Xi Capone

  • by Pete O'Brien
  • 10-24-2022

There’s a particularly brutal scene in the movie “The Untouchables” in which Al Capone (played to perfection by Robert De Niro), in front of all of his lieutenants, gives a short speech about “the team” and then beats one man to death with a baseball bat.

If you haven’t seen it, go online and search for: “Xi Jinping Hu Jintao video” and watch. Watch it several times; watch Xi’s face. He may not be swinging a bat, but he and Al Capone would perfectly understand each other.

As for the report that Hu was removed for health reasons, I suspect that’s 100% accurate: he had a stroke just as soon as he was grabbed under the arm…

Xi Jinping is once again firmly on top of the pyramid in China. As you may recall, there were rumors running around that there was an effort to squeeze him out. And while there are some who want to paint this as something unique to China and not to worry, it’s not what it seems (I read one report from a major “news” network that this will mean that greater effort will be made to improve relations with the US), what happened the other day to Hu is something that would be instantly recognizable by Tiberius or Ivan or Stalin or a host of other despots and autocrats who understood the use of raw power to suppress opposition and to control a country.

The long and short is that Xi is now firmly in control. So, what’s he going to do with that power?

The simple answer is: use it.

    The question on everyone’s mind is: will he try to take Taiwan? For the sake of the discussion, consider what his senior planner in the People’s Liberation Army might tell him:
The main threat to taking Taiwan is the US, the US must be neutralized. The US military, per a public study just released this past week, is weak and faces a host of problems in manning, in readiness and, thanks to the war in Ukraine, in the status of its stockpiles of weapons. Congressional studies suggest all sorts of stockpiles have been seriously reduced in the effort to arm Ukraine; some will take several years to restock.

The US and the West are sliding into what promises to be a deep recession. So may China. But China is, in fact, a command economy, If need be, China can simply endure it and the people will suffer through it.

The US is in the midst of great political turmoil. A weakened President who still suffers from the abysmal performance in Afghanistan, a Pentagon that seems more concerned with social engineering than readiness or training, a Congress that has trouble passing even the most basic of legislation, and is headed into an election in which almost certainly new leadership will emerge that is counter to the wishes of the President. True, the new Congress will certainly be more hostile to China than the current one, but it will take them at a least a year to enact any legislation, get it past the President and then produce any results whatsoever.

And the war between Russia and Ukraine has drawn all of NATO into using up their forces and moving weapons into Ukraine, even as they face a dire economic year ahead, and are tearing themselves apart politically.

In short, now - the next 12 months - is the time for China to act. Wait a year and the new Congress may have developed the wherewithal to start to get things done. But for the next 6 to 12 months nothing they say can turn into any substantive change in the current situation. China has the preponderance of force around Taiwan and the US can do next to nothing about it. Further, China can offer Putin the right “carrots” to get him to expand his war. 

Wait for Russia to expand the war and then execute the plan. And assuming things continue along the same trajectory, China might use some other tactics. Gordon Chang has suggested that some sort of tailored biological weapon set in play on Taiwan several months early, designed to make the overwhelming percentage of Taiwan’s population sick, would be an excellent set-up for an assault. And the actual assault doesn’t need to be a D-Day invasion. Rather a blockade, special operations personnel, direct contact with the Taiwanese government, clear warnings that any action will be met with overwhelming force; a “soft invasion” of some sort. And even if Taiwan says: “no,” necessitating a real assault, with the population sick and a weakened US unable to get there in time, the results would be fairly certain, and the amount of damage to Taiwan industries would be minimal.

True, there needs to be a backup plan, an amphibious assault, with airborne forces, etc. And the optimum windows for crossing the strait (best weather) is generally said to be mid-September to mid-November, and mid-March to mid-May. The first is now probably closed; you really want to go early in the period so that you have the most time to carry out the entire operation. So, next March. So, work back from there: when might they need to start get a soft plan started, say a virus, and a growing number of cyber attacks. Then a blockade. A virus released several months early (whatever the computer model shows), say January, or even late December. Maybe a renewed Russian attack in Ukraine about the same time, expanding the war and drawing increased US attention.

Of course just speculating… But, it could be an interesting 2023.