Chinese/Russian/Iranian Ambitions may Exceed Current Capabilities…

Vern Scott
11 min readOct 4, 2022


…and go 斯普拉特·克普伦克! Сплат/Керплунк! اسپلات/کرپونک! respectively, while their notions of a Western demise may be greatly overstated. With a renewed East/West “Cold War”, and a resurgent Chinese and Russian Nationalistic “hard on” for the US and Europe, one wonders if minus the nuclear-card, the East has the tech capability to hang with the West over the long-term. It is all reminiscent of Germany/Japan in World War II, and the tendency of fervent xenophobes to lack patience and overplay their hand. Meanwhile, the Democratic West putts along, warts and all (indicative of transparent societies that still blend diverse elements and seem to ultimately kick tech-butt). Globalization tried to include all (in the name of Kumbaya) but for now has failed…will it rebound?

Xi Jinping/Vlad Putin and Russia-China-Iran are the updated “Axis of Evil”, but will they overreach?

We’ve been here before, worrying about the racist/Fascist juggernauts of the East (and you thought WE were racist and Fascist…China/Russia/Iran make us look like infantile amateurs!). For those living under a rock the last 80 years, I’m talking about the German/Japanese wave of Nationalistic fervor, xenophobia, and naughtiness (squelched by the Rebel Alliance…oops! the WW II Allies), making the world temporarily safe until the Communist Nations (hello China and Russia) filled the Japanese/German vacuum with…MORE NATIONALISTIC FERVOR, XENOPHOBIA and NAUGHTINESS. That subsided in the 90s (as we temporarily bought them off with a lot of cool phones, cars, and TV screen tech), but now THEY’RE BACK! (notice I didn’t include Iran, and North Korea in this opening statement, which speaks to their relative importance in all this). My grand theory is that the world has only recently glued all the little hating tribes of the world into Nations, and is still struggling with a UN-like style of International Law, regulating basic human rights, immigration, trade, and warfare. The ultimate solutions to a peaceful world (pretty much already outlined by Lincoln era 13th-15th Amendment basic rights, Roosevelt-like UN, Truman tradition War Crimes Trials, Jimmy Carter-ian-Human Rights, Clinton-Obama-esque International Free Trade) has yet to take hold in some parts of the world (Hell, even in some parts of the West!) The Chinese and Russian chest-thumping is indicative of two nations really feeling it over recent economic success (a revitalization of Cold War ideologies and Hegemonies) but it would seem they may not have the long-term tech machinery (or the patience) to back it up. In the Russians case, the Ukraine is providing a sort of road map for how to beat shitty Russian-made weaponry (Fuse work? Nyet? Ой чёрт!) with sustainable Liberal Democratic fervor, while the Chinese are ostensibly recycling Maoist themes (Communism went bye-bye so now suppression has been renamed “anti-corruption”) to saber-rattle Taiwan (who conveniently is moving critical chip-factories to the US leaving the PRC without…Bad microchip! 該死!).

CHINA’s PROBLEM: The Chinese, though wisely employing the “Belt and Road Initiative” (an old Western trick where they “help” impoverished Nations, actually absconding with natural resources and foisting indebtedness) seem to be flipping off the rest of the world in exchange for economic loss. After all, they got rich by being fake-compliant making everyone’s cheap stuff (mostly clothes, toys, and gadgets) that the West could A) Rapidly pivot to make elsewhere and B) Could maybe do without. China seems to think it could hang with the West in the higher echalons of military hardware, public works, and banking while squeezing smart people and utilizing slave labor at home, but they are forgetting one thing…nobody really likes the Chinese. Certainly not the Japanese and South Koreans (who seem to have learned “cool” much better than at least the PR Chinese) and definitely not the Philippines and many Pacific Islanders (who look upon the money-is-everything Chinese interlopers about as fondly as we perceive Tsetse flies). The People’s Republic has created some state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles and quantum communications, along with a huge Navy and emerging nuclear ICBM capability, to go along with growing space exploration and possibly satellite-killing tech. Of course they have, as during the trusting era of “globalization”, they stole all the tech they could from us (under the guise of an “exchange student program”). But given their impatience and notions that “half the world is historically Chinese, who invented everything while the non-Chinese are a bunch of jealous morons” concept (familiar stuff, to all the Third-Reich and Bushido students out there), they may be poised for overreach. In a society that may soon famously feel the effects of their one-child policy and relentless repression, the PRC may momentarily be bereft of the highly-trained workers needed to make all this advanced hardware. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, idiots like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Marine Le Pen, and Victor Orban are busy scaring away the very smart liberal, global, and immigrant minds necessary to make this great electronic war equipment. Quite telling are recent developments with India, which buys weaponry from “ally” Russia but has had border skirmishes with (and is in competition against), China. How hard is it for the US and others to sway India’s allegiance by offering to make Iphones there instead of China? India hates China (and especially China’s ally Pakistan) and is still mostly an Anglophile Country in love with money and progress (as is roughly 1/3 of the world). The Solomon Islands also recently backed off its Chinese buy-off with some gentle pressure from the West. See? China has few friends in the world, if it can’t buy them (while we have a few years until the world learns that our dollars are funny-money). Silly as our decadent Western ways can be, the “Sleeping Giant” has many “diversity” buttons at their disposal and is about to awaken (BTW, I could never figure out the demonization of diversity, in the sense that Rosie Riveters, Tuskegee Airmen and Veracruz “La Bamba” factories kicked Hitler/Hirohito butt).

