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I'm writing a story that takes place in 2046, and Asia has united into a Coalition to curb US power in the Region. After writing a bit, I started wondering: could Asia actually form a coalition? I looked around the Internet and found questions about Asia united into one country, but none have answered my question. Then I found WorldBuilding SE.

So far, the name of my Coalition is the Asian Political and Economic Coalition, and its members range from China to Georgia (country) and Cambodia to North Korea. It has a military of its own that is mostly used for defense purposes. Main topics of my questions are:

1) Could the Coalition survive?

2) Could it curb US/NATO power and influence in the region?

3) How powerful could its military be?

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    $\begingroup$ The degree of political upheaval to make this coalition work is astounding. The cultural differences that would need to be overcome....damn. You're talking about remaking the geographical boundaries of the Mongol empire with modern day rapid transit and rapid deployment. Doing that, again, in a modern era is absurdly difficult. $\endgroup$ – Green Feb 18 '17 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ How are you getting Siberia? That assumes a major war with Russia. And you want to antagonize the US at the same time... $\endgroup$ – Spencer Feb 18 '17 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ India, Islam, and China working together as one? Doubt it. $\endgroup$ – 458 Feb 18 '17 at 18:44
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    $\begingroup$ You do realise that half of Asia belongs to Russia, don't you? Continents are geographical entities, not political entities. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 18 '17 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to build a realistic coalition to "curb US power", then you should not build it on location (China loves Japan, because of geographic proximity ;) ) but on some ideology/religion or clear common interest. Such coalition (and counter coalition build by the US) would have members around the globe. $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Feb 18 '17 at 20:50
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Hello and welcome to the site! You have indeed come to the right place for your question, although your question is a bit too broad and somewhat opinion based (although most members will agree to some ideas, considering them objectively correct).

Before answering your 3 questions, I would like to add in some detail about how the coalition can/would be formed.

1- Forming The Pan-Asian Coalition

Right now (in real world) many Asian countries are daggers drawn to one another. Be it Pakistan and India, India and China, North and South Korea, Pakistan and Afghanistan, saudi Arabia and Iran, saudi Arabia and Iraq ... the list goes on.

In order to form a pan-Asian coalition, you have two methods. I will briefly discuss both.

a- Mutual Interests

Mutual interests unite individuals and countries alike. In order to form a strongly united Asia, you will need all Asian countries to agree to something. Usually a threat from an overwhelmingly powerful enemy is the strongest motivation for unity. If the leaders and think tanks of all Asian countries can agree to the idea that they are under severe danger of an assault (be it through an acute military strike or a long, drawn out cold war) by the western countries, they will definitely forget their differences and quickly develop a coalition.

Another reason could be economy. West is currently the production house for advanced electronics, including computer equipment. Asian countries invest a large amount of money every year purchasing that equipment. If all Asian countries form an economic coalition, they could begin the production of their own electronic devices, saving a lot of their national budgets. Same applies to advance weaponry. If Asian countries unite and form a mega institute for advance research and production of military weaponry, then would end their reliance on the west.

b- Long Term Peace and Conflict Resolution

A lot of people think that west is behind most of the wars in Asia. Be it the curse of isis or black water mercenaries or the unjustified assault on Iraq in 2003. If Asian countries determine to form a powerful all-Asian assembly to resolve mutual conflicts without war, it would benefit the region immensely.

There could be more reasons for forming the coalition, but you get the main idea.

Now we come to the first of your questions.

2- Could The Coalition Survive?

That depends solely on what your plot is. If you want it to survive, yes it will. If you want it to fall apart shortly or gradually, it is up to you. As you can see, we are members of the world building community. How the world behaves and what ultimately happens to the world is up to you. It is your world, you decide its fate.

However, the realistic method of keeping the unity would involve many things.

a- Justice Between Nations

This the first and foremost. If you allow larger nations like China, India and Russia to push over smaller nations in matters of conflict, then the coalition will not last much longer. Justice has to be served, justly. If you make the coalition as pointless and silly as the UNO, then it will fall apart pretty quickly.

The matters of contention between nations would involve resource distribution (mostly freshwater for drinking and irrigation), border determination, interference in internal matters of other states and of course, ethnic/historical hatred.

The pan-Asian court of justice would have to be free of the influence of the larger nations and decide all matters objectively and cleanly.

b- Traitors Get Exemplary Punishments

It ought to be clear to all nations in the coalition that leaking critical information to outside parties (particularly NATO countries and America) would be dealt with fangs and iron.

