactly an alarmist or anti-Navy source. And what it says is that the US carrier group is scrap metal.

The Chinese military has developed a ballistic missile, Dong Feng 21, specifically designed to kill US aircraft carriers: “Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.” That’s the US Naval Institute talking, remember. They’re understating the case when they say that, with speed, satellite guidance and maneuverability like that, “the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased.

You know why that’s an understatement? Because of a short little sentence I found farther on in the article—and before you read that sentence, I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you’ll think hard about what it implies. Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

That’s right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I’ve argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they’re Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.

So it doesn’t matter one god damn whether the people in the operations room of a targeted carrier could track the Dong Feng 21 as it lobbed itself at them. They might do a real hall-of-fame job of tracking it as it goes up and comes down. But so what? Let me repeat the key sentence here: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.

Think back a ways. How old is the ballistic missile? Kind of a trick question; a siege mortar is a ballistic missile, just unguided. A trebuchet on an upslope outside a castle is a ballistic weapon. But serious long-range rocket-powered ballistic weapons go back at least to the V-2. A nuclear-armed V2 would have been a pretty solid way of wiping out a carrier group, and both components, the nuke and the ballistic missile, were available as long ago as 1945.

A lot has happened since then, like MIRVs, mobile launchers, massively redundant satellite guidance—but the thing to remember is that every single change has favored the attacker. Every single goddamn change.

You know that Garmin satnav you use to find the nearest Thai place when the in-laws are visiting? If you were the Navy brass, that should have scared you to death. The Mac on your kid’s bedroom desk should have scared you. Every time electronics got smaller, cheaper and more efficient, the carrier became more of a death trap. Every time stealth tech jumped another step, the carrier was more obviously a bad idea. Smaller, cooler-running engines: another bad sign for the carrier. Every single change in technology in the past half a century has had “Stop building carriers!” written all over it. And nobody in the navy brass paid any attention.

The lesson here is the same one all of you suckers should have learned from watching the financial news this year: the people at the top are just as dumb as you are, just meaner and greedier. And that goes for the ones running the US surface fleet as much as it does for the GM or Chrysler honchos. Hell, they even look the same. Take that Wagoner ass who just got the boot from GM and put him in a tailored uniform and he could walk on as an admiral in any officer’s club from Guam to Diego Garcia. You have to stop thinking somebody up there is looking out for you.

Remember that one sentence, get it branded onto your arm: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.” What does that tell you about the distinguished gentlemen with all the ribbons on their chest who’ve been standing up on carrier bridges looking like they know what they’re doing for the past 50 years? They’re either stupid or so sleazy they’re willing to make a career commanding ships they know, goddamn well know, are floating coffins for thousands of ranks and dozens of the most expensive goldplated airplanes in the history of the world. You call that patriotic? I’d hang them all.

That’s why it’s so sickening to read shit like the following:

“The purpose of the Navy,
” Vice Admiral John Bird, commander of the Seventh Fleet, tells me, “is not to fight.” The mere presence of the Navy should suffice, he argues, to dissuade any attack or attempt to destabilize the region. From Yokosuka, Guam, and Honolulu, the Navy is sending its ships on missions to locales as far away as Madagascar. On board the Blue Ridge, the vice admiral’s command ship anchored at Yokosuka, huge display screens allow officers to track the movements of any country’s military vessels cruising from the international date line in the east to the African coast in the west—the range of the Seventh Fleet’s zone of influence.

That’s the kind of story people are still writing. It’s so stupid, that first line, I won’t even bother with it: “The purpose of the Navy is not to fight.” No kidding. The Seventh Fleet covers the area included in that 2000 km range for the new Chinese anti-ship weapons, so I guess it’s a good thing they’re not there to fight.

Stories like this were all over the place in the last days of the British Empire. For some dumbass reason, these reporters love the Navy. They were waving flags and feeling good about things when the Repulse and the Prince of Wales steamed out with no air cover to oppose Japanese landings. Afterward, when both ships were lying on the sea floor, nobody wanted to talk about it much. What I mean to say here is, don’t be fooled by the happy talk. That’s the lesson from GM, Chrysler and the Navy: these people don’t know s$35. And they don’t care either. They’re going to ride the system and hope it lasts long enough to see them retire to a house by a golf course, get their daughters married and buy a nice plot in an upscale cemetery. They could give a damn what happens to the rest of us.

