Superpower Showdown - James Pickerton

Here is the new essay by James Pickerton, "Superpower Showdown - America needs a new strategy for dealing with China, a country we can’t contain and can’t afford to fight", in "American Conservative". He saw than it is impractical to maintain global hegemony the Bushism way, and that the "balance of power" paradigm of leveraging one against the other might be more practical. He gave his opinions on many writings in recent years, including those of Kaplan and Pillsbury, and on containment, Taiwan, and self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • "So America’s grand strategy for the next century should be twofold, First, we must recognize that rising powers inherently bring rising threats. Second, such rising powers should be balanced, played off each other, and not directly confronted. Why? Because the cost of American participation in nuclear-era world war, for any reason less than national survival, is simply too great. America would be wise to accept a reduced role in Asia in exchange for a reduced responsibility for participating in the inevitable future regional conflicts.
  • So the time has come for a different strategy that is neither hawkish nor dovish—merely realistic. It’s a foreign-policy approach that’s been proven in the past, in the historical crucible of great-power jockeying. "

For the time being I do not have much to say, except a small correction of fact. He said

  • "we recently learned that cyber- snoops at Shandong University had decrypted Secure Hash Algorithm-1, one of the basic codes of the U.S. military. " -- Certainly what the computer scientists in Shandong did was great accomplishment. However, the hash encryption they broke was an academic breakthrough, on a code published in NSB, and widely used in credit card and other commercial application. US military uses more sophisticated encryption.

This is a sober reflection of US foreign policy, except for his assessment of Japan going down the nuclear road, as that will not be an Asian affair, because nukes can strike the Amrican continent just as easily.

Update (Dec 10): great comments on this article by Green Apron Monkey, and on the background of the publisher.


Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats tried very hard to understand what Zoellick mean by "stakeholder" and try to become one (WSJ Dec 7, and here), while Koizumi's thought there is no such need for Japan.



qgr said...

"Decrypted" implies that the original plain text can be obtained given a piece of encrypted text.

What the group achieved was produce "collisions" but not the original plain text. It is impossible to produce original text from hashing algorithms(which losses information) such as SHA-1.

Interview with one of the authors


However, the implication that China has invested significant resources in dual-use technologies and is making notable progress is correct.

Sun Bin said...

Thanks for the links.

An anecdote, when the 2 chinese scientists tried to attend a conference in california, to share with their fellow academics in USA about the finding, so that they can develop a better encryption algorithm, the Bush bureaucrats denied their visa application. LOL.

Sun Bin said...

i thought finding a collision means you can find the orginial plain text pretty easily afterward?

Momo said...

The writer attempts to portray China in revanchist mood, nursing past humiliations.
Maybe China will be less conscious of the past if some countries would stop treating the country as they have for the past century: bullying, threatening and hectoring.
China must do this, China must do that. Please go pick up after the mess you created for yourself.
anyway, the whole rant is also intended to sway opinion in favour of remilitarisation and even nuclear rearmament of certain countries. Let those yellow perils fight!
If America were really to remove what someone called its moral and nuclear umbrella, Japan would be more amenable towards making peace with neighbours.

Sun Bin said...

this is published in "America Conservative". Considering that, it is at least more sane than the likes of Kaplan and Pillsbury.

qgr said...

Sun Bin - Don't mean to divert attention from your excellent blog or the article cited.

But for those who are interested -
In computer science, a hash "collision" is a situation that occurs when two distinct [plain text] inputs into a hash function produce identical outputs.

Xiaoyun Wang's group found new algorithm(s) to produce collisions in SHA-1 orders of magnitude faster than brute force search(2^63 vs 2^80). A significant achievement. But the algorithm is not useful in finding the original plain text given the hash result.

Sun Bin said...


yes, you are right. thanks for the links :)


Nautic said...

New dog is learning old tricks from a former colonial master: "Divide and conquer".