Webinar #2: China Challenges

China Challenges with guest Scott Tait

We discuss how China has emerged as a peer competitor to the U.S. particularly in the Pacific region.

Webinar Transcript

Jim: [00:00:02] Let me start. Yeah, go ahead, Marv.

Marv: [00:00:04] Morning, gentlemen. Marv Langston here continuing this webinar series that we’re doing. And our guest discussed today is former captain of the Navy Scott Tate. Scott was in his last job, the skipper of the USS Zumwalt, one of the famous ships. If you’ve looked at any of the new ship designs the Navy’s working with. And Scott to tell us a lot about that one day when we got to talk about it. But today, we wanted to focus on China and the Pacific and some of the background that Scott has been through in his Navy career related to China. He often speaks on the subject. So I think it’ll be fun to get his perspective for us today. And like we said, Scott, the the idea of our political leaders and senior military leaders telling everybody that China is the biggest threat we have today is is become big news. And so we wanted to start with that discussion and see what else we can think through on it with you.

Scott: [00:01:00] Thanks, Marv. It’s a pleasure to be here with you and Jim today. Yeah, I know China is a multifaceted subject and there are no easy answers. So the first thing I would say is anytime somebody does tell you they’ve got this thing figured out, you ought to get very afraid and probably not that much more time with them. And if you look at China, you have to look at historical factors. You have to look at current factors. Do I think they are? I think they’re the most credible challenger the U.S. has faced in its history, certainly since its rise to power in the early nineteen hundreds, because they bring something that no other competitor ever has, which is this combination of political sophistication numbers, both in terms of economic numbers. People land, you know, a consistent cultural history, if not a very consistent political history. And they seem to be executing on a plan that is very well geared towards the seams of our system. And so they’re playing their strengths against our weaknesses very well, which nobody else has done and everybody else is trying to take us on in our strengths. So in that regard, I think they are the most potent competitor our country has ever faced. Whether or not they’re an adversary or must be an adversary or their relationship has to be adversarial in every regard, I think is very much up for debate still.

Marv: [00:02:30] Well, I think that’s a great discussion opener. I was just thinking, while you’re talking, the other big difference is they have an economy, so they have they have embraced the free market economy, which has done very, very well for them. And in addition, we’re tightly wrapped up in their economy as they are and ours. So it’s completely different than it was in the Cold War with Russia, where we had no interconnections between our economies.

Scott: [00:02:54] Exactly right. They’ve leveraged the international system very, very well over the last three decades to to build a truly comprehensive national power. The real question is now that this uncoupling has begun and I think it has begun and and regardless of the last administration’s policies, I think you are seeing signs of decoupling just because of the risk of IP theft and a lot of other things, that the decoupling will actually be led by the private sector and then supported by policy. But as it happens, the question is, can a China, a Chinese economy that is not benefiting as fully as it has from the system that was built after 1945 still can continue to thrive? And can they come up the value chain fast enough to take to counter the aging of their population? When you look at the numbers of kind of where real, true, sustainable economic growth took off both in the West and in Japan and in Korea, they’re nowhere near the level of urbanization and industrialization they need yet to continue to grow without a lot of help from the outside.

Jim: [00:03:59] Yeah, there’s also a comment, the Wall Street Journal today about how the Chinese government is kind of restricting some of the Internet companies on data analytics. Right. So so they’re starting to do a free economy, but then the government steps in and tries to, you know, stall it.

Scott: [00:04:15] So there is pretty compelling proof that everything that Xi Jinping is doing is going to be ultimately self-destructive, both in military strategic and becoming more aggressive with the neighbors, with the U.S., with the international system. And there’s an active, overt attempt to undermine the international system and to like in Europe, the 16, now 17 plus one, talks kind of a blatant effort to peel away the countries of eastern and southeastern Europe from the western core. And then economically, as you say, and there is compelling proof over at least 100 years that you can’t have a command economy and have it vibrant and growing and everything that they’re doing internally. I think it’s hard to see an outcome that is economically bad for them, where they wind up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Marv: [00:05:08] And one of the interesting other things that to Jim’s point that I saw recently is that the they’re clamping down on anything that has to do with financial technology inside these Internet companies. So they want to keep all the finances going through their own cryptocurrency and control and monitor everything that goes on in that direction and let the the rest of the company stay outside of the financial market. Part of it. Mm hmm.

