The Emperor in Washington has no clothes, laid bare by his naked lies and soon without a feather to fly with.
Well, maybe he has P8-Poseidons to conduct provocative flights around Beijing’s South China Seas islands, and a giant nuclear-powered fig leaf spread over 800 known global bases to cover his, uh, security. But navel-gazing American politicians have already been lobbed a big punch to their guts by Vladimir Putin who flashed his own missile-laden cojones at Obama et cie over Ukraine.
China really should thank Victoria “Eve’’ Nuland for sparking off the crisis that has pushed Beijing and Moscow closer than ever expected. Was that cookies – or apples? – that she was handing out to Maidan protestors in Kiev with the temptation of a champagne `n’ roses lifestyle just like f**k-the-EU Eden?
John Kerry recently came away with a basket of potatoes instead – grown in rich steppes soil, not Monsanto GMO ones, and ideal for baking humble pie – after talking peace and love with Putin in Sochi. Now Washington has decided to fire up the heat in the South China Seas, cooking another “crisis’’ that calls upon its masterly hand to resolve.
Freedom of navigation sounds high-minded, as Washington orders tone-deaf China to stop its island reclamation (even as it selectively ignores similar construction by Philippines and Vietnam).
On closer inspection, that is as likely to pass the smell test as the “weapons of mass destruction’’ meme against Iraq, (Peter Lee points out that oil-laden tankers bound for Japan, South Korea, Philippines and even Vietnam have alternative routes via Lombok and Sunda).
While Hussein Saddam (and Muammar Gaddafi) could be cowed and conquered through Shock and Awe, China is unfazed even though respectful of American firepower. Gunboat diplomacy is a dead creed and unlikely to Shock and Awe China in its backyard as it did when the British Empire sailed into the South China Seas. Reuters fudges the current stand-off : US & China refuse to stand down in SCS.
In translation, that means China presses ahead with building up its SCS island territory. Washington’s faux protestations do not factor heavily in its projections. Washington and its think-tank and media banshees will chorus to a shrill crescendo about ‘punishing’ China, ‘costs’ and ‘modifying aggressive behavior’.
Beijing retorts that continued American intrusions into its airspace may lead to a ‘miscalculation’; that is, surprise, China could ‘accidentally’ down an American craft or arrange an aerial welcome reception.
The unfolding scenario would probably roll out like a re-run of 1960s/70s script: USA sends a jet into Chinese airspace. China issues a “serious warning’’. Another intrusion. Another “serious warning’’. It goes on, ad nauseam.
The reality is, unless it wants head-on conflict, Washington can’t do squat – not until Hillary Clinton, architect/messenger of the Asia pivot takes the reins anyway – except pump up its volume.
Expect new-broom-sweeps-clean Ashton Carter to peddle hockum from the rostrum at the upcoming Shangri-la Dialogue about defending allies, maintaining regional stability and pushing the envelope about joint US-Japan sea patrols. ultimately with Asean nations.
Apart from the Philippines, how many members are raring to champ at the bit? Even Vietnam has cooled off remarkably from an overt anti-China stance after the riots last year.
Asean welcomes Japanese investment – the Abe administration has seemingly conjured $110 million for a five-year spread – but Japan as a military ally and protector still requires a quantum leap in regional thinking.
As with the Diaoyu dispute between China and Japan, Washington has finally shrugged off its phony mask about not taking sides.
USA is on USA’s side – to protect its own interests. As rising China and developing Asean move closer towards economic integration, Washington is stepping up the pedal to maintain the status quo, that is, USA as number one – in every sphere.
But geography is destiny, to take a phrase from neo-con author Robert Kaplan. The tyranny of distance – relative to countries that actually are neighbors on Eurasia – will limit Washington’s ability to meddle with the community-building process.
Russia and China will continue to fire on all cylinders – despite disruptions – in the comprehensive partnership, as well as respective Eurasian Economic Union and One Belt, One Road initiatives.
Washington’s outsized military machine will increasingly whip up the fog of war in around Eurasia; in SCS, it will be dense around China’s built-up islands.
Remember, however, the sirens of Greek myth lured sailors to their destruction on island rocks.