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After Ukraine, US readies ‘transnational kill chain’ for Taiwan proxy war

Washington approved the dangerous sale of the Link 16 communications system to Taiwan. This is the final link of what the US military calls a “transnational coalition kill chain” against China, and signals a commitment to kinetic war.

From BAE Systems promotional materials for Link 16
From BAE Systems promotional materials for Link 16

In many traditions, when you paint or sculpt a Buddha, the eyes are the very last to be painted. It’s only after the eyes have been completed that the sculpture is fully alive and empowered.

The United States has approved a $75 million weapons package to Taiwan province, involving the sale of the Link 16 communications system.

The acquisition of Link 16 is analogous to “painting the eyes on the Buddha”: a last touch, it makes Taiwan’s military systems and weapons platforms live and far-seeing.

It confers deadly powers, or more prosaically, in the words of the US military, it completes Taiwan as the final, lethal link of what the US Naval Institute calls a “transnational coalition kill chain”, for war against China.

What exactly is Link 16? It is a key system in the US military communications arsenal. Specifically, it’s the jam-resistant tactical data network for coordinating NATO weapons systems for joint operations in war.

If this sale is completed, it signals serious, granular, and single-minded commitment to kinetic war. It would signal that the Biden administration is as serious and unwavering in its desire to provoke and wage large-scale war with China over Taiwan as it was with Russia over Ukraine, which also saw the implementation of this system.

More important than any single weapons platform, this system allows the Taiwan/ROC military to integrate and coordinate all its warfighting platforms with US, NATO, Japanese, Korean, Australian militaries in combined arms warfare.

The deadliest link

Link 16 would be the deadliest piece of technology yet to be transferred, because it allows sea, air, and land forces to be coordinated with others for lethal effect.

It permits, for example, strategic nuclear/stealth bombers  (US B-1B Lancers, B-2 Spirits) to coordinate with electronic warfare and surveillance platforms  (EA Growlers, Prowlers, EP-3s), fighters and bombers (F-16,F-22, F-35s) as well as conduct joint arms warfare with US, French, British carrier battle groups, Japanese SDF destroyers, and South Korean Hyun Moo missile destroyers, as well as THAAD and Patriot radars and missile batteries.

It also allows coordination with low-earth orbit satellites and other Space Force assets.

In other words, Link 16 supplies a brain and nervous system to the various deadly limbs and arms that the Taiwan authorities have been acquiring and preparing on the prompting of the US. It ensures interoperability and US control.

It effectively prepares Taiwan to be used as the spear tip and trigger of a multinational war offensive against China.

To give a shoe-on-the-other-foot analogy, this would be like China giving separatists in a US territory or state (e.g. Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, Texas) not just arms and training – already a belligerent act of war, which the US is currently doing – but connecting insurgent militaries directly to the PLA’s surveillance, reconnaissance, and command/control systems.

This coordinates and completes, to borrow the words of the US Naval Institute (USNI), the final link in a “transnational coalition kill chain” for war.

Offsetting peace, sowing dragon’s teeth

The current US doctrine of war against China is based on distributeddisperseddiffused, network-centric warfare to be conducted along the myriad islands of the archipelagic states encircling China in the Pacific.

These are the “island chains” upon which the US has encircled and sown dragon’s teeth: tens of thousands of troops armed with mobile attack platforms and missiles.

This is to be coordinated with subsurface warfare, automated/autonomous warfare, and longer-range stand-off weapons and attacks.

Powerful think tanks like CSBA, CNAS, CSIS, RAND and the Pentagon have been working out the doctrine, details, logistics, and appropriations for this concept intensively for over a decade while advocating intensely for it.

The sale of link 16 to Taiwan realizes and completes a key portion of this, binding the Chinese island as the keystone of this “multinational kill chain”.

This doctrine of dispersion is based on a “rock-paper-scissors” concept that networked diffusion “offsets” (Chinese) precision.

China’s capacity to defend itself and its littoral perimeter with precision missiles can be undermined with diffuse, distributed attacks from all across the island chains.

Note that this diffusion and dispersion of attack platforms across the entire Pacific gives the lie to the claim that this is some inherently deterrent strategy to defend Taiwan island. Diffusion is clearly offensive, designed to overrun and overwhelm defenses: like Ukraine, this is not to deter war, but to enable it.

This thus signals that aggressive total war against China is being prepared, in granular, lethal fashion on tactical and operational levels.

On the strategic level, currently, at the CFR, CNAS, and other influential think tanks in Washington, the talk is all about “protracted warfare” with China, about pre-positioning systems and munitions for war, about ramping up to an industrial war footing for the inescapable necessity of war with China.

This discussion includes preparations for a nuclear first strike on China.

The US senses that the clock is running rapidly down on its power. If war is inevitable, then it is anxious to start war sooner rather than later.

RAND warned in 2016 that 2025 was the outside window for the US to prevail in war with China. The “Minihan window” also hints at 2025. The “Davidson window” is 2027.

The question in Washington regarding war with China is not if, but when–and how.

Link 16 makes “how” easier, and brings “when” closer.

But the US is still engaged in Ukraine. Can it wage a two-front war? 

The current administration has hardline Russophobes who want to continue to bleed Russia out in Ukraine. It wants protracted war with Russia. It firmly believes it can wage ambidextrous, multi-front war.

Many US officials also believe that war with Ukraine and war with China are connected. They see Russia and China as a single axis of “revisionist powers” (i.e., official enemies) conspiring against the US to undermine its so-called “rules-based order” (i.e., US hegemony).

Furthermore, if the US abandons Ukraine, this could weaken the Taiwan authorities’ resolve and willingness to wage war on behalf of Washington.

Earlier in the war, when Russian gains in Ukraine were uncertain, Bi-khim Louise Hsiao (Taiwan’s current vice-president elect) gloated publicly and prominently that Ukraine’s victories were a message to China, as well as proof-of-concept of an effective doctrine for waging and winning war against China. As such, the Taiwan authorities were and are a major supporter of the Ukraine proxy war.

But the converse also holds true. Based on the same premise, if the US abandons and loses Ukraine, it sends a clear message to the people on Taiwan island that they will be the next to be used and abandoned; that their US-imposed war and war doctrine (light, distributed, asymmetrical combined arms warfare) for fighting China is a recipe for catastrophic loss.

The US plans on using proxies for war against China: Taiwan, Korea, Japan (JAKUS), Philippines, and Australia (AUKUS). Thus it cannot signal too overtly its perfidious, unreliable, and instrumental mindset.

Washington has to keep up the pretense. It cannot be seen to overtly lose in or abandon Ukraine. It needs a “decent interval”, or a plausible pretext to cut and run.

Still, the US is stretched thin. For example, it is relying on Korean munitions to Ukraine, and South Korea has provided more munitions than all of the EU combined.

Moreover, the US is currently at war with itself. The fracturing of its body politic can only be unified with a common war against a common enemy. Russia is not that enemy for the US. China is. The Republicans want war with China now.

Eli Ratner and Elbridge Colby have been fretting for years about the need to husband weaponry, arms, and munitions in order to wage war against China.

Since the outbreak of Ukraine, Ratner has been working hard to pull India into the US defense industry’s supply chain, and claims to have been successful.

South Korea’s considerable military-industrial complex is being pulled into sub-contracting for US war with China.

Since many of its major Chaebol corporations got their start as subcontractors for the war in Vietnam (for example, Hyundai was a subcontractor for Halliburton/Brown & Root), the Korean economy is simply reverting back to its corporate-martial roots.

South Korea’s economy is currently tanking due to US-forced sanctions on China. Major Korean electronic firms have lost 60 to 80% of their profits due to US-imposed chip sanctions.

Under those conditions, military manufacturing and/or subcontracting looks to be the only way forward.

In this way, the US is forcing a war economy onto its vassals.

The business of the US is war

Furthermore, US aid to Ukraine benefits its own arms industry.

The business of the US is war. Not only do existing US arms companies gain, but also the entire tech industry and supply chain benefits, and is currently re-orienting around this.

Much of the US tech industry is seeking to suckle from the government teat, now flowing copiously in preparation for war.

On the other hand, the general US economy is not doing well, with massive layoffs, especially in the consumer and business tech sector.

The backstop of military Keynesianism, with the integration of think-tank lobbying groups funded by the arms industry with close ties to the administration (such as CNAS, West Exec Advisors, and CSIS) ensure that war is always the closest ready-to-hand resort for tough economic times.

The US is simultaneously trying to decouple supply chains, which creates opportunities for US firms (both domestically and subcontracting with US vassals).

Automated, AI-enabled warfare will be a key part of this development, as will be dispersed, distributed warfare platforms using proxies such as South Korea and Japan.

This fits the existing historical pattern: the history of Western technology shows that technology and machinery have always been developed first for war.

Afterwards, they become tools of entertainment and distraction, and later productive tools for general industrial use.

The machinery of war, mystification, and repression

This pattern goes back to the earliest machines and inventions of the West: the crane, the pulley, the lever, were all military technologies – machines of war (used in sieges).

Later they became machines of illusion and distraction (used as stage machinery in Greek theater).

Only much later were they applied for general use – and exploitation – in manufacture and production.

This holds true for many other technologies, including:

  • the internet, originally designed to create redundant military communications in case of nuclear strike;
  • GPS, for precision bombing;
  • integrated circuit computer chips, a miniaturization of electronic circuits to fit inside the cone of missile guidance systems;
  • digital computers, conceived by Alan Turing while trying to break military encryption;
  • microwave ovens, originally radar technology, initially marketed as the “Radar-range”;
  • analog computers, invented for military calculations; and
  • feedback systems, for guidance systems.

Nuclear power obviously derives from nuclear weapons.

AI, too, from its inception, was conceived for automated battle management, especially to enable second strike after human life had been destroyed.

An AI war is already in the works, with US sanctions on AI-related chips and computing, along with an algorithmic race to suppress dissent and critique in the information domain.

War and business are intricately related in the west, and war is the first lever pulled when the economy stagnates critically or needs a boost.

Is there any possibility of peace?

The US needs to abandon its neoconservative fantasies of hegemonic global empire and retreat gently into that good night, for there to be peace.

Washington needs to negotiate in good faith with Russia, and begin the process of de-escalating its proxies in Ukraine, as well as in Palestine, and the Pacific.

It needs to seek win-win cooperation in a multilateral order based on international law and mutual co-existence, not its own top-down “rules-based order”.

It needs to respect the One China principle, end its interference in China’s affairs, and stop preparing and provoking war with China.

However, the US ruling class is unwilling to do so. And it has only a few levers left to pull. The military one is the closest and most ready to hand.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”.

Like a drunk at the bar after the final call – drunk with power – Washington is determined to go out with a fight.

That fight could involve a nuclear first strike. Palestine has shown what it will try to get away with: brazen genocide with the whole world watching.

The issue is no longer war or peace in Ukraine. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell sees Ukraine as a “unified field” of war with China. He revels in the possibility of a “magnificent symphony of death” in Asia.

The coda, of course, will be a deafening fermata of silence across the entire planet. Unless we stop this insane march to war.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. John R Moffett

    2024-03-01 at 09:33

    I wrote about the military Keynesianism in the US back in 2012, and it seemed so pertinent today that I reposted it recently.

    https://johnmoffett.substack.com/p/war-nation

    The public in the US is being snookered and played for fools by the Biden administration. Time to dump genocide Joe.

    • JonnyJames

      2024-03-01 at 10:44

      It’s not “Keynsianism” it’s what Ray McGovern calls the MICIMATT –
      Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex.

      Most folks dont’ know who John M. Keynes was, let alone “Keynsianism” and this is not an accurate label for those familiar with JMK.

      It aint just Genocide Joe, every single so-called candidate for POTUS supports Israel and Israeli genocide of Palestine unconditionally. This is long-term US foreign policy.

      • Elizabeth Anne Keenan

        2024-03-01 at 23:13

        Yes, it’s always been the US policy – Empire etc.
        Which means those organizing to get rid of biden are our only chance. If we can convince both parties that a war candidate will be defeated….. I know, pretty slim. I doubt there is another option though.

        • JonnyJames

          2024-03-02 at 14:02

          Parties? vote? How quaint. Massive rebellion is the only thing that can mitigate the status-quo.

          https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/jimmy-carter-u-s-is-an-oligarchy-with-unlimited-political-bribery-63262/

          • Cure E Us

            2024-03-03 at 00:37

            I agree, JonnyJames.

            As far as I see, the situation in the U.S. is way beyond the ballot. We’ve been military usurped/corporate usurped (take your pick, one in the same). The vote process is all theater; it keeps the public distracted and angry. Biden and Trump are essentially delegated appointees controlled by cloaked oligarchs/dynasties (Blackwater et al.). If general public ever hopes to ‘possibly’ avoid WW3 (regain sovereignty), we’ll need to organize 10+mm similar minded individuals, boycott like hell, and march like our lives depended on it (they do).

      • John R Moffett

        2024-03-02 at 08:55

        Keynesianism is when the government steps in to dump money on something, usually to boost a flagging economy. How is that different than when the government dumps money on the MICIMATT (The Blob)? That is the exact definition of Keynesianism. It is just that it is military Keynesianism.

        • JonnyJames

          2024-03-02 at 13:54

          Mr. Moffet. No if you read Keynes, he advocates gov. spending on infrastructure, social programs etc. (“multiplier effect’) He never advocated for institutional corruption, oligarchy or kleptocracy. Don’t get it twisted. You are thinking of Paul Krugman. Military Krugmansism is more fitting.