Scott: [00:05:35] Yes. Everything that you do to consolidate your authoritarian or autocratic power is going to run counter to the health of a vibrant capitalist economy. And there’s no indication that I’ve seen yet that they that they have some magic beans that allow a command economy to function any better than they have in the past. So right now, I think they’re still largely living on the success of the period when they truly were open and they’re slowly doing what we’ve seen in our own experiments with, you know, with trying to control economies. They’re choking the golden goose.

Jim: [00:06:14] So let’s shift over to maybe the military side just from a kind of looking at it from the military side. What you know, I’ve read like we learn how to play chess and checkers and they learn how to play go and they just have a different mindset. Do we understand their mentality and their thought process well enough for, you know, not just in the DOD, but even in strategic thinking?

Scott: [00:06:42] Yeah, that’s another big question. I think there’s plenty of information and evidence out there about where they’re going. You have to start at the strategic level, right? What do they want? What is it that they’re trying to achieve? Number one, it’s survival of the Chinese Communist Party. When we talk about China today, I think we really should be very clear in differentiating Chinese people from the CCP to totally different organizations with very different incentive structures and drivers. But the CCP is running the country right now. So focusing on the CCP survival of the party is always the number one objective and the number one threat to the party is their own people. So consolidating and maintaining power inside China is their number one strategic objective, but big parts of that they see as reshaping the international system. You know, I truly believe that they think that the post-World War Two system is so biased towards the West that they can never get a fair, fair deal. They’ve basically got to reshape it so that China gets, if not a senior vote, they at least get a veto in anything in the international system. So they want to rule the world. No, but I think they want to be recognized globally as if not the preeminent power, at least at the table of the top four or five inside Asia. They want to reverse the outcome of the war with Japan in 1895 and the overthrow of the Sino sphere by the Japanese there at the end of the Meiji period really was very difficult for them and fundamentally changed Asia. They want to change it back.

Scott: [00:08:14] One thing that you hear from both the Chinese and Japanese when you talk to them privately is that a strong Japan and a strong China cannot simultaneously coexist. They both seem to believe that it’s going to be tough to see that flip without without catastrophe. So that in a strategic context, when you get down to the military, I think the the bombing of the embassy during, ah, war and in the Balkans really woke them up to what the U.S. could do. And they still to this day see that as a deliberate signal of, OK, China, don’t get too far out ahead. Every American should be reading something called Unrestricted Warfare, published in 1999 and post post-Cold War as they saw America starting to consolidate the political gains of the war and also a realization after the Balkans of how far advanced our military technology was they set out on this hybrid approach. So from a military standpoint, I think if it came to a war, the Chinese would see that as a strategic failure. They really do believe they can undermine the international system and weaken the US to a point where we’re no longer relevant in Asia without a war, that that’s what unrestricted warfare talks about. It’s this hybrid approach of really going after. So the first step would be demoralisation, weaken people’s trust in both international and domestic institutions, whether those be political institutions, religious institutions, you name it, undermine them as the institutions fray, then you can go from demoralisation to destabilization because any any any established institution, as it starts to fray and shrink, generally will factionalized and start to fight against itself.

Scott: [00:09:57] Then your goal is destabilization. You don’t necessarily need to push the civil war. You just need a lot of civil unrest. And when people in both internationally and inside your target country are tired enough of that and you help restabilize, but you do so on grounds that are favorable to you, it doesn’t. If you look at that framework, it’s pretty easy to see what’s on the line today across economics, politics and whatnot. Once you get down to the military, though, if it does come to a military confrontation, I think they’ve been extremely smart in the types of systems they’ve invested in. And the the IP that they flatout copied to go after seems seems in our traditional operational patterns they have another advantage they’ve had that nobody else is, as they’ve got to watch us at war continuously for twenty five years and to observe us in a number of different types of conflicts. So they’ve got a pretty good idea of how we have trained to fight to this point. So it’s going to be on us to radically change our operational concepts and to introduce some new technologies that will help us overcome those. But there’s a there’s a quote in unrestricted warfare that I love and I’m paraphrasing. But he says, American innovation generally ends at the frontier of technological progress. I think to compete with the Chinese, we’re going to have to get a lot smarter and operational concepts, not just by technology and hope that that’ll get us out of this.

Marv: [00:11:25] Hmm. I love your conversation about the relationship between Japan and China. So given that, how do you see the situation? We’ve now sort of pushed Japan into where they’re picking up more of their own control of their. National security, as opposed to the way we had it, after all, to.

Scott: [00:11:46] I personally, I think it’s healthy and I think they should be investing in their own national defense, their their, I would say the second best military in the world. After hours, when you look at competence in the mix of technologies they’ve bought or developed domestically, and for better or worse, Japan is the only country in Asia that really doesn’t have a choice. Everybody else can choose to side with China or the U.S. The Japanese face a choice between humiliation and defeat or partnership with the U.S. They’re not going to have a strong partnership with China, not strategically. So they are not only our most natural ally, but also are our most reliable ally for a lot of reasons.

Marv: [00:12:30] Well, that’s actually probably very, very positive for the future with this China Pacific relationships that are evolving.

Jim: [00:12:39] Kind go ahead. Sorry I jumped on your comment about it’s not as much about technologies as kind of operational strategy or what do you see that we need to do, just get smarter on understanding China or develop plans or. What’s your thoughts?

Scott: [00:12:58] I think we’ve got to get a lot more nimble and how we innovate both operationally and technologically and bringing the two together the way that we did between about nineteen 05 and nineteen forty in this constant interaction of war gaming, operational planning, and then taking those plans and techniques that you came up with on gaming tables out to sea or into the air or onto the ground and really working through very pragmatic exercises, not things that are scripted to win, but things that are scripted to have the possibility of loss. I think every military planner should also read Tom Mankins wonderful book, Uncovering Ways of War, where he looks at the intelligence that came out between reward World War One and World War Two. Every country had a near perfect understanding of what other countries were doing, but if it didn’t look like what their they were doctrinally doing, they would discounted as ineffective. It’s not like the blitzkrieg didn’t really sneak up on us. Right. We saw them doing it. We saw them training to it. We knew they bought the stuff to do it.

Jim: [00:14:06] It’s not as kind of, you know, it just kind of ignored it.

Scott: [00:14:09] We did there were a few few smart people down in the that took big forces down to somewhere in the southern states. And there are a couple of really important exercises, sort of like the the exercises that the Navy discounted when carriers did end runs and were able to attack the Panama Canal during naval exercises. You know, just just because the prove you can do it doesn’t mean somebody will. Well, in reality, most of the time, smart people who are motivated are going to find ways to use technologies that, you know, aren’t necessarily in line with or are.

Jim: [00:14:42] We are way too hung up on technologies like I’m currently writing a white paper on artificial intelligence and machine learning. It seems like, oh, we get hung up is like we use buzzwords all over the place. We’re going to do machine learning where you do A.I., but we don’t have, like, deep like, how are we going to use it operationally or tactically or or are the war games too fixed like nobody wants to? To discuss the ugly part of war games like that, we may lose

Scott: [00:15:11] Some of the new I think the war gaming is getting better in terms of it coping with reality or at least acknowledging reality. One of the challenges is that the effects of some of the emerging technologies, like cyber, like I are incredibly hard to insert in the games. So that really has to be a blending of modeling and simulation, so high end computing power that can model some of these incredibly complex interaction interactions of technologies and then feed those into the human decision making, which is really the core wargames. Traditionally, they’ve kind of been in opposition to each other. You either did modeling in Sym or you did more gaming, but bringing the two together and using powerful computers just to help us understand the technological nuances of this stuff I think would be useful at this point.

Jim: [00:16:04] Yeah, I think Marv and I, we have a separate whole discussion around. You know, machine learning and kind of a mixture of minds and machines and, you know, I joke with hypersonic threats, a sea of ships not going to push the button anymore. It’s going to be an algorithm or a playbook that you run into because you only have three seconds to make the decision. So that’s a whole cultural mindset shift

Scott: [00:16:31] And then take that to the strategic level and realize that work for both offensive and defensive cyber. You’re probably in the same situation in a lot of ways. We’re back to the early days of intercontinental ballistic missiles where for things like mutually assured destruction to be credible, the time scale where you’re now using strategic weapons in a tactical fashion. And we were delegating decisions down to, well, first from civilians to the military and then even within the military, you were essentially delegating decisions down to very junior levels. We’re going to wind up delegating decisions day or we’re going to not be fast enough to keep up in areas like cyber is my prediction.

