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The Great Million-Man Swim
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They used to call it `the million-man swim.’ That was the US Navy’s sneering dismissal of any Chinese attempt to seize the island of Taiwan by a massive amphibious invasion.

The US Navy’s strike carriers, submarines and surface combatants, backed by the Marines and Army in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and Guam, would tear to shreds any Chinese invasion force. That, at least, was a decade ago.

Today things look very differently. US naval and air power in the western Pacific have declined by about 20%. America is tired after waging its decade-long war in Afghanistan, which cost \$1 trillion and achieved none of the US imperial goals. While the US was blowing up Afghan villages and paying off Afghan mercenaries, the Chinese were diligently building up their amphibious and air forces. Their goal was conquering next door Taiwan.

I’ve been over some of Taiwan’s fixed defenses. Many of the island’s beaches are amenable to amphibious operations. Rugged mountains with many caves further inland. In short, excellent defensive topography. Taiwan’s armed forces are well trained and motivated. Most Taiwanese appear to prefer independence from Red China and their current democratic system. Taiwan is also the world’s leading producer of high-tech computer chips. The world electronic industry would grind to a halt without Taiwan’s chips.

China makes a huge noise over Taiwan as it tries to whip up nationalism. In fact, not so many Chinese care about Taiwan aside from a few slogans and drumbeating. But it has become the Pacific’s version of Alsace Lorraine, a permanent ‘casus belli’ that provides the politicians with grist for their mills. Interestingly, whether Taiwan has ever really been a part of China – or maybe of Japan – is uncertain.

However, the rugged island appears fated to become of Greater China. Those other non-Han Chinese regions, Tibet, Mongolia, and Eastern Turkestan have been absorbed into China. This leaves northern Manchuria as the last remaining region of the former Chinese Empire. It is ruled by Russia – at least for now. Interestingly, I once asked a senior Chinese intelligence general how long it would take for China to capture the Russian port of Vladivostok, Russia’s principal Far East port.

‘Two days,’ he replied.

Confrontation over Taiwan has simmered between the US and China since the 1950’s when anti-communist Chinese forces fled from the mainland to Taiwan, or Formosa as it used to be called. War almost erupted in the 1950’s over the small, Nationalist Chinese offshore islands of Matsu and Quemoy. This could happen again.

To understand just how angry US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whistlestop visit made the prickly Chinese, imagine if a delegation of Chinese Communist officials went to the US state of Hawaii and proclaimed its ‘independence’ from Washington. The US has a less than noble record in Hawaii. American planters staged a coup that overthrew its legitimate Hawaiian government and annexed the territory – rather as the US recently did in Ukraine.


What will Chinese do next? Probably huff and puff and impose a limited naval blockade on the independent island. Taiwan relies on maritime and air trade so any punitive Chinese action would be highly painful. A full blockade cutting off oil, food, medicine and spare parts would be catastrophic.

In the recent past, China would not have managed to effectively blockade the island. Its ‘brown water’ coastal navy could not confront the mighty US Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait. Hence the ‘million-man swim.’ By wasting billions on useless colonial wars, the US has seriously weakened its naval and air forces. Washington’s Asian allies are not anxious to go to war with China over Taiwan.

As Soviet Brezhnev used to say, ‘quantity has its own quality.’ The US Navy is a superb, deadly military instrument. But China now has more warships, subs and coastal aircraft. Even so, its military forces would be decimated. But they could also impose severe damage on US Naval forces, notably with their new DF-21 anti-ship missile – if it really works as well as advertised. In this case, US aircraft carriers could be in jeopardy. The same applies to Chinese submarines firing volleys of anti-ship missiles.

Having said that, I’ve been at sea on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and nuclear attack submarine Minneapolis St. Paul and can attest to their crew’s impressive skills and professionalism. Those skills began at the battle of Midway and Guadalcanal in WWII. The Chinese are still in day one of naval school.

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  1. mijj says:

    > “whether Taiwan has ever really been a part of China – or maybe of Japan – is uncertain.”