The same stands for traitor/rogue states. In case the pan-Asian court deems a verdict against a nation, that nation will have no right to call outside parties (that is, NATO countries or America) for military or logistics support for their cause. Any such activity would not only result in immediate expulsion of the traitor state, but all the other Asian countries would instantly call back all their embassy personnel and rollback all economic and military agreements.

c- Collective Security

This means that any assault by outside forces on any state in the coalition would be considered an assault on all the Asian countries and dealt as such. This would help keep poorer nations feel more secure in the coalition and not fall for the diplomatic tricks of the west.

3- How powerful could its military be?**

Very, very powerful. When you combine the technology of giants like China and Russia with the spirited military of Pakistan and Iran, the results would be marvelous. Although western countries would still have an upper edge in the most advance aspects of battle (better fighter jets, electronic warfare and naval warfare hardware), the pan-Asian military would far, far exceed NATO military in terms of personnel, equipment and resources.

It should suffice to say that in an all out (nuclear) battle between pan-Asian union and NATO, 50% of Asia would die, but all of the NATO countries would be wiped off. However, in the realm of tactics, electronic warfare, biochemical warfare and mercenary/undermining activities, the west would definitely keep its edge.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are several problems here. Russia and China have nothing in common, and if a war broke out, Russia likely will sit on the sidelines. Russia is no match for NATO, even without the US. And politically, Russia's goals are more closely aligned with the US than with China. That is why I said Russia's the wildcard. Do your research, for neither country together can defeat the US. If Russia makes a move, they will go after the Baltic, but it will cost them heavily and in the end, NATO will drive them out. Neither Russia or US will pull the trigger first. China will. Russia will play opportunist $\endgroup$ – George McGinn Feb 18 '17 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ What you are mentioning, is (probably) correct in modern political scenario. OP is asking the question on logistics basis and there is comparison of power. Of course the pan Asian coalition would have to include both Russia and China. Without either of these, the whole setup would make lesser sense. However, I don't think it would be safe to say that Russia would definitely not join the coalition and sit on the sidelines. During the cold war, they have actively tried to form strong political ties with a lot of countries. They still have great connections with Iran and Syria. @GeorgeMcGinn $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Feb 19 '17 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ That was true 30 years ago when I was in the military. Russia today have taken a more opportunist approach. Look at Crimea. There was a crisis and Russia took advantage of it and moved in. This is a new strategy that they have employed since Putin took power. Now, if the Americans fire the first nuke, Russia will join China. Russia does not trust either country, but for self preservation, if one side takes the advantage, that means Russia, if they do not back the country attacked, may not have enough on their own to win. And they are closer to the US than China at present. $\endgroup$ – George McGinn Feb 20 '17 at 7:22
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I think that a more realistic possibility is that China develops a network of client states. To some extent, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos are dependents of China. The Philippines, Indonesia, Burma and Mongolia could easily fall into its sphere of influence. And, China has been making strategic investments in Afghanistan and a variety of countries in East Africa from Sudan to Mozambique. There are large expatriot Chinese communities across Southeast Asia and also in several countries in Africa and the Americas. Also, China has had historical alliances with Cuba and Venezula and IIRC, with some factions in Columbia's conflicts.

China's existing military is large despite the fact that China is actually less militarized in terms both of percentage of the population involved in the military, and in percentage of GDP devoted to defense, simply because it is so large in population and total GDP that it doesn't have to have very intense militarization to have a large number of soldiers and a decent sized military budget.

China's 19% excess of men over women, and its fast growing economy, make ramping up its military force a natural policy choice. But, a large network of foreign bases designed to soak up excess men in its domestic population would probably make more sense than trying to enlist soldiers from the ranks of its client states, although perhaps it might develop an Asian equivalent to the French foreign legion. Imagine something comparable to the network of U.S. military bases in the territory of its allies on steroids.

NATO was an alliance formed to counter the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact and was never really oriented towards conflicts in the Middle East or the Pacific, and may collapse of its own weight as Trump reduces support for it. Also the demise of the Soviet Union has made Russia pretty much its sole successor militarily which has focused NATO even more heavily on its Eastern European border with Russia as we've seen in the Ukraine and in overtures of potential use of force or addition of client states in Belarus, Moldova, the Caucasus (including Georgia) and the Baltic States. The buffer of the former Central Asian Republicans of the USSR which are now independent has left Russia even less inclined to care about "the Region" and hence made NATO also indifferent to that part of the world.

The power in the "Region" is really the U.S. and its capitalist Asian allies like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (which could easily succumb to China at some point), etc. China doesn't need a lot of allies to become dominant in the maritime vicinity of mainland China and one could imagine that it claims far more territorial waters in 2046 than it does not, a project it is already pursuing in earnest.

Really, the emerging structure is more like China and its client states, Russia and its client states, a Sunni Islamist coalition, a Shiite Islamist coalition, Western Europe and the British Commonwealth, and the U.S. with Latin America and Africa and Central Asia as sparring grounds on which the leading coalitions would fight proxy wars, perhaps two or three at any one time.

In this context, a Chinese coalition of it and its client states is certainly plausible, although I can't see any country in South Asia joining this sphere of influence. China and India have actually fired shots in anger at each other in the Himalayas within the past few years, and one of the insurgencies within India that is a serious thorn in the current regime's side in India self-identifies as Maoist, although it is really mostly just interested in anti-colonial era anti-feudalist land reform. India, at least, would surely be a leading enemy of China and its allies.

Thus far, the Chinese military, much like the Chinese economy, as largely copied military systems of first tier military forces elsewhere. By, 2046 this would have largely already run its course and equipment-wise it would be pretty similar to the U.S., Russian, Japanese and European militaries that would be its peers, although China has been rather innovative in its coastal military forces developing exceptional missile boats and coastal submarines that rival or exceed its peers and one would expect a few more innovations in other areas by 2046.

Another distinctive aspect of Chinese governmental and business organizations today that might persist into 2046 compared to its peers, is that large Chinese organizations have tended to give relatively young rising stars (in their late 20s and into their 30s), levels of power and responsibility to take on really major projects that would ordinarily be resolved only for much older and more experienced people in the West.

And, despite its communist ideology, in China, there is much more complete overlap between business and economic sphere elites and governmental elites than there is in the West, something that would also probably continue to persist into 2046. In this regard, China can be compared to the British military of the Victorian era through WWII in which military leadership posts were largely the province of aristocrats and barons of business. The class divide between senior leaders in the Chinese military by 2046 and members of its rank and file, would be quite extreme by then.

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    $\begingroup$ In 20 years, with contemporary economic tendencies, you may actually put isolated Russia as one of Chinese vassal states. But the only big player that such coalition could attract would be Pakistan. Needless to say, such coalition would have quite a few enemies in Asia. $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Feb 18 '17 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ Pakistan is already an ally with China and recently conducted war games together in 2016. And since India is fighting Pakistan over the Kashmir, and India and China are fighting in the Himalayas (India is protecting defectors from Tibet, they would be a US Ally. Also there is a seve difference of opinion as to China's Navy. It's a joke. They have one used Russian Aircraft Carrier with a short runway that does not work compared to 10 modern carriers of the US. (China's carrier I believe is from WWII or built just after Korea). We also outgun China in air power and that trend will continue. $\endgroup$ – George McGinn Feb 20 '17 at 7:34
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In thirty years starting from how things are today? No way.

The EU is the world's largest attempt at such a coalition. It has been sixty-plus years in the making. It is, to put it mildly, a work still in progress with very many longstanding and unresolved problems. It started with several advantages Asia lacks. A common religious and cultural basis (though you have to dig deep to see that). A common external threat (the USSR). A determination to avoid a third world war starting within Europe. No state large enough to dominate ( Germany was at that time, weak and divided by the iron curtain).

Today's EU is (IMO) facing an existential crisis caused largely by politicians trying to hurry things along to their own benefit. If they had left it to develop slowly by genuine popular consent from a free trade area and defense treaty ( NATO) we'd have a much healthier outlook today and the possibility of a happily United states of Europe in the 22nd century.

Instead I fear it may disintegrate and even spark the conflict that it was founded to avert. Never under-estimate the extent to which politicians' egos will **** things up for the rest if us.

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  • $\begingroup$ The NATO alliance may not be the same in 2046, but because Europe has so many places an enemy can invade them, what ever replaces NATO will be stronger and ready for the responses of its time. $\endgroup$ – George McGinn Feb 18 '17 at 21:37
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The main problem today with Asia is it has religions that are less tolerating of each other than Catholic, Christians and Judaism.

With the People Republic of China (Communist) regime in place, they are currently trying to wipe out the Tibetans. How do you think Muslims would fair under the PRC?

I would say that before there is a coalition, there will be a great religious war. Whether Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism just to name a few, most of the religions in Asia come out of India.

Once the region does form a coalition, Russia is their wildcard. Russia is both in Europe and Asia. Today, Russia is mostly European, but in the future, they could swing over to the Asian coalition.

Russia would be the factor that makes an Asian coalition either weak by its absence or strong by its presence. It also by 2046 could split itself into two countries, one a European and the other an Asian.

Whether or not it can curb NATO power (unless something happens before 2046, US is part of NATO) depends on many factors. While the size of the Army is one consideration, history of WWII taught us that the side with better technology acts as a force multiplier. I spent 3 years in the US Army, and I can say that I would kill more with an M-16 than the M1. The M-16 is a greater force multiplier than the M1.

WWII saw that when the Germans and Italians with their bolt action Mausers didn't stand a chance with the semi-auto of the M1 Garand, the M-14 and the Thompson Machine gun. However, when Germany improved its machine guns, they started to even out the differences between the force multipliers.

If we base the scenario on how population and technology and standing army sizes, just between China and the US, the US is more technically advanced, and it has 81 percent more personnel in the armed services than China does.

Russia, while it does have 41 percent more military personnel that the United States, it suffers the same technology fate that China does. Neither have enough aircraft or ships or tanks to outmatch the US, and that isn't adding in what the NATO countries have.

This is why Russia is a wildcard. If it joins in with the Asian Coalition, then the differences become smaller as far as number of troops, and the gaps in the differences in assets also close a bit.

While I have heard on TV that less people died in the last 100 years than in any other 100 year period going back thousands of years, even by today's most recent number (check the same link will give you the rank of the number of war-time deaths) The NATO coalition with the US will still defeat the Asian Coalition, even with Russia joining them.

As someone versed in military strategy, a coalition set up only for defense will find itself outmatched by an adversary with a good attack strategy. The problem with just defense is once key installations are taken out, you have no chance to organize an offensive quickly enough to do anything. Once your military is deaf, dumb and blind, where will you attack? How can you effectively organize your troops? And if you are blind, you'll never see the next attack coming.

In your story, the Asian Political and Economic Coalition needs to advance their defensive technology to exceed that of the US/NATO's offensive capabilities.

One thing is for sure, this will be one story I can't wait to read.

Even with the information provided, the choice of the battleground can negate technology as much as it can enhance it. As the Russian's could not win in Afghanistan due to its technology was no match for the battlefield conditions, it was only the improvements 30 some odd years later that the US had the ability to successfully fight in the same battlefield conditions. Yet it still had great difficulties in fighting, and as of yet has not become victorious.

They got much closer than Russia ever did.

Good Luck, and I am sure others here will add what I missed.

EDIT FOR NUCLEAR ISSUES:

Now if this is a nuclear showdown that some think will make the difference, a China/Russia Asia coalition loses. Even 20 years from now.

Estimated for 2017:

NATO/US Allies - 7,395 US: 6,800 UK: 215 France: 300 Israel: 80

Asia - 7,520 Russia: 7,000 China: 260 North Korea: 10 Pakistan: 140 India: 110

Problem is that Pakistan and India will save many of theirs as they hate each other so bad that they will not let China use them all.

Plus, many of the totals above are in the process of being disarmed.

North Korea’s program today is a joke, and unlikely to change as their leader in inept. And while it is claimed that North Korea can reach the US, that missile will never reach us.

The United States has the best missile defense system in the world. And Russia’s best weapon is fired from a truck.

Russia’s nuclear arsenal isn’t as good as it states, according to Jeffrey Lewis of the Arms Control Wonk. Yes, while Russia has a missile that when it enters our atmosphere can fire off 10 warheads at 5 miles per second, they shoot them from trucks. And we have the capability to shoot the missile down while it still is over Russia, which is not a good thing for the Russian people.

Also, Russia’s nuclear weapons program is short-sighted. They invest less money in it, because they believe that they will only have to build newer systems every 10 years. Many of their arsenal dates back to just after WWII.

While China’s nuclear program is growing, we also have the capability of shooting down all their missiles as the map below shows. China is building islands in the South China Sea for the sole purposes of putting nuclear missiles on them so they can reach the United States.

Yet, the US has a secret weapon that no one else has. A autonomous submarine. Yes, launched April of 2016 The Sea Hunt is designed to hunt down submarines, without risking a single crew member’s life.

On the NATO side, by 2030, the Germans will have a tank that will make the Russian T14 obsolete.

By the time 2046 rolls around, Pakistan will still be at war with India. India has started to engage in talks with the United States after China and Pakistan conducted war games in 2016.

We will see a very different Asia by 2046. And while the smaller countries, like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines will sit out this war, The United States has more airplanes, aircraft carriers, and naval ships to once again own the Pacific.

Since Russia nor the United States will fire the first shot, China will at the United States. Russia has no plans to fight against the United States, but while the US amasses in the Pacific and Asia, Russia will use the opportunity to try and take the Baltic. However, NATO is strong enough now to repel any Russian attack, and if Russia succeeds, it will pay a high price for it.

And that price means that when Asia calls to Russia for support, it will be unable to do so.

We can run scenarios like this for the next 20 years, but due to religious hatred, terrorism, half of the Asian countries do not trust China, China’s first strike might encourage them, but it will also galvanize the world against them, which they will be unable to win.

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