China has built an impressive Navy, yet WW II Japan had one too before being sunk by US xenophobia-free production and integrated command. Annoying the Taiwanese with drones may not work either

China would’ve been smart to wait maybe ten years, until their banking and military systems fully matured (seeming compliant with the West while stealing our shit) but its too late…they’ve tipped their racist hands and the West is getting ready for them. Taiwan? That’s easy, the West just needs to wait until China makes the first move…then world opinion (which the US conveniently controls) is against China and they’re in a war of attrition with “poor Taiwan” (aka “Chinese Ukraine”). The North Korean punks, meanwhile, might be emboldened by their big brother’s invasion of a Western proxy, lob a few missiles at South Korea, US now has excuse to melt Pyongyang, game over. I have to think that Djakarta, Manila, and Hanoi (yes, even the Vietnamese hate China) will happily help decommission all those phony little Chinese islands in the South China Sea that threaten their Internationally sanctioned sovereignty (See China? Alliances can be a bitch!). China’s remaining allies (um… Laos, Cambodia, Guinea, Venezuela, Pakistan, N. Korea, Syria, Russia and a few other lame ones I can’t remember) can all regroup.

RUSSIA’s PROBLEM: Russia’s problems have been pretty well documented, so I won’t belabor the points (see “China” above for most of them). How smart was it for Putin to give in to foaming-at-the-mouth Nationalists who are apparently Fascists “fighting against Ukrainian Nazis” (?) Evidently, we need to thank Trump’s currently sinking ship for deluding Putin into thinking we were a Nation divided (when it may have been a brief/Democratic “acting-out” day in the sun for our own nutty faux religious racist anti-vaxxers and response to similarly nutty far-left Socialist money-printers). This deft Western political move, which may go down in history as the “let-the-teenage brat-think they’re in charge-so as to show them they’re still immature” trick, gave Putin the bravado to act. Now he’s hopelessly outgunned by a resurgent West (even prodding Finland and Sweden to join NATO…Sweden? That’s when you know you are f*cked Internationally. Are the Swiss next?) Trump and Tucker Carlson gave some brief lip-service to Putin early in the war but are now curiously silent (as are the 12 in the Senate and 42 in the House that said “Nyet!” to Ukrainian military aid). This has done the US a great service, as we now know who the “Fifth Columnists” are (this was like briefly turning on kitchen lights to expose cockroaches, so as to more easily stomp them).

Iran is no slouch when it comes to fanatical overreach. How would we feel if we had to look at giant billboards of Trump/Pence (or Biden/Harris) everywhere?

IRAN’s PROBLEM: Briefly, I’m using Iran as a stand-in for all repressive Islamic regimes. How far are you going to get, treating women like dirt? (Remember, they are half the people and 100% of the…oh never mind!) Besides being the front-end banner of the merits of diversity, Liberal Democracy, or whatever you want to call it (which if you’ll recall, has won wars lately (since our Rosie Riveter aluminum planes tend to beat your balsa-paper mache kamikaze ones, for instance). How long can Iran keep up the non-Hijab-shaming culture that may satisfy the Iranian country-crackers but overall can’t compete with the West? I could never really understand all the backlash to the “diversity” concept here (unless it conjures up images of unfair women and minority college admissions that defeat meritocracy). Economists know that a diverse and adaptable workforce creates a dynamic (and ultimately affordable and available) product. Iran is rather isolated too, kind of outflanked by the “Islamic Triangle” (Arabs-Turkic Mongols-Iranians) in a world that is more Sunni than Shiite. They must also know that when there’s kinda sorta a military alliance between the US-Israel-Saudi Arabia and you have to ally with Russia, (by selling them defective military drones) things don’t look good. Maybe that’s where all the anger and denial are coming from? Relax Iran! Have one of our craft beers!

