Putin Arrests Intel Officers; Time for U.S. to Discourage this War to Be Fought to the Bitter End?

Simone Gao: (43:59)

I just saw from, uh, LinkedIn in, uh, a, a news broke out. This is not verified yet, uh, that Putin has, uh, put, um, one of his, uh, senior intelligence officer under house arrest, because he provided not good intelligence about Ukraine before the invasion. So Putin got the impression that the, the Ukrainian people will kind of, uh, even welcome this invasion as like a liberation act from Russia’s part, but it turned out that, uh, they were met with stiff resistance and the Ukrainian people do not like this invasion at all.

Michael Desch: (44:38)

Yeah. I mean, ID heard that story, um, earlier this morning, um, and again, um, you know, uh, I don’t have, uh, great sources in Moscow and I’m certainly not in pres president Putin’s head, uh, on what he was thinking. Um, I do think that, you know, the, the Russians hoped, uh, that, you know, by, uh, a use of military force, they might be able to, uh, cut out, uh, or, uh, scare the Ukrainians, uh, without much fighting, um, you know, and I think that’s what they hoped initially. Um, but I also don’t think that they, uh, were counting on that. I mean, the size of the, uh, force that the Russians built up, uh, you know, look like they were preparing that if things didn’t work out, that they would, uh, you know, go to war and, uh, fight, uh, for what they’re trying to achieve.

Simone Gao: (45:48)

Hmm. In other words, they’re very, they have great resolute. They have a great result.

Michael Desch: (45:56)

Well, we’ll see, you know, how long that resolve holds because, um, you know, uh, there are certainly significant casualties, um, and the war is going slowly, although, you know, no war goes quickly. If you look at, uh, when the United States invaded Iraq in, uh, 2003 in late March, it wasn’t until, um, may, uh, early may that, you know, we sort of declared victory there. So, and, you know, of course our advantage militarily over Iraq was, uh, significantly greater than the Russian advantage over the Ukraine.

Simone Gao: (46:42)

Hmm that’s right. So this is gonna be a long war. And do

Michael Desch: (46:46)

You, it could be,

Simone Gao: (46:48)

Do you see, uh, Putin give up at some point or he thought he wouldn’t get what he originally expected? So he would adjust his goals, like, like there, uh, three demands from, um, the criminal recently. I’m sorry.

Michael Desch: (47:09)

Yeah. Um, again, one would hope that, uh, that would be the, uh, the case, the, you know, war, um, is bloody and terrible as it is as, uh, you know, the German, uh, uh, philosopher of war, uh, KLAS famously argued. It’s a continuation of politics by other means and a continuation of diplomacy and bargaining. Um, and sometimes, uh, you know, uh, before a war two potential combatants, uh, you know, aren’t sure, uh, what the balance of power is between the two sides and the balance of resolve. And so they go to war and war in a way clarifies that, and that makes negotiation possible. And that’s what we’ve gotta hope comes out of, uh, this.

Simone Gao: (48:13)

Right. Um, why did you think Putin make the military move now?

Michael Desch: (48:21)

I, I think, um, you know, they, the Russian military was watching the, uh, uh, build up, uh, and improvement to the Ukrainian military and, you know, was, um, you know, uh, understood that, uh, the longer, um, they waited the, uh, more capable that force might be. It’s also possible that they feared that a better armed and better trained Ukrainian military, um, you know, could, uh, go on the offensive in the Don boss and maybe even, uh, Crimea.

Simone Gao: (49:03)

Okay. And do you think, um, president Biden and our disastrous exit of, uh, from Afghanistan as the play does all?

Michael Desch: (49:14)

No. I mean, the, uh, president Putin is well aware that, uh, uh, a lot of, uh, great powers have, uh, left Afghanistan with their tails between their legs, whether to the British empire and the 19 nine or in the, uh, 19th century, uh, or, uh, Russia in the, or the Soviet union in the 1990s, uh, or, uh, the United States. So, no, I don’t, I don’t think that they put connected those two things.

Simone Gao: (49:49)

Hmm. That’s interesting. So, um, let’s talk about the, um, recent Russia demanded three things now, neutrality for Ukraine, decriminalization of the country. Let me say this again. Russia demanded three things now, uh, neutrality for Ukraine of the country recognition of breakaway regions and loss of crime. First, all does Ukraine cannot have a military?

Michael Desch: (50:28)

Well, um, uh, neutral Finland, um, had a, uh, a military, a small military, but, uh, a capable one, um, Japan after the second world war, uh, you know, uh, the United eights rewrote its constitution. So, uh, it couldn’t have a military, it had self defense forces. So, um, I, and again, not knowing how the Russians would define it, but, you know, I think, uh, de militarized, uh, Ukraine would not mean Ukraine without any military capability. That’s certainly possible

Simone Gao: (51:13)

Maybe put purposely, uh, I mean, maybe put in intentionally, put this term, do not explain this term very much, very clearly. So it has a room to adjust and step

Michael Desch: (51:29)

In. Right, right. And that’s the art of democracies to use, uh, ambiguity creatively.

Simone Gao: (51:38)

Right. Uh, but I mean, in either sense, do you think Ukraine will accept a terms like that? The militarization of the country? Uh,

Michael Desch: (51:50)

Uh, not in the sense that, uh, you know, it would have no defensive military capability. I mean, if, uh, what the Russians expect is Ukraine to become Costa Rica, which doesn’t have an army, uh, that it seems to me, a nonstarter probably was before the war, but now in the war, it certainly is.

Simone Gao: (52:17)

Hmm. Based on Russia’s,

Michael Desch: (52:19)

But that, but, uh, just to finish the thought, uh, that doesn’t mean that, um, limits on its military would be, uh, unacceptable.

Simone Gao: (52:31)

Hmm. Based on Russia’s, uh, demands right now. Can we tell what Putin’s real goals are in Ukraine, for example, is it to prevent a NATO expansion into Ukraine or to, you know, revive the so-called Russian empires glory by reclaiming lost land or divert, uh, domestic pressure political pressures, uh, or all of them, because, uh, put this facing reelection in 2004, uh, 2024,

Michael Desch: (53:03)

Well, you know, uh, political acts like this are always the result of, uh, multiple factors and all of those things could be a part of the calculation. The important question, which we can’t really answer is what’s the relative importance of each of them I would’ve guessed. And I think I would still guess that, um, prime in, uh, Putin’s mind is gone. It’s part of Russia. I think he would negotiate a way, uh, Hans and Donette as part of, uh, some sort of, uh, federal arrangement in Ukraine. Um, and I think he’d do it for two reasons. You know, I don’t think he wants to next those, uh, uh, republics to Russia. Um, you know, they they’d be almost more troubled than there were, but I think he also count on, you know, the more pro Russian people in those countries as, uh, being, uh, a check on the, uh, you know, the pro Western, uh, elements of Ukrainian, uh, society.

Michael Desch: (54:23)

Um, so, and I trying to control all of Ukraine, I think would be impossible for Russia. I think even the area east of the Neer, um, is gonna be very hard, uh, for Russia to occupy and control. Um, and the further there west, you go in Ukraine, uh, the more overwhelmingly pro Western and anti-US the sentiment of the population becomes. So I find it hard to, uh, believe, um, that, uh, Putin, you know, thinks that Russia could control all of Ukraine and, you know, the fate of, uh, uh, Ukrainian president Yna Kovi indicates that installing a puppet and Kiev, uh, is not a reliable strategy that, you know, they could be ousted as he was, uh, by the myON uprising or voted out of office. Um, and so if, if he’s thinking about this whole thing, uh, in a rational, strategic way, uh, the end game would be, uh, a negotiation, um, that, uh, limits, uh, the size of the Ukrainian military force and keeps it out of NATO. Um, but you know, once wars begin, they take on a dynamic of their own. Um, and also my, uh, more optimistic scenario depends on some assumptions about Putin’s mindset that, you know, we can’t know if they’re right or not, but that’s my instinct.

Simone Gao: (56:13)

Hmm. So do you think, um, I understand, uh, you, you think, uh, that Putin from the very beginning never thought, um, never thought that he could, Russia could occupy the whole Ukraine, but what, what about his, uh, three demands? Do you think those demands are, are his goals always, or they have changed because the outcome of from the battlefield is not what he has expected so far?

Michael Desch: (56:43)

Well, the, the one demand you didn’t mention is, uh, what he calls deification. Um, and, uh, you know, that’s

Simone Gao: (56:54)

The most talk about that anymore.

Michael Desch: (56:56)

Pardon?

Simone Gao: (56:58)

I mean, um, from the recent, the latest Kremlin spokeswoman, uh, from the latest, uh, uh, claim, um, I mean the latest claim from the Russia side did not include the, the deification anymore.

Michael Desch: (57:15)

Right. And that’s an important, uh, modification of demands. I mean, that, uh, demand was always is, uh, you know, both the most amorphous, you know, what exactly, uh, were the Russians talking about in terms of, uh, you know, Nazis and Ukraine, um, and also potentially, you know, the most difficult to deal with because, you know, if you were equating, uh, Nazi with Ukrainian nationalism, that would be the majority of the Ukrainian people. So, um, you know, the, the it’s, uh, a good thing that, that seems to be moving off the agenda.

Simone Gao: (57:59)

Hmm. So Putin is adjusting, his goals

Michael Desch: (58:03)

Seems like it. Yeah.

Simone Gao: (58:08)

Um, now the EU accepted Ukraine as a member, how is that going to change things?

Michael Desch: (58:15)

Not at all.

Simone Gao: (58:18)

Okay. Why

Michael Desch: (58:19)

It could, uh, make a difference in terms of, uh, postwar, um, Ukraine, which, you know, will make available to Ukraine, even more resources to, uh, rebuild the country. Um, and maybe, you know, uh, a, uh, a deal could emerge in which the Ukrainians, um, you know, uh, are given by the Russians or allowed by the Russians EU membership, uh, in exchange for, um, NATO membership, not being on the table. Um, and you know, that could be part of a, uh, uh, a settlement.

