Two pieces of information have been on my mind of late:
One is Demographics. According to this piece, China's one-child policy combined with technological advances allowing for reliable in-the-womb sex identification (and subsequent government-sponsored abortion of girls) means that by the year 2021 around 23.5 million Chinese men may be unable to find brides.
Twenty-three-point-five MILLION men between the ages of 18 and 45, with no family ties, fed a steady diet of propaganda that capitalism is to blame for their woes, and likely stunted financially by an increasingly authoritarian government, will probably be pretty antsy and would rather quickly sign up for employment through government service.
Sounds to me like China has gone and bred itself an army, comprised of young men that individually will view themselves as having little to lose.
The second thing on my mind is Secondary Use of Technology. The big news of today has been this piece, which details China's use of precision missile testing to shoot down one of its own satellites. The US government is outraged not only at the audacity of using aggressive space technology, but also at the space junk issue that is sure to be created by the results of this and other satellite-destroying tests.
Satellites are amazingly delicate things -- in order to reduce weight (and therefore launch cost and maintenance issues), they are built not as tanks but more like pinatas. Our orbital pathways are already littered with the detritus of previous launches (bolts, panels, paint flakes, hoses, etc.), all whizzing around at 25,000+ miles per hour, in different directions. It already takes a great deal of effort to track all this stuff, and even more to place satellites and our own space shuttle launches into relatively safe launch lanes.
Now for the point of my #2 idea: the real danger that we face is not China's ability to take out any given satellite. Not directly, anyway. If China were of a mind to do so, they now have the technology to shoot any number of satellites at any time, creating a relatively solid mass of space junk in the orbital lanes. The real danger is that it only takes one single launch of a battery of these missiles, directed at multiple satellites in different orbital altitudes, to render ALL future launches of any sort, impossible. This means that any attempt on our part to launch replacement satellites or space shuttles to do repairs, are instantly rendered mathematically infeasible.
No big deal, you say? Consider that virtually every aspect of the American lifestyle is dependent on satellites. From the inconvenient (cell phones, TV) to the problematic (GPS, airline communications) to the deadly (military GPS, missile tracking, military air communications), we are a society that has become in many ways overly dependent on our technology, specifically satellites in terms of this discussion.
The days after 9/11 were confused and unsettling, not only in terms of the basic fear of successful terrorist attacks, but also in the financial aftermath -- Wall Street was shut, air travel was suspended, financial operations of all kinds were cut temporarily. The results of a couple of hours that morning translated to months of financial uncertainty, a market correction (paranoids call it a mini-recession), and a general dis-ease regarding security in the future.
We bounced back pretty quickly from that time, mostly because of the indefatigable American spirit, but also because the larger framework of our society was intact. The infrastructure was largely undamaged, and the only real lasting effect (apart from political turmoil triggered by the WoT) is a crater in Manhattan. The Dow continues to close at record highs, jobs are plentiful, and the main target, our economy, has not only survived but flourished.
However, if the satellites go boom and we can't repair or replace them, a fundamental shift in our infrastructure will have taken place. Our technological society will take several steps backward, as will the rest of the world. The difference is that where they might take 2 or 3 steps back, we will be set back 8 or 9. This will have a disastrous effect on the average person's psyche and resolve, and will contribute to a horrendous erosion of our national will.
Enter idea #1 -- China with its 20-million-plus army and a history of expansionism, will find its main obstacles to Asian conquest (Japan and the US) cut off at the knees. We will all be like Bernard, confronted by his first live natural birth at a reservation far from his comfortable and technical home in the city. The savages will already understand, but the Alphas and Betas will be hobbled. Brave New World, indeed.
Perhaps this is the raving of a delusional paranoid. I certainly hope so, because there are 2 little stories out there that taken by themselves are a curiosity. When put together they form a frightening picture of vulnerability on a scale never before seen.
Iran's nuclear program is enough of a worry, but there is obviously attention being paid to the various scenarios involving it. There are also plans for various scenarios involving China and Taiwan. Hopefully someone in the pentagon is also looking at Ricochet Warfare and realizing that the Dragon is hatching a very large and aggressive egg.