All day I’ve been thinking about the Navy and the fact that it has no defenses at all against ballistic missiles. The main point, the one I was trying to make in my last story, is that when something comes along like this and you’re tempted to say, “Well, they must have thought of that already, they must have some defense in mind…”-when you start talking like that, just slap yourself and remember all the other military traditions that kept going long after anybody with sense knew they were finito.

The most obvious example is European heavy cavalry trotting into longbow fire again and again. Crecy demonstrated that knightly charges were suicide against the longbow in 1346. But the French aristocracy had so much invested in prancing around on their damn steeds that it took another demonstration, at Agincourt in 1415 to even start to get them thinking about it. I’m no math wiz but I think that 1415 minus 1346…yup, that’s 69 years between catastrophes. Lessons learned? None.

These dodos always have one thing in common: whether it’s knights charging with lances on very expensive horses or top gun brats like McCain zooming onto carrier decks in history’s most expensive aircraft, you’ll always find that the worst, most over-funded services are always the ones where the rich kids go to show their stuff. Seriously: why are there aircraft carriers? For asses like John McCain to crash on. Why do they keep getting funded long after they’ve been shown up? The same reason knights were galloping around pretending that the longbow hadn’t turned half their friends into pincushions: because it was a way of life for the richest and dumbest people in the country and they weren’t about to let it go.

It’s weird the way war nerds who are up to the minute on the specs of this or that weapons system never think hard about what those specs mean. Let me tell you the example I’m thinking of here. Y’all remember the Harpoon, the US Navy’s first dedicated anti-ship guided surface to surface missile, right? Good ol’ AGM-84? A fine weapon by all accounts. You’ll remember it entered service in 1977.

Long time ago, right? Jimmy Carter, the peacenik jerk who got us in this Iranian mess, was still president, unfortunately. People still drove American cars and spoke English. Olden Times, in other words.

Well, instead of just paging through Jane‘s and drooling over the Harpoon’s range and 221-kg warhead (don’t bother lying, I spent years doing that stuff myself and I know), think about what that weapons means in terms of this key sentence from my last story: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.” Now put that together with the fact that the Harpoon, way back in the Disco Era, had a cool little feature called “pop-up.” And what it meant is that the Harpoon itself worked as a ballistic missile. So even in our own inventory, we’ve had a weapon lying around for decades that could have taken out all our carriers.

What “pop-up” means is-well, it’s actually kind of cool and for once I can talk my old fave, hardware, without feeling like a tool. So anyway, the Harpoon has an interesting trajectory. It’s fired from vertical or diagonal tubes on the deck or the hold of surface ships, but there are other models that can be launched from aircraft or even subs. If you’ve seen video of a harpoon launch, you see it zoom up from the tube, then slide down to fly level, just above the waves, so’s to avoid enemy radar.

But once the Harpoon’s own radar has spotted the target, does it keep flying level to slam into the side of the ship? Nope. I’ll quote from the owner’s manual: “Once a target has been located and the seeker locked…the missile climbs rapidly to about 1800m before diving on the target (“pop-up maneuver”).”

DN-SN-86-05289

American-fired Harpoon wastes a pesky Libyan missile corvette back in 1986.

In other words, the Harpoon does a last-minute transformation from wave-skimmer to ballistic missile. If you diagrammed its flight path, seen from the side, You’d get a capital “P” lying on its back, with the loop of the “P” being the pop-up maneuver.

The reason the Harpoon was designed to hit the target from above rather than the side is simple: a ships defenses are configured to stop planes (and missiles, even though they don’t work against missiles and everybody knows it) coming in diagonally or horizontally. To repeat that sentence again–and I’m going to keep repeating it till everybody realizes what it means–”ships currently [just like in 1977 when the Harpoon entered service] have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

So we have the Navy’s own weapons system testifying against it: way back in Carter’s time the Navy bought a weapon that was designed to hit ships like a ballistic missile, yet now, forty years later, USN ships have no defense against ballistic missiles.

It gets worse. The Navy didn’t even want the Harpoon at all. It was only adopted because after seeing Soviet-made anti-ship missiles destroy the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967, a few of the more honest R&D guys at the Pentagon forced the Navy to shop for their own model. The Navy-remember, they’re just like the French heavy cavalry brass of the late 14th century, trying real hard not to think about the real world-didn’t like the idea of anti-ship missiles at all. They were the equivalent of the longbow: unmanned, longrange, un-chivalrous weapons, and you couldn’t drink with them at the officer’s club.

