December 15, 2013

While We Weren't Looking

Dominica is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles, variously described as the Northernmost of the Windward islands or Southernmost of the Leeward Islands. The first British Colony governed by a majority black Legislature  (in 1838 ), it was granted  full independence in the 1970's.

Dominica boasts the second largest hot spring in the world, Boiling Lake. This was only discovered in 1878, because,the island is rugged enough that despite its small size and having been visited on Columbus's second voyage and colonized soon after, parts were not fully explored for centuries  One happy result is that Dominica is home to one of the few remaining populations of of the Carib People, with 3,000 on a small self governing reservation that was established on the northeast coast in 1901. The island's vegitation ranges from lush jungles to xeric

Dominica lacks a good natural harbor but its position at the juncture of the Leeward and Windward chains makes it a fairly strategic location. This is of particular interest now that the Chinese have bought the isla...
....Wait WHAT!

Dominica and China have signed a new 300 million dollars cooperation agreement that includes the construction of a hotel, construction of an international airport and building a new hospital. The sum involved is equivalent to a third of the small Caribbean island GDP, which could mean Beijing virtually is 'purchasing' the small territory.

While this is getting very little play here, it is eliciting some notice in the Caribbean.

Note that China has been doing this throughout the Caribbean  ( there's more on that here) and has already signed a deal with Nicaragua to build a much larger compliment to the Panama Canal (that they already effectively control ). This seems to be related to their so-called "Cabbage Strategy" that is causing such alarm in Asia right now. They gradually become so heavily invested in an area that it defacto becomes a Chinese vassal.

China's military might relative to us is not great with two major exceptions, their vast army and their nuclear arsenal. Their army is located on the other side of the world with no real way to threaten anyone outside of Asia. Their nuclear arsenal is nowhere near as big as the US or Russia and they lack delivery systems...only about 80-150 warheads can reach USA (up from 20-30 last year thanks to their SSBNs). Depending on yield though, that might represent 20-80 of our cities pulverized and their citizens killed or rendered destitute...a fairly consequential capability. This could become more worrisome if staging areas were available on our doorstep. 

The prospect of a million or so troops launching an attack from various of our Central American or Caribbean neighbors, and/or Chinese fighter planes delivering airstrikes that might include nukes, is, of course, laughable now, but China thinks very long term. If current trends continue, 20 years down the road, it might be rather less funny.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:47 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 While France claimed Dominica in the 1630s, they didn't actually colonize it for another century - mostly because the locals were fairly hard-assed and the terrain was difficult, without any notable gold deposits, and steep slopes not particularly suitable for sugar cultivation.  It went two hundred years in one of the most hotly contested colonial viper pits in the early modern world without being seized by Europeans.

Don't quote me on this, because I'm not a sailor, but I get the impression their ports and harbors aren't especially useful, either.  The island lies square in the middle of hurricane alley, and is very vulnerable to extreme weather, getting raked over by large, destructive cyclones every couple years on average.  It is poor as hell and lacking in natural resources. 

In short, Chinese neo-colonization of such a place makes them look even more than ever, like a new Second Reich - irredentist, militarized, pugnacious, expansionist-minded, diplomatically immature, and hellbound for a destructive confrontation with the world.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Dec 16 18:51:41 2013 (jwKxK)

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