When life imitates art: US, China and a geopolitical war – Community News
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When life imitates art: US, China and a geopolitical war

If you’re looking for a compelling read, I recommend 2034 by James Stavridis, a retired Admiral, and Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine. The book is about how China and America are at war in 2034, starting with a naval battle off Taiwan and with China acting in a tacit alliance with Iran and Russia.

I’m not spoiling it all to say that China and the US end up in a nuclear shootout and burn some of each other’s cities, with the result that neutral India becomes the dominant world power. (Hey, it’s a novel!)

What made the book unnerving, though, was that when I put it down and picked up the day’s newspaper, I read a lot of what it predicted 13 years from now: Iran and China just signed a 25-year cooperation agreement. Vladimir Putin has just gathered troops on Ukraine’s border to warn the US that anyone who threatens Russia “will regret their actions.” While fleets of Chinese fighter jets armed with electronic warfare technology now regularly buzz Taiwan, China’s chief foreign affairs policymaker just stated that the US “doesn’t have the qualification … to speak to China from a position of strength”.

Yikes, that’s life imitating art a little too closely for comfort. Why now?

The answer can be found in part in Michael Mandelbaum’s The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth. It shows how we have gone from a world defined by the Cold War between American democracy and Soviet communism – from 1945 to 1989 – to an extraordinarily peaceful quarter-century without major power conflict, supported by the spread of democracy and global economic interdependence—from 1989 to about 2015—to our current, much more dangerous era in which China, Iran, and Russia each deflect the pressures of democracy by offering their people aggressive hypernationalism.

What has made this even more dangerous is that in every country it is married to state-run industries – especially military industries – and it is emerging at a time when American democracy is weakening.

Our grueling political and cultural civil war is hampering Americans’ ability to act in unison and Washington’s ability to be a global stabilizer and institution-builder, as the United States was after World War II.

Our foolish decision to expand NATO in the face of Russia has hardened post-Communist Russia into an enemy rather than a potential partner. Meanwhile, the failure of US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq to produce the pluralism and decency hoped for after 9/11, coupled with the 2008 economic crisis and the current pandemic, has shaken both American self-confidence and the world’s confidence. weakened in America.

The result? As China, Russia and Iran challenge the post-World War II order more aggressively than ever, many are wondering if the US has the energy and allies for another geopolitical brawl.

I’m pretty sure we can stop a more aggressive, more nationalistic Russia and Iran at a reasonable cost, but China is another question. China is now a real competitor militarily, technologically and economically, except in one crucial area: designing and manufacturing the most advanced microprocessors, logic and memory chips that form the basis of artificial intelligence.

But just a few miles from China is the largest and most advanced chip manufacturer in the world: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. But just as importantly, three of the five companies that make the super-advanced lithography machines, tools and software by TSMC and others to actually make the microchips are based in the US. And just two weeks ago, the US ordered TSMC to suspend new orders from seven Chinese supercomputing centers suspected of aiding the country’s weapons development.

The South China Morning Post quoted Francis Lau, a computer scientist at the University of Hong Kong, as saying, “The sanctions would certainly affect China’s ability to maintain its leadership position in supercomputing,” because all of its supercomputers use processors from Intel or designed by AMD and IBM and manufactured by TSMC.

That is why – today – China, just as China wants Taiwan for ideological reasons, for strategic reasons wants TSMC in the pocket of the Chinese military industry. And as much as the US is committed to preserving Taiwanese democracy, it is even more committed to ensuring that TSMC does not fall into the hands of China for strategic reasons.

Because, in a digitizing world, whoever controls the best chipmaker…will control a lot. NYT