    ? .. uncertain to who, exactly?
    (strange, but revealing statement)

  2. Notsofast says:

    all the skill and professionalism in the world won’t stop a hypersonic missile. aircraft carriers are floating mortuaries once the shit hits the fan. half the u.s and all of the japanese carriers used in ww2 were sunk using prop planes, in a day and age of supersonic planes and hypersonic missiles carriers don’t stand a chance. carriers are effective only for gun boat diplomacy, pummeling some third world country that cannot defend themselves. the russians understand this and this is why they don’t waste their money on developing this antiquated technology and instead focus on submarines and hypersonic missiles.

    • Agree: Biff
  3. “Having said that, I’ve been at sea on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and nuclear attack submarine Minneapolis St. Paul and can attest to their crew’s impressive skills and professionalism. Those skills began at the battle of Midway and Guadalcanal in WWII. The Chinese are still in day one of naval school.”

    That was before the covid shots, we’ve no idea of how much the US military has been weakened by the forced jabs. For starters, about 10-20 percent of the military has refused to get them and have either been discharged or are in the process of being discharged. These people are probably the most intelligent people in the military. For those that are staying, how many of them are have permanently damaged health (including weakened immune systems and sterility), weakened mental processes and damaged emotional health? Shining fancy weapons systems are nothing without healthy, smart people to operate them. The present US military today is but a fraction of the quality of the men that were fighting in Midway and Guadalcanal in WW2.

    • Agree: Johnny Smoggins
    • Replies: @follyofwar
  4. @mijj

    Written by a dope. He’s revealed that.

  5. @mijj

    What is certain is that North America, Australia, New Zealand, etc do NOT belong to the whites!

    • Disagree: anonymouseperson
    • Replies: @anonymouseperson
    , @Ed Case
  6. Alistair says:

    Escalation on all fronts appears to be the US strategy these days; escalation against Russia and now against China.

    Over the last couple of years, although the US has been withdrawing from its “War of Choice” in Afghanistan and Iraq, but escalating against Russia and China; there’s no serious efforts to cool down the tensions; even congress is in it; Nancy Pelosi’s official visit to Taiwan has made the matter worse – Global tension is certainly rising on all fronts — ironically, that’s happening under a “Democrat President” and a “Democrat House”.

    Beside escalation to the point of no return, what’s the US strategy against China and Russia; a new “Cold War” or “Hot War”; is Taiwan heading to become the next Vietnam ? oh, sorry, that honour already went to Ukraine.

  7. meamjojo says:

    Taiwan should assert that it is the real China and demand that the CCP resign and submit to being ruled from Taiwan.

  8. @Joe Paluka

    Perhaps the Chinese don’t take the exact same type of covid jabs as the American military is required to take, but I’m sure their military have all taken something similar. We don’t get statistics, to my knowledge, of how many Chinese have died or been disabled by taking their Covid shots.

    Given that their lockdowns have been much more onerous than has occurred in American cities, (in a futile quest to reach Zero Covid), I’d bet that an even larger share of China’s population has been jabbed than in the US (which has a lower rate of vax compliance than in Europe and Israel).

    So, unless China has developed a much better type of “vaccine,” its long-term situation vis-a-vis Covid could wind up being even worse than we are facing.

  9. Having said that, I’ve been at sea on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and nuclear attack submarine Minneapolis St. Paul and can attest to their crew’s impressive skills and professionalism.

    I would like to know what years Mr. Margolis was on those vessels. The U.S navy now is in bad shape from anecdotes I have seen this 4chan thread is particularly elucidating
    they miss their recruitment goals, get treated like shit by egoistic officers, understaffed unprepared, low morale, and suicidal.

    I once had a conversation with a Chinese student in the U.S and I asked him about joining the armed forces or going to an armed forces University in China and he said it is difficult to get in. the complete opposite of the United States and most militaries where they take in any healthy warm body.

    The U.S navy has very little credibility, they gave Hunter Biden an age exemption to join as an officer, his second exemption – – the first one was for admitted drug use, then he fails a drug test and gets discharged all in less than a year.

