eastwind journals 164 By Bernie Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification. Disclaimer – the views in this article are the author’s alone.
facing friend or foe be wise as a serpent but gentle as a dove
Philippines Needs Missiles, not Warships vs China Japan-Philippines Mutual Defense
Japan wants to beef up Philippine defenses, especially in the Luzon Strait, the alternative route for oil ships to Japan if the Taiwan Strait is closed. The US and Japan want a naval facility in Batanes, at dead center of the strait. President Aquino, as of this writing, will visit Japanese PM Abe to cement a mutual defense treaty.
What the Philippine needs perhaps are sophisticated smart missiles rather than warships and warplanes which cannot stand up to China’s air-sea superiority. This is actually a Chinese strategy, which the Pentagon calls asymmetric weapons, meaning cheap intelligent bullets that can take out expensive tanks, referring to sophisticated low-cost weapons, such as “anti-ship missiles, short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, stealth submarines, and cyber and space arms”. The Philippines needs asymmetric weapons versus China.
China’s submarine technology has also evolved by leaps and bounds. The Pentagon is beginning to see threats against its fixed bases in Japan and Guam, and mobile carriers. When a Song class Chinese sub appeared undetected beside the Kitty Hawk carrier during a US Pacific war game, the US Navy panicked. Six decades before that, the US had “unrivaled naval and air power”. Now, the US can be denied access to Taiwan waters by anti-ship missiles.
But it is not known if the nascent American-supplied Japanese Armed Forces have such sophisticated asymmetric weapons. Secondly, it is not known if Japan or the US would be willing to supply such powerful weapons even to an ally.
Spratleys – ‘Encirclement’ Issue, not Oil
Geopolitical observers have a second theory. China is not in the Spratleys just for oil. That’s a ‘minor’ goal. It is there to respond to America’s “encirclement” plan. The arguments for the oil theory are strong – 1) China imports 7.1 million barrels of oil a day or 70% of total consumption, and increasing; 2) if China does not meet its oil needs, its economy, the fastest growing in the planet, will plummet with a resounding crash that would may eventually trigger a global financial meltdown.
But the arguments for the encirclement theory are equally strong –1) Pivot to Asia is a military initiative whose goals are just that, encirclement, especially the Pentagon’s Air Sea Battle (ASB), a daring massive air-sea pre-emptive assault deep into the China mainland to take out China’s so-called “anti-access/anti-denial” (A2/AD) capability; 2) a network of Chinese naval bases in the Spratleys will compromise any US encirclement plan. However, the White House believes the Pentagon’s first-strike ASB will result in a nuclear war.
China knows about and is ready for the ASB, having most of its Air Force underground, having scattered submarine detectors in its near-shore areas. It has a mac-10 missile that can, in theory, take out a carrier surrounded by destroyers before it can react. The US is reportedly working on its own mac-10 to -15 missile.
US-China – From Word War to World War
Right now, the Eagle and the Bear are simply bluffing, warning and threatening each other. Both are not in the mood for a real war. It’s all saber-rattling. But psyche-wars can lead to real wars by accident. One trigger-pilot can in theory start World War III.
China says if the US attempts to stop its naval build-up in the Spratleys, it will go to war. The US says if China closes the Taiwan Strait, it will go to war. The US continues to employ deep surveillance of China’s Spratleys build-up in spite of China warnings, harassing and intimidating. They trade barbs as the whole world watches. They act as if they will draw but they will not, not yet.
But one profound negative geopolitical impact on China for flicking its claws is – Southeast Asian nations are rapidly coalescing and leaning towards the US, fuelling a faster Pivot to Asia. A US-Japan defense system was started a decade ago. Japan has ‘re-interpreted’ its pacifist Constitution and is now poised to send troops, warplanes and warships outside its territory. The US is reportedly clandestinely using Philippine airstrips for its P8 surveillance aircrafts while a new defense treaty sits in the Supreme Court. The US reports that Vietnam is leaning on its shoulder. A Japan-Philippine mutual defense treaty is germinating.
When will the word war evolve into a world war? That’s hard to predict. It can be an accidental war started by a trigger-happy pilot. It can be China’s despair for oil as it economy wobbles. It can be a Pentagon hawkish general convincing the White House to orchestrate a first-strike because of ‘imminent threat’, the same as false claims of WMDs that triggered the invasion of Iraq.
If China closes the Taiwan Strait, the US may retaliate by closing the Malacca Strait to prevent the 7.1 million barrels of oil a day from reaching China. This type of escalation can easily evolve rapidly into an all-out war. Ten eyes for an eye.
To achieve global peace, should we ask the US to stop its encirclement moveS, its efforts towards global military presence? Should we also ask China to stop territorial expansion to achieve resources, or to counter US encirclement? Both Eagle and Bear are predators. These two prayers are like asking the sun to stop rising tomorrow. Is a US-China Asia Pacific war therefore inevitable, a matter of time? Next year, in a decade or two? email@example.com
He will wipe every tear from their eyes there shall be no more death or mourning or pain for the former world has passed away