Simone Gao: (59:08)

(twitter clip)Um, although, uh, the Ukrainian army has made a great, I mean, although Putin has met, um, you know, unexpected a stiff resistance from the Ukrainian armies and, uh, civilians, but the Ukrainian armies are not winning either. So as time goes on, do you think America and NATO should still encourage Ukraine to fight to the end?

Michael Desch: (59:39)

I think that’s the, uh, the big question, um, you know, both strategically and morally, uh, that we in the west, um, need to, uh, engage candidly. Um, and I’ll, I’ll premise what I say, uh, with the assumption that, uh, Russia, uh, can continue to bring overwhelming military force and that the ability of the Ukrainian army even, uh, with, uh, Western military support to continue to fight, uh, you know, at the level of intensity they are, are now, uh, is gonna decline. And also just the human cost of this war, uh, on Ukrainian civilians, uh, continues to, uh, to be catastrophic. So if you, the, if the Ukrainians cannot win militarily, which I don’t believe they can, um, and if prolonging the war means, uh, more, uh, Ukrainian civilian deaths, then it seems to me, uh, you know, we ought to be thinking, uh, about ending the conflict as soon as we can. And that can all only end, uh, by a quick defeat, which I don’t think will happen by either side or, uh, by a negotiated settlement. I think, uh, we really need to be, uh, pushing towards a negotiated settlement.

Simone Gao: (01:01:19)

Hmm. But now it doesn’t seem like that’s a America is trying to do. I think it’s almost, uh, politically impossible to walk back from the current stance that, uh, Putin is imoral invader. Uh, we need to support the Ukrainians to fight, to, to win this battle, to fight to the end, to show the, and all that stuff. It’s very important. It’s very, it’s almost impossible to walk back from that stance and say,

Michael Desch: (01:01:50)

You’re, you’re right. It’ll be very difficult. We’ve painted ourself into a corner, um, you know, uh, in, in making exactly those arguments. Um, on the other hand, uh, very few wars are fought to the bitter end and eventually, um, you know, uh, people are even in the, uh, United States are gonna come to the conclusion, um, that there’s gonna have to be, uh, some sort of settlement. And I would think that, um, if it hasn’t already started in the Biden administration, uh, it will soon, um, that, you know, pressure to, uh, think about, uh, negotiated off ramp for this war.

Simone Gao: (01:02:42)

Hmm. Okay. And you, you see, uh, that is the only way out of this.

Michael Desch: (01:02:49)

Yeah. Well, and look, um, president Biden, courageously in my view, uh, stuck with the withdrawal all from Afghanistan, even though, uh, he got a lot of criticism for it, not only in the chaotic weeks before and after the evacuation of cobble, but, you know, when he started talking about it, but, you know, the American public was just tired of the war, um, after 20 years. Um, and, uh, the stomach, uh, of the, uh, not only the American public, but the European public, uh, for this war, uh, is, uh, you know, going to, uh, wither, um, over time as well, you know, right now in Poland, um, you know, to their credit, uh, they’re welcoming, I think, over a million now, uh, Ukrainian refugees, but, you know, over time with more Ukrainian refugees, that’s gonna put more of a burden, uh, on Poland or Romania or Hungary. And, and, uh, they’re gonna get tired of that. Um, and so, uh, and I think the, you know, the Ukrainian people are gonna get tired of it as well, too. So, uh, a solution that maintains Ukrainian sovereignty and, uh, especially in domestic politics, uh, you know, could be attractive, whether it is now or not. Uh, I’m not sure, but I think it will become so as the war grinds on.

Why Putin Chose to Invade Ukraine Now? Was NATO Expansion to Blame? A Chat with William Wohlforth

thank you, professor workforce for joining zooming in today.

Very happy to be with you.

Okay. Today I wanna talk a about the situation in Ukraine, uh, you know, after the collapse of the Soviet union, should Russia take the Soviets place and still be viewed as a major threat to the security of Europe? Why has NATO decided to expand eastward all these years?

Well, that’s complicated because at first NATO did not really regard Russia as much of a threat after the collapse of the Soviet union and its reasons for expanding were really about kind of making Eastern Europeans and central European countries like Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and ultimately others to feel a little bit more secure in an unstable post cold war atmosphere. You know, um, Watchers of this with long memories may recall the Bacan wars of the early 1990s. And people thought somehow extending NATO guarantees eastward would reduce the propensity for such conflicts, but ultimately, um, yes, uh, as relations between the west and Russia deteriorated more and more one saw the argument that ultimately at the end of the day, the core purpose of NATO is to deter or prevent any kind of Russian advance or attack or aggrandizement westward into Europe.

Hmm. That that’s interesting. So you think Russia was, I mean, I mean, still is a threat to the security of Europe.

Well, yes. Uh, and Europe is at least, uh, Russia sees Europe and sees NATO as a threat to itself. And, uh, NATO countries see Russia as a potential threat to them. So it’s a mutual perception of threat, uh, between the Western, uh, between the Western Alliance and

Right, right. Uh, another aspect to this is, I think it’s fair to say that NATO expansion and especially EU expansion was not just the decision of those member states and America. It was also the wishes of the Eastern European countries that were under a former Soviet union previously, and they wanted to become democratic societies and be connected to the west. So, I mean, should NATO bear the blame of expanding eastward alone

You’re, that’s totally fair. There is no question that, uh, there was a big demand for NATO and, uh, perhaps even a bigger demand in some places for the EU. It was demand driven in many ways. Although obviously these two institutions were happy to welcome members, as long as they met, you know, the criteria that all the existing members agreed upon. So I really do think that it’s easy now to go back and try to rewrite history and say, maybe NATO shouldn’t have expanded. Maybe the EU should have held back from trying to expand, but you’re absolutely right to focus on the reality of a big demand for these institutions, from those countries. And it’s very hard to say, no, particularly if the countries really do look like they’re ready for member. Um, just a quick point here is that, you know, this is a problem that Russia has long had Russia and the Soviet union. And zarus Russia. Even before that always say, uh, the, the leaders of, of Russia, either from St Petersburg or Moscow, they always say they want to have friendly neighbors, but they face a problem. They neighbors are often wanting to go west and that then puts Russia in a bind. How can I make these countries live in my sphere of influence if they really don’t want to, that’s been a perennial dilemma of the foreign policy of the Russian empire, the Soviet union, and now today’s Russian Federation for literally centuries.

Well recently, just on that, the, the United States and Britain agreed to embargo, uh, Russian, uh, oil exports to their own countries, but that hasn’t been extended more widely. The reason is clearly fear of, uh, energy shortage and driving energy shortages and driving prices up to high to feed inflation and lead potentially to an erosion of the support for sanctions within domestic societies. It’s a, it’s a delicate political balance, the Western countries that are opposed. And by west I’m including all the allies we’re talking about Japan, we’re talking about Australia, et cetera, et cetera, South Korea, and more, but this, this coalition is trying to impose costs on Russia, but not imposing so many costs on their own population that ultimately these sanctions become unpopular and they’re removed to sustain the sanctions. They must be politically sustainable. And for many countries, embargoing Russia’s petroleum exports, gas and oil would potentially generate such economic cost that they would, these, these governments would be in fear of losing public support for their stance against Russia.

Right. Uh, I’m talking about in 2006, I mean two, no, 2006. So, um, in 2014, right after, um, Russia annex crimee do you think America at that point knew Putin’s intention regarding Ukraine and had a coherent strategy to deal with him?

No, we did not know his intention. There were some who thought his intention was to bring Ukraine under the sphere of influence of Russia. There are some analysts, both inside and out of government who actually feared that Huta, uh, Putin had a grander objective of incorporating the entire country back into some sort of reconstituted Soviet, uh, a Russian empire, but people were uncertain because after all, what he was doing in 2014 was still relatively low cost operations for Russia. So it was hard to know how intently he was fixated on this Ukraine issue. It was difficult to know how far he would go. It was difficult to know how resolved he was on rectifying, what he regards as this historical injustice or this historical problem of Russia, of Ukraine’s westward drift. And so I think the, the United States and many of its chief allies, um, kind of were de debating among themselves about the strength of, of Putin’s intention. That debate wasn’t really solved until two weeks ago,

Right. Uh, but after crimee the us and NATO should at least know, Russia is determined to stop the NATO expansion. Then why were we still arming the Ukrainians to provoke Russia?

Well, we were attempting to make Ukraine a tougher nut for the Russians, for Putin to crack. We were trying to make it a, that to raise the cost of Russia, to Russia, of seeking a military solution. We were seeking to respond to Ukrainian demands for aid. After all Ukraine was at war it’s a sovereign country. It was asking for aid and of a military nature from its friends around the world. There was nothing illegal about this, nothing underhanded. It was all out in the open. So the United States figured, um, if Russia’s gonna play hardball by annexing territory, namely crimee and intervening in Eastern in Ukraine, the Don bass, well, we can play hardball too, and we can bolster the Ukrainian’s ability to resist by transferring some of these weapons. The problem with that is it seems to have created in Russia, in the Kremlin, in Putin’s mind, a fear, not just of Ukraine in NATO, but a fear of NATO in Ukraine.

In other words, in the speeches, you saw the Russian leadership give in the lead up to this invasion, you saw them saying, you know, this whole issue of Ukraine’s membership in NATO is kind of a, a, a, a, a, a red herring, because what’s happening. As we’re sitting here, debating NATO is Western countries are aiding Ukraine and making crane essentially a part of the Western security structure. Now to finish this off in defense of the United States and the others who were aiding Ukraine, really the weaponry that was being transferred was not particularly threatening to Russia. It was really sort of, I mean, there’s no such thing as a purely defensive weapon, but these weapons were pretty much to defend Ukrainian territory. It was kind of hard to see how they would be a threat to Russia. And in short, in some, the us did exercise a little bit of care in the kinds of gear and hardware that was given to the Ukrainians up until the invasion.

Hmm. So do you think NATO expansion justify Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine?

No. I think NATO expansion to Ukraine. I think that Bucharest declaration, I’m not sorry that Bucharest, uh, uh, NATO declaration that we discussed at the beginning of this interview. I think those were mistakes by, uh, by NATO. I don’t think NATO should have offered this promise to Ukraine, if it couldn’t actually keep it. I, and it couldn’t, everybody knew it. So they kind of didn’t do Ukraine any favors by suggesting membership when it wasn’t really happening. So that’s a blunder, that’s a mistake. We shouldn’t have done it, but in no way, does it justify this brutal invasion. I think frankly, Russia is the main one at fault here. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say it. They faced no threat from Ukraine that justified this ruthless and bloody use of force. Indeed. I think that a lot of the fault, frankly, lies with the Kremlin, their policies in 2014, the annexation of crimea the cyber attacks they did on Ukraine, their intervention in Eastern Ukraine, the Don BOS region, their attempt at election Medling and information war against Ukraine. All of these policies have just pushed Ukrainians more and more favorable towards the west. If public opinion in Ukraine was split regarding their relationship between Russia and the west back before 2014, it’s not split anymore. And the reason for that primarily is what the Russian government has done to Ukraine. So I think really most of the blame for this falls on the Kremlin, and certainly there’s no justifying this, this brutal attack on a country. That, again, just in no way, presented a serious national security threat to, to Russia as of 20, uh, 20 21, 20 22.

Right. Uh, I think we can definitely see an escalation. I think we can definitely see an escalation on Putin’s part regarding Ukraine from, you know, 2014 to 2022. So why do you think Putin made the military move right now?

There’s uh, no one knows. We have to be very, very, very careful here. Uh, uh, I have read and listened to his speeches. I listened to his top officials. I have, I, I go, I used to, before the pandemic travel to Russia all the time, have many good friendships and connections to Russian international relations scholars. It’s important to recognize that top Russian political commentators connected experts, uh, did not expect this to happen. Uh, so why, why he did it? People don’t know there’s two basic arguments here. Argument, number one is he saw it that as a propitious, a, a good time to move because he had his army ready because he thought China Xing ping would have his back and help him out if there were any sanctions, because he had a $630 billion, uh, foreign currency and other, uh, reserves that he could draw upon, should he face sanctions.

Because he feared that Ukraine was moving faster and faster west, and he had to move now because energy markets were tight. You know, you can put this list together of things that sort of give you this idea of now is the time to move rather than later. Um, but there’s a second argument. And that is that, especially once he isolated himself, that is say, once president Putin, isolated himself, uh, in the pandemic times, he became ever more kind of closeminded, uh, ever more insulated from contrary views and began to obsess on historical matters and his legacy in history, and some sense became a somewhat different and more risk acceptance leader than he was prior to this isolation. I mean, what, how many, how many leaders of big countries, you know, write, you know, 10,000 word essays on historical subjects and cite all kinds of ancient documents and ask their aids to go pull documents from the archives so they can make these elaborate historical arguments. It began to seem a little weird. So those are the two different kind of stories as to why now and why he took such a fateful and costly and ultimately disastrous both for Russia. And as, especially for Ukraine, a decision that he did, uh, two weeks ago,

Do you think president Biden and Afghanistan also played a role?

People say they thought that that suggested, uh, uh, an administration that was in disarray or incompetent. I don’t really buy that. Frank, I think, uh, an it’s possible that the most important thing that by the administration conveyed that may have, uh, incentivized or not incentivized, the more, most important message coming from Washington that may have fed into Putin’s decision was the consistent message that we want the focus on China, not Europe over and again, Biden officials said, look, we need to sort out our relations with Russia. Let’s get this thing settled. Let’s kind of get the Europe thing, quiet it down so we can do what we really wanna do, which is deal with China. And that might have fed the impression that the Americans would sort of kind of accept it. Ultimately if Russia could achieve quick, relatively low cost regime change operation in Ukraine, of course, that turned out to be a pipe dream, but that’s one of the arguments. I frankly think this idea of Biden as a rational kind of real statesman, who wants to focus on China is far more important than any inferences that Moscow might have made from their disasters handling a of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Hmm. Uh, you know, let’s talk about today. Uh, Russia demonstrate, I mean, Russia, Russia demanded three things, basically neutrality for Ukraine, demonetization of the country and recognition of, uh, break rate regions, break way region regions and loss of crime here. First of all, I was wondering, uh, what does de militarization mean? Does that mean Ukraine would no longer have a military?

Well, these demands, first of all, are, uh, uh, uh, articulated by Putins, uh, spokesman, Demetri, PEs golf, and they are coming out of reports of the negotiations in Turkey that recently took place and negotiations in villas that recently took place between Ukrainians and Russians. They haven’t a been able to even agree on such basic issues as safe, safe passage corridors, uh, not to mention a ceasefire and certainly not to mention an actual settlement to the crisis. So we don’t really know what Russia’s bottom line actually is. I would say that, um, that, um, by demilitarization, we, we, we just don’t have it spelled out yet what they have in mind. Uh, I think it’s probably fair to interpret what they mean as a severance of any Ukrainian military cooperation or connection with NATO or any NATO country, uh, not necessarily to mean that Ukraine can’t have any military at all, but just that it can’t have any military that has any connection to the west. And I think that’s a non-starter for Ukrainians. I mean, think about it. If you were just invaded by a huge neighbor, I mean, to be told that your only way to settle the crisis is to de militarized is simply an invitation, uh, to UK Ukraine to continue fighting.

Right. Uh, what do you think of Russia’s demands, uh, from what they said, or do you think Putins mango for this invasion is to stop the NATO expansion or to revive the Russian Empire’s glory by reclaiming lost land or both.

I can tell you what I hope and I think I, and I think there is at least some evidence for this hope. What I hope is is that Putin will attenuate and reduce his demands in light of the unexpectedly potent resistance put up by Ukraine and the clear evidence that overwhelmingly Ukrainian society has very, has no receptivity whatsoever Russia’s role as a ruler over Ukraine, or as a, a kind of a, a overlord over Ukraine. I mean, we’re seeing such potent evidence for this, that one hopes that Putin will see that he miscalculated and therefore will reduce his aims because to go back to your original question, I originally would, if you had asked me that a year ago, I would’ve said yes, if we could make Ukraine neutral, that will settle the whole problem, but then this, uh, in over the summer and this fall in winter, we started getting these speeches from Putin about all the historical things about how Ukrainians and Russians are really one people about how the state of UK Ukraine doesn’t really have any organic essence to it.

It’s really a, a confection, a creation of the, you know, vagaries of history. We really shouldn’t take it very seriously. I mean, why did he say those things? I mean, if you say those things, you’re basically saying to Ukraine, I don’t accept you as a real country. Right. And so when he started saying those things, I began to worry that his aim actually was this much more grandiose aim, reintegrating Ukraine, one way or another into the Russian state. Um, but now I’m hoping, and there’s some evidence that you just cited regarding the negotiations that are underway. I’m hoping that the Russian leadership will scale back its demands in the face of the powerful resistance by the Ukrainians and the overwhelmingly powerful response by so many countries around the world.

What do you think would be put in bottom line in Ukraine?

Just don’t know. I’m hoping the bottom line could be something like, uh, arm neutrality for Ukraine, so are not, not a Ukraine that is de militarized and can’t defend itself, but a Ukraine that could have a significant military, but that would, uh, be, uh, constitutionally or by international agreement. Um, not able to join any block, either Russia or a Russian led block or the, the NATO block that he would be, uh, that he would pro I he’ll always will demand car. I think, uh, the Ukrainian leadership might exceed to that then some kind of autonomy, uh, some kind of special recognition for those Eastern statelets, uh, he might insist upon their full, uh, succession from UKrain. I mean, he’s already recognized them farcically in a way as independent states. I think those might conceivably be thought of as a bottom line. I don’t, I don’t know because you’re also seeing rhetoric coming from Moscow that suggests they really want to subordinate Ukraine in a kind of definitive irreversible way that it seems almost no treaty could possibly deliver. So I’m uncertain about that, but there’s at least hope that they would settle on those demands. Now will the Ukrainians accept them? They’re pretty tough demands for any Ukrainian leadership to accept, but we’re seeing at least some movement in that direction in recent days.

Yeah. Um, how do you comment on poor mental state? I mean, he do, he definitely demonstrated the will or, you know, the, he doesn’t care too much about, he doesn’t have a lot of problem killing civilians. That’s what I’m talking about.

Oh, no, he never has. I mean, if you look back to I, he was a freshly minted prime minister and president when they ramped up the war in that breakaway or attempted breakaway province in Russia. And, uh, they flattened grows need to rubble, uh, no problem. And if you look at what the Russian military did in EPPO and Syria, they, they leveled that city. This is a person who has absolutely no qualms whatsoever about laying waste, uh, to a, to a city. Uh, and I can imagine he would, well, we already see his willingness to undertake such operations or to, to, to, to order or accept such operations in Ukraine, but regarding his mental state. I don’t know, obviously, but I would say I have no evidence and no good reason to believe that he cannot calculate costs and benefits. I mean, I think you saw a miscalculation.

He thought the west was more disunited than it was. He thought Ukraine was, uh, more, uh, uh, collapsible and less resilient than it was. And so he made some mistakes. So it’s possible that he can update his cost benefit calculations in the face of new evidence. I see no evidence that he’s incapable of doing that. So I’m not quite as freaked out as some are by the potential for him to be somehow crazy or have lost control of his senses. But again, as I stress, this is all based on circumstantial evidence rather than some sort of, uh, analysis of, of blood Putin on some couch somewhere. I mean, it’s just not possible.

What about the nuclear threat? Do you think he really could do something like that?

Uh, he wouldn’t do that in response to simply sanctions or in response to us sending, uh, various, uh, uh, defensive weaponry to Ukraine. Um, but he wants to remind us that he has these things. And so on two occasions he’s made reference to the nuclear option. Uh, there’s no evidence, according to us intelligence, that’s been discussed of the actual chains in the alert status of the Russian nuclear force. It’s simply kind of a reminder like, Hey, Wes, just to, so you don’t forget, we’ve got these nuclear weapons, I’m just trying to draw some red lines here. I do think they would apply, however, if the, uh, military of any NATO country, but especially the United States began actively operating in the skies or on the territory of Ukraine. Then you’re starting to get into escalation territory, but you’d have many, many steps to go even from, uh, scenario in which us and Russians were fighting, Americans and Russians were fighting directly. You’d have many steps from that, uh, to any situation in which nuclear use would become something that I think he would seriously contemplate.

Hmm. Interesting. How effective are the sanctions?

Well, sanctions, um, uh, work over a long term. I mean, they, you have these financial sanctions, they tend to hit hard right away, and then people kind of adjust and then you have these commodity sanctions. So sanctions on all kinds of goods that, uh, Russia, uh, would normally export and import. And, um, and those generally take quite a while to actually affect the target. So the sanctions are impressive. Uh, the financial sta sanctions are still working their way through the system, both the global financial system and Russia’s financial system, the degree to which they’ll be able to compensate and find work arounds the degree to which China will help out all of these remain somewhat uncertain. But I think the consensus of sanctions experts is that sanctions are going to work. If they work at all in imposing, in affecting the actual calculus of the Russian leadership, they’re going to work at a much slower pace than military events on the ground, uh, put differently. They, they’re not gonna on their own stop Russia from doing essentially whatever it wants to try to do militarily on the territory of Ukraine. It’s a sad truth, but it’s one that most experts accept. It’s the anticipation is looking forward to the future and thinking about the cumulative cost of sanctions over the long run it’s that that might affect calculations in the Kremlin regarding the terms they’ll seek from Ukraine to end this war.

Hmm. Uh, you know, I heard some analyst say there’s only one person in this world that can influence president Putin and that’s Xin P I mean, do you agree with it? And, uh, how much support, uh, do you think China is giving Putin right now?

Well, that’s a question for China experts, uh, and experts on the CNO Russian relationship, you know, uh, not to deflect your question at all, I’ll answer it. But I would say that this is such a re an important strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow. Now that there are actually people, experts who spend all of their time, I’m just studying this relationship. That’s a sense sign of its geopolitical geo-economic importance. Um, I’m seeing some subtle signs that the Chinese leadership is kind of like trying to hedge a little bit here. They’re a little bit reluctant to endure the threat of secondary sanctions that is sanctions on Chinese firms, if they deal with certain, uh, commerce with Russia. And so you’re seeing a little more hesitation, but at the end of the day, my reading of the situation of these experts who study this relationship is that China, although is uncomfortable with some aspects of that.

Uh, Shing will be very reluctant to abandon Putin and do anything that would be the kind of that Putin would see as having caused him to have to surrender. And you, I can’t, I mean, most people cannot imagine the Chinese leadership doing such a thing to their key, great power rival in Moscow, especially since in some sense, Moscow’s success in pushing back against the west is in some sense, helping China because it’s deflecting American power from relocating into its region. So there’s a kind of geopolitical benefit to China of this, uh, China, Russia fallout, although China will want to insulate itself from as much of the economic fallout from this as it can. And that’s where we see some and subtle evidence of kind of backing away from completely 150% support, you know, a, a partnership without limits, as they said at Beijing. But I think at the end of the day, I to repeat and the, to emphasize the people who spend their time studying this Alliance cannot imagine being, playing the role that you suggested. People think namely as the person who literally causes Putin to give up on his Ukraine gambit very hard to imagine that happening.

Hmm. Um, you know, uh, America has made it clear, uh, it’s not going to impose no-fly zone over Ukraine. And, uh, you know, now Ukraine, I mean, although Putin has met a steep resistance from the Ukrainian army and, uh, civilians, but Ukrainian army is not winning either. So do you think America and NATO should still support Ukraine to fight to the end

If the Ukrainian, uh, leadership, and as far as we can tell, uh, in these crazy circumstances, as far as we can judge Ukrainian society wants us to continue aid them. I think we should continue aiding them. They have a, they are a sovereign government. That’s been attacked viciously and in an unprovoked fashion, uh, by a neighboring great power. They, as a sovereign country, have an absolute right to ask for assistance when they are under Dures. And we are together with many other countries providing a large amounts of such assistance. And so that, to me, as long as it is something that at the Ukrainians want and is not going to risk escalation of this crisis into a us Russia war, uh, I, I think it is absolutely, uh, uh, uh, the best, uh, policy to follow.

Hmm. How do you see the way out of this?

The only way out of this is for Ukraine and Russia to find terms that they both can accept, and it sounds banal, but somehow, each has to conclude that a deal with the other that is on the table is better than the continuing bloodshed and war. And they seem to me as best as I can judge to be far away from that for now each, you know, know, especially, I think Russia needs to tone down or reduce its expectations, but the problem is each side has a story. It can tell itself as to how it can continue the fight. I mean, Russia has this huge army. It can keep going. As I said, the sanctions are not gonna physically stop Russia from continuing the fight. They have a lot, unfortunately, sadly tragic, a lot left. They can do. They might still Harbor this idea that they can pumel bludgeon bomb, Ukraine, society into submission, and somehow extract some sort of victory from this Ukrainians based on their extraordinary performance so far.

And based on some evidence of poor morale and training on the part of the Russian army might include that they can continue fighting and keep imposing costs on Putin, such that he’ll agree to a deal closer to what they want. So that’s how wars end you should watch out and keep an eye out for negotiations about, uh, corridors, uh, for humanitarian relief and especially for talks about a potential ceasefire. These sometimes, um, it can lead and morph into actual peace negotiations. And so it can be a subtle process where they first negotiate the immediate crisis, and then kind of it spreads into trying to find a general settlement and certainly the international community, including the United States and all of its allies and others, including China, India, the whole world, a Turkey is putting itself forward. Israel should provide their good offices and their resources to try to support such a deal.

How likely is it for the Ukrainian army to drive Russian military out of their country? I mean,

I don’t think it’s, I don’t, I don’t think it’s likely at all. All they can do is make it as costly as possible to the Russians. The I’m, I’m not a military expert. I think you’re gonna talk to one. I mean, but everyone who’s spent any time studying military operations knows that an offense in this kind of, well in any situation, offense is much harder than fence. In other words, the exchange ratio of losses tends to be on the side of the, uh, uh, uh, of the favor of the defender and able to inflict more casualties on the, uh, on the attacker than the defender. And so Ukrainians to switch over to the offense and start driving these gigantic armored forces out of their country would be an extraordinarily difficult thing to do on the other hand, in their cities and in their forest and in their mountains and the west, their mountains and Russia isn’t there yet, but anyway, in their cities and in their forests and in their fields, and they can inflict terrible losses on the Russians, as long as the Russians are the ones trying to advance. So I think that’s where you’re gonna see the conflict going in the near term.

Hmm. Okay. If that happens, do you think, uh, the Russians will eventually give in

Again? I just don’t know. I think that, um, uh, I, I don’t see the signs yet, uh, that the Russian general staff and the top military leadership and the political leadership of Russia under Putin have sort of reached the end of what they think they can do with this military operation. I mean, they’re, they’re trying to do something. They are trying to encircle Kia. They have more cards to play. Unfortunately, these cars are bloody and in some cases, uh, inflicting untold misery and death upon civilians, but they have cards yet to play that they can, that they can, that they can attempt to try to force Ukraine, uh, into submission. And so I, I hope that this is not true, but I I’m afraid if I had to bet, I would say that they are going to attempt to play some of those cards before you see any willingness on their part to really give up on some of their demands.

Last question, how will Europe and the world be different after this?

Well, this is a terrible answer, but it’s the only honest one. It depends on how this conf uh, this conflict ends, how this conflict is seen to end how the world sees the conflict as, as ending. If Russia easily wins, what it wants, gets everything it wanted, uh, with a military assault directly on a completely defend, uh, innocent, defensive, uh, country like Ukraine and wins. That will be in some sense, a blow to the entire order for which the United States and allies say, they stand to their position in the world to their, if you can use an old fashioned word to their prestige, the, the, the, the esteem in which they’re held and, and the respect for their power, if the west, and especially the Ukrainians, but help by the west, kind of, in some sense, are seen to have won this crisis. It will, in some sense, it might be seen as Buttressing their position reversing, uh, their perceived decline up to this point, showing that that thing we call the west is still meaningful.

It’s still United, and it can still really impose horrific costs on countries that seek to on actors that seek to harm it. So that’s essentially partly what’s being fought over here is how this conf thatconflict will seen, will be seen to have ended. Will it be seen to have ended a as a kind of further push against the American led order, a further move towards multipolarity in the international system, or will it be seen as ending kind of in some sense, revivifying, rejuvenating strengthening, ratifying the position of the United States and its allies in the world. That’s, what’s at stake. And until the, we see how it ends out, uh, until we see where the bottom line is, where the bargaining comes out, we won’t know in my, if I had to predict it would be, in fact, it will ne be seen neither as a decisive victory for one side, nor as a de decisive victory. For the other side, they’ll be competing interpreter of this outcome, but again, that’s a, a rank guess.

These are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

No, I think that was comprehensive. It was a great conversation.

Oh, thank you. Thank you, professor.

China Uses Animal Disease Control Methods on Humans to Maintain Covid-Zero: Dr. Sean Lin

Speaker 1:

Sean, thank you for joining zooming in today,

Speaker 2:

Simone. Uh, my pleasure to join your program. Thank you for inviting me.

Speaker 1:

okay. Let’s talk about China’s COVID zero policy and the situation in Shean today is the 15th day of Shanna’s lockdown. And, uh, I just saw a video uploaded today by a person from Shean and, uh, you can see the streets are still empty and the government said the risks of large scale rebound of the virus has been reduced to the minimum thanks to their policy. So do you think that COVID zero policy worked once again in Ian?

