Friday, December 02, 2011

You Can Dig, But You Can't Hide

For the past three years a small group of students at Georgetown University, guided by their former Pentagon employed professor, have obsessively studied the underground Chinese tunnels used to hide the expanding Chinese missile and nuclear arsenal. The tunnels, known as the “Underground Great Wall” were created by the secretive branch of the Chinese Military that controls the deployment and protection of Chinese ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons- the Second Artillery Corps. They extend over 3000 square miles of land, and have bases deep enough to withstand multiple nuclear attacks. The tunnels, an open secret among Chinese nuclear arms experts, had no official public reports issued on them. The students took to analyzing publicly available Chinese sources that became more available as the government began an effort to become more transparent- documents, satellite imagery, restricted Chinese military documents, and online data.
The Students, as a result of their tedious efforts, have created the largest amount of public knowledge about the tunnels in existence. The report has not yet been released, but has already sparked a Congressional hearing. This is mainly due to the part of the students’ findings that has inspired the most controversy and anxiety: the conclusion that China’s nuclear arsenal could be substantially larger than arms control experts have estimated. This has not been regarded as a shock by any means, but having such substantive evidence could have global repercussions. Nonproliferation experts are especially concerned because this study could encourage maintaining, and even building, nuclear weapon stock piles in the midst of a global nuclear crackdown.
There has obviously been critique of these findings. The avenues through which the students found their information has been criticized, with experts saying that blogs, military journals, and Google Earth are not credible sources that should be cited in a report that could have an extensive impact on policy making world wide. Critics also claim that the students even used a fictionalized TV drama in their research, although this has yet to be verified.
So I guess foreign policy should not be created around the findings of a few grad students. Shocking. However, it should not be brushed aside as insignificant. The students spent an ungodly amount of time pouring over thousands of documents, so their findings are understatedly well researched and should at least reviewed and considered by policy makers, defense analysts, etc.
Next step: have Patterson one up Georgetown. Who’s with me?

No comments: