China attacks any US vehicle and boom there goes the 3 Gorges Dam...
We better be able to take out A-L-L of their man-made sats in one fell swoop.
You wrote: “China attacks any US vehicle and boom there goes the 3 Gorges Dam...”
I think that any attack on Chinese installations would be met by a similar attack on continental American installations. Is the president going to wait to see if the ICBM/SLBM headed for Hoover Dam carries conventional warheads? Or will he launch a first strike against Chinese ICBM installations, which would prompt a Chinese second strike against major American cities with their 1000+ warheads? Bottom line is that if we did not launch nukes against China during the Korean War, when dozens of GI’s were dying daily and China had zero nukes, we’re not going to risk touching off a nuclear war today, given China’s substantial nuclear armory.
Besides, the destruction of the 3 Gorges Dam would be a favor to the Chinese. The nearest downstream city is 100 miles away. We’d be killing tens of thousands of peasants on both sides of the river while leaving the elites who would be retaliating alive. If we were going to hit China, the best course would be to launch a bunch of nukes at their known ICBM installations, major military installations and large cities, while sending hunter killer subs at their ballistic missile subs. Then we could send drones up to kill everything that shows up on their sensors, and finish off the job that the Mongols were said to have contemplated 700 years ago - the complete annihilation* of the Chinese people (as well as all of the other conquered peoples who presented a strategic threat because they far outnumbered their Mongol conquerors).
* The “Cracked” Magazine profile of the Mongol adviser who saved China from complete annihilation:
Besides being the world’s greatest conqueror, Genghis Khan is the common ancestor of about one percent of the entire human population, thanks to the sheer amount of boning he did. Genghis organized the Mongol clans into the kind of brutal force that later inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s orcish horde.
Yet for all his seemingly mindless razing and pillaging, Khan was a man with a plan: show no mercy, run a strict rule of law and annihilate your enemies. It wasn’t a terribly nuanced plan, but goddamn did it work.
The Man Behind The Scenes:
Among Genghis’s circle of advisers was Yelu Chucai, a clever outsider who found himself in the unique position of an intellectual among rapists (tell us about it!).
Nicknamed “Long Beard” by Genghis for his... long beard, Yelu was a tempering voice during Mongol rule. For instance, Genghis saw nothing in China but a place that lacked pasturing for his horses and had said that “It would be better to exterminate the Chinese and let the grass grow.” Yelu, himself a foreigner, appealed to Genghis’s self-interest to save many Chinese cities.
Given that Genghis had just three motivations—pasture for ponies, women for raping and gold for pillaging—and given that two of those would be most easily attained by utterly destroying every Chinese city he came upon, Yelu’s job wasn’t easy. But he convinced Genghis that a whole lot more gold could be had from China by merely taxing them.
Mongolopoly. Quite possibly the simplest game ever invented.
Time and again, Yelu used this strategy to convince Genghis to show mercy (a concept previously unknown to the Mongols) to many Chinese cities—the capital city of Kaifeng among them—to the spitting rage of his bloodthirsty generals.
The Final Bitchslap:
Yelu’s system of taxation and governance proved too profitable to ignore. So much so that even Genghis’s successor, Ogedei, kept him on staff to run the bureaucracy of Northern China. This from a man who once openly mocked Yelu’s insistence to tax cities rather than raze them, saying, “Are you going to weep for the people again?” Yelu’s response to Ogedei was that empires could sure be conquered on horseback, but not ruled from them. He’s been proven right for about eight consecutive centuries now.
“China attacks any US vehicle and boom there goes the 3Gorges dam. . .”
Not if Barry wins a second term and proclaims unilateral nuclear disarmament. He is already moving toward reducing the US arsenal to 150 weapons. If they don’t already the Chicoms will soon have overwhelming first strike capability. We haven’t deployed an anti missile system to defend the homeland.
It is said that approximately (over) 360 million live within the watershed of the Yangtze river, and would be exposed to death and destruction should the 3 Gorges collapse. Obviously 360 million people wouldn't be killed, but definitely several million would. That would definitely lead to a nuclear counter-attack by China, and while the Chinese arsenal is not as big as that of the US (or Russia), it is bigger than previously thought (and may already be greater than that of the UK and France, and definitely bigger than Israel's, India's or Pakistan's). An attack on the 3 Gorges would be considered a WMD attack due to the damage on property and lives, and the response would most probably be quite significant. China basically told Taiwan that when there was some talk of either a) cruise missile attacks on 3 Gorges or b) saboteur attacks on 3 Gorges.
There is no president, Republican or Democrat, who would authorize an attack on the 3 Gorges dam without China doing something truly spectacular ...and sinking a USN ship, even a carrier, is not one of them. The probable response (with a president that has functional nads) would be a tit-for-tat on the 'new' (read old Soviet) Chinese carrier. An attack on 3 Gorges would mean a nuke on Taipei (even though they were not involved), a nuke on Guam, and even maybe something to do with Hawaii (I doubt there would be any on the Cont US).
Even if the greatest US presidents were melded together into one super-president, there is no way an attack on a naval vessel would lead to an attack on 3 Gorges in present day China. This unlikelihood simply gets more crystallized as China continues to get stronger. In 1996 President Clinton sent two Carrier battle groups (Independence and Nimitz, with their associated battle groups) into the region during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. In 2008 President Bush had three carrier groups (Nimitz, Lincoln, Kitty Hawk) in the waters off south-east Taiwan for some weeks until Ma Ying-jeou was sworn in (although the issue then was nowhere as serious as the 1996 problem). Every passing five years it gets more and more difficult to assure the safety of naval ships in the area, and the real threat is not even the anti-ship IRBM. When the next US president is sworn in it will be far harder to do what Clinton and W.Bush did, if at all possible from a risk perspective. Already China can arguably deny foreign naval presence unless it is a USN surge, and you can be sure they are working (and spending) hard to come up with a way of dissuading that approach as well. FReeper Jeff Head (copied) maintains a very comprehensive analytical webpage on China's naval advancement that is quite sobering.
They are not strong enough yet, but even now it would be difficult for a sane president to advocate an attack on a dam that would kill several million people. The likeliest retaliation following the sinking of a US naval asset would be a commensurate sinking of an analogous PLAN asset ...probably sending a Sea Wolf/Virginia to put several MK-48 ADCAP through the Varyag ...I mean, the Shi Lang ...aircraft carrier. But destroying the 3 Gorges ...not happening unless Taipei, Guam and maybe Honolulu are no longer that important.