Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WSJ: US Losing the Pacific?

Is the US losing the Pacific? Well, the trend isn't good, says WSJ in an excellent piece. OK, so we're still numero uno, but we are looking a lot like the UK circa 1920 or so....
Admiral Keating dismisses these worries as not "an accurate or valid prediction." He deftly punts the question of budget cuts: "There are decisions being made in the Department that could have longer-term implications for us in the Pacific community." When asked what he would do if he had more resources, he gives the stock answer: "more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance." As regards China, Adm. Keating wants to engage, engage, engage: "We would like to work more closely with their military. We would like to understand their strategy better than we do. We want to get a much better grasp for their intentions: short-, mid- and long range," he says.

Yet it's unclear what this stance has accomplished. Only a few months after taking his job, in May 2007, Adm. Keating held a news conference in Beijing and said if China chose to develop an aircraft carrier program, the U.S. would "help them to the degree that they seek and the degree that we're capable, in developing their programs." That offer was quickly shelved back in Washington. Earlier this month, he suggested the U.S., Australia and China should hold a joint exercise together—which also came as a surprise to many back in Washington. China still hasn't responded to the offer. Meanwhile the Chinese are aggressively defending their ever-more muscular naval stance: "The way to resolve China-U.S. maritime incidents is for the U.S. to change its surveillance and survey operations policies against China, decrease and eventually stop such operations," China's Defense Ministry declared last month. No nuanced talk of "engagement" there.

Admiral Keating himself has a hard time citing what has changed for the better vis-à-vis China in his two-and-a-half years at the PaCom helm, besides the resumption of military-to-military talks (which the Chinese unilaterally suspended in October 2008) and the fact that since 2007, "we haven't had a ship visit denied." The transparency of China's military intentions is "less than completely fulfilling." U.S. military exchanges with the Chinese are "very limited." The missiles Beijing has pointed at Taiwan are "not insignificant in terms of quantity." In sum, "there is no question that we are going to have to deal with a Chinese military that is increasing in quantity and in some areas, quality, over the Chinese military of 20 years ago," the admiral admits.
Imagine, doing all those things for China and getting nothing in return. That just never happens. The US Navy's relationship with China reminds me of one of those delusional mothers who repeatedly insist that their severely autistic child really is communicating with them.

Hello Washington! The future is out here, in Asia. Bring our boys home from our wasteful and criminal wars in the Middle East...

...why am I even talking like this? Our elites are never going to wise up (see this testimony from a CFR analyst, for example). A decade from now our generals will still be saying if they just get more troops for Korea Vietnam Iraq Afghanistan.... is that the light at the end of the tunnel I see? No, just the LED from the neuralyzer history keeps pointing at our leaders....
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Dixteel said...

I wonder if the US navy should not try some indirect approach to gather their intel. Why do they put so much effort and faith in direct engagement?

Dwayne Elizondo said...

War is coming. first a trade (and currency) war, then a shooting war.

1. There is an interesting blurb in Gordon Chang's article Worse than a Trade War:

China's current account surplus last year totaled $426.1 billion and this year the country overtook Germany as the world's largest exporter, but Chinese officials have plans for selling even more abroad. Their stimulus plan is directed at creating additional industrial capacity, and they have adopted an array of export-boosting tactics since July last year, from increasing export rebates to keeping their currency tightly pegged to the declining dollar.

And that puts China on a collision course with the U.S. "Put starkly, Mr. Summers has stated that China can no longer behave like China because the U.S. intends to behave much more like China," write Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute in the Financial Times. "The world economy cannot have two, or even one-and-a-half, Chinese growth strategies from its two most important economies."

That's an understatement, because the world cannot afford even one "Chinese growth strategy" at this moment. China's exports have fallen every month since last November, plunging 23.4% last month. Imports have also been tumbling since the end of last year. Trading nations, unfortunately for Beijing, are de-linking their economies.

2. Gordon also has another good article on where Japan may be heading: Will Japan Become a Chinese colony? which kinda ties into that (excellent) TT Letter posted in yesterday's paper: Dignity is at stake. There was also an AFP article in the TT about a week ago on the same subject.

3. I read a rumor on a financial site that China may ask Japan to push the US out of Okinawa in exchange for better relations.

4. Since it is the Trilateralists goal to create an Asian currency unit (Volcker/Mundell), I think the Japanese now realize it's not going to be the Yen. (or RMB). ~ Sorry, too little space and time to comment about this now.

5. Michael, if/when you have time can you post again on the PRC tribute state mentality. Tks.

Anonymous said...

This seems very similar to the US policy vis a vis Iran, and others. Un-clench the fist and see what happens.

If that policy is unwise in dealing with the Chinese, what about other countries? I would be interested to see your thinking on this.