Friday, April 29, 2016

Pentagon Warns That Chinese Claims On The Scarborough Shoal Off The Coast Of Philippine May Lead To A Regional Conflict

Washington Free Beacon: Pentagon Warns of Conflict Over Chinese Buildup on Disputed Island

Beijing asserts Scarborough Shoal is Chinese territory.

China’s plans to build up a disputed island near the Philippines could lead to a regional conflict, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Thursday.

Carter was asked about the strategic significance of China’s plan to add military facilities to a disputed island known as Scarborough Shoal located about 120 miles—within missile range—of Subic Bay, Philippines, where U.S. warships will be based.

The defense secretary said Scarborough is “a piece of disputed territory that, like other disputes in that region, has the potential to lead to military conflict.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Some in the U.S. Senate are pushing for a more robust U.S. response .... McCain to SECDEF Carter: U.S. South China Sea Presence Operations Should Be ‘Magnified’ Not ‘Classified’ (USNI News).


Publius said...

In my view, China is executing a plan by which they conduct gradually intensifying provocations. If there is no forceful response, they pocket the gain (e.g. the new island they build or existing island they take over) and move on to the next target.

The question is: is any Chinese provocation sufficient to stimulate a forceful response by China's neighbors or the United States? The answer is unclear. This article about Scarborough Shoal might be the United States laying out a red line, or maybe just a bluff. Note well how the United States responded when Syria crossed the red line about poison gas.

Attempts by senators to prod the Administration to a firmer response are helpful but ineffective; the Administration, not Congress, will control the American response.

If I were an enemy of the United States, I would try to coordinate provocations with others enemies of the United States, in order to present the United States with simultaneous crises. Imagine that (1) Hamas resumes its war with Israel, (2) Hezbollah attacks Israel, (3) Russia attacks Turkish forces in Syria, (4) Russia engages in provocations in the Baltic, (5) Iran attacks oil rigs belonging to the Arab Gulf states in the Persian Gulf, (6) China invades Scarborough Shoals, (7) ISIS/al Qaida attack ships in the Med near Libya, (8) the Fat Boy attacks a South Korean ship or island, or an American ship or aircraft on the Sea of Japan, and (9) ISIS/al-Qaida pull off a terrorist incident inside the United States. Further, imagine that these happen substantially simultaneously.

Now imagine President Obama's reaction to such provocations. It is difficult to imagine that the Administration's response will amount to much. American paralysis is more likely.

War News Updates Editor said...

Publius .... to coordinate such actions would be a feat .... but stranger things have happened in the past. As for the White House reaction .... the focus is to not get into a war in the last year of President Obama's term .... hence I expect no reaction from even one serious provocation.

James said...

It's not as hard as you think. You're right Publius, though coordination is more of an opportunistic exercise, everyone you listed above is on the lookout for the chance. In a sense it coordinates itself.

Unknown said...

Sadly, there other possibilities not mentioned that would require no coordination at all between governments hostile to the U.S. to impact U.S. decisions. Like James said "it coordinates itself" and doesn't require any conspiracy. That said, I do believe the Chinese are conspiring and that the true test of America's Asian commitments will come with Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

If China believes a conflict is inevitably going to happen between itself and the U.S. then Taiwan will be where the Chinese will want it to start. Look at a map; Taiwan controls the northern passage into the SCS - the most direct passage any U.S. response to the SCS from Okinawa or Guam must navigate. It also controls the Southern passage into the East China Sea.

Without Taiwan, the back door into the SCS is wide open. Taiwan is not a country but a "renegade" Chinese territory thereby limiting international outcry and support for any U.S. intervention there. Any U.S. response to Chinese aggression into Taiwan would then justify Chinese counter-attacks on the responding forces from Guam and Okinawa - yes, risking a wider war, but that's brinksmanship. How far will the U.S. go in response to a Taiwan crisis?

If the answer is all the way then there will be no reason not to push harder against the Philippines, Vietnam, or Japan. If the answer is anything less then there will be no stopping China. It is obvious that they have resigned themselves to not backing down. If a war is inevitable then the Chinese will want some control over how it starts. The question is: how far will the U.S. go to resist?

