Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!
— General “Buck” Turgidson1
China is a vast country—‘When it is dark in the east, it is light in the west; when things are dark in the south, there is still light in the north.’ Hence one need not worry about lack of room for maneuver.
— Chairman Mao Zedong2
Hot on the heels of Obama’s near declaration of war on China in Darwin Australia, the Washington Post snapped to attention and marched off smartly to do journalistic battle.
There atop the “National Security” section of the Post a headline blared “Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons.” This alarum was produced within days of Obama’s scary announcement of a U.S. military buildup to threaten Chinese commercial navigation, including vital oil shipments from the Middle East. That puts the U.S. on a war footing with respect to China, disturbing stuff indeed.
The students’ commander is one Phillip A. Karber, U.S. Marine Corp (ret.), now an adjunct Georgetown Prof. and former high level Cold Warrior who served under such worthies as Caspar Weinberger and Paul Nitze and at times reported directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to the Washington Post, Karber is a “hard-charging professor” who led a team of “obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown.” For reasons that are obscure, some say his students refer to him as “Buck.”
What was disclosed by years of effort on the part of Buck Karber’s students, who were force-marched over endless satellite images and gigabytes? In the end they found thousands of miles of tunnels in China, serving as a protection for its missile deterrent. A Congressional cry to build a Homeland Tunnel System may well follow – a much more acceptable jobs project than schools or mass transit.
There was only one glitch in the great Georgetown discovery. The Chinese had already announced the tunnel system years ago in 2009, pointing to as many as 3000 miles of tunnels and calling it a Great Wall to protect their nuclear deterrent, numbering in the hundreds at most and small by comparison to the Empire’s arsenal.
“Buck” Karber tried to save face by claiming that the extra tunnels meant that the Chinese had more nukes than the few hundred, which is the estimate most widely accepted. There was not only a tunnel gap; but a good old-fashioned nuke gap! That will get some attention, he might have mused; and it did. 3000 miles must mean 3000 nukes, flawless logic to be sure. But this proved a bit over the top, and even the Post had to admit as much in the waning paragraphs of the article:
George Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, publicly condemned Karber’s report at a recent lecture in Washington. In an interview afterward, he called the 3,000 figure ‘ridiculous’ and said the study’s methodology — especially its inclusion of posts from Chinese bloggers — was ‘incompetent and lazy.’
“The fact that they’re building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite point,” he argued. “With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they don’t need as many warheads to strike back.”
As Noam Chomsky often exhorts, read the last paragraphs of reports in the MSM first.
What should we conclude? First we are likely to hear all kinds of alarming reports about China as Emperor Obama and Field Marshall Clinton gear up to confront the Dragon. One of the hallmarks of “good” propaganda is that it must be concrete with memorable imagery – and if possible some small element of truth. Second, we have a responsibility to learn more about the Empire’s number one adversary if we are to construct a serious antiwar effort. And there are plenty of sources from China itself which is publishing a lot to reach us, including Global Times and China Daily, both on line and both in English. You may demur, worrying about “the other side of the story.” No problem, you get loads of it on a daily basis in the Post and its partners the NYT and.
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. [↩]
- Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War (December 1936), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 180. [↩]