    That is the leadership of the U.S navy, military, politics and business.

  10. China is Taiwan’s primary trading partner and the source of most tourists. China could devastate Taiwan by just cutting off those two key sources of income. But the Chinese have no interest in killing their cousins. They are just waiting for the American empire to collapse. Besides, invading Taiwan is very difficult and may fail.

    Note this video is from two years after warmongers told everyone war was imminent, as they’ve done for past 70 years so they can forever claim that our Navy needs more funding!

  11. Anon[271] • Disclaimer says:

    Why would any straight white man join or serve in the U.S. Navy? They are determined to serve the U.S. government, which openly wants him miscegenated out of existence, his grandchild a biracial gender-whatever-tranny on hormones with pink hair who is poor and forever indebted with a 40-year mortgage for 900 square feet of living space and no yard, eating Bill Gates’ labgrown blood worms and bugs. I would not fight to defend this.

    Chinese missiles and planes would move on the the carrier groups. Once sinking, these U.S. sailors would not be permitted to swim anywhere, but would be shot in the water, drawing swarms of sharks for a feast that would make their great-gradparent sharks that were in the water when the U.S. Indianapolis sunk, culinarily envious. One can only imagine the tik tok videos. Taiwan is not worth your life boys.

    • Agree: anonymouseperson
  12. Yee says:

    Interestingly, whether Taiwan has ever really been a part of China – or maybe of Japan – is uncertain.

    More writer come out to muddy the water?
    Cairo Declaration (one of the terms of Japanese surrender)

    …and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed….

    Chinese officials do not need to use Taiwan to whip up nationalism… People on both side of the Taiwan strait know the island will unify with the mainland eventually. The almost exact situation had happened before, in 1683.

    And it wouldn’t matter “The Chinese are still in day one of naval school”, the next big war won’t be about carriers and submarines.

    • Replies: @Notsofast
  13. But WHY should Americans fight and die for Taiwan?

    • Replies: @Greta Handel
  14. @Deep Thought

    What is certain is that they do not belong to the blacks browns and yellows.

    • Replies: @Deep Thought
  15. @anonymouseperson

    It is the whites who claim to be the “natives” of North America, Australia, New Zealand!

    As I have said before, the whites have this very , very funny “what belong to them belong to them and what belong to others ALSO belong to them” mentality!

  16. Notsofast says:

    ….next big war won’t be about carriers or submarines… agree on carriers but subs are the most lethal, elusive and almost invisible nuclear weapons platform, are you suggesting that the next war will be bio/chemical in nature? if so, aren’t we already in the middle of ww3?

  17. Ed Case says:
    @Deep Thought

    Australia is a gigantic Cattle ranch.
    The owners of the cattle are the owners of the Country.
    Always have been.

  18. @anonymouseperson

    Because the Establishment thinks that’s all most of us are good for?

    Mr. Margolis has let slip in other columns his scant regard for the Americans he lionizes only when they’re being Exceptionally! deployed.

  19. Alistair says:

    The Ukraine war is a proxy war between U.S and Russia; whatever the costs might be, the US leadership is determined to remove Russia’s strategic military capability; once for all.

    “ The right wing of the US Democratic Party, now in power, is far more warlike and anti-Russian than most Americans realize. In fact, it’s the real `war party.’” (Eric Margolis, UNZ);

    Perhaps Margolis is right but another factor that contributes to such stupid strategy is the medium age of the American leadership, who are mostly in their 80th; Joe Biden 79; Mitch McConnell 80; Nancy Pelosi 82; – regardless of their political parties, these guys are mostly from 1970’s, their political careers have been greatly shaped in the heights of the “Cold War” with USSR; so their opinion about Russia has never changed; they still live in the “Cold War Era”, and dragging America along with them; the old US leadership is back, so the old stupid strategy.

    America has chosen to escalate against Russia in Uktaine, at whatever the costs; even a “Nuclear Confrontation” — all because the old US leaders are in charge.

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