Marv: [00:17:13] So it’s got to go back for a second on your context about how human beings have the natural tendency to align with their own view or culture or model of the world for a future discussion. I’ve been reading the book A Thousand Brains by Jeff Hawkins, who is one of the techies that runs Semantic, I think is the name of his company. And he’s trying to understand the real way our brain works to improve the way we build the A.I. machines in A.I. chips to support it. But one of the things he talks about is that our our brains are always predisposed to the model that they have, that we have of whatever it is that we’re doing, which is the reason that is so easy for us to be politically or otherwise aligned to what we think of as the way the world should be. And that’s what we look at, and that’s what we see easier than we see the other side. So how do we get away from that human tendency in the context of have opened up our aperture better for thinking about these complex national security things

Scott: [00:18:19] And go back to war games and exercises until you have experiential learning where you face the person with. With the fact that their way of doing it is no longer going to be sufficient and they’ve got to come up with new ways that they’re going to lose. It’s very, very easy to just fall back on your mistakes or heuristics or what. Let us go through life. And we couldn’t we couldn’t face every new situation as though it was the first time we’d seen it. However, we also have a tendency once we get something that works, never looked beyond it.

Marv: [00:18:54] So let’s shift the discussion a little bit to the modern problem we have of a lack of chips on a corner in our infrastructure for supply chain right now with with Taiwan controlling 50 percent of the chip fabrication on the planet right now and China controlling a large percentage with the small amount that we produce and then the other amount that we get out of South Korea. How do you see this ship dilemma evolving with respect to the bigger China picture?

Scott: [00:19:26] I think it’ll be the same way that the rest of the supply chain issues are going to resolve. If you remember back, that’s probably been half a decade. The rare earth elements scare that we had. It turns out rare earth elements aren’t really rare. There’s tons of them in the earth. They’re just hard to get at and they do a lot of polluting. So we had outsourced that pollution to China because it was cheap and easy. And I think the supply chain there bounced right back much quicker than people thought and it diversified. I found that people made investments in new ways to do it. Just this week, I think Intel came out and announced they’re going to invest seven billion in a chip manufacturing facility in Europe and 20 billion in chip manufacturing in the US. So that’s pretty big money and pretty fast terms. You know, if nothing else, this current situation has made it clear that what is efficient, most efficient, is really most effective and is going to cost a little bit more. But the the risk of having all the eggs in that one basket is just no longer tenable.

Marv: [00:20:29] Yeah, I think that’s a very good answer. And the other part that I think about with respect to it is in the rare earth example, there are a long way towards figuring out how to not need rare earth metals to provide the same amount of electric power for these motors and other parts of the electric supply system that we need in these modern cars and other other things. So in the chip world, we could imagine that unless the Chinese and Thai and even the Taiwanese can stay abreast of where that ship manufacturing mechanisms go. And what I’m thinking about is that that more and more we’re going away from general-purpose chips towards specialized chips, just like Apple started making their own M1 chips for the machine that I’m looking at right now and and tussles over build a neural net chips on their own for their own single purpose, self-driving event. So we could imagine that while this these new chip fabs are being built, as you just discussed, that other things will evolve as well that could actually disadvantage to the Chinese.

Jim: [00:21:35] Akhmadov, I have to go back to one of your earlier blogs. Should we go back to, like, the New York 43? And we’re old enough to remember, like, you know, my working and yet forty three thousand forty four is within the military built their own computers. And I think Marvel was a few years ago, you said if we built our own clothes, computers, we wouldn’t have the security threats, should we? I mean, is that a thought? Is there enough money in the defense industry to do that or is that not that a starter?

Marv: [00:22:08] Well, it’s one argument in in an array of arguments, and in fact, because I lived through the yeuk forty three seven forty three, forty four World one was part of the team that was actually designed in those computers from the ground up. Back in those days, I helped argue that the Navy needed to pass a policy that said, if you don’t, it used to be that you had to get a waiver to buy a commercial machine. We turned that around in the late 80s, actually mid 80s and said, if you’re going to buy a military machine, you have to get a waiver. You’re not going to buy plots. So you could argue that that may have been the bad thing from a cybersecurity perspective. But my suspicion is we could figure out how to break into the militarise machines just like we can the commercial ones, because we have that much more technology in the cyber domain than we have.

