E.R. Campbell said:I would just repeat what I have been saying for a long time:
1. Russia is led by an opportunistic adventurer (or an adventurous opportunist, if you prefer) ~ he's willing to take calculated risks and he is a short-term thinker; but
2. China is led by strategists ~ and it still is a bit of a collective leadership, even though Xi Jinping is "paramount leader" for life.
China's aims are much more dangerous than Russia's because they are nothing short of making China the most powerful nation on earth ... like Spain was, like France was, like Britain was, like America is. But China is much less likely to start a war. The Chinese are afraid of a war because while they are a great land power they are weak at sea and global dominance requires a maritime strategy and strategic maritime forces. China has neither: the first is foreign to their thinking ... as it was to Napoleon's, for example; the second is beyond their grasp for at least another generation.
Russia is a decaying power and I fear the "use it or lose it" mentality which I suspect dominates Putin's thinking.
Trump is Trump ... he's a bloody fool, but he's convinced he is smart. :facepalm:
Ooooohhhhhh, I like this. Two totally different trains of thought here, which compliment each other.
I do respectfully disagree with your # 2 Point.
Is China a great land power? Yes. It has a massive population, large army, strong government, etc etc.
However, I would not dismiss China as being weak at sea.
Are they a fairly new player when it comes to large modern navies? Yes. As you correctly stated, China has traditionally been a land power.
However, China is pumping a huge number of resources into strengthening, modernizing, and growing it's navy. It's constructing very capable warships at an astronomical rate. Not just large destroyers and cruisers, but LHA type ships, ever improving aircraft carriers, and submarines. Depending on what calculations you use, it arguably has the largest or 2nd largest navy in the world - and their ships are quite modern and capable.
They don't need all the whiz-bang science fiction stuff the USN likes. They don't need laser weapon, and missiles that can strike a match in space. They need radars that can lock on, and missiles that can hit their target. And they have plenty of both.
And it's air force has been modernizing itself fairly quickly also, and focusing those efforts on the units that would be used in operations throughout the SCS.
And, unlike the US, China can focus & concentrate those assets in it's own backyard to achieve it's own short term strategic goals. (Think Taiwan -- which I digress, but I'm just using that as an example.) Or, exerting control over it's neighbors and exploiting natural resources in it's own backyard.
Putin is an opportunist in that in one of the ways he keeps Russia as a strong player in the region, is by weakening it's neighbors. Whether it is through intelligence operations, political pressure, military posturing, etc - Putin wants to control what happens close to his borders, and will pounce on whatever opportunities may present itself in doing so.
I strongly do not believe Mr. Putin would start a war, especially with a NATO or EU member. His only real source of income is in selling natural resources to EU members. Without that trade, Russia effectively doesn't have any strong trading relationships to support it's population. Not only that, but I do believe Putin knows that there is no chance he could ever absorb an additional 350 million EU citizens, or even 38 million Polish citizens for that matter.
China on the other hand, I view as the exact opposite.
I believe it's only a matter of time until we see what some folks in the intelligence & military community have dubbed the upcoming 'Pacific Brawl'. It may not be a full scale war. It may be a short burst of hostilities before both sides put the leashes back on their dogs. But from a trade, political, economic, military posturing, and foreign policy perspective - China is racking up enemies, and fast. And it seems to do so brazzingly, even referring to Australia as 'gum on the bottom of their boot'. Or recently admitting that our 2 citizens were arrested and detained as a response to one of their citizens being arrested here.
It may be short, and it may end up being anti-climactic. But, I do believe that if we end up in any sort of shooting exchange with military forces of a nation state, it will be China before it will be Russia. :2c:
What happens if rounds get exchanged between Taiwanese forces, and Chinese forces 'conducting drills' around the island?
Or Vietnamese forces fire warning shots, or actual shots, at a Chinese Coast Guard ship arresting Vietnamese citizens inside Vietnamese waters?
Or s**t goes down between Japanese fighters & Chinese fighters?
Or between USN ships conducting their FONOPS all around the SCS, and a Chinese ship that tails too close, or rams them, etc etc?
I always love a good debate. In this particular scenario, I really do think we have more to worry about from China than Russia. :2c: