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Pakistan’s the Place…to Pull the Pin on the China Collapse Grenade
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India-Pakistan relations look to be interesting in the next few years, especially if by “interesting” one means “potential for regional conflagration with toasty global elements”.

If the PRC continues its rise at its current trajectory and under its current management, chances are that by 2050 the United States will be facing a China that is 1) militarily and economically predominant in Asia and 2) explicitly hostile to US global and regional leadership and 3) in a position to do something about it.

Maybe the PRC will fall on its behind before that happens. After all, the CCP’s empire is rife with internal political, social, ethnic, and economic contradictions and Xi Jinping seems to be trapped in the endless “frantically pumping up the economy with colossal amounts of debt while he struggles to make a single-party dictatorship pretend to be an efficient pluralistic polity” phase.

However, “standing idly by” is not the job description of the people who run America’s half-trillion-dollar military/security/intelligence effort, so I expect passively waiting for 2050 while praying that Gordon Chang is right for once is not the only item on the agenda.

Maybe a helping push will be necessary. In other words, maybe the US will transition from a “containment while hoping China collapses from its internal contradictions” policy to a more forthright “China collapse” strategy.

In IR speak, this would involve a sea change from the US nominally promoting a stable world system to acting as a de facto disrupter and destabilizer.

The US pays inordinate lip service to its role as custodian of the liberal global order and up til now has done an OK job of tarring China as an “aggressive, assertive” disrupter in Asia.

But when deterrence/containment breaks down, the US has shown itself pretty willing to bend the rules of the “international liberal order” to advance its interests.

Look at Syria as an example of what we do when our power projection capabilities are limited but we want to degrade and distract a regional adversary, Iran, by bleeding it in an interminable local conflict, cost, collateral damage, and blowback be damned.

Nice harbinger for China.

And if one considers Syria as a U.S. foreign policy Mission Accomplished and not, as the IR crowd might, as a ECFOML—Egregious Clusterf*ck on Multiple Levels—the anti-China battlespace looks a little different.

There are plenty of external anvils to toss the PRC to exacerbate/provoke internal contradictions: Taiwan independence, Hong Kong autonomy, agitation in Tibet, the South China Sea…

…South China Sea? Hmmm.

Are we going to confront Chinese power directly with our naval squadrons in the South China Sea, risking US assets and prestige in a hugely expensive mano-a-mano cage match over some worthless islands, the prospect of which quite frankly horrifies our prosperity-friendly and conflict-averse regional allies?

Or, as an option, why not look down South Asia way, fortuitously the home of a powerful and aggressive US ally, India, who is already eager to slug it out with a vital PRC ally, Pakistan?

Maybe start something there the sooner the better, before the Pakistan-PRC axis entrenches itself and China breaks out of the US-led containment system toward its west via OBOR?

Something really nasty that in addition to balking a PRC move toward South Asia, offers the promise of a nice murderous stew of aggrieved Islamist militants unleashing havoc in Xinjiang?

Something that involves a regional asset bearing most of the risks, and not the United States?

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC is in my opinion the key tell as to whether the US-led global system is willing to accommodate China’s rise or simply wants to f*ck with it.

Current indications are: Let’s F*ck With It.

The PRC has reached out to India to a certain extent to try to reconcile India to the CPEC—and the fatal fact that it cuts through Gilgit-Baltistan, which is tangled up in the Kashmir dispute.

But indications are that India ain’t buying the win-win OBOR fable unless the PRC performs the impossible task of throwing Pakistan under the bus: neutering the ISI and its barely deniable terror network, neutralizing Pakistan’s army, zeroing out Pakistan’s independent regional influence, and thereby giving India a free geopolitical run to its west through Afghanistan and out to Iran.

The murderous Uri raid, in which Pakistan-backed militants apparently killed 17 Indian soldiers in India-occupied-Kashmir, looks like a disturbing indicator there is no way for China to square the circle between Indian assertiveness and Pakistani aggression.

I write about the entanglement of US and PRC priorities in the murderous mix of the Uri outrage in my latest piece at Asia Times, South Asia on a Knife Edge After Uri Raid. Indian media and hawkish opinion have unsurprisingly adopted a simple narrative of “Savages murder innocent Indian soldiers because Pakistan’s only export is terrorism”, but it appears to me the raid is part of a nasty geopolitical snarl including Kashmir, Balochistan, CPEC, China, and United States threads.