Speaker 2:

Uh, I, I think first, uh China’s um, zero out policies never work in the past. So many people think that Chinese government had a successful zero campaign when they deal with the Wuhan outbreak last year in 2020. Uh, but I don’t think that was actually a successful example because, uh, the governments, uh, conceal the information regarding how many people were hospitalized. How many people have severe diseases, how many people die, especially the death, or was a top national secret by the Chinese government. So we don’t know how they actually, uh, contain the epidemic, uh, in Wuhan. And after that, the death toll nationwide for Chinese communist parties, it’s a, it’s a part of, it’s a mysterious, low number that is abnormal. Nobody can believe that, um, attack rate the death rate for such a, uh, epidemic disease will be such a low level. It’s impossible.

Speaker 2:

government worldwide make, uh, may not think deeply or may not, uh, realize that they, uh, subconsciously thinking that the Chinese government had a successful way to deal with the epidemic. So may any government have been using different, uh, lockdown policy, try to, uh, mimic what Chinese government did in Wuhan? So actually I think that’s a very big example. And now I think in,

Speaker 1:

Okay, just before you go to more details, I mean the Chinese governments, obviously they, uh, you know, cover the truth all the time, but compared to other methods, maybe the Chinese government thinks, uh, that the, you know, the quarantine, the lockdown policy, zero out policy is still the best. All of all the other policies, that’s why they’re using it. And otherwise they, they don’t have to use this method. Right.

Speaker 2:

Uh, I think, um, this is actually a ideological issue for the Chinese government. They are not treating the Chinese people as a, a normal human being in terms of, in the disease outbreak or control situation. To me, the Chinese government is treating the Chinese people like, uh, livestock like animals. So in essence, they are human. Uh, I infectious disease, outbreak control. They are more like doing animal or livestock epidemic control. Uh, the reason I’m saying that is because they’re policy wise, uh, you can see, uh, the almost, almost very similar if you look at China’s animal, uh, disease, uh, control, uh, legislation as well with China, current policy for zero out the COVID in, in a human society. It’s very similar. They also organized, uh, different, uh, teams at different government levels. And they’re also emphasizing, uh, the local, uh, government official needs to be responsible for the epidemic.

Speaker 2:

And they also emphasize that, um, uh, need a big data to help control the disease outbreak situation and the emphasizing the great lowment, right? So for just like you growing cattles, right in different Greece, different regions, uh, in, even in the same animal farm, you can have different grids. If that particular grease has a disease outbreak, you can take care of that. Great particularly, right. And, and similarly they’re using the same ideas in society too. So any cities, any particular district have a outbreak, they can transfer, you know, 2000 people overnight to a isolation facility. This is almost exactly like treating animals, right? If you identify a cage, a grid of animals, whether it’s poetry, pigs have a potential outbreak, and you can quickly move all these to a, a particular location, isolate them then. And if the worst case, you know, is a large scale cooling, whether it’s killed in the poetry or, or the pigs, right?

Speaker 2:

So it happens a lot in China, especially, you know, China has so many different, uh, uh, like, uh, birds, loose situations, outbreak, or, or a SW fever like African SW fevers for the mouse disease outbreak in China, in animal facilities, right? So Chinese come very familiar with this animal, uh, control, uh, measures. And now basically they push this, uh, concept and, uh, measures into the animal, into the human society. Like, so you basically can see the Chinese don’t care about whether, uh, the human being has their own self consciousness. They have their own organization capabilities, right? People can organize, uh, self-help within the community, but Chinese government do not want any of these happen. It’s treat like animal. You are a potential host for infectious disease. You just like an animal, right? So the government have all the rights to deal with you. They can order you to, to a isolation quarantine place overnight, without any preparedness, without any further, like, uh, earlier advance, no notice, right?

Speaker 2:

Just like the sea lockdown, just within few hours, a city of 13 million people can be pushed into a lockdown, a very hard lockdown and lay down even more extreme. People are not forbidden and people are not allowed it to go to the street to purchase their own, uh, groceries, all these basic, right? So it’s very, very extreme. It’s treat like animal. So anytime I want to wipe out, or, uh, you can say the government war zero or fixed disease, they can also use these very, very hard tactics to push people into a quarantine place. So they can say, well, now we’re building a facility for 5,000 people, quarantine, a special place to, um, like a concentration came to lock on people and whether they are enough, uh, medical support for support logistic support for such a, a temporary facility, the government say, we deal with those issues later. And that’s why now in C young city, you can see so many people, uh, cry out on their social medias. Uh, talk about, we are hungry. We are start, right, because the government promised food, but it’s not there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I believe what you described is, uh, what they call, uh, you know, the societal COVID zero policy, and this is different from the previous one that they implemented, which is a absolute zero out policy. So this societal policy basically means that, uh, they quarantine all those who had close contact with the infected people, therefore in the future, any new case will be from those who were, uh, quarantined, but in the regular communities, in the big cities, they will reach COVID zero. So I have a, a few questions. How do you compare new policy, uh, with the old one and, uh, does the new policy, the societal COVID zero policy work.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So first let’s get, what’s the old policy. You talk about the absolute, uh, zero out policy. So actually, um, later in the year of 2021, a lot of the Chinese, uh, officials, media, uh, using the, uh, term, they call it dynamic zero because they know even for absolutely zero out policy that the, the central come and defined is very hard to implement. So you see China, uh, throughout 2021, so many different outbreak in different cities, and so many different cities. Right? I have outbreak, even though the government’s, uh, official data, always a very small number in dozen, sometimes, uh, cases in, in the big city. Uh, but it never totally crunch out. So the go, no, very clearly it’s impossible to do absolutely zero. So later in 2021, they started to use the term more about dynamic zero. That means, uh, for a city you can, uh, for a period of time, it can be zero out, right.

Speaker 2:

It’s dynamic. So it’s kind of like, um, if I gave , uh, uh, a scenario, just like you, you dealing with, uh, a trash, right? If you move your trash to your neighbors, your, your own home is temporary. Uh, trash is zero out, but the next day, if the neighbor moved the trash back to you, he is zero. And then you have new cases. So, so this is a dynamic zero, and these also still doesn’t work out. Uh, and especially in the sea installation, they, they clearly know, uh, for such a big city, certain many people, how do you move those cases away? Right. So, and especially when it has already have community transmissions, you have more cases in, in Shion. So in this way, so they create a new term cause societal zero up. So basically that means if I just, uh, store the trash in other people’s home permanently, then my home is always zero that’s societal zero up.

Speaker 2:

So you are not coming. Those people being quarantined as my, uh, Shean people, my own residents, basically. Right? So those problem can be dealed at different county level, city level, smaller city level, uh, not in a big city like C young. So that means societal zero up. So it it’s, it’s a ridiculous policy. And actually the term, the, when they create a term, it means they’re absolutely zero or dynamic zero policy doesn’t work. So they, uh, the, the local official government, uh, have to create this term in order to meet the high demand from the central government. Cause the central government want them to, to zero in four days. So by Inan all the public health official, including the CCP leaders in the local level, they understand this is impossible, mission impossible. So how do they deal with the central pressure? So they created this. So societal zero and move, you know, things of thousands of Shean people to other, uh, neighborhood, uh, counties nearby suburban areas. So in this way, they basically try to, um, please the central government. So this is a, how ridiculous still is this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I mean, we know what the CCP is doing, but let’s escape them. The benefit of the adult. Mm-hmm me. I mean, if they have any reason to, you know, the, the, uh, the right reason to do this is because they think if we quarantine all those dangerous people, they’re not infected yet, but the, you know, potential COVID, uh, virus carriers. If we quarantine them into one place, then it’s easier to these dangerous people. And then the rest of the community is clean. So our effort will be more directed, more focused and easier. What do you think?

Speaker 2:

Okay. Yeah, from the surface, of course, this rationale, it makes sense, but the key is how you implement it. You can currently a lot of people, but the key is that you need to think comprehensively, uh, how to support people, uh, both logistically medically, you know, uh, even mentally how you support large amount of people, uh, in, in isolation, quarantine situation. And how do you ensure people have, uh, some, uh, uh, like comorbidity, uh, disease, how do you help them overcome this kind of situation? Right? So you, you won to suddenly announce, uh, a lockdown in, in a few hours and not in the last, such a scale. So how do you, uh, prevent secondary disaster? This is always one of the top issues where you’re dealing in public health crisis. You, you have to avoid people being, uh, injured, uh, physically, mentally, uh, damaged because of the, uh, quarantine policy or isolation procedures, right? So it should be a human process, but the Chinese government doesn’t care about that. That’s why I said, uh, it is not exactly treating people as human beings.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I have another question. This people dangerous people might be infected if they, if you put them together, wouldn’t the chances of them cross. In fact, each other be, be bigger and they could be, you know, the center of the spreading of the virus.

Speaker 2:

Yes. That’s why I said quarantine is not a simple thing, uh, of isolation, facilities and quarantine facilities, you need to, uh, especially build, right. Even in the past, even if you remember in, in Wuhan, when they build a fun time hospitals, that the temporary hospitals hosting thousands of people at a time, the Chinese C still talk about how a advanced facility is, right? All kinds of air filter system, how to, how to mobilize medical to support. But now in the year, 2022, there’s no such issues. As so, as you push people to a, a temporary quarantine location, as long as, as you do in the societal zero off the local officials feel happy about it. I deal with my problem already, right? So this is very different. And that’s why I said, uh, it is not the, uh, simple procedures to quarantine, large amount of people. That’s why in the, in the past history, governments are very helpful to implement any of these kind of policy to put large amount people into according facility. It definitely will create high potential across contamination, cross infections, higher rate of transmission, of the same infectious disease. And it is very bad situation. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

If that happens. So what do you think China would do?

Speaker 2:

That’s why I’m really worried about what will be the next step. So if we think about how people handling animal disease outbreak, right, the worst case is, is, uh, mask cooling, right? So if you, for example, if you have H seven and nine outbreak in, in the poetry, in the chicken, uh, the, the breeder can decide, I, I will kill maybe a hundred thousand, uh, chickens, birds, right? So, and then if there’s a, uh, for example, uh, African swine fever outbreak in your pigs, uh, populations, you can decide, I kill 50,000. So that’s cooling. Of course, when you massive killing a lot of people, you will temporarily block the disease transmission. And this part, this kind of measure Chinese gum is very familiar with. And maybe he’s a bad Oman. You know, the Chinese CDCs director, golf food, he’s a veterinarian. He’s not a medical doctor, the veterinarian, right?

Speaker 2:

So the Chinese government can always treating, okay, these population of people, their potential, uh, host for a big infectious disease, whether they’re close content or they’re the close content or close contact, uh, they’re just a block of people. These are people D people let me quarantine them. Um, whether they can survive these kind of isolation, I, they don’t care at this moment. So that’s why I really worry that the secondary disaster due to these very heart attack, uh, isolation procedures will kill many people, many people starving to death, or they have other disease, uh, that they varying at the same time. Right? Mobility issue will be very high. Yeah. So this is very, very in human process and no government should follow Chinese governments. Uh, uh, this kind of example, and, and I believe the Chinese government tried to, uh, push this idea to other part of world saying, you see, we, we do a very effective way in controlling these disease. And they even bring much more Chinese people to believe that your sacrifice is important for the whole country. Right? So they, they have a very successful in brainwashing people and many people as science, they not starving. They don’t think, uh, there this people in Shong in, in quarantine, what your sympathy. So that’s a very best situ

Speaker 1:

And this new wave Shion is mentally, uh, the Delta variant and, uh, black variant hasn’t reached China. Will it reach China eventually? And if China still uses the COVID zero policy on , what do you think will happen?

Speaker 2:

I actually dunno, uh, whether has been spread out in China or not, uh, there were cause talk about army, uh, cases being identified in China, even though our very small numbers, but we don’t know what’s the true situ the governments, uh, the public, uh, what’s causing the outbreak in, uh, data variants, but we didn’t see enough, uh, data regarding how many people were, uh, hospitalized. How many people having severe disease, uh, does the whole pattern showing, uh, similar pattern to the data outbreak other countries, or this is actually more similar to outbreak. Uh, we, we don’t know the government didn’t provide this information. None of the hospitals treating the COVID patients, but allowed it to give the data to the public. So how do you know what’s the true causes, the outbreak in China? So I actually suspected with the very, very powerful transmission rate from Omni crumbs Omni probably already spread out in certain regions in China.

Speaker 2:

And that’s why the, the, the Shean, or, or provinces the public health officers, the local CP leader were so scared about this way. And they use this extreme tactic. They may not just tell the public now it’s and they don’t care that Omni, maybe right now doesn’t cause, uh, very severe disease compared to data can right now basically showing, uh, less trend to, to have severe disease globally in different regions, whether in South Africa or in UK or in United States, the Chinese government don’t care about it for the local Chinese official, because the central government’s order is to zero out. Uh the, the COVID right. So as long as they be in testing, uh, plastic, uh, on this nuclear acid test, the local official have to be responsible for this, uh, community outbreak, whether it’s data or . So they just use the same extreme measures, uh, to, to wipe out, try to wipe out these, uh, numbers. I say numbers, right? Because they’re not really treating the disease, not treating the people they’re just cared about the number.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I’ve seen the Chinese media reports, uh, saying that this round, this wave is, uh, the Delta variant. Let’s just say that report is, uh, accurate, but if there are one cycle behind the international epidemic cycle, now that Delta and everybody else’s , uh, what I mean, does that have an impact? I mean,

Speaker 2:

Well, I, I think, uh, it’s almost impossible. China can be a, a unique island, uh, for Omni ground. Uh, the way the army spread is so fast. I know in China, uh, zero campaign can block . I don’t think China stay any chance for that.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So if Amran riches, China, uh, if they still apply this zero up policy, they will be in big trouble

Speaker 2:

Even. Oh, definitely. They’re already in. Yeah, definitely. I think they’re already in trouble in dealing with data with army crimes and it will be very much faster, especially if you put, you know, thousands of people in a temporary, uh, quarantine places like a garage, so many people will be affected. And actually I see some social media posts talk about, uh, people who, uh, who actually want to be isolated. The, the hospital refused to accept him. And then eight members from his family actually all got infected. Yeah. So ridiculous. Extreme examples like the in Shean. So anyway, I don’t think the Chinese can contain Amran. No countries can contain Amran. Nobody believe the human being can contain Armyn spreading right now. Uh, so I don’t think Chinese government can, uh, stay any chance to see, uh, to successfully zero army.

Speaker 1:

Hmm. But the Chinese leader, she Jean at at least for now, he is still insisting that China should apply this zero out policy and anybody who is opposing it, uh, this policy, he gets very angry with that person. So, I mean, how do you think this zero out policy play out in China in the future? Do you think they will stick to it to the end?

Speaker 2:

You, yeah, I think, uh, uh, yes, I think will stick out to his policies because any change of the policy will, uh, threaten his, uh, his positions and in the critical year, uh, reelection year, right. We would let’s call it reelection simply. But anyway, he, I don’t think he wanted change the policies, but at the same time, maybe the Chinese gun will be lucky because even a lot of people got infected with army crimes because many people are not showing severe disease. The Chinese government can always say, oh, see, no, no many people die and they they’ve been successful. Contain a disease. Chinese go can always, uh, tell a good story to the public so that people still believing the Chinese government did very good, uh, very people being sacrificing sea lockdown. What read on the internet, just a small, uh, sporadic situations. Um, it’s not as systematic happening.

Speaker 2:

Uh, people were being treated nicely. The, the government can do all these, uh, usage after this, uh, high lockdown. And right now they’re probably very worried about the, the winter Olympic in Beijing. That’s why Beijing implementing, uh, 56 days, uh, quarantine for any inbound travelers. So this is very extreme, right? No, no scientific reason for 56 days, uh, quarantine, but basically tell the world the Beijing one to who, uh, currenting you, the whole period, uh, until the winter is over. So basically that’s how they contain the distillation. And so the Chinese will tell, uh, Chinese people a good story. We have successfully how our Olympic you see, you know, we contain the situation. We don’t have, uh, maybe S going factory. They can always tell this kind of story to people. And then boosting, uh, the CCPs, the image to, to people, to the world saying they are the very successful example, even though the Chinese society suffer a lot and they try to further prove the dictatorship Soarian style, the Chinese government represents actually have a better advantage than the democratic system. That’s their whole EU they’re already preparing. And, and then they will carry out this campaign exactly in this way. So if

Speaker 1:

You were the guy who is, uh, you know, uh, who is, uh, overseeing China’s, uh, uh, pandemic control, uh, what do you think you would do?

Speaker 2:

I think, um, with a normal human, uh, thinking, you need to think about how to help people overcome this disease in a rational way. And if you see, uh, the globally, uh, the, all the scientific evidence, somatic evidence showing the, the spread of virus is so strong and such a strong IME innovation. So many people cannot avoid, uh, being infected by this wave of . Then you need to think about how human society can Cozi with the virus. How do you, uh, avoid hospital system, the overloaded, and then how do you quickly, uh, using different other, uh, maybe drugs to help people reduce their symptoms, all these kind of additional measure, or even other non pharmaceutical intervention measures that you can implement to support society. And how do you reduce, uh, the, the mental stress that people have in this kind of, uh, pandemics period. These are all very challenging task, very important tasks, and you can all do it in a very humane ways. And, uh, I think, uh, the key issues, whether you have a human heart, have a human mind or not, and I don’t think the Chinese government doing it in a human way, in a human way.

Speaker 1:

Great. Well, Sean, these are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

Speaker 2:

Well, I, I think, uh, let’s say for me right now, it’s really, really thank you for inviting me to, uh, have a comment on this situation in Cun.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Thank you, Sean.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

Good. All right. Good. Thank you. Thank you. All right. Okay. Bye.

Is President Tsai Ing-wen Moving towards Independence? An Interview with Dave Stilwell, Part Two

Simone Gao: (25:22)

let me talk about President’s Tsai Ing-wen’s recent move. Tsai Ing-wen had declared that ROC, Republic of China, and People’s Republic of China do not belong to each other. And to China, this is an indication of moving towards independence. And the U.S. hasn’t said anything about this yet. What do you think the U.S.’s stance is on this?

David Stilwell: (25:57)

Our stance is that we let the DPP and the Taiwan government do what it thinks is best. We obviously are concerned of any just blatant statements of independence, which Beijing has said it would, it would interpret as, uh, an invitation to invasion or whatever else you get. They’re, they’re very clear. I mean, Beijing is fuzzy on a lot of things. They employ ambiguity quite well, too. Um, but you know, any, uh, overt declaration of independence, they have said, in front of their own people multiple times, that that would be cause Bella, that they would take that as, uh, the, uh, key, the trigger to go to war. Uh, one of the key issues I mentioned before here is the fact that they have stated this in front of their own people. And I think Beijing is very concerned about how its own people view it.

David Stilwell: (26:46)

You know, its legitimacy, especially in a period of time when the economy is faltering. You recall that the, the unholy agreement between the CCP and the Chinese people: you allow us to run the country, and we’ll allow you to get rich. And people took that bargain and they, but they bought houses here in Hawaii that they could escape to, and they got blue passports, American passports, for their families’ escape plans and all that stuff. Hedging their bets, but they allowed the government to rule. But what happens when the economy is no longer, you know, cranking out 8% growth every year, and the people are, uh, starting to see their fortunes slip away? Uh, that to me is a cause, gives you cause for uh, concern. Um, uh, and that’s a conversation we should be having, uh, either at a low level or at the high stuff.

David Stilwell: (27:36)

Maybe when President Biden speaks to Xi Jinping, uh, on Monday, it looks like, maybe that’s going to be one of the topics is, you know–hang on a sec–you, you, uh, you throw this at every visiting delegation to read, and I’ve read it. I don’t know if you guys have read it, but basically it’s saying that, you know, our way is just as valid as your way and, and, and don’t, don’t question or, or wreck it. Well, what if it’s not? And what if the Chinese people no longer believe that, you know, the governance, his governance of China is not necessarily the way to go? This takes us to understand that, um, all these things have a domestic component that, uh, that Xi Jinping has to consider. And we should consider that as well as we prepare for, uh, potential outcomes or, you know, bad outcomes.