THE CURIOUS PROBLEM OF NUCLEAR WARFARE: The problem with all this is nuclear warfare. The West could simply use their weapons of diversity, alliances, strong banking, and quiet/resolute military strength to rope-a-dope the malevolent East forever, rubbing their collective noses in their own piddle, if it weren’t for the specter of nukes. Putin knows this, yet ironically its much more effective to threaten nuclear warfare than to actually use it, since the “winner” has to then wallow in their own nuclear waste (if they want to occupy the vanquished). So it ends up being the “greatest weapon you’ll never use”, especially since it gives the even-larger collective-nuclear-arsenal West a reason to retaliate (and I have to think our better chips will make them more accurate, like how the US-supplied HIMARS were Ukrainian game-changers…remember Putin, ”close” is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades). Not to give anyone ideas here, but I suppose the “nuclear hostage” idea is the best (ie planting a nuclear time-bomb in a critical Western industrial area). That way, if the Western entity doesn’t comply and the bomb goes off, Putin et al can claim that “it was the fault of the West for not complying”. It seems a better way of doing this is to wire the rest of the world with an energy network, then holding it hostage (which of course Putin is already doing with natural gas). But again, Putin was impatient and acted too soon, allowing Europe to rapidly find alternatives. Note here that China (who is buying otherwise undelivered Russian natural gas on the cheap) is only too happy to sell it back to Germany and others at a huge markup. Yet this is an invitation for the US/Canada to “drill baby drill” and once again Russia-China loses in the long run.

The United Nations is a great concept, but it is seen internationally as US dominated and lacking “teeth”

WHAT MAY RESOLVE ALL THIS: I almost hate to interrupt all this delicious negativity about the repressive East, but there may be some solutions on the horizon. I mean, being nasty is fun for awhile, but then Karma is a bitch. For all black-eyes that Liberal Democracies have been getting lately, they’ve proven to be remarkably effective economic (and defensive) machines (remember, they won World Wars I and II, plus the Cold War). Granted, we create our own waste product (the Military Industrial Complex? MAGA? Naughty and whiny Liberals that annoyingly want free lunch for everyone, including your cat?) they also have the corrective machinery (called voting, assuming it’s fair). Someday, the Liberal concepts (of mostly Democratic centrist politicians, plus Lincoln who could today be called a closet-Democrat?) may actually take hold worldwide. This may involve:

A) UN-with-some-teeth (a UN that intervenes militarily with would-be Genocides before they happen)

B) A kind of free-trade where poor nations are improved by supplying labor to richer nations (kind of like American Football, where the bad teams get the best draft picks)

C) Some global realization that if we don’t have rational restrictions on energy, agriculture, growth, and warfare, we may all burn/suffocate/drown in our collective waste

D) As Nations, we may each be allowed our own Cultural Identities (various religions, dominant ethnicities, and their largely biased and disgusting habits) and immigrants may be subject to “vesting” (gradual accrual of benefits, like new employees on probation or fraternity pledges, aka “harmless hazing”), yet everyone worldwide might have an enforceable “human rights package” that would include most of 1st, 13th-15th amendments plus “Brown vs Board of Education” (ie you can worship freely, can’t be a slave, have police protection, can get an equal education). The vesting limitation would manifest itself as a kind of “You can’t speak your former language in the new one, renounce your former Country’s ways until you blend” kind of thing, along with the non-citizenship “can’t vote” already in place. (I hate to say, a kind of selective free-speech right?)

E) It might help if we were invaded by Aliens, which would bring us all together in a hurry (see “Independence Day” for details)

As newly minted nations slowly climbing out of the “each tribe hates the other” world, slowly evolving more inclusive ethics, “Golden Rule” as opposed to repressive “Iron Rule”, maybe there’s hope. Maybe even China, Russia, and Iran will fall flat on their faces, regroup, and take note (but don’t hold your breath).

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Vern Scott

Scott lives in the SF Bay Area and writes confidently about Engineering, History, Politics, and Health