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Beijing's Nuclear Options

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发表于 3-14-2019 12:48:37 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 3-14-2019 13:11 编辑

Caitlin Talmadge, Beijing's Nuclear Options; Why a US-Chinese war could spiral out of control. Foreign Affairs, November/December 2018.
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/a ... ings-nuclear-option

Quote:

"A war between the two countries remains unlikely, but the prospect of a military confrontation—resulting, for example, from a Chinese campaign against Taiwan—no longer seems as implausible as it once did. And the odds of such a confrontation going nuclear are higher than most policymakers and analysts think.  Members of China's strategic com­munity tend to dismiss such concerns. Likewise, US studies of a potential war with China often exclude nuclear weapons from the analysis entirely, treating them as basically irrelevant to the course of a conflict. Asked about the issue in 2015, Dennis Blair, the former commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific [commander-in-chief (1999 – 2002), US Pacific Command which was renamed Indo-Pacific Command in 2018], estimated the likelihood of a US-Chinese nuclear crisis as 'somewhere between nil and zero.'  This assurance is misguided. * * *

"Since the end of the Cold War, the United States' signature approach to war has been simple: punch deep into enemy territory in order to rapidly knock out the opponent's key military assets at minimal cost. But the Pentagon developed this formula in wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Serbia, none of which was a nuclear power.  China, by contrast, not only has nuclear weapons; it has also intermingled them with its conventional military forces, making it difficult to attack one without attacking the other. This means that a major US military campaign targeting China's conventional forces would likely also threaten its nuclear arsenal. * * * This means that leaders on both sides should dispense with the illusion that they can easily fight a limited war. They should focus instead on managing or resolving the political, economic, and military tensions that might lead to a conflict in the first place.

"The most worrisome flash point for a US-Chinese war is Taiwan. Beijing's long-term objective of reunifying the island with mainland China is clearly in conflict with Washington's longstanding desire to maintain status quo in the strait. * * * Consider submarine warfare. China could use its conventionally armed attack submarines to blockade Taiwanee harbors or bomb the island, or to attack US and allied forces in the region. If that happened, the US Navy would almost certainly undertake an antisubmarine campaign. which would likely threaten China's 'boomers,' the four nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines that form its naval nuclear deterrent. China's conventionally armed and nuclear-armed submarines share the same shore-based communications system; a US attack on these transmitters would thus not only disrupt the activities of China's attack submarine force but also cut off its boomers from contact with Beijing, leaving Chinese leaders unsure of the fate of their naval nuclear force. In addition, nuclear ballistic missile submarines depend on attack submarines for protection, just as lumbering bombers aircraft rely on nimble fighter jets. If the US started sinking Chinese attack submarines, it would be sinking the very force that protects China.  Even more dangerous, US forces hunting Chinese attack submarines could inadvertently sink a Chinese boomer instead. After all, at least some Chinese attack submarines might be escorting ballistic missile submarines * * * since correctly identifying targets remains one of the trickiest challenges of undersea warfare, a US submarine crew might come within a shooting range of a Chinese submarine without being sure of its type, especially in a crowded, noisy environment like the Taiwan Strait. * * * Meanwhile, any Chinese boomers that escaped this fate would likely be cut off from communication with onshore commanders, left without an escort force, and unable to return to destroyed ports. If that happened, China would essentially have no naval nuclear deterrent.  The situation is similar onshore * * * Once again, US victory would hinge on the ability to degrade this [Chinese] conventional ballistic missile force. And once again, it would be virtually impossible to do so while leaving China's nuclear ballistic nissile force unsacthed. Chinese conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles are often attached to the same base headquarters * * * To add to the challenge, some of China's ballistic missiles can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead, and the two versions are virtually indistinguishable to US aerial surveillance.

"For years, observers have pointed to the US military's failure to locate and destroy Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1990-91 Gulf War as evidence that mobile missiles are virtually impervious to attack. * * * Yet recent research suggest otherwise. Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles are larger and less mobile than the Iraqi Scuds were* * * The United States is also likely to have been tracking them [Chinese ICBM] more closely in peacetime. * * *

"It does not help [in a war with US] that China's real-time awareness of the state of its forces would probably be limited, since blinding the adversary is a standard part of the US military playbook.

"LESSONS FROM THE PAST [which is the sectional heading] * * * In 1969, similar dynamics brought China to the brink nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In early March [Mar 2] of that year, Chinese troops ambushed Soviet guards [on Soviet-controlled 珍宝岛 Damansky Island on the Ussuri River[ amid rising tensions over a disputed border area. Less than two weeks later, the two countries were fighting an undeclared border war with heavy artillery and aircraft. The conflict quickly escalated beyond what Chinese leaders had expected, and before the end of March, Moscow was making thinly veiled nuclear threats to pressure China to back down.  Chinese leaders initially dismissed these warnings, only to radically upgrade their [leaders'] threat assessment once they learned that Soviets had privately discussed nuclear attack plans with other countries. Moscow never intended to follow through on its nuclear threats, archives would later reveal, but Chinese leaders believe otherwise. On three separate occasions, they were convinced that a Soviet nuclear attack was imminent. Once, when Moscow sent representatives to talk in Beijing, China suspected that the plane transporting the delegation was in fact carrying nuclear weapons. Increasingly fearful, China test-fired a thermonuclear weapon in the Lop Bur desert and put its rudimentary nuclear forces on alert -- a dangerous step in itself , as it increased the risk of unauthorized or accidental launch. Only after numerous preparations for Soviet nuclear attacks that never came did Beijing finally agree to negotiations.

Note:
(a)
(i) This article is one of many on the subject whose cover is: "Do Nuclear Weapons Matter?"
(ii) The article is locked behind paywall. There is no need to read the rest, though.
(iii) "CAITLIN TALMADGE is Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. This essay is adapted from "Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States," International Security )a journal by MIT Press), Spring 2017.

(b) Scud
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scud
(tactical ballistic missile [range: less than 300 km]; NATO reporting name; section 3.3 Gulf War: Scud-B)

To compare Scuds with ICBMs is to compare apple with orange. Naturally ICBMs are bigger and more unwieldy.
(ii) scud (vi): "to move or run swiftly especially as if driven forward  <clouds scudding across the sky>"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scud
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