India’s hawks are openly calling for the liquidation of Pakistan as Plan B, by supporting the independence of Balochistan, which would pretty much put an end to Pakistan and, in a geopolitical twofer, kill the CPEC, which runs through Balochistan for about a third of its length, and effectively end the PRC presence in South Asia.

Plan C—letting a hostile Pakistan stabilize itself and enhance its regional clout by serving as a useful economic and strategic ally and asset of the PRC on India’s doorstep—doesn’t seem to top too many lists, at least in government.

So Pakistan-collapse is emerging as the proactive option for India, just as China-collapse is for US planners.

The US, in a signal to India whose significance should not be understated, reaffirmed its opposition to Balochistan independence thereby indicating it wasn’t quite ready to see India promote the dissolution of Pakistan just yet.

But that’s an undertaking that could be a) withdrawn b) honored “in the breach” i.e. the U.S. could condone Indian subversion of Pakistan sovereignty over Balochistan sub rosa c) blithely ignored by India, which is anything but a tractable U.S. client and understands the Pentagon will swallow almost any defiance as long as India plays an active anti-China role.

The unsettling conclusion is that, if you want to pull the pin on the China-collapse grenade, Pakistan is the place to do it—and India might be happy to perform the honors.

(Republished from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, CPEC, Pakistan, World War III 
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  1. iffen says:

    But, but, these guys have nuclear weapons. There is this natural process called the jet stream.

    • Replies: @Talha
    , @Astuteobservor II
  2. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC is in my opinion the key tell as to whether the US-led global system is willing to accommodate China’s rise or simply wants to f*ck with it.Current indications are: Let’s F*ck With It.

    I wonder if the first ever Russia-Pakistan joint military drill has something to do with it.

  3. Sean says:

    India is more vulnerable to secessionist movements than China, (or even Pakistan) so it would be foolish to try

  4. China recently inaugurated train service to Afghanistan from the Yellow Sea ports. Next stop
    Europe via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. China is still solvent. Who else is?

  5. Joe Wong says:

    The author should know there is one place more suitable and likely to pull the pin on the USA-collapse grenade, it is the Korea peninsula. Neither Pakistan nor India is USA lackey and easily manipulated and agitated like the South Korean and mad North Korean because they are both nuclear armed nations and they are not as mad and retarded as the American who is bombing and killing all over the world for no sane reasons other than quenching their bloodthirsty like mentally imbalance maniacs as the sentiment reflected in the article.

    Indeed Syria is a good harbinger for the Korean, when the USA is on the last leg of its collapsing path like the Roman Empire, it will turn irrational and radical as the sentiment reflected in the article, since the American is broke and has no mean to lure Pakistan and India to become their cannon fodders, the only option left for the American to make its last stand to salvage its relevance in the Western Pacific is to challenge China’s dominance by lighting fires in Korea like they lighted the fires in Syria while bleeding themselves to the collapse like the Roman Empire. USA already has 4 trillion national debts, bleeding itself in Korea against China which is way more stronger than the USA financially and industrially surely will accelerate the collapse of the USA and put it out misery like the Roman Empire.

    • Replies: @KA
    , @denk
  6. Talha says:

    Hey iffen,

    Yeah, you’d think someone would have got that memo.

    Furthermore, I wonder what the architects of this strategy in India are smoking – is bordering a failed state with a high degree of militancy and awash with weapons really a good idea for India? Let’s ask Turkey and Jordan how that’s been working out for them?


    • Replies: @Regnum Nostrum
  7. @iffen

    but it will still be a win for the usa if pakistan + india + china nuke each other.

    india is the retard here 🙂 being used in a possibly nuclear confrontation as nuke fodder.

    that is nuke fodder.

    I googled the wars between india and china, india got their asses handed to them when they provoked china. not sure how accurate this info is, it is all from wiki.

  8. @Talha

    Is bordering a failed state with a high degree of militancy and awash with weapons really a good idea for India?

    What do you propose? Moving India away from Pakistan? I am sure bordering Antarctica would be much better idea.

    • Replies: @KA
    , @Talha
  9. KA says:
    @Regnum Nostrum

    India has paid repeatedly heavy prices for its attempts to impose hegemony on neighboring countries . It failed miserably in Sri Lanka. Its tenuous hold on BanglDesh has come with demographic changes in NE India and the hold can slip away easily once current leader is gone .Punjab can flare up anytime .The country is held together by fear of Muslim and Islam .There is no other unifying forces .The provinces hate each other What it means that peace within and outside the borders will inflame and accelerate the internal destructive process .It is ooverpopulated. Its climate is under threat . Infrastrucre is decayed and the agricultural productions have declined . Education in shambles . It is no different than what Pakistan was undergoing in 1980 .

