Thursday, July 26, 2007

There's good news... and bad news

The FT recently ran the following headline: "Good news: you are unlikely to be nuked any time soon." This is indeed good news, the sort I like to read over my morning bowl of oatmeal.

As Gideon Rachman points out, nuclear technology, though sixty years old, is still very difficult to master. And the 1999 example of the Kargil War shows that nuclear powers tend to actually be rather restrained with their wares. Good news indeed.

There are, however, several related issues you should be worrying about (not to mention the Chinese threat).

First, Rachman - or at least those he's commenting upon - forget that there are other weapons of mass destruction besides nuclear ones. Chemical and biological weapons are much simpler to build and still terribly dangerous. And Russia has lots of them just sitting around, waiting to be stolen or sold on the black market. Even if the Russian government wants to be a good steward of these weapons and keep them out of the hands of terrorists, the Russian government itself doesn't know where all its weapons are. That's why a new blog on Russian biological and chemical weapons is highlighting the danger of non-state transfers of these things.

Of course there's no reason to assume the Russians have any desire to act responsibly. Just yesterday Vladimir Putin, known to the White House as Pooty-Poot, said Russia must continue to strengthen its military and step up spying on the West. And seeing as how Pooty-Poot tends to get what he wants in Russia, we can look forward to these developments in the coming months and years.

And if you don't yet have sufficient cause for concern, consider that Russia has just launched a submarine expedition to the North Pole on the logic that "The Arctic is ours and we should demonstrate our presence." Nevermind that the area is nowhere close to Russia's internationally recognized territorial waters; they're claiming this now too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beware the Dragon...

The Chinese made the front page of the FT three times today. The largest story looks encouraging: "Chinese-FBI joint crackdown nets $500m in pirated software." It is, however, to two other stories that I would like to draw attention. An article titled "US arrests Mexican over drugs import claim" describes the arrest in Washington, DC, of the Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon. Earlier this year Mr. Ye Gon made headlines when $205 million in cash was seized from his Mexico City home, the largest single seizure of drug cash in history.
Authorities have connected Mr. Ye Gon with a huge criminal organisation that manufactured pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in methamphetamines.

The final story from the front page of today's FT is about the vast numbers of Chinese migrants who are arriving in the Philippines.
According to Teresita Ang-See, an expert on Chinese in the Philippines, there are 80,000-100,000 illegal or over-staying Chinese nationals in the country.... Many are drawn to illicit activities such as smuggling and drugs.

Danilo Almeda, an immigration spokesman, explained that

The Chinese come here as legitimate tourists or investors but try to leave for the US or Canada using forged passports or visas.

What is the point of mentioning these stories? Simply to point out that Chinese migrants are all over the world and some - probably a minority - are involved in some shady business? No, there's more to it than that, if we connect the dots.

Ralph D. Sawyer of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary has raised a number of important issues in his recent article 'Chinese Strategic Power: Myths, Intent and Projections.'

The capture of a Chinese druglord in the US capital caught my eye, having read earlier this year in Sawyer's article that

The inclusion of drugs, smuggling, psychological warfare - a major thematic topic in recent issues of China Military Science - and various weapons of mass destruction ranging from biological through chemical and even nuclear, all to be combined in new ways, indicates that no method of inflicting casualties, disabling the infrastructure, and sowing disorder is to be excluded or neglected.

Likewise, large numbers of Chinese 'businessmen' or 'tourists' trying to come to the US through the Philippines should be a cause for concern.

In modern practice the PRC relies heavily upon open source information gathered by masses of virtual amateurs the many students and businessmen presently in North America supplemented by professionals who approach predetermined targets. Armies of the inquisitive siphon off the latest ideas and discoveries for exploitation and development in the PRC; front companies and major PRC entities gain access to proprietary information through a variety of means, including paid informants, defectors, and businessmen and others entrapped by female agents, especially in Asia; military specialists are targeted, particularly overseas; military manuals and publications are combed for knowledge and weaknesses; and cyber warfare specialists routinely filch vital data and plans through the pervasive internet.

The presence of Chinese organized crime and large numbers of illegal Chinese nationals, be they in our own backyard or in Asia, is worrisome. The publication of of Unrestricted Warfare, by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, in conjunction with a number of other Chinese documents, has lead Sawyer and others to conclude that,

To the extent that they adopt historical doctrine and model on precedents, what might be termed “Triple S” - lowtech, systematic sabotage and subversion - may be expected to comprise a key element in PRC war plans. Triple S will be equally applicable whether targeting Taiwan or the United States, although with decidedly different intent. Moreover, insofar as the PRC presently lacks the weapons to launch a massive strike directly against North America, it virtually must resort to the traditional, much espoused concept of unorthodox warfare and employ an army of saboteurs to asymmetrically carry the battle to America’s heartland.

Why isn't anyone talking about this?