      • Rubicon

        2024-03-04 at 17:24

        Ray McGovern is an expert in his field. However, he does not understand the power of the US Financial Hegemon. Those are the folks behind all this military technologies. In general, they’re zealots in maintaining their incredible wealth. Nothing can stop them save for a few Nuclear Bombs dropped on NYC, D.C. and the armament productions throughout the World.

        • JonnyJames

          2024-03-06 at 11:00

          That’s why we have Michael Hudson. I’m sure you’ve read Super Imperialism.

    • JonnyJames

      2024-03-01 at 10:55

      Having aired my nitpicks: I agree with the major points you make.

      I appreciate and agree with this very informative article from KJ Noh.

      Thanks to GE for posting it.

    • Cure E Us

      2024-03-03 at 02:53

      Re: The public in the US is being snookered and played for fools by the Biden administration. Time to dump genocide Joe.

      I agree, John. However, Joe is just a spoke in the wheel of the system. Trump’s another spoke in the wheel of the broken system. If genocide Joe, or demagogue Don are somehow disappeared, they will just be supplanted by subterfuge Sue, egregious Evan, sabotage Sam, or plundering Paula. The usurped US system is like those golden warriors in Hellboy: if you kill one, they will simply reanimate perpetually. It’s the system that must be remade from the top down. The US is nothing more than a rotten holding company. It’s a facade. It’s like an old car that needs a complete overhaul. The American public is expendable in the eyes of the cruelling class. They’ve proven it time and time again: 911, WTC #7, Gulf of Tonkin, the population-modification-inoculation, WMD lie, Nordstream bombing, JFK murder, Iran regime change or 1953, Bobby Kennedy murder, I never had sex with that woman, I never inhaled, and “I’m not a crook.” Hell, a Major General in the U.S. Marines (Smedley Butler), told us what the U.S. empire was about: Racketeers!

      The US is like entering the haunted house at the local amusement park and never exiting.

      • JonnyJames

        2024-03-03 at 15:19

        Cure E Us, that reminds me: “If the President does it, it’s not illegal”.

        Gen.Butler had the War is a Racket business figured out back in the 1930s. He said the US military was nothing but enforcers for Wall St. banksters and financial parasites. Pretty much sums it up.

        I like your term “crueling class”. Reminds me of some old Peter Tosh terms like “politricksters” and “the crime minister”

        • Cure E Us

          2024-03-03 at 16:42

          I agree, JonnyJames.

          Very good, but nefarious: “the crime minister”

          Your description reminded me of a thought I had the other day about Netanyahu: “The Prime Monster.”

  2. Cure E Us

    2024-03-03 at 16:22

    I have often wondered what Roman citizens thought as they watched the Roman Empire fall apart culturally, politically, morally, and militarily. Cicero, quaestor, praetor and Counsel of Rome, tried to save the Roman Republic. For his efforts he was chased down and murdered. As Cicero was, perhaps, the most famous Roman, his murder stopped efforts to prevent Rome’s descent into tyranny. 

    The enemies Washington has created for America are not weak. Russia alone, China alone, perhaps even Iran alone, is a match or more for America. The three together constitute a vast over-match of US military capability. Yet Washington continues to increase hostilities with these countries. The mindlessness of my government is unbearable. Such utter stupidity.

    Once the moronic Biden regime’s economic sanctions and the US loss of the reserve currency role finish off the US dollar, America is finished. We will be a third world country, and the rest of the world will punish us for the sins of our government.
    Try to tell this to an American. https://www.globalresearch.ca/what-romans-thinking-they-watched-rome-collapse/5842865

    In Mr. Xi’s telling, China sought to rise peacefully, but Western powers would not accept the idea that a Communist-led China was catching up and could someday overtake them in global primacy. The West would never stop trying to derail China’s ascent and topple its Communist Party, he said in speeches to the military that are largely unreported by the media.

    Throughout history, empires have loathed rivals, opponents, adversaries, and competitors. They do everything they can to prevent them from rising, including the imposition of harmful economic measures but even going so far as to initiate wars against them, all with the aim of weakening what they perceive as a rising rival to their empire.

    In the eyes of the U.S. national-security establishment, China’s rise posed a grave threat to its post-Cold War role as the world’s sole remaining empire. Something had to be done to bring China down, even if it harmed the American people at the same time. By suppressing China’s economic prosperity, the empire aimed to diminish the amount of tax revenues flowing into the Chinese government’s coffers, thereby limiting its ability to expand its military and its influence around the world. 

    It’s just the way empires have always worked. Questions naturally arises though for the American people: Is it right for the U.S. government to be wreaking economic damage on the people of another country? Indeed, is it right for the U.S. government to even be an empire?
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/xi-jinping-right-about-us-empire/5840600

    The American empire considers all people expendable, even American citizens.

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