But the Eilat sinking was so embarrassing it forced a few hungover sober moments. Here’s the pride of the Israeli navy, the INS Eilat, formerly HMS Zealous, doing what surface ships do best: lookin’ good and being completely useless. Yes, useless. I’m sick of softplaying it and I’ll say outright: any surface vessel bigger than a patrol boat is useless scrap iron, and the story of the Eilat proves it.

It’s October 21, 1967. A few months after Israel’s big stomp of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies in the Six Day War. The Eilat, all 1700 tons of it, has an easy mission: gunning its engines back and forth in front of Port Said to intimdate the locals. Why not? It’s the “war of attrition,” a sort of lukewarm war between Israel and Egypt, a little sniping, the odd bombing, nothing much. The Eilat is just there to say “Nyah nyah,” basically, which is about all big surface vessels are good for anyway, but what the Hell, it’s 1967, gas is still about 25 cents a gallon, and Israel is victorious everywhere, what could go wrong?

This: two Egyptian missile boats-small craft carrying big bad weapons, the only sort of surface craft that make any military sense-come out of the port and fire Styx missiles (SS-N-2). The Eilat was hit by between two and four Styx, depending on whose story you read, and sank very quickly. 47 of the crew died, and 41 were wounded. That’s an awful lot of casualties when you consider that the IDF lost less than a thousand soldiers taking all of Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Especially because the guys on the Eilat died for nothing, just showing off.

The Styx was a simple Soviet design that had been in service for years when it sank the Eilat. Like the longbow, antiship missiles were just not taken seriously because they were cheap peasant weapons, whereas if you were roaring around in an ex-Brit destroyer, you were somebody. It’s that simple. That stupid.

The difference between the Israeli navy and ours is simple: the Israelis learned their lesson and switched to smaller, lighter missile craft. No more ocean-going muscle cars to act like giant magnetized targets. The newer Israeli boats are small enough that when you lose one, like they did in the 2006 war to land-based Hezbollah surface to surface missiles, you don’t suffer 100 casualties.

That’s one way the US Navy could have gone after the Eilat went down: a fleet of smaller, lighter ships, basically ships you could afford to lose. There are some real interesting computer modeled naval war games that seem to be telling us that’s the way to invest your naval budget: lots of small ships carrying big missiles.

Another way would have been to develop an effective defense weapon against ballistic missiles. Maybe the navy tried that; maybe that’s part of what the whole Star Wars boondoggle was actually about, protecting the carriers against weapons like Dong Feng 21. I don’t know.

But it’s real clear by now that if they did try it, they failed. There is no defense. So either you go with boats you can afford to lose, or you downsize the navy radically, turn it into a low-tech anti-piracy force only used against stone-age opponents like the Somalis, or you go the U-boat route the Germans took when they realized the age of the battleship was over, sticking to subs. Because one way or another, if we get into it for real with China or even Iran, all our ships are going to subs, one way or the other.

Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to [email protected]

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China No Longer Needs Russian Arms To Attack USA

China does not need Russian arms anymore to attack USA

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Russia is losing the Chinese arms market. An official spokesman for Russia’s defense export giant Rosoboronexport, Sergey Kornev, stated at Airshow China 2010 that the amount of orders between Russia and China had dropped because the Chinese market had been saturated with arms. It particularly goes about the aviation technology. Russia, the official stated, has delivered 280 Su fighters to China during the recent years.

The USA has been showing more concerns about China’s growing military threat against such a background. Experts of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in their report that the USA had lost the military predominance in the region. It was also said that China was already capable of destroying five of six US army bases in the Pacific Ocean.

In the nearest future, China will be able to significantly change the balance of forces in South-East Asia. The increased opportunities of Chinese missile and airborne troops are capable of hampering the operations conducted by US armed forces in the region. As a result, the movement of American troops in the region will be restricted, the experts said in their recent report. Chinese combat vessels have been showing more activity recently in the Yellow, South China and East China seas.

China is particularly concerned about the fact that the USA took the side of Japan in the territorial dispute between Japan and China for Senkaku islands. In addition, the authors of the report admit that the American experts underestimated the speed of modernization and strengthening of the Chinese army. In 2009, they believed that China would have its own fifth-generation jet not earlier than in 2025, but now they say it will happen much earlier – already in 2018.

Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis believes that China does not choose Russia as its partner on the arms market indeed.

“China is refusing from purchasing Russian arms. China has already bought what it needed, and since Russia has nothing else to offer, it is not going to sign any large deals in the future anymore. Indeed, China’s military power poses a threat for the United States. I would like to repeat it again that from Russia, China purchased only the arms required for a possible armed conflict with the United States. It goes about aviation and navy first and foremost – the country was not interested in tanks or any other weapons of the ground forces.

“China’s conflict with the USA can become real indeed, and the American military have all reasons for concerns. Wars mostly start because of natural resources. China has recently become the world’s largest consumer of oil, and the nation’s needs in fuel will only grow. Consequently, the country’s competition with the United States will be growing stronger too. China has already pushed American and European competitors out from Africa.

“Unlike the USA, China does not pay attention to the organization of political regimes, with which the country cooperates. The Chinese simply bribe political elites of third world countries and use them to obtain control over resources,” the expert said.

Military expert Vladislav Shurygin:

“China has been actively developing its armed forces recently. The final goal of the reform of the Chinese army is the ability to oppose to a powerful and technologically developed state. First and foremost, it goes about the USA. One should not think, however, that the competition between these two countries has reached the point when a war is about to begin. An armed conflict between the two giants is not going to happen at least during the upcoming five or seven years. For the time being, we can only witness the growing opposition in the US-Chinese relations, in the Cold War spirit between the USSR and the West.

“Russia has contributed greatly to the development of the Chinese armed forces. Fifteen years of active military cooperation were extremely important for the two countries. Nowadays, China has to develop its own defense complex, because Russia has nothing else to offer. Therefore, Russia will continue to lose its positions on the international arms market. China is now interested in purchasing arms in small batches to be able to copy the technology for its own industry,”
the expert said.

Sergey Balmasov

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“Hypothetical” Surprise Attack On U.S. Outlined By China

Hypothetical attack on U.S. outlined by China

By Patrick Winn – Staff writer

In a hypothetical future scenario, the U.S. and China are poised to clash — likely over Taiwan.

The democratic Republic of China, commonly called Taiwan — which America backs and the communist People’s Republic of China considers part of its territory — frequently irritates Chinese leaders with calls for greater independence from the mainland. But while the American military mulls its options, Chinese missiles hit runways, fuel lines, barracks and supply depots at U.S. Air Force bases in Japan and South Korea. Long-range warheads destroy American satellites, crippling Air Force surveillance and communication networks. A nuclear fireball erupts high above the Pacific Ocean, ionizing the atmosphere and scrambling radars and radio feeds.

This is China’s anti-U.S. sucker punch strategy.

It’s designed to strike America’s military suddenly, stunning and stalling the Air Force more than any other service. In a script written by Chinese military officers and defense analysts, a bruised U.S. military, beholden to a sheepish American public, puts up a small fight before slinking off to avoid full-on war.

This strategic outlook isn’t hidden in secret Chinese documents. It’s printed in China’s military journals and textbooks. And for much of last year, Mandarin literates and defense experts — working for the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Rand Corp. on an Air Force contract — combed through a range of Chinese military sources.

They emerged with “Entering the Dragon’s Lair,” a lengthy report on how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would likely confront the U.S. military and how the Air Force in particular can brace itself. In many cases, the theoretical enemy nation China’s officers discuss in these scenarios isn’t explicitly named but is unmistakably the U.S.

“These aren’t war plans,”
said report co-author Roger Cliff, a former Defense Department strategist and China military specialist who spoke to Air Force Times from Taiwan. “This is the military talking to itself. It’s not designed for foreigners or even China’s general public to read.”

Element of surprise

When it comes to conflict with the U.S., Chinese military analysts favor age-old schoolyard wisdom: Throw the first punch and hit hard.

“Future conflicts are likely to be short, intense affairs that might consist of a single campaign,” Cliff said. “They’re thinking about ways to get the drop on us. Most of our force is not forward-deployed.”

China’s experts concede its army would lose a head-on fight, with one senior colonel comparing such a scenario to “throwing an egg against a rock.” Instead, the Chinese would attempt what Rand calls an “anti-access” strategy: slowing the deployment of U.S. forces to the Pacific theater, damaging operations within the region and forcing the U.S. to fight from a distance.

