February 22, 2023 - Important Update - Yesterday, President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China presented a Global Security Initiative Concept Paper emphasizing the important of diplomacy and peaceful cooperation. I have reproduced the paper verbatim here.

President Xi has launched thousands of peace arrows into the winds.


Arrows in the Wind – The Brilliant Chinese Preemptive

Diplomatic Strike for Peace

by Nile Stanton

February 11, 2023

       The balloon was immediately hyped in the U.S. media when it was initially spotted over Montana on February 1, 2023. Then, Donald Trump Jr. promptly, but no doubt inadvertently, divulged highly classified information that he had likely received from his father (or perhaps from Mike Pence or Joe Biden, both of whom also once had classified materials where they should not have had them). What was that classified information? Don Jr.'s said that if President Biden didn't have the military shoot it down right away, Don Jr. was sure that people of Montana would be happy to do it and were capable of getting the job done. Which meant: The people in Montana were armed with weapons that could shoot down a massive balloon flying between 10.5 and 13 miles high in the air! The Pentagon had never released that information. Indeed, military officials were stunned to learn that Montana citizens were armed with surface-to-air missiles or unimaginably powerful rifles.

       The Pentagon claimed that it was a Chinese spy balloon, and the Chinese government claimed it was a civilian meteorological balloon that had gotten blown off course. And, three days later, the U.S. military charged to the rescue.

       On Saturday afternoon February 4, 2023 at 2:39 p.m. local time, a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fired a single AIM-9X Sidewinder missile to shoot down a massive Chinese balloon seven miles off the coast of South Carolina and 60,000 to 65,000 feet up in the air. A single F-22 fighter jet defeated a balloon! But, the U.S. military had taken no chances. In case those wily Chinese had developed a balloon that could suddenly morph into, say, a large bomber and head north toward Washington, D.C., and other metropolitan areas, the F-22 had significant back-up in the form of other F-22s, F-35s, and even a few tankers in order to refuel the jets were the magical Chinese bomber to head toward U.S. allies in Europe. The back-up forces used over a million dollars worth of jet fuel in that effort, one made because the Pentagon wasn't confident that an F-22 could take out a balloon? Sigh.

       This balloon fly-over (BFO) was, we now know, not a one-off incident. During Trump's years in office, there were at least three BFOs. However, these were only briefly glimpsed at or never seen at all, so they were not considered a big deal, neither by the U.S. military nor the Department of State, which knew of the flights. The recent BFOs were different. It turns out that following BFO1 (the one first spotted over Montana and shot down as noted above) was a second balloon, BFO2. On Monday, February 6, Chinese spokesperson Mao Ning admitted that it was a Chinese balloon and said it was for civilian use and had deviated from its route due to being blown off course. She admitted that BFO2 “accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace” and apologized, assuring that China diligently tries to abide by all international law and respects the sovereignty of other nations.

       Hmm. In his “Breaking the News” commentary of February 6 regarding BFO1, ever insightful James Fallows said it seemed to be a “gigantic screw-up” on the part of the Chinese to have sent or allowed BFO1, and politicians, pundits, and alleged security experts have with rare exception appeared to agree and point to it as evidence of China's aggressiveness and disregard for the sovereign rights of the United States. But, former CIA head Leon Panetta said that the message from China to the U.S. was this: "Stop your high-altitude surveillance over China," something the country has complained of for years. Plus, Fallows urges that sending or allowing BFO1 to go on a spy mission was wholly unnecessary, considering the vast amount of precise information available to the public via the internet and otherwise, a point he makes in spades by providing specific examples.

       But were the recent balloon flights bad acts on China's part, or Did China make a brilliant preemptive diplomatic strike for peace?

       Below, I take a very different view from all writers I've read so far regarding why China caused balloon fly-overs 1 and 2. And, yes, I believe these were caused, not accidental, events. The second was sent to give plausible deniability to a claim that BFO1 was a deliberately planned spy mission over the U.S.A.: “You see, we are having problems with our weather analysis and in controlling our balloons. We are very sorry and apologize.”

       But why was the first balloon released? Allow me to explain.

       Chinese authorities knew full well that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's trip to China that was to have taken place this week would not have resulted in a positive experience. They knew that President Joe Biden did not send him on a mission to China in an effort to “reduce tensions.” They knew not to expect any real diplomacy from Blinken because his record is clear.