Jim: [00:23:01] And then so a question for Scott. We we I think we all mentioned we all read Kill Chain by Christian Brose, the kind of states that the Navy’s hung up on, you know, how many ships they have. And again, we remember the days of 600 ship navies with John Lehman. But, you know, we are kind of overwhelmed that the Chinese have more ships than we do right now. What’s the right number of ships for the U.S. Navy?

Scott: [00:23:29] So I think that whether you’re talking Navy, Army, Air Force one of the one of the things that has changed in the last 10 or 15 years, that is really going to be a challenge for us to overcome, is that the most capable combat power is now in packages that are no longer tied to platforms. So if your most effective weapon is a 16 inch gun, you need something that looks about like a battleship to carry. There’s no way to get around if if the aircraft is your most capable weapon, you need runways that are 10000 feet long. You need something like an aircraft carrier. Now, the most important packages in terms of strike sensing, processing, all those things can be put in a shipping container and moved from platform to platform. So I’m personally an advocate of cheaper platforms, not necessarily super tiny ones that we still like to play away games. And Mother Nature is very fierce. So being able to get there and stay there doesn’t mean you necessarily need all these tiny platforms, but you need cheaper ones without necessarily a lot of integrated, exquisite, interlinked platform packages. Get the packages out there, get into by static, multi static in terms of sensing, communicating and shooting and with with the A.I. processing we’ve got. You don’t necessarily need exquisite networks to do that either. You have to delegate in certain circumstances, some degree of autonomy to those things. But I think there’s pretty compelling proof that the autonomy is going to, in many cases, make as good or better decisions than a human. And that even simple ROV like if you don’t have enough information, don’t shoot. A pilot makes basically one decision when they fly on a strike mission. Right. Can I can I find my target and can I accurately target it? And if so, I release the ordinance. If not, I don’t. I go home program simple things like that into the stuff. And so it’s all I see most of the platforms of tomorrow as largely trucks that get the packages into the right area and then the packages wind up doing most of the work.

Jim: [00:25:39] And that will that be a cultural challenge? Because, again, most of us that are in the acquisition or defense world, that’s a threat to my large platform business and congressional districts and keeping people employed. And so how do you you know, that will be the challenge? How do you shift? Do you need an event to make people shift or it just won’t happen naturally?

Scott: [00:26:03] Well, so I would love to run a war game where the defense budget was held fixed and even the amount of money that went to individual congressional districts was fixed and then challenge them to make entirely different things and see how that played out. I don’t know if it’s possible or not. To your point, I think the what Eisenhower would now call probably the defense congressional industrial death pact has invested so much money, there’s so much CapEx that’s gone into building platforms. It’s easy. We know what, we know how to do it. It’s kind of become, you know, tied in with our DNA and our pride inside the military. It’s going to be the same thing, right? When we’re no longer the operators, we’re just kind of those that are there to tend the systems. That’s going to be hard. We’ve seen it in aviation already, the resistance to the unmanned aircraft, even though you’re in situations where our high end jet fighters now are self constraining so they don’t kill the human on its inside.

Jim: [00:27:09] You know, we’re seeing we’re seeing the Air Force, you know, because of the success of Space X and all the LEOs business, they’re seeing that, you know, why compete with that? Let’s just use commercial satellites and outsource that stuff to the various commercial companies that are popping up in the, you know, in the low earth orbital world. I guess the question is the other services don’t have that comparative commercial. Mindset.

Scott: [00:27:36] Well, and then you get back into the discussion of computer chips and how much, you know, how much can you outsource, I think we need a fundamental change in focus. We need to focus a lot more on non kinetic defenses for things, because even electronic warfare can move faster than hard kill. That gives you limitless, you know, limitless magazines which are going to be important. And that way, any platform that does have strike packages, all of that can be offensive in nature. You know,

Jim: [00:28:05] And I bring that up again, go back to the Chinese theme. They outnumber us and they’re you know, in theory, they’re out thinking us, too, right? They’re thinking different and we’re still thinking the same.