“Taking the enemy by surprise,” one Chinese military expert wrote, “would catch it unprepared and cause confusion within and huge psychological pressure on the enemy and help [China] win relatively large victories at relatively small costs.” Another military volume suggests feigning a large-scale military training exercise to conceal the attack’s buildup.

The Dragon’s Lair

Striking U.S. air bases — specifically command-and-control facilities, aircraft hangars and surface-to-air missile launchers — would be China’s first priority if a conflict arose, according to Rand’s report.

U.S. facilities in South Korea and Japan, even far-south Okinawa, sit within what Rand calls the “Dragon’s Lair”: a swath of land and sea along China’s coast. This is an area reachable by cruise missiles, jet-borne precision bombs and local covert operatives. Air Force bases within this area include Osan and Kunsan in South Korea, as well as Misawa, Yokota and Kadena in Japan. And in a conflict over Taiwan, any nation allowing “an intervening superpower” such as the U.S. to operate inside its territory can expect a Chinese attack, according to China’s defense experts.

China is designing ground-launched cruise missiles capable of nailing targets more than 900 miles away — well within striking range of South Korea and much of Japan, according to the report. Cruise missiles able to reach Okinawa — home to Kadena Air Base — are in development.

The Chinese would first launch “concentrated and unexpected” attacks on tarmacs using runway-penetrating missiles and, soon after, would target U.S. aircraft. Saboteurs would play a role in reconnaissance, harassing operations and even “assassinating key personnel,” according to another military expert.

Chinese fighter jets would scramble to intercept aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes sent to shuttle in fuel, munitions, supplies or troops. High-explosive cluster bombs would target pilot quarters and other personnel buildings.

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces. (“The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion,” according to the Rand report.) Once this hard-and-fast assault on U.S. bases commenced, the Chinese army would “swiftly divert” its forces and “guard vigilantly against enemy retaliation,” according to a Chinese expert.

Dumb and blind The PLA also would likely use less conventional attacks on the American military’s vital communications network. The goal, as one Chinese expert put it: leaving U.S. combat capabilities “blind,” “deaf” and “paralyzed.

Losing early-warning systems designed to detect incoming missiles would be, for the Air Force, the most devastating setback — one that could force the service to exit the region altogether, according to Rand.

China could also launch a nuclear “e-bomb,” or electromagnetic explosive, that would fry U.S. communication equipment while ionizing the atmosphere for minutes to hours, according to the report. This would likely jam radio signals in a 900-mile diameter beneath the nuclear fireball.

The PLA could also employ long-range anti-satellite missiles — similar to one successfully tested last January — to destroy one or more American satellites. However, the PLA has a host of less dramatic options: short-range jammers hidden in suitcases or bombs and virus attacks on Air Force computer networks.

U.S. Air Force options

Shielding against a swift Chinese onslaught is, according to Rand, as simple as reinforcing a runway or as complex as cloaking the orbit of military satellites.

In the short term, U.S. air bases inside the Dragon’s Lair should add an extra layer of concrete to their runways and bury fuel tanks underground. All aircraft, the report said, should be parked in hardened shelters, especially fighter jets.

Parking larger aircraft — bombers, tankers and E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems jets — in hard-shell hangars would be expensive and difficult but likely worth the cost, according to the report.

U.S. fighter jets remain the best defense against incoming Chinese missile attacks. But, given China’s taste for sudden attacks, surface-launched missile defense systems must be installed long before a conflict roils. Because the PLA is expected to strike quickly, the report said, waiting for the first tremors of conflict is not an option.

The Air Force also should fortify itself against Chinese hackers by using software encryption, isolating critical computer systems and preparing contingency plans to communicate without a high-bandwidth network. Though China maintains a “no first use” nuclear bomb policy, the U.S., according to Rand, should warn China that nuclear electromagnetic pulse attacks will be considered acts of nuclear aggression and could prompt nuclear retaliation.

Rand insists the Air Force must defend satellites — which support communication, reconnaissance, bomb guidance and more — against China’s proven satellite-killing missiles. This could be accomplished in the Cold War tradition of mutually assured destruction by threatening to retaliate in kind if the PLA blasts U.S. satellites.

“That might be the one restraining factor,
” Cliff said. “They might not want to start that space war.”