    Pakistan is throughly nepotistic tribal and corrupt It is one of the most repressive and ethno religiously fanatic where ethnicity trumps the religion.It should never been created but was created for the preservation of the feudal system not for safety of Muslim Unless it changes. India will devour it but with equally bad results for India .

  10. Randal says:

    Look at Syria as an example of what we do when our power projection capabilities are limited but we want to degrade and distract a regional adversary, Iran, by bleeding it in an interminable local conflict, cost, collateral damage, and blowback be damned.

    This is misleading.

    Hindsight error seems to be the cause of this mis-analysis. There’s no reason I can see to suppose the US regime did not fully expect Syria to collapse quickly in a “successful” regime change operation like in Libya and Iraq. Of course, that would have resulted in (even more) mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing and jihadist-ridden chaos, but there’s no plausible way to suppose that would result in “bleeding” Iran. Indeed, the present situation is not “bleeding” Iran – on the contrary Iran is paying relatively little to assist its ally in Damascus and reaping general respect and increased influence for doing so. Arguably Iran has gained hugely, so long as the Syrian government does not fall.

    Hezbollah has born a far heavier cost relative to its size, but in compensation has gained hugely in prestige and in influence with its allies Syria, Iran and now Russia.

    The US/Saudi/Israeli/Turkish objective was never imo to “bleed” Iran – it was to quickly overthrow Iran’s ally in Damascus and break once and for all the direct link between Iran and Hezbollah. The result was a calamity, but that’s par for the course as far as US foreign policy is concerned, because US foreign policy is not run by the “reality based community”. At any rate, not the American reality based community….

    • Replies: @5371
  11. KA says:
    @Joe Wong
    Astonishing new perspective that the Congress ,Senate and White House now realizing

    USA has again sleepwalked into another stupid diplomatic wasteland . Failed interventions haven’t taught it anything . Those ‘ feel good’ liberal interventions hiding the defense corporate greed and obscuring the arrogant militancy have into crept into the areas where domestic and foreign interfaces with each other .To look tough steadfast and righteous abroad and at home it has just undermined its strength that stems from being sovereign. It has exposed itself to myriad lawsuits from Libyan,Syrian,Iraqis and Yemenis and Somalis. It has possibly shaken the trust and confidence of Saudi Arab and Gulf countries . The goodwill ,love,trust,and dependence that binded these nations to US have now come under serious negative scrutiny . Others Arab countries already out of that American orbit ,it is a matter of years not decades before America will find itself in the same situation that Soviet found itself in Eastern Europe in1990 and Britain found itself in 1947 in India and Middle East – the superpower is not only corrupt,decayed but can’t be trusted to deliver safety security or even be trusted as family friends .
    America has pulled another pins thinking it was just engaging in some fire show for the kids .

  12. Talha says:
    @Regnum Nostrum

    Hey RN,

    You missed my point. If one borders a state that is unstable, one should not do anything to cause it to slip into failed state status.

    In other words, is it better for the US to be bordered by a stable government in charge of Mexico (one they can negotiate with or pressure into policies) or should the US actively be undermining their control and seeking to fragment it into unaccountable narco-states and unstable territories?


  13. denk says:
    @Joe Wong

    I remember Peter Lee has dealt with the Korean tinderbox in an earlier article.

    for Nk, there seems to be method in the ‘madness’,
    China has better watched its back 24×7.

    Nuke armed NK might turns out to be unitedsnake’s most treacherous ‘chess piece’,
    the possibility of a nuke FF attack on China is enough to send a chill down my spine. !

  14. denk says:

    Rajiv Ghandi got bumped off cuz he refused to grant landing rights to Murkkan bombers , he’d turn in his grave seeing what modi is doing today.

  15. denk says:

    India itself is no slouch when it comes to CIA style ‘wet jobs’.
    for example, RAW partnered CIA to wipe out the royal family of Nepal in 2001 cuz king Birendra was friendly to China. the same reason CIA bumped off Rajiv Ghandi in later yr.

    India even has its own version of a five year plan to take out seven countries.

    they dont call India the ‘unitedsnake of South Asia’ for nuthin u know !

  16. Talha says:

    By the way – kudos to whoever designed or chose that title graphic – it is brilliantly done!

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