Scott: [00:28:17] And that’s a great question because they have the advantage of starting fresh in many ways. We’re in the position the British were in in nineteen hundred and the Chinese are in the position we are in. When you’re starting with a clean sheet of paper and you don’t have all of the bureaucratic and institutional incentives to maintain what they already have, plus you don’t have the cost of maintaining the existing force structure. You can put everything into building new force structure. You don’t need as much maintenance and all the other things that go with maintaining a legacy force while trying to modernize a force of 10 or 15 years down the road. Will the Chinese still be able to do this? That’s that’s an open question.

Marv: [00:28:56] Yeah, it’s a good point, Scott, because I often use the phrase Britain, too, as the possible face of the United States for the reasons that you just stated. But there is another thing that’s emerging, and I think it aligns up with your idea that, you know, nowadays we can put capability, whether it’s sensing or offensive capabilities on any kind of a platform. And just as the Chinese do with shipping containers and commercial ships, when we when we get these low earth orbit satellites where we’re test putting I mean, Sterling is putting up 4000 satellites, we have fundamentally changed the planet because now we have high speed Internet connections on every spot on the planet. So if you can pull down a gigabit or even start out with 100 megabits a download across any spot in the ocean, then we no longer have that platform constraint that we had originally, which caused us to have all the communications tied up with every platform, because that’s the only way you could communicate with them and use them effectively.

Scott: [00:29:58] You know, that’s absolutely true.

Jim: [00:30:02] So go ahead, Mark.

Marv: [00:30:05] Is this going to say so what to Jim’s earlier point when we started? What do you think China has learned from us over the last 20 years, watching us have Middle East wars?

Scott: [00:30:18] Well, they’ve probably learned not to do that, but

Marv: [00:30:23] I’m pretty sure they learned that.

Scott: [00:30:25] I think they and if they had done it, they would have done it a very different way. I think they’ve learned a lot about our technology. I think they’ve also got to learn a lot about our bureaucracy and our internal politics, watching the ebb and flow of support and lack of support. And I think that is help with their information warfare and their ability to help polarize us and do other things. You know, they’re learning our hot buttons. They’re learning how to. And I think the wars have accentuated some of our internal tensions in a way that has really given them a chance to understand how to tweak us and push buttons and do that destabilization, demoralization of these. Outside of that, I’m not sure they learned if we’re smart, they didn’t learn a whole lot militarily because what we did was very safe. It was, you know, the outcome was never in question. It was how much where we’re going to pay to get there if we wanted to. And a war with China would be entirely different. We need to study 1942 deeply and have an understanding of what it means to come from behind in this day and age.

Marv: [00:31:39] Well, I think the point you made earlier, Scott, that China’s economy depends on exports primarily now to sustain itself, even though they’re trying to grow an internal economy to be stronger than it currently is. But I read a recent article about Taiwan that makes the point or the claim that China won’t really go into Taiwan if they think they’re going to lose face across the economic community. That’s just buying their exports. Therefore, the only way they would really like it to happen is if we would take the first shot first so that they would have an excuse to to allow themselves to go in there. That ring a bell, ring a bell with you.

Scott: [00:32:17] I think they would. So first off, most Americans underestimate how important Taiwan is to China. It’s an existential issue for them, like the Communist Party. One of the things that it could not survive is an openly recognized independent Taiwan. They have too much political capital wrapped up in that. And so would they go in militarily and crush it if that was if they had to to avert that outcome? I think they absolutely would. Would they prefer to do it that way? No. But their actions in Hong Kong also imply that they’re no longer too worried about international disapprobation. And I think it’s it’s done two things. First, it has emboldened the Chinese a little bit that they can get away with stuff like this. And the second thing it’s done is put an end to the idea that you could ever have a reunification where it was two countries in one system so that the Taiwan calculus has fundamentally changed. The question now is, are they going to do this by strictly economic and political coercion? And would Taiwan cave to that or will they go to something like a blockade? Would or will they do the short, sharp war? You know, I think they that’s the calculus they’re stuck in.