Or, Rand suggests, the U.S. could invest heavily in satellite protection or evasion techniques, including stealth, blending in with other satellite constellations or perhaps developing and deploying microsatellites capable of swarming to defend larger satellites, which the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working toward.

Could this really happen? The Chinese first-strike strategy is “more than hypothetical,” according to the report. But in the near term, at least, it’s considered unlikely.

If the most contentious issue is Taiwan, Cliff said, then the likely trigger would be Taiwanese elections, where assertions of complete independence from the mainland can infuriate Chinese leaders. China’s current president, Hu Jintao, has built up China’s military but also its ties with America. In 2012, however, when Taiwan holds an election and mainland China’s leadership is expected to turn over, perhaps for the worse, the risk of conflict could increase.

“It really depends on the circumstances,
” Cliff said. “Would Taiwan be the provocateur? If so, it might be hard for the American public to support intervention.”

However, if China moves to capture control of the island, Cliff said he believes the U.S. would face a rocky dilemma.

“Are we really going to let a small, democratic country get snuffed out by a huge authoritarian country — especially when you think about how our own country came into existence?”
Cliff said.

As China pours more resources into its evolving and expanding military, it buys the power to more strongly assert itself against America. In November, China denied U.S. Navy minesweepers shelter from a storm and, in another incident that month, turned down an Air Force C-17 flight shuttling supplies to the American consulate in Hong Kong. Experts speculate this was a rebuff to American arms sales to Taiwan, as well as President Bush’s autumn meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of another state China claims, Tibet.

“If this conflict happened today, I’m certain we’d prevail,”
Cliff said. “But as time goes on, that’s not a given.”

SOURCE

Osama Bin Laden Assassinated by U.S. Strike

Osama bin Laden Killed by U.S. Strike


By DEAN SCHABNER
May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden, hunted as the mastermind behind the worst-ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil, has been killed, sources told ABC News.

His death brings to an end a tumultuous life that saw bin Laden go from being the carefree son of a Saudi billionaire, to terrorist leader and the most wanted man in the world.

Bin Laden created and funded the al Qaeda terror network, which was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The Saudi exile had been a man on the run since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan overthrew the ruling Taliban regime, which harbored bin Laden.

In a video filmed two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden gloated about the attack, saying it had exceeded even his “optimistic” calculations.

“Our terrorism is against America. Our terrorism is a blessed terrorism to prevent the unjust person from committing injustice and to stop American support for Israel, which kills our sons,” he said in the video.

Long before the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden was known as an enemy of the United States. He was suspected of playing large roles in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. Embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in October 2000.

In addition, authorities say bin Laden and his al Qaeda network were involved in previous attacks against U.S. interests — including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, failed plots to kill President Clinton and the pope, and attacks on U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

Bin Laden also used his millions to bankroll terrorist training camps in Sudan, the Philippines and Afghanistan, sending “holy warriors” to foment revolution and fight with fundamentalist Muslim forces across North Africa, in Chechnya, Tajikistan and Bosnia.

Until the capture of one of his top al Qaeda lieutenants in March 2003, there had been no confirmation of his whereabouts — or even that he was still alive — since late 2001, when he appeared in a series of videotapes later released to news organizations.

In recent years, several audio recordings of bin Laden have been authenticated by U.S. officials and made public. In an 18-minute videotape weeks before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, bin Laden threatened fresh attacks on the United States as well as his intent to push America into bankruptcy.

Young Man With a Privileged Life

Born in 1957, bin Laden was a son of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest construction magnate. Saudi sources remembered him as a typical young man whose intense religiosity began to emerge as he grew fascinated with the ancient mosques of Mecca and Medina, which his family’s company was involved in rebuilding.

Bin Laden attended schools in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, and was encouraged to marry early, at the age of 17, to a Syrian girl and family relation. She was to be the first of several wives. He attended King Abdul-Aziz University and was slated to join the family business. He soon chose a different path, however.

Former classmates of bin Laden recall him as a frequent patron of nightclubs, who drank and caroused with his Saudi royalty cohorts. Yet it was also at the university that bin Laden met the Muslim fundamentalist Sheik Abdullah Azzam, perhaps his first teacher of religious politics and his earliest radical influence.

Azzam spoke fervently of the need to liberate Islamic nations from foreign interests and interventions, and he indoctrinated his disciples in the strictest tenets of the Muslim faith. Bin Laden, however, would eventually cultivate a brand of militant religious extremism that exceeded his teacher’s.

