With President Obama set for a major trip to Asia next month and the Obama administration nearing the halfway point of its first term, U.S. officials tell Inside the Ring that a heated policy debate is under way over how to deal with China.
With the U.S.-Pakistani strategic dialogue resuming in Washington today, the relationship could hardly be worse. The trust deficit, already vast, has been stressed to the breaking point by NATO incursions into Pakistan and the subsequent ten-day closure of the major land supply route from Karachi to Afghanistan in retaliation. But there is a grimmer prospect.
Iraq’s next government will likely be Iran-friendly and Shi’ite-friendly, headed by incumbent Nuri al-Maliki, but crucially with the support of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. At the same time, although Iraq has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world, it will be exploited by Chinese, Russian and Asian companies, not US Big Oil – the final nail in the coffin of the neo- conservative fantasy of a Greater Middle East as an American lake.
Turkey has imposed hurdles to Nato’s planned anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe by demanding proof that the system would not exclusively target Iran. The development raised further concerns that Turkish foreign policy was tilting outside the sphere of the Western alliance towards alignment with its eastern neighbour.
TAMIL rebel leaders based in the United States and Norway are trying to revive their defeated separatist movement, Sri Lanka’s prime minister told parliament on Tuesday.
When NATO leaders convene in Lisbon in November to adopt a new Strategic Concept, the alliance’s blueprint for the future, they will find that trans-Atlantic security has entered an age of austerity. Burdened by weakened economies, allied governments are cutting their defense budgets, some significantly. However, retrenchment and reduced ambitions are not NATO’s only options.
Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage .
Japan risks international humiliation if it tries and fails to take out a North Korean rocket with the expensive SM-3 missile system
Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo
Japan is preparing to deploy a controversial missile defence system against an imminent North Korean rocket launch, in what could be the first use of the so-called “Son of Star Wars” system to knock out an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In a move that could have strategic implications for the whole northeast Asian region, the Japanese Government plans to dispatch naval destroyers equipped with anti-missile systems to the seas off North Korea, as the isolated dictatorship continues preparations for the launch of a rocket.
As long as the weapon passes through the atmosphere far above Japan, as seems to be the intention, the system will probably not be fired. But if the rocket malfunctions and threatens any of its islands, then Japan will become the first nation to use a long-range missile defence system in anger.
“If it is capable of reaching Japan then it goes without saying that we will react,” Japan’s defence minister, Yasukazu Hamada, said today. “We have been making preparations, including BMD [ballistic missile defence], for any incident which could affect Japan. If it will affect Japan then it will be our target.”
Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported today that the destroyers Kongo and Chokai will be sent to the Sea of Japan that separates the two countries. Both are equipped with SM-3 missiles that are designed to intercept an incoming ballistic missile midway through its course, after it has passed beyond the earth’s atmosphere and into space. But the political and strategic risks of such an attempt are very large.
The German navy has foiled a pirate attack on a container ship off the Somali coast and arrested nine pirates. A military spokesman in Berlin said the frigate Rheinland-Pfalz received a distress call in the Gulf of Aden early on Tuesday from a German-owned ship that reported to be under fire from pirates armed with bazookas and machine guns. The German frigate, with the assistance of a nearby US naval ship was able to halt and board the pirates’ vessel and took nine pirates into custody.
The People’s Republic of China recently dispatched two navy ships — its most advanced No. 171 “Chinese Aegis” class DDG and No. 169 “Chinese Sovremenni” class DDG — to the waters near Somalia to engage in anti-pirate operations. As a Chinese expression goes, “Why use an ox-cleaver to kill a chicken?”
This high-profile action represents a great step forward for the People’s Liberation Army navy toward becoming a global blue-water maritime force. Its leaders seem to be following in the footsteps of Adm. Sergei Gorshkov, who commanded the Soviet navy for nearly three decades and built it into a global sea power. He said his navy would fly the flag of the Soviet Union in every corner of the five continents and four great oceans on Earth, as they all fell within the range of Soviet interests.
On Jan. 4 the People’s Liberation Army Daily published an article by someone named Huang Kunlun claiming that “Maritime trade has without any doubt become the lifeline of the Chinese economy, and the oceans are now China’s critical communication and navigation channels. Using maritime forces to protect national maritime interests is an important measure for the PLA navy to safeguard the national interest of our country.”
This article put forward for the first time the concept of a “national interest frontier,” implying that PLA operations should be extended to wherever China has interests. The author advocates “protecting the national interest frontier” as the call of a new era and an inevitable trend.
This concept of a national interest frontier is, in fact, the 21st century version of the Gorshkov theory, under which the Soviet naval commander advocated the strategic use of an oceangoing navy.
Danish warship the Absalon, patrolling in the Gulf of Aden, stopped yesterday an attack by pirates against a Chinese freight ship, which had sent out a distress call.
The Absalon confiscated weapons of seven pirates, who had fired on the freighter, Denmark’s navy said late yesterday on its Web site. The Absalon and a U.S. warship offered medical aid to possible injured personal at the Chinese vessel, which was declined, according to the navy statement.
Chinese naval forces thwarted a pirate attack on a Liberian-flagged Italian merchant ship this week in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, state media said on Thursday.
The incident occurred on Tuesday when a helicopter from the Chinese destroyer Haikou saw a pair of small pirate vessels closing on the ship and fired a pair of signal flares to drive them off, Xinhua news agency said.