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New Review: Showdown

October 13, 2006

Since China has emerged in the world as a military, diplomatic and industrial/economic powerhouse, there have been rumblings that eventually the Red Dragon and the Eagle would collide in a battle of epic and devastating proportions. Though the current wisdom of the day suggests that Beijing has everything to lose and nothing to gain by throwing its trade partnership with the US over the falls, some would suggest that our current detent with China and its growing markets is only a stalling ploy while a plot to do battle with Washington is underfoot.

Simply put, there is a segment of the knowledgeable population that believes that eventually China will declare war on the US, finally utilizing the tools that we gave them in the 1990’s. Oddly enough, that’s not the good part of the story. The really interesting part is how exactly China will choose to light the spark that will set the world on fire. Their choices range from a possible attack and reclamation of Taiwan to various oil wars in the Middle East to Hugo Chavez permanently and wholly cutting off the Latin American oil spigot to the very timely possibility of North Korea unleashing its very own functional nuclear bomb.

“Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States,” by former deputy undersecretary of defense under George HW Bush and the author of the anti-UN book “Inside the Asylum,” Jed Babbin and investigator for issues on national security and international financial crimes plus author of the books, “Year of the Rat,” “Red Dragon Rising: Communist China’s Military Threat to America,” and “Target: Taiwan,” Edward Timperlake, have written a pseudo political fiction book about the various scenarios in which China and the US war against one another.

Essentially what Babbin and Timperlake have done with “Showdown” is taken a great deal of the research regarding the various possible flashpoints between the US and China and arranged into several quasi-fictional scenarios. For example, as you might know there currently stands a law on the books stating that if China attempts to forcibly bring Taiwan back under Communist Chinese control, we will send our own forces to deflect said invasion. Babbin and Timperlake take us to a probable future where this event does come to fruition and describes in fairly good detail just what it might look like.

Other scenarios include the possibility of Venezuela diverting all of their oil exports from the US to China, which apparently would set off a military conflict between Washington and Caracas. In that vein there is another scenario with oil at its heart that puts us square in the sights of Beijing’s vastly growing military machine. Yet another reveals the possibility of China attacking the US not with bombs and standard military weapons but with cyber-warfare and anti-satellite systems.

Now the subject of China and their designs for power and influence throughout the world could be handled in an even-handed and unbiased manner. Many books do just that. This is not one of those books. Babbin and Timperlake, though well meaning and probably correct, tip their hands and reveal themselves to be conservatives of the war hawk variety. In “Showdown” they accomplish this task in two ways.

First, the book, though fiction, is loosely based on a few known characters or amalgamations of known political personalities. President George W Bush makes a short appearance at the beginning of the book as he is thrown into a situation with China while on the last leg of his presidency. The authors make no secret that they view this man as having been unmercifully butchered by a left-wing, pansy press and equally unpatriotic, near treasonous opposition party. As I recall the authors allude to their dear president as having narrowly missed being impeached. Anywho, in the chapter on Taiwan Babbin and Timperlake paint a picture that has Mr. Bush trying to defend this country from evildoers only to almost be undone by those who just don’t understand our enemy. In other words, this book is solely for Republicans and Conservatives that already have a bias against the Democrats on the issue of national security.

Now if you like a good rhapsodizing of the president then you’ll the rest of the book. Babbin and Timperlake assume that Hillary Clinton (whom in the book goes by the name of some kind of witch) will become president. They then place her into all of these aforementioned various scenarios where her indecisiveness and (at times) perceived abject hostile lunacy nearly gets the entire country blown to smithereens. Ultimately we win most of the scenarios written about in the book but not before Madam President does some serious damage to the country at large. As I recall, Babbin and Timperlake think she’ll cause Japan to get nuked all over again due to sort of capricious, Marie Antoinette-ish decision making. Needless to say, though I’m no fan of the woman, their portrayal of her is chez over-the-top.

Babbin and Timperlake also paint Chinese President Hu Jintao as a villain a-la Snidely K. ‘Whip’ Whiplash of Dudley Do-Right fame. There’s really no rhyme or reason to what Jintao does, only that he is bent on dominating the US like he is a less overdramatic version of Cobra Commander from the old GI Joe cartoons. Honestly, Pinky and The Brain had more of a clear motivation for why they were attempting to rule the world than what is presented as the reasons Hu Jintao goes to war with the US in “Showdown.” You just have to accept as read that the Chinese want to fight and then enjoy the rest of the book as you would a Tom Clancy novel or James Bond movie. Though let me add that their description of Hugo Chavez as being something of a mook is probably accurate.

Don’t get me wrong; I actually liked the book. I found their presentations of how we might find ourselves embroiled in military conflicts with China to be fascinating. The reader just has to get past how very slanted the narrative can be at times. “Showdown” is very much like an old junior high school American history textbook: we are the good guys; they are the bad guys and anything we are always in the position of righteous defense and never aggressive imperialism. For those fans of standard Regnery faire, this is par for the course and obviously it didn’t bother me, as I’m something of a hawk myself.

Overall “Showdown” is a nice, short, exciting book that is candy for the non-fiction/current event set. If you are looking for some light reading but don’t want to stray too far from the non-fiction shelves of your local Borders Book Store, then you should pick yourself up a copy of “Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States” by Jed Babbin, Edward Timperlake.

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