He began his relationship with fundamental Islamic groups in the early 1970s. His religious passion exploded in 1979 when Russia invaded Afghanistan. Bin Laden left his comfortable Saudi home for Afghanistan to participate in the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet Union — a cause that the United States funded, pouring $3 billion into the Afghan resistance via the CIA.

Turning Against the Saudi Elite

His active opposition to the Soviet Union and his monetary support in purchasing arms, establishing training camps, and building houses, roads and other infrastructure, cemented his position as a hero among many people.

In 1988, he and the Egyptians founded al Qaeda, (“The Base”), a network initially designed to build fighting power for the Afghan resistance.

Bin Laden’s politics became more radical during the war. Upon returning to his home in Saudi Arabia, he was widely honored as a hero. But he returned to a country that he perceived had stepped away from the fundamentals of Islam. He declared the Saudi ruling family “insufficiently Islamic” and increasingly advocated the use of violence to force movement toward extremism.

Bin Laden saw American influence in Saudi Arabia as counter to everything he believed. He fell into disfavor with the Saudi government and moved his family to Sudan where he established terrorist camps — training and equipping terrorists from a dozen countries.

Bin Laden would not compromise his religious beliefs and after three years of continued criticism of the Saudi royal family, his own family disowned him.

Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden of his citizenship in the mid-’90s for his alleged activities against the royal family, after he had left the country for Sudan. He later was expelled from Sudan under U.S., Egyptian and Saudi pressure. In 1996, he took refuge in Afghanistan.

Back to Afghanistan

Former mujahideen commanders close to the Taliban said that, in Afghanistan, bin Laden bankrolled the hard-line Islamic militia’s capture of Kabul under the leadership of Mullah Mohammed Omar. He became one of Omar’s most trusted advisers.

One of bin Laden’s main strengths among the Muslim people was that followers saw him as a true believer in the faith. In their eyes he transcended other leaders who are viewed as dictators who care little for Islam or the people they lead. Bin Laden entered their lives with a message they can follow and he had the cash at his disposal to carry out that message.

Bin Laden was said to personally control about $300 million of his family’s $5 billion fortune. His role as a financier of terrorism is pivotal, experts said, because he revolutionized the financing of extremist movements by forming and funding his own private terror network.

In 1998, he issued an edict openly declared war on America: “We — with God’s help — call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.”

Bin Laden committed himself to expelling all Americans and Jews from Muslim holy lands. “Osama bin Laden may be the most dangerous non-state terrorist in the world,” Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s national security adviser, told ABC News.

Most Wanted Man on Earth

His place in American history is relatively new, but in a short time he left a violent mark.

In 1993, bin Laden was linked by U.S. officials to the bombing of the World Trade Center that killed six people. He is also believed to have orchestrated at least a dozen attacks, some successful, some not. Among the worst of these were two truck bombings, both on Aug. 7, 1998, of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Clinton responded with cruise missile attacks on suspected al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. In November 1998, the U.S. State Department promised $5 million to anyone with information leading to bin Laden’s arrest.

Despite attempts to apprehend him, bin Laden eluded the American government and continued plotting against it.

The same group, with bin Laden at the helm, is widely believed to be responsible for the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole.

Then came the stunning Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. On a clear, late-summer morning, two hijacked commercial jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. About an hour later, another hijacked airliner slammed into the Pentagon in the nation’s capital. A fourth hijacked jet did not reach its target, crashing in western Pennsylvania instead.

When the massive towers collapsed in flames, nearly 3,000 people perished. Among those lost in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania were the 19 hijackers, most of whom have been linked to al Qaeda operations. Bin Laden denied involvement in the attacks, but he praised the hijackers for their acts. The U.S. government nevertheless regarded the terrorist leader as its prime suspect and stepped up the manhunt.

In March 2005, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf admitted that bin Laden had been in Pakistan in the spring of 2004 and was almost captured. Intelligence officials said they believed he was hiding in the rugged mountains that straddle the border with Afghanistan. The U.S. government even launched a series of television and radio ads in Pakistan trumpeting the $25 million reward for his capture.

In January 2006, a purported Bin Laden audio tape was released where a male voice threatens the United States with more attacks on U.S. soil.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/osama-bin-laden-killed/story?id=13505703