Ironic convergence in Asian missile defense

There is no clearer sign that tensions in East Asia are warming up than the news that the Russians are deploying a new reconnaissance ship to snoop on US missile defense in Hawaii and Alaska. This comes after the Russians simulated a bombing run on a US missile defense radar in Japan. The Russians vehemently oppose increased US missile defences around Asia, which could compromise Russian offensive missile capabilities. The short-term catalyst for more US missile defense is North Korea, of course. Kim Jong-Un can only threaten to leave Seoul – or Washington – in a “sea of fire” so many times before the US begins shoring up defenses – even if the stories of threats may be poorly translated into English. The longer-term catalyst for increased US missile defence is China, which is developing anti-ship missiles designed to keep the US Navy further from its shores. There is a great irony the latest deployments by the US. For years, China and Russia, especially, have been glad to look the other way on North Korea’s threats because they tied up the US in Asia. Now that North Korea has ramped up the rhetoric to new levels, the US has all the justification it needs to boost its presence in the region – something neither Russia nor China wants. And they say the Cold War ended.

Dear Cold War Daily readers…

Please let me know what angles of the growing US-China Cold War you are interested in. Feel free to leave comments. If you just want to send a message, leave a comment with instructions not to publish. Sure, it’s not going to be like the Old Cold War. The global economy is integrated. That will just spur competition in new ways.

In any case, I want to know what part of the drift toward a new Cold War you are interested in. While the struggle between the US and China will be a big part of it, the tensions between China and its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines will be a big part as well. It is also a struggle between democracy and neo-authoritarianism, between transparency – even strategic transparency – and an opacity linked to authoritarian governments and older cultures and histories. Anyway, please let me know the areas you are most interested in. And thanks for reading.

Curtis LeMay: the photo

“If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.” – Curtis LeMay in 1957 (pictured below, continues)


This is the kind of rhetoric that made LeMay a destabiliser to the strategic balance of the Cold War. You can’t have this kind of talk that circumvents the norms of behavior between big powers. And yet, according to the unnamed US official in this article, this is the effect the PLA’s sustained $100B worth of economic hacking a year on the US is having.

“The Cold War enforced norms, and the Soviets and the U.S. didn’t go outside a set of boundaries. But China is going outside those boundaries now. Homeostasis is being upset,” the official said.

Here is something else LeMay said in 1965:

“I’d like to see a more aggressive attitude on the part of the United States. That doesn’t mean launching an immediate preventive war…”

China drains up to $100B a year from US GDP through hacking

That’s the latest estimate from the US, according to this article. A couple interesting observations
1) the NSA fully tracks China’s hacking and reverse engineers the exploits
2) More importantly, there is the view that China has upset the norm in the amount of hacking it conducts.
One US official dubs China the Curtis LeMay of the post-Cold War era.
“It is not abiding the rules of state craft anymore, and it has to change.”
The take-away is that US industry and government are going to be driven further into each others arms – as Eric Schmidt forecasts, because of this extraordinary situation.
“Through the cumulative effects of Chinese economic warfare…has changed the secrecy calculus.”
But this extraordinary situation, becoming the new normal, assures a big place at the table for oversight about the nature of data sharing in general. Cue the EFF with the hope that they understand what has shifted between China and the world.
As for China, it can expect a less porous target. Also, as more Americans in the private sector, in the course of their work, are forced to think about outwitting China’s hackers, expect feelings toward China to sour.

A word about the famed Cold Warrior LeMay, whose answer to many Cold War challenges was to strike first and use overwhelming force. LeMay was the inspiration for Gen Buck Turgidson, played by George C Scott in Dr Strangelove, whose image is used on this blog. So there’s some thematic symmetry here.