Simone Gao: (28:24)

Right. Uh, I agree with you that neither side, China or Taiwan, uh, has the will to break the balance right now. You know, China is not totally ready to invade Taiwan and Taiwan doesn’t, definitely doesn’t want to, uh, provoke anything. But there’s one thing that may break the balance and that’s the Sixth Plenary Session of the CCP they just had. So, that meeting just finished and, uh, uh, it seems like, uh, Xi Jinping’s position has been reinforced, and this might pave the way for him to take a third term in 2022. Um, how do you think, how do you think this will affect the situation in Taiwan, if his position does get reinforced and he will get a third term?

David Stilwell: (29:17)

It’s really hard to say. Uh, but you know, he’s basically violating, uh, 60 years of–well, since ’79, ’80, so he’s violating 40 years–of protocol. You know, their system basically said you get two terms, five years a piece. You could count on being in power for 10 years, but because we don’t want to become the Soviet Union, remember that…if you’ve ever seen the movie The Death of Stalin, I think you get a good idea of what a bad outcome looks like in this case. They understand that there’s got to be a transition. You can’t have a cultive personality like Mao, ’cause you see what happens. And I think we’re seeing that happen now as well. You’re seeing it when you have one person who gains too much power in the system, uh, it will eventually take you into, uh, a dead end. The question about how the sixth plenum turned out, though, to me is still a question.

David Stilwell: (30:02)

You know, if you read Xinhua People’s Daily, it says, you know, Xi’s declared better than Mao or on par with Mao, whatever honorifics that come up after–the core and the people’s leader and whatever they throw at him. I’m not sure, and I think the, the jury is out as to whether we actually reinforced Xi Jinping’s position here, or if there was a lot of tension and friction, uh, as people are questioning his ability to continue to lead. That answer, that won’t come out for a while. We’re not going to understand that. But if you read Desmond Shum’s book Red Roulette, which I hope everybody gets a chance to, it reads really well. It’s right up there with, uh, uh, John Garnaut’s book, The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo, another great book, uh, a similar subject, basically saying the facade of a monolithic PRC CCP leadership is a facade.

David Stilwell: (30:58)

There is a lot, as with any human endeavor, there is a lot of back-channel push and pull. There’s, you know, cliques and, and arguments and all that stuff. So, if you look at what Desmond Shum just published, boy that’s got to put the CCP on notice and it’s got to really make them nervous that these things are leaking out more and more. I mean, you are seeing more leaks now from the PRC than you’ve seen in the past as well. That’s people who are unhappy with how things are going. You can look forward to more of those leaks, which I believe will tell you that, uh, sixth plenary probably didn’t go as well as they would have you believe. And the last thing I’ll say on that is if you…I, I read this stuff every day. I try to stay current on all these events. I can’t keep up. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t keep up with the mountains of data coming out of Beijing and then the analysis that goes into that data. Uh, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve never seen, uh, as much change, writing, uh, policy suggestions and all the rest as I’ve seen in the last six months or so. So, all that’s to say the jury’s out. We have to employ time and patience and see how this pans out in two or three months.

Simone Gao: (32:05)

Right, right. Exactly. Uh, you know, I agree with you, there’s different opinions on the sixth plenary session, you know, their analysis saying that Xi Jinping did not get what he wanted from this meeting. Uh, that’s because the resolution did not put Xi Jinping above other communist leaders and, therefore, there’ll still be a hard fight to be fought for the 2022 20th, uh, Congress, National Congress, uh, and Xi Jinping might not get a third term. So, from the American point of view, if Xi Jinping does not get a third term, how will that affect the Taiwan Strait relations?

David Stilwell: (32:48)

I can’t see–again, this is easily arguable, but personally, I can’t see how that would be a bad thing, because that indicates a reconsideration of the current strategy. The fact, that, uh, you know, the current, uh, People’s leader was removed after all the efforts to change the system to allow him to govern, uh, through 2027 or beyond. The fact that that changed, uh, would tell you that there’s been a rethink. And my hope, and I think this is accurate, is that they would sort of, you know, withdraw and get focused on fixing problems at home first. Get, get the, the, uh, domestic issues under control. The rampant corruption. In spite of the disciplinary inspection efforts by Wang Qishan and his successor, corruption still is a massive problem, because the system runs on corruption. That’s…it’s like cancer, man. You pull the cancer out, but you pull the affected organ as well.

David Stilwell: (33:50)

You can’t separate the two. But he’s going to have to deal with that for a much, much longer time. And I do believe he’s, he understands that corruption is going to be the downfall of the Party. I remember stories of friends, um, you know, think tank friends in Beijing, who live near some PLA facilities, and you couldn’t go to a high-end restaurant and have any fun because the uniform PLA guys took the banquet room and they took all the Mai Tai and they took all the best food and, and they made a heck of a lot of noise and the people hear and see these things, and they don’t like it. They’re, you know, they’re having a great time and we’re, our economic prospects continue to decline. These are stories that, Simone, I think you guys can really help to expose as well, to show all this stuff well.

Simone Gao: (34:35)

Right, right. Uh, I think one particular concern about Xi Jinping not be able to resume a third term is he would do something, uh, desperate before the…

David Stilwell: (34:49)

Desperation.

Simone Gao: (34:49)

Yeah. desperation. So, would that be something the American part will consider or nobody was thinking about that?

David Stilwell: (34:58)

Oh, of course. I mean, we talk about that a lot. Diversionary wars, right? Things you do externally that create unity and support, uh, internally. Of course. Um, but I can’t think of one time that the PRC has done that. Some would point to Vietnam in 1979. I think that was all about splitting up an alliance between the Soviet Union and Vietnam. It had nothing to do with, uh, maybe securing, Deng Xiaoping or, or, you know, Zhao Ziyang or whoever’s position, you know, as they, as they recovered. Or actually–uh, uh, I’ll think of his name–Hu Yaobang. You know, supporting his position post-Mao. I, I don’t see that. Again, the odds are against you in something like that. Here’s the second question, you know, being a military guy: would the PLA obey those orders? When, when Xi Jinping first came to power in 2012, I remember hearing for the first time him say, PLA, you need to prepare for war.

David Stilwell: (35:57)

If you were to tell an American military person that, I would load up bombs, I would get them armed, and I would sit there on the end of the runway and wait for the order to take off, like we did in 1991 with Kuwait, to take off and go do my nation’s bidding, protect our national interests, through the military. So, so when Xi Jinping is telling the PLA prepare for war, we all imagined the worst, but what we quickly understood was he saying, no, actually like practice, like maybe get good at doing your job, because we may need you to do it at some point in the future, but we need you to stop working in art auctions, in real estate, in all these other, you know, commercial activities, and lining your pockets with all this ill-earned cash and focus on your primary job, which is national defense…uh, nope. Party defense. Defense of the Party, not defense of the nation. That’s another key point with the PLA. 

Simone Gao: (36:47)

Right, right. So, you think that’s not something like, uh, the U.S. should take into consideration, very…

David Stilwell: (36:55)

A key variable here in your, what you’re suggesting, is will the PLA fight?

Simone Gao: (37:01)

Within the PLA fight…

David Stilwell: (37:03)

Because this is…what if they determine this is a losing game, because they would face Japan, the U.S., they probably see some Australian activity, India. You can imagine that they would have to look at the western military region also getting involved if, if India or others chose to join in this, you know, sort of punitive response. So, yeah, I, I think there’s enough doubt there that, uh, I don’t know that the PLA would sacrifice their pink bodies on some bad idea coming out of Beijing, especially if Xi Jinping is being seen as, as, uh, you know, weak.

Simone Gao: (37:35)

Losing power. Okay. You know, a former Chinese Navy officer, excuse me, a former Chinese Navy officer told me that the PLA would not likely, uh, attack Taiwan within three years because, uh, the PLA cannot beat the U.S. military in three years. Uh, I mean, do you agree? And what about after three years? Will the PLA’s ability, capabilities, catch up that of the U.S. military in the future?

David Stilwell: (38:06)

So, at risk of contradicting myself, I will say that, uh, when we use the terms win and lose, uh, related to armed conflict, I think that’s a very bad idea. I mean, I can give you bunches of examples in the recent past–with the exception being Operation Desert Storm, uh, in 1991–where there really was no winning or losing. Look at Afghanistan. You know, we initially went into Afghanistan and we removed, uh, the, uh, Al-Qaeda terrorist threat. Um, but was that winning or was that just a temporary, temporarily delaying a problem or pushing it somewhere else? You know, Iraq, Syria, all these things. Hard to say what winning or losing is, but we do know that blood will be spilled and that the political climate will change on the back end of this to include, you know, demonstrating, uh, an aggressive policy like that would most certainly push Taiwan, Japan, and others, uh, further into the U.S. camp.

David Stilwell: (39:05)

That’s not, I don’t think, a good trade-off if you’re in Beijing. I don’t think. People are already beginning to question the fuzzy Panda thing. As I said at the top of the call, what you do here and, and, and very clearly painting a contrast between a democratic and free market Taiwan and an increasingly belligerent and authoritarian, uh, PRC is really important for the American people. We need to understand that they’re not the same thing. And as much as he, Xi Jinping, tries to tell us that his new type of governance, which, uh, oh, here we go: ”

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era,” right? That’s a long way of saying–theory, throw in that at the end–uh, Xi Jinping thought really isn’t valid. It’s just more authoritarianism. It’s, you’re going to have a hard time demonstrating, uh, that’s a valid way to go, especially since communism died in 1991 with the Soviets. So, uh, it’s a, it’s a tall bill, a tall order, to try to turn a win out of this. I don’t see it happening.

Simone Gao: (40:03)

Okay. Uh, fair. You know, China has been building up its nuclear capabilities. Do you think a nuclear situation will ever be possible in the Taiwan Strait or between U.S. and China?