If I were a Chinese leader, Taiwan is where I would want to test the U.S. commitment to Asia. And of course, a simultaneous crisis in Korea, Nagorno-Karabakh, the implosion of Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, etc... wouldn't hurt either. I think they are only waiting for Tsai to be inaugurated to justify a Taiwan crisis.

James said...

WNU, You're probably thinking, must he. Well I must:

B.Poster said...


At this point the US military is nowhere close to being able to counter anyone of the 9 scenarios you lay out. It's not a matter of will. The capability somply isn't there and cannot be in the foreseeable future. Russia and China, in that order, are the world's top military powers. Furthermore the US depends much more on "made in China" than than China depends upon "sold in the USA." While this dependence on China can be changed, it will take major policy changes and time.

Donald Trump is absolutely 100% correct in pointing out that this ridiculous set of "alliandes" MUST be renegotiated. With regards to 1 and 2 that you lay out, I'm pretty sure Israel can eliminate Hamas and Hezbollah. America has often interefered in Israeli affairs to restrain Israel thus preserving Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel killing both of these mutual enemies would be awesome. It could happen.

With regards to 3 and 4 if the Turks and the Baltic nations could tie down the Russians exacting heavy casualties on them, they may be hurt enough that they may be forced to withdraw. Actually beating the world's top military could be a bridge to far but hurting them enough that their media surrogates are unable to cover for them and shaming them into withdrawl from these military actions may be possible.

With regards to 5 the gulf Arab states have spent a great deal on their militaries in recent years. If they could inflict a crushing defeat on Iran, this may mitigate that threat.

If China invades the Shoals as in point 6, perhaps the Japanese, Filipinos, and others can tie down the Chinese inflicting heavy casualties on them eventually making it to cistly for them to continue while Turkey and the Baltic nations are enacting heavy costs on the Russians making the actions to costly for them to continue.

As for point 7, Western European Naval vessels such as those from the UK, France, Italy, and Germany along with other NATO members could exact a crushing defeat on Al Qaida/ISIS eliminating this threat to g b em and us.

As for point 8, South Korea could exact an overwhelming and crushing defeat on North Korea eliminating this threat once and for all or at least exacting a heavy cost on them mitigating a behavioral change on t heir part.

This means POTUS and the US government need only to focus on 9 which is preventing the Islamic terrorist attack on America as our allies will have our backs elsewhere. In this situation, we would actually have a fighting chance to actually do so. If Islamic terrorists were thwarted here along with battlefield successes elsewhere by allies, we might actually be successful. Imagine an all out Islamic terrorist attack against America "the Great Satan" being thwarted. These groups and anyone who supports them would be thoroughly discredited and they might well never recover!!

Unfortunately this scenario is likely not possible. The current obscene and ridiculous set of "alliances" we currently have needed to be renegotiated 25 years ago. Had this been done we'd likely be in a better situation today than we are now.

Since it wasn't, we have no good options right now. Ths only real options seem to be perhaps we assist Russia in Eastern Europe and China with regards to Tawain. In exchange, they allow us a buffer in South and Central America along with security guarantees regarding the Panama Canal and Cuba. While we may not like it, this seems to be only real options we have assuming they are willing. What is clear is ignoring reality in favor of ideology is very unhelpful.

Jay Farquharson said...

Scarbourough Shoal is claimed by three Countries, China, based on 12th Century charting, and 8 centuries of fishing there,

Taiwan based on the fact they used to be the Government of China, once upon a time, back in the day,

And the Phillipines based on the fact the Shoal is closer to the Phillipines than it is to China.

Nobody's going to war over Scarburough Shoal.

B.Poster said...

I tend to agree that no one is going to war over the Shoals. At least the US is not going to do so to in support Filipino or Tawainese territorial claims. At least not now anyway and under a Trump presidebcy such would be even less likely. Off topic but under a Trump presidency America gets to finally behave like a normal country.

Normal countries expect expect fair trade deals, nornal countries do not sit id l y by while "allies" suck them dry, normal countries do not tolerate a de dacto invasion akong one of their borders as the US does, and normal countries do not utilize precious and limited military power to safeguard territorial interests of natiins who neither like nor respect them especually when doing so risks alienating a najor supllier of nanufactured goods for the country.