       Before Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's first meeting with his Chinese counterpart in 2021, President Biden had instructed him to “confront” the Chinese about their “human rights abuses” and “aggressiveness,” just as Biden had promised the U.S. public he would have him do. And, rather than begin by discussing common goals, interests, and opportunities, and by raising controversial matters briefly and near the end of the meeting as something to be discussed separately and at another date, Blinken proved he knew nothing about engaging in diplomacy.

       Reporting on the first meeting between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Affairs Chief Yang Jiechi, in their March 19, 2021, article for the Associated Press, Matthew Lee and Mark Thiessen wrote:

Blinken said the Biden administration is united with its allies in pushing back against China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad. Yang then unloaded a list of Chinese complaints about the U.S. and accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing Beijing on human rights and other issues.

Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said of China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion against U.S. allies. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”

National security adviser Jake Sullivan amplified the criticism, saying China has undertaken an “assault on basic values.” “We do not seek conflict but we welcome stiff competition,” he said.

Chinese foreign affairs chief Yang replied by pointing out U.S. hubris.

Yang responded angrily by demanding the U.S. stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when the United States itself has been roiled by domestic discontent. He also accused the U.S. of failing to deal with its own human rights problems and took issue with what he said was “condescension” from Blinken, Sullivan and other U.S. officials.

       Adding one insult to another, around two months later, in what was to be his debut meeting with Southeast Asian foreign affairs ministers on May 25, 2021, the ASEAN diplomatic leaders waited at their computers for 45 minutes for Secretary Blinken to appear at the virtual summit only to be told they would have to deal with his deputy because the U.S. couldn't secure a video connection with Blinken due to a technical glitch. That the U.S. hadn't put more effort into planning the meeting was grating to the foreign leaders.

       So, Secretary Blinken had displayed the arrogance often displayed by U.S. officials even before the immediate run-up to the visit that was to take place last week. And, as the Chinese knew to expect, Blinken insulted them once again, and this time in no uncertain terms. Blinken went to the Philippines and persuaded that nation to open up four more of its military bases to accept U.S. troops, even though troops are already housed at five other bases in the country. (Plus, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary Blinken had recently pressed both Japan and Australia to purchase more U.S. weaponry.)

       Having abundant evidence that Tony Blinken was and is not a true diplomat, the Chinese launched a preemptive diplomatic strike for peace. The strike was designed to prompt the U.S. to cancel Blinken's trip to China, a trip analysis indicated would almost certainly worsen rather than improve relations.

       Yes, what the Chinese did was draw inspiration from the famous book called The Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century during the Ming dynasty. That's a fictionalized account of the events and battles that took place during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 CE) in ancient China. (Luo Guanzhong's book draws upon historical records and legends but admittedly exercises creative license in narrating events.) A major hero is Zhuge Liang, a real person who was a brilliant military strategist and tactician and advisor to Liu Bei, the founder and first leader of the kingdom of Shu.

       One story in the book illustrates Zhuge Liang's mastery of the winds. During a critical battle he faces an enemy positioned on high ground while his own army is in boats on a river. If he simply attacked, his arrows would fall short, and he would not be able to hit the enemy. To overcome the problem, Zhuge Liang ordered his soldiers to launch thousands of arrows into the air, not aiming at the enemy but rather at the sky. As the wind blew, it carried the arrows over the enemy's high ground and into their camp, making it seem as if they were being attacked from all directions, which caused confusion and fear among the enemy soldiers.

       Known as Zhuge Liang's "Wind-Blown Arrow Attack," it was one of many tactics used by Zhuge Liang to gain an advantage in battle and ultimately secure victory for the kingdom of Shu over the kingdom of Wei. Now, I see China using highly advanced weather-predicting AI to make a preemptive diplomatic peace attack and doing a fine job of it.


* Nile Stanton lives in southern Spain. He was a professor for the University of Maryland University College for 20 years, where he taught U.S. active duty service members on U.S. military bases in Spain, Italy, Bosnia, and (mostly) Greece as well as online to troops throughout Europe and Asia. The course he taught most often (32 iterations) was the upper-level government course called “Law, Morality, and War.” Thereafter, he taught for the University of New England at its Tangier, Morocco, campus for two years, where his signature course was “War and Public Health.” He was born and raised a Quaker and tends to examine the excuses for war and lack of diplomacy more carefully and from a different perspective than many people.

Nile |@|