David Stilwell: (40:21)

Anything’s possible. What’s interesting is, um…and look, anything having to do with PRC claims of warheads, capabilities, economic data, anything you get out of the Party has to be questioned. You can’t take it at face value. This really bothers me about Wall Street and others is, you know, claims of 6.1% or 8% growth. Uh, they buy that, and I’m digressing here, but the point is about nuclear claims. Um, and then if you look at Luckin Coffee and Didi Chuxing, uh, and Alipay and all these other things, you know, you scratch that a little bit and all of a sudden you realize there’s nothing there. Luckin Coffee is a great example of basically a Ponzi scheme, shell game, that people were putting good, American retirement money into thinking it was actually a real deal. And it wasn’t. So first off, I would say any data that comes out of Beijing, you have to question it. If you don’t have any way of independently verifying what they’re saying, I wouldn’t believe it because, remember, the Party manipulates all this data. There are still only 4,300…no, 4,636–four six three six, a little over 4,000–uh, official deaths from COVID in China.

David Stilwell: (41:32)

That’s the official data. Does anybody believe it? No, of course not. So, why would we put any stock in any other claims they make? On claims of nuclear capability, nuclear intent, all those things. Again, I would question those. I would make sure that we keep our options open in case what they’re saying isn’t true. Uh, what they said in the past is that they didn’t need a large nuclear capability, because of no first use and all those things. They needed a small, retaliatory capability, and they seem to be coming off of that as satellite imagery shows missile silos and all the rest. Uh, on that, um, and on issues like basing overseas and that, I would say that it is a little disingenuous of us to deny the PRC the ability, in case of basing or nukes, uh, to defend its own interests. They are in the big leagues now.

David Stilwell: (42:24)

They still claim to be a developing country, and we know that’s not true. Um, but you know, they have significant energy and other resource interests in Australia–uh, in, in Africa–that they have to protect those lines of communication. Uh, and so a base on the west coast of, uh, of Africa makes sense to me. I mean, we did it. Uh, I think it’s something that we can turn to our advantage if we would just think about it. Same thing with nukes. If they see themselves as a great power, and if they see, uh, their relationship with the U.S. is increasingly hostile–it’s always been hostile on their side, we’re finally joining the fight–but as they see that, it would make sense that they would have to build up their not just conventional but nuclear arsenal. So, I’m not alibiing it, excusing it, approving it. I’m just saying, it makes sense as a, as a great power with interests that they would want to do that. Linking it to Taiwan is another issue, and I know. But we’ve heard Chinese statements in the past about, you know, I think you value Los Angeles more than Taipei. I, I, I don’t have a whole lot to say on that.

Simone Gao: (43:22)

Well, yeah, I was going to ask you that question, because there seems to be an understanding among the Chinese military personnel and even average Chinese citizens that the Chinese, um, has, that China have a advantage, uh, over the U.S. regarding nuclear wars, because China can fight a unlimited war. Uh, a PLA General Zhu Chenghu who once said that China can afford to lose the whole population east of Xi An. America cannot do that. So, particularly if this is for Taiwan. Uh, so when it comes down to it, China has advantage over the U.S. on a nuclear situation. What’s your thoughts?

David Stilwell: (44:06)

I love that quote. I wish you could get Enes Kanter on this show and ask him how he feels about that. I mean, that’s a really bold statement about how little they value their minorities, isn’t it? Everything west of Xi An is either Hui or Uyghur or Tibetan or whatever. I mean, that, that is so telling as to this idea of human rights and other things. Um, Mao Zedong said the same thing after the Great Leap Forward, right? Three years of really bad policy resulting in 36 million dead of his own people. And they asked them, how do you assess all this? He goes, well, we need, we had too many people anyway. I mean, geez. It does, it does give you an idea of exactly how they think. Uh, a really wise, uh, fellow defense attache named Frank Miller calls this, this concept is amorally practical. Doing what makes sense, whatever, even if it’s to only allow a little advantage, doing it without risk or regard to the values of the morality of any certain thing.

David Stilwell: (45:06)

So, yeah, you know, losing a hundred million people, shoot, we got 1.4 (billion). That’s, uh, that’s a very small price to pay. Um, would they, is that the calculus in a nuclear exchange? You know, I, that one, I don’t think really applies because as you know–now, I won’t go too far into nuclear deterrent theory because, uh, it, my memory is old and dated–but there’s two, there’s two ways you target, uh, nuclear weapons: countervalue or counterforce. Um, countervalue is targeting the people. This is what Zhu Chenghu says. To just wipe out the population. And I’m talking to nuclear pre-1991 sense, right? And then counterforce is basically taking everything from the PLA up to the top of the command chain, the people who order the PLA, which is the leadership. And then you target that, uh, you know, that’s not west of Xi An.

David Stilwell: (45:58)

I mean, there’s bunkers and tunnels and all those concepts, but I’m sure the folks in the, what was our policy to PLA, it’s the Strategic Rocket Force now, have briefed the boss on that. This is how the Americans approach nuclear combat. And, uh, we would definitely be in, in, in you, the leadership, would be in the targeting plan. And is it worth it to you, uh, to, you know, be obliterated? And, you know, I think Mao would say no. I’m pretty sure the rest of the leadership would say no as well. So, that’s it. That’s everything I know about Chinese nuclear stuff, but I would just say that these things all add a deterrent pressure on the decision to turn keys and start launching nuclear, nuclear warfare. It’s capability. It’s, again, posturing. I just, I can’t imagine anybody actually seriously employing nukes over Taiwan.

Simone Gao: (46:54)

Okay. And the bottom line is, uh, America would not be intimidated by the Chinese using a nuclear weapon on any occasion. Because their calculation, I think, is once we use a nuclear weapon, America will be intimidated and will retreat.

David Stilwell: (47:12)

Oh boy, that’s not a good way. Look what happens. You attack the U.S. on December 7th or on 9/11/2001. And look what happens to the American population. You want, you want to unite the American population, attack it, right? Attack Americans, right? And, you know, we have a policy on that as far as, uh, responding, uh, that I think makes it a very bad calculus. But this thing, Simone, takes us to a completely different conversation, which we can do later but I just want to tee it up. Is this desire, this endless begging for dialogue, um, this need to, you know, and I think there’s value in having military leaders talk and, and, and, you know, laying out that, that that’d be a really bad course of action and you would be on the losing end, my friends in, in Beijing, but until they want to talk, it’s not worth even considering, you know, begging for dialogue, just sending Wendy Sherman or John Kerry to do a VTC in Tianjin tells you how much they value dialogue. 

David Stilwell: (48:16)

Um, they’re clearly not ready to talk. You know, our approach was we’re just going to fold our arms and continue to apply pressure, well-considered, but, but, you know, increasing pressure, knowing that there will come a point where they will want to talk and have, uh, and start working out, uh, some sort of an accommodation. Until that time, there’s no point in getting together and having a conversation because they’re just going to posture, grandstand, and do things that make them look better to their own domestic audience and to global audiences. And there’s no, I don’t think there’s a good outcome there.

Simone Gao: (48:48)

Hmm, okay. Last question. 

Simone Gao: (49:48)

You know, many people have, uh, you know, many people think that Xi Jinping has determined to solve the Taiwan problem during his tenure. And if, uh, I don’t know if you agree, but if you agree, uh, what do you think will be the timetable, most likely timetable for him? You know, people have been talking about 2049, 2035, even 2027. What’s your thoughts on those?

David Stilwell: (50:15)

Well, I think we’re all aware of Admiral Davidson’s statement that, you know, he’s looking at 2027. I think his successor in, you know, PACOM repeated that. Uh, I, I don’t think that statement’s based on intelligence, I think it’s based on, uh, the larger understanding of what Xi Jinping says. He says, this is not a problem. Taiwan is not a question I’m going to bequeath to the next generation. Basically saying, as you just said, I’m going to solve this on my watch. Um, so then I’ll point back to another historical example: the two centenary goals. One of those goals was that, um, uh, that they would accomplish this rejuvenation and this standing up of China’s as a well-respected global power by 2000, by the millennium. That was Mao’s goal. And when it became obvious that that was way too aggressive and optimistic, they slipped it to 2049, the hundred year anniversary of the establishment of the communist party.

David Stilwell: (51:06)

So, these…in a, in a situation where you control the information so tightly, as is the case in China, you can tell any story you want. I mean, read 1984 or watch the movie where Winston Smith, our hero, goes back and he, he cuts out historical statements that he doesn’t like and inserts new ones into the, the bound volumes of the newspapers. They can do that, too. Um, digression. There’s a great photo, and I gotta find it again. Early on in the pandemic, uh, there’s a headline at Global Times. It says the Wuhan virus is under control and there’s no problem here, or something like that. And then about a month later, after they realized that Wuhan virus meant the world is going to make sure that China owned this problem, because that’s where it came from. And after the language of COVID came out, they went back historically and changed something that was already archived online and changed it to say, instead of Wuhan virus, they changed it to say COVID-19. They are not, uh, um, allergic to playing those sorts of horrible 1984ish Orwellian games with their own people.

David Stilwell: (52:08)

So, they can manage the narrative inside China any way they want. And if they need to slip it 10 more years, or if 2027 is no longer the goal, then they create a narrative inside China that, that explains why they could blame somebody else for it. And then they drive on. So, yes, the timing is a concern, but to me they have proven many times that they won’t be bound by, uh, timelines. We’ve got four year or eight year election periods that we have to, if we really want to get something done, we have to get things done inside. Their, their timing is much more fungible than that.

Simone Gao: (52:41)

Hmm. All right. Okay. Well said, Dave. Anything else you want to add?

David Stilwell: (52:47)

I appreciate the chance to share these thoughts, though, because this question is, is growing and you could hear an increasing demand for it. So, what you’re doing here is really important.

Simone Gao: (52:55)

Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Stilwell. Thank you for coming to Zooming In today.

David Stilwell: (53:02)

You bet. My pleasure.

Simone Gao: (53:03)

Thank you. Alright. That’s it. Wonderful.

David Stilwell: (53:09)

Thank you.

Simone Gao: (53:09)

Happy. Uh, tomorrow is, uh, oh, yesterday is Veteran’s Day, right? 

(53:14)

Right. Yep.

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