Xi Pondering

Charles A. Kohlhaas | May 6, 2024

A basic rule for one in a position of confrontation, whether adversarial negotiation or open conflict, is to try to anticipate what actions an adversary might do, no matter how unconventional, unexpected, or outrageous it might be and figure out how to oppose and nullify each option until no attractive options are available to the adversary. One needs to try to “get in the head” of the adversary. 

China is the primary adversary of the United States, but US attention lately has been focused on the war in Ukraine, the war in Gaza, other unrest in the Middle East, and US university campus turmoil. Meanwhile, China is quietly assisting Russia, supporting Iran by buying its oil and underwriting its disruptive actions throughout the Middle East.

China is sending thousands of military-age males across the southern border of the US, consolidating its relations with other BRICS and emerging-market countries, and tightening its grip on supplies of critical resources. China’s stated goal is to establish a new world order and dominate the world by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party coming to power in China. 

So, what might China's president, Xi Jinping, be thinking as he evaluates his position vis-à-vis the US and actions he might take to further his ambitions? Here's what:

"This might be the best opportunity I ever have to take over the US. The whole society is in conflict with itself.  The campus disruptions worked out better than I expected, their munitions stocks are low, because they have sent so much to Ukraine and they do not manufacture much anymore. Their own wargames predict they will run out of munitions in less than a week if they try to defend Taiwan.  So their military can’t put up much of a fight.

"I don’t want to fight them anyway; too destructive.  Look at Putin and his war with Ukraine.  What will he get when he wins?  A wasteland and a population who hates him and is unproductive and his own economy destroyed. Like those two generals wrote, years ago when they were colonels, it is better to take over the US without warfare; take it over, not destroy it and use all that productivity and those resources for our benefit. This may be my chance.

"I have over twenty thousand operatives across the border and spreading out into their positions across the country. They should be ready to act in another month or so. Very nice of Biden to let them all in – thinking he could get all those illegal immigrants to vote for him.  Hah! Some of my best-trained people. I’ll have them hit the electric system and shut down the electricity all across the country – they can shut down over 90% of the country and all the major population centers. The US still has a few small independent grids in some rural areas, but that won’t matter. 

"Having the electricity off will shut down most of their communication and really cause havoc. Then I’ll call Biden.  I’ll tell my people setting up the call also to get Obama on the phone before I come on so we won’t have to wait for them to contact him and call back. I’ll give them my terms to turn it all back on and get the deal done in one call. The ultimate ransomware deal. 

"I’ll tell Biden he can stay president for another couple of years; forget an election. Then, I’ll pick his replacement and, maybe, bring Obama back – a lot of the people think he’s great.  They can stay in some semi-autonomous state for a while, like the deal made with the British for Hong Kong. They would give up some of their sovereignty, of course, such as control of their military and we would have some taxing and regulatory authority.

"They would have to get rid of some of those Bill of Rights amendments. The Second Amendment would be the first to go, but a lot of them don’t like it anyway. We would keep everything subtle for a few years – a lot of people won’t see much difference right away. That lets the older generation, who would furiously object, get older and become irrelevant and die off.  The young people are so dumb they won’t know what hit them; they don’t know what the Bill of Rights is and think Marxism is a good idea, anyway. By the time they figure it out, it will be too late.  A lot of them will get jobs administering their own subservience and be helpful. 

"I had better do this before the election while Biden and his silly cabinet are still in power.  My operatives should all be ready in another month or so.  If they are, a good symbolic date for this would be the Fourth of July weekend – their Independence Day. What a laugh that would be.  A lot of them would be off for weekend events and not able to get home. Do it in the middle of the last day of the holiday when lots of cars are on the road and planes in the air.  Women would be raising all kinds of hell worrying about their refrigerators and trying to find their kids, who would be at a total loss with their phones not working. Biden will do anything to get the electricity back on. What a deal. They talk a lot about their Founding Fathers on the Fourth of July; he will be the de-Founding Grandfather. 

"I could hit Taiwan at the same time. Team Biden will be too occupied to notice; they won’t issue any orders to their military, so they won’t show up. We’re not quite ready to include Canada in the attack, but they won’t last long on their own with Trudeau in charge. Mexico and the rest of Latin America are already about half under our influence; they will drop like ripe fruit. In exchange for my help with his war, Putin has let my people and companies into Siberia to develop those huge resources up there. Soon, I shall have more people in Siberia than he does. Nice. That will leave me with just India and Europe to worry about; neither one will be much of a worry."

Do we have a response or a deterrent? Years ago, I learned when dealing with Asians that they had studied Westerners thoroughly and knew exactly how we think, react, and what we would do under various circumstances.

We need some imagination to prepare a deterrent and a non-typical reaction to such an attack. I am not sure if we have people to do that in this Administration.

Lately, several books and essays have been published presenting strategies for the US to confront China over a decade or two of intense competition. I hope I am wrong, but we may not get the chance.