Hamilton: Between Red China and the deep Black Sea
June 22, 2010
Even though the news is dominated currently by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and by the efforts of the Obama administration to try to make it illegal to enforce the laws making it illegal to enter the U.S. illegally, it might be wise to give some attention to Red China, Turkey, Greece, Israel, and to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The Greeks are broke. Of course, the Greeks are not the only Europeans guilty of irresponsible fiscal behavior. All the socialist countries in Europe are on the road to the economic serfdom that results when your national debt exceeds your gross domestic product (GDP). As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” (Please, someone tell the Obama White House.)
Now, the Red Chinese, loaded with money earned by selling cheap factory labor to make consumer goods for American consumers, just bought the Port of Piraeus which is adjacent to the Greek capital of Athens.
From a commercial point of view, it is doubtful the Red Chinese, no matter how many millions they invest in Piraeus, can turn it into a money-maker because the only overland route from Greece to Western Europe must cross mountainous Macedonia and often-violent Serbia.
From a military perspective, however, controlling the major seaport of Greece makes a lot of sense. From Piraeus, the Red Chinese could control sea access to Istanbul, and to the Black Sea ports of Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine, southern Russia and Georgia.
Bear in mind, the Red Chinese already operate the Panama Canal and own the sea-port facilities at each end of the canal. (Thank you, former President Carter.) Moreover, the Red Chinese are in the process of building a blue-water navy for the purpose of projecting Red Chinese military and commercial power just as the Japanese tried to do during the run-up to World War II.
With most of China’s population living along its coastline, we should not be surprised by China’s current maritime aspirations. In fact, this may be history repeating itself. In his book “The Asiatic Fathers of America,” the late Dr. Hendon Harris claimed the Chinese sailed to North America as early as 2,200 B.C. In 2008, his daughter, Charlotte Harris Rees, added weight to her father’s claims with her well-documented “Secret Maps of the Ancient World.”
Add those two books to Gavin Menzies‚ “1421: The Year China Discovered the World,” and one begins to believe the Chinese, under Admiral Zheng He, were once the world’s premier naval power. Ironically, Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433) was a Chinese Muslim, not a Catholic sailing under the flag of Spain. (While Admiral Zheng He might have beaten Christopher Columbus to America by 71 years, don’t mark Columbus Day off the calendar just yet.)
Meanwhile, Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is trying to act like a regional power by engaging more with the radical mullahs in Iran (thanks again, President Carter), and less with Israel and the United States and NATO. That was the purpose of the ill-fated flotilla to Gaza. Erdogan is caught between the Turkish military who want to remain secular and the Islamist zealots who want Turkey to wage all-out jihad against Israel.
Turkey should be mindful that the all-important Bosporus, that thin, 20-mile link between world shipping and the Black Sea, is only 800-yards-wide in places and only 100 to 395-feet deep. Moreover, the area is earthquake prone. An underwater jolt from one of Israel’s supposedly non-existent nuclear weapons could shut the Bosporus down for good, throwing Turkey and all the countries bordering the Black Sea into economic chaos.
Readers with access to Google Earth or a detailed map would be well-advised to take a look at the Bosporus. Apparently, the Red Chinese already have.
– Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former Research Fellow at the U.S. Army War College.
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