Who Could Possibly Want War With China? No One Remotely Sane
You may be too young to remember, but Curtis LeMay haunted the lives of kids growing up in the early 1960’s. He was an extreme right-wing crackpot and Air Force general who served as the commander of the Strategic Air Command. He always wanted to bomb other countries and was finally eased out of the military in 1965. (He then ran for vice president as George Wallace’s running mate.) I always thought Stanley Kubrick directed Dr. Strangelove in such a way that LeMay was portrayed as an amalgam of Jack D. Ripper, the Sterling Hayden character, and Buck Turgidson, the George C. Scott character.
Until yesterday, I had never heard of Mike Minihan, a four-star Air Force general (like LeMay) who leads the Air Mobility Command. He sounds kind of what I always thought LeMay sounded like— I was like 15 when I was having nightmares about LeMay. The Washington Post noted that “In September, he said at a military conference outside Washington that the Air Force had caused the largest ‘pile of our nation’s enemy dead’ within the U.S. military. ‘Lethality matters most,’ he added, according to Task & Purpose, a military publication. ‘When you can kill your enemy, every part of your life is better. Your food tastes better. Your marriage is stronger.’” OK, well, enjoy the good fuck and… bon appétit! But it gets worse, much worse.
Minihan, a white Alabaman, so probably a crackpot right-wing Republican— but not 100% positively— is predicting, and preparing for— a war with China in two years. And he put it in a memo dated next week, warning personnel to “speed their preparations for a potential conflict, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aspirations and the possibility that Americans will not be paying attention until it is too late. The memo says he hopes he’s wrong but that his “gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
Minihan then directs airmen who are qualified to use a weapon to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most” sometime in February.
“Aim for the head,” he said.
Minihan’s memo encourages the thousands of troops under his command to prepare for war in several other regards. All personnel reporting to him should “consider their personal affairs” and be more aggressive about training, he instructs.
“Run deliberately, not recklessly,” he writes. “If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.”
…A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, said Friday that the U.S. national defense strategy makes clear “that China is the pacing challenge of the Department of Defense” and that U.S. officials are working with allies and partners to “preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”
A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that Minihan’s comments “are not representative of the department’s view on China.”
The general’s memo coincides with an effort by the Pentagon to reset 20 years of counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East and as the Biden administration continues to equip Ukraine with billions of dollars in security assistance as it strives to fight off a Russian invasion.
Senior U.S. officials have warned for some time that an ascendant China may launch an assault on Taiwan, which is governed independently. The Defense Department under President Biden and his predecessor, President Donald Trump, has declared China its primary long-term concern, citing Beijing’s rapid military expansion and assertive behavior in recent years.
But U.S. officials have offered mixed messages on whether and when China might attempt to take Taiwan. In 2021, Adm. Phil Davidson, then the chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, predicted Beijing could make such an attempt by 2027. That timeline has since been dubbed “the Davidson window” by some national security scholars.
The Navy’s top officer, Adm. Mike Gilday, said in October that his service needs to prepare for “a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can’t rule that out. I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that, it’s just that we can’t wish that away.”
In light of its concerns about China, the Pentagon has sought to expand military partnerships with willing partners throughout the Pacific. This month, the U.S. and Japanese governments disclosed that a Marine Corps unit on the Japanese island of Okinawa will be refashioned into a force capable of hopping islands in the region and directing long-range missiles at adversaries.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking Jan. 11 during a news conference alongside Japanese officials, said that the United States had observed some “very provocative behavior” from Chinese forces in an attempt to push international norms. But he also downplayed concerns that China may launch an assault on Taiwan any time soon.
“We’ve seen increased activity in aerial activity,” Austin said. “ … We’ve seen increased surface vessel activity around Taiwan. And again, we believe that they endeavor to establish a new normal, but whether or not that means that an invasion is imminent, I seriously doubt that.”
I asked ChapGPT what would happen in a war between the U.S. and China and the response was that "It is impossible to predict the outcome of a hypothetical war between the United States and China with certainty. However, a war between the two countries would likely result in significant loss of life and property damage, as well as severe economic disruption on a global scale. Both countries possess advanced military technology, including nuclear weapons, and a war between them could potentially escalate to the use of such weapons. It would also have a significant impact on the global economy and stability." I asked what would happen if it escalated to a nuclear war, no doubt what people like LeMay or Minihan would be advocating, and then asked for a calculation of the loss of life in an all out nuclear conflict.
If a war between the United States and China were to escalate to the use of nuclear weapons, the consequences would be catastrophic. A nuclear exchange between the two countries would result in immense loss of life and widespread destruction. The immediate effects of a nuclear detonation include the destruction of buildings, infrastructure, and other property in the blast area, as well as severe burns and other injuries to people caught in the blast. The long-term effects of a nuclear war, such as radioactive fallout and the potential for nuclear winter, would also have devastating consequences for the environment, the economy and the remaining human population.
In addition to the immediate physical destruction, a nuclear war would also have significant political and strategic consequences, including the potential for global destabilization. It is important to note that the use of nuclear weapons should be avoided at all costs, as the consequences would be too dire. The international community must continue to work towards disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to prevent the possibility of a nuclear war.
It is impossible to provide an accurate estimate of the loss of life in an all-out nuclear war between the United States and China, as the number of weapons, their yield, and the targets would all play a role in determining the death toll. However, it is widely agreed upon that the loss of life would be in the millions, possibly even tens of millions, with many more injured and left homeless.
A nuclear war would also have significant long-term effects on the environment, the economy, and the remaining human population. The use of nuclear weapons would cause severe damage to the environment, with long-term effects such as radioactive fallout and the potential for nuclear winter. These effects would have devastating consequences for the environment, the economy, and the remaining human population.
It is important to note that a nuclear war would be a humanitarian catastrophe and must be avoided at all costs. The use of nuclear weapons should never be considered as an option and the international community must continue to work towards disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to prevent the possibility of a nuclear war.