Scott: [00:33:35] If you go to a blockade, you don’t damage Taiwan, but you also give the US time to rally the international community, move forces that they’ve seen, how we fight. And they know that if they give us enough time, we can bring a lot to bear. Or do you take the risk that the Taiwanese will really fight back if you come ashore and go with massive landings and try to take the country as quickly and cleanly as you can before the international community or the US can react? So those are the types of things I think they’re wrestling with. The the ultimate outcome that they think they have to achieve is pretty clear. They have to reunify. The question is, how will they reunify it? And it’s made more difficult by the fact. But personally, I think Xi Jinping has decided that reunification is something that is going to be part of his legacy and it’s going to happen during his time in office. So if he sees a long runway ahead for himself, it’s not necessarily an immediate threat. But if there’s anything that looks like it could threaten his continued rule, I would I would look at Taiwan first.

Marv: [00:34:39] So the other component of it is that Taiwan also, I think I read that 50 percent of their economy is is trade between themselves and China. So I guess you can argue that if that’s internal trade, if they were to reunify, that’s OK. That helps their internal economy. But from the perspective of Taiwan, try not to aggravate China. I think that’s part of what’s going on as well. Jim, I’m sorry.

Jim: [00:35:08] I’m sorry. I’m just kind of I think we’re close to wrapping up. So I wanted to kind of maybe for the next couple of minutes, maybe ask the, you know, the 64 million dollar question. So what do we predict is going to happen, say, in the next two to three years or in Jim’s Traviss book, which we haven’t read? Twenty, thirty four. Right. That’s that’s 13 years from now. Is is something going to happen before 13 years or is it. So, Scott, any any thoughts or predictions?

Scott: [00:35:42] I think you’re going to see a rate of decoupling that is going to frankly happen a lot faster than anybody a year ago would have predicted was possible. I think you’re going to see a reinvigoration of what I’ll call the North Atlantic economy with Japan as the key outside partner. You know, look at the US plus the EU. We dwarf the Chinese, China, China’s economy, something like thirty three percent of the US plus EU. And the rules know the international system that we extended around the world is still firmly in place there and all of its benefits are readily available. I think you’re going to see the Chinese trying to consolidate sort of this belt and road and kind of the rest of the world. So there will be the rich west plus Japan, and then the Chinese will try what the Soviets and us to some degree tried in the Cold War of moving into lower GDP countries. And, you know, their economic efforts so far haven’t been all that successful. But Russia will remain a wildcard. And I think there’s at least a 50 percent chance in the next three to five years of a war of some sort or another that likely starts either in Taiwan or as an accident somewhere in the South China Sea or or Senkaku or some someplace where neither of us want it. But once it starts, neither of us can back away

Jim: [00:37:13] Or figure out how much it explodes into something bigger. We try to deter it. More of your thoughts.

Marv: [00:37:19] I think the frightening part about it is part of what I have read is in the new strabismus book, and it’s also what my favorite war historian Victor Davis Hanson talks about, and that is that almost all wars start from some miscalculation by one or the other party and generally around very small deterrence, as Scott was pointing out. So it’s it’s not beyond the realm at all possibility that we’re going to see in the next few years enough mistakes made from one side or the other that it could turn into something.

Jim: [00:37:59] Oh, thanks, Scott, for the time today. We have to have a beer over. I think when you were that I have a classmate, Scott Sanders, that Rand is zummo commissioning and he has a business now selling rum from Maryland Rum Tobacco Distillery. So we’re Marven are going to have him on to get an advertiser so we can make some money on the podcast.

Scott: [00:38:25] I actually have a couple of bottles of Big Z rum left. Good.

Jim: [00:38:29] You haven’t drank it all?

Scott: [00:38:31] No, I got one or two that are interesting condition for posterity sake

Jim: [00:38:36] Or you know, we hope. We hope once things get back to normal, these podcasts will be like real live events in Point Loma somewhere. We’ll figure it out.

Marv: [00:38:45] But I think we had to plan a future discussion around this, the zoom wall and what Scott knows about how we went about it, what we did, what we created, the goods and the bads of it, because to me, it’s a very interesting chapter in our naval shipbuilding history.

Scott: [00:39:01] Yeah. Okay.

Jim: [00:39:02] Well, thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thanks, guys. Thanks. And look forward to to having you back for another discussion.

Scott: [00:39:09] I’ll be glad to. Thanks for the invitation.

Marv: [00:39:12] Yeah. Thanks again, Scott.

Scott: [00:39:13] Tuesday both.