It seems it’s not enough that US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his generals engage in games of nuclear chicken with Russia by provocations in Ukraine, NATO maneuvers on Russia’s borders and activation of highly-dangerous ballistic missile defense installations on Russia’s perimeter. In the past months the Obama Administration has clearly also escalated tensions in the seas surrounding the Peoples’ Republic of China—East China Sea with Japan and South China Sea with the Philippines—tensions which potentially could provoke a catastrophe. While both provocative operations could give the Pentagon budget a boost in times of budget austerity, they could easily detonate a preemptive nuclear strike by either China or Russia or by both. In the 21st Century such primitive behavior by the Obama Pentagon is not only inexcusable. It’s mad.
Earlier I discussed in great detail the carefully-planned Washington provocation of China in the strategic South China Sea islands disputes, where the Obama Administration encouraged a Philippine government—then under US-crony Benigno Aquino—to escalate tensions over the barren Spratly Islands by unilaterally going ahead with arbitration in The Hague despite the fact it was not agreed to be arbitrated by Beijing, violation of the very definition of arbitration. It was a deliberately planned Washington ploy to provoke Beijing into rash reaction. To date, to its credit, China has instead pursued a series of diplomatic initiatives with ASEAN, as well as dialogue with a new, more reasonable Manila government under President Rodrigo Duterte, to defuse the manipulated US propaganda Hague decision.
In recent weeks however, Washington has demonstrated that it has firmly fixed China to its missile radar as Asia-Pacific Public Enemy Number One, putting China now in pretty much the same boat as Russia is for NATO in western Europe. The Pentagon has dramatically escalated tensions in the region, using Washington’s strong influence over the regimes of Japan, South Korea, and a newly-elected regime in Taiwan to turn them from trade partners of China to hostile foes.
In early August Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported that the country is actively pushing forward and adopting the US’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Japan would become the second country in East Asia to deploy THAAD after South Korea.
Some days before, on July 7, the Pentagon had announced formally that the government of South Korea has agreed to place a THAAD missile battery on the Korean peninsula in Seongju County, following five months of negotiations with the conservative regime of President Park Guen-hye, the very pro-US daughter of close Washington Cold War ally, Park Chung-hee. The Pentagon press statement declared South Korea’s THAAD decision was merely, “as a defensive measure to ensure the security of the ROK and its people and to protect alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats.”
Most recently, on August 16, the Chunan Ilbo newspaper reported that the South Korean Navy has signed a deal with the US weapons maker Lockheed Martin to equip Korean warships with missiles capable of intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles, described as a kind of naval version of THAAD.
Two days before, in an August 15 lead editorial, the official Beijing Global Times paper reacted strongly to the news that Japan will develop a new land-to-sea missile with a range of 300 kilometers, citing a report in Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s leading conservative newspaper. The Japanese paper reported that the new missiles will be deployed on Miyako island in 2023.
The Japan Yomiuri report stated that by improving their long-range strike capability, Japan aims to acquire firm military control over the disputed waters around what China claims, and calls the Diaoyu Islands, only 170 kilometers away from Miyako Island. v
Since 2012 when Obama’s Asia Pivot military shift began in earnest, Washington has prodded Tokyo to impose state claim over the uninhabited Diaoyo Islands (Senkaku in Japanese), which China claims had been Chinese since 1534 and illegally handed by the US occupation after World War II to Japan in violation of the Potsdam Agreement.
The Global Times noted, “Miyako sits at the mouth of the Miyako Strait, an international waterway which is also a major route for the Chinese navy to enter the Pacific Ocean. If the new missile is deployed at Miyako, it could threaten all Chinese ships in the waters of the Diaoyu Islands.”
Carter’s ominous talks
The Japan THAAD developments followed a major visit by US Defense Secretary Carter to both Tokyo and Seoul South Korea this past April. In a joint Tokyo press conference with his Japanese counterpart at the time, Carter declared that Washington’s aim was to “transform the US-Japan alliance, expanding opportunities for the U.S. armed forces and the Japan Self-Defense Forces to cooperate seamlessly.” The only problem is that, presently at least, the postwar Japanese Constitution, in the famous Article 9, outlaws war as a means of settling Japan’s disputes. The Shinzo Abe regime is fervidly working to abolish that amendment, with the full backing of Washington, so that Tokyo can become what Abe calls a “normal” nation, waging war where she will.
That April Carter Asia tour clearly marked a major escalation in US military efforts to firm the encirclement of China, Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” using her Asia-Pacific neighbors for provocative military deployments and at the same time trying to drive a wedge into the peaceful economic cooperation of China and those countries via the Obama Administration’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that explicitly excludes China. It’s all being done under the cover of claiming a threat from North Korean missiles and the prospect that they could in the future have nuclear warheads.
Target China as well as Russia
The THAAD anti-missile system, under US military control, and its use of the Raytheon X-band radar array in reality has nothing to do with any threats from North Korea to either Japan or South Korea. It’s all about China and second, about Russia’s missile capabilities in her Far East.
Fan Gaoyue, retired senior colonel and former chief expert of the Department of Foreign Military affairs, PLA Academy of Military Science, now at Sichuan University, pointed out the fraud of the North Korea bogeyman claims of Washington. “THAAD is designed for high-altitude intercept in a missile’s terminal phase, meaning that it is optimized mostly to defend against medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, but is of little or no use against the short-and tactical-range ballistic missiles most likely to be employed against the ROK (South Korea-w.e.),” he stressed in a recent interview in China-US Focus journal. “Besides, THAAD can do nothing to deal with the real and realistic threats posed by the DPRK (Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea) artillery.”
The Chinese military analyst went on to point out that, “Considering that the types, numbers and capabilities of the DPRK’s short-range missiles are rather limited and the US military has already deployed 30-44 Patriot PAC-3 missile systems in the ROK, it is difficult for the DPRK’s short-range missiles to pose a very grave threat to the ROK. The real, realistic and grave threats to the ROK are the DPRK Army and its 21,100 pieces of artillery, most of which are deployed along the 38° Line and can strike the Seoul area directly.”
Fan Gaoyue concludes by making the point, “THAAD will force the ROK to join the US-Japan missile defense system which will impair the ROK’s military initiative.”
Ensnaring South Korea into the US-Japan ballistic missile defense system, aimed directly at China and at Russia’s Far East, would put a major missing part to the Pentagon’s plans for encirclement of China and to the encirclement of Russia.
In 2011, in remarks to fellow NATO members in Washington in July 2012, Phillip Hammond, then UK Secretary of State for Defense, declared explicitly that the Obama Administration’s just-announced new US defense shift to the Asia-Pacific region was aimed at China. Hammond said, “the rising strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region requires all countries, but particularly the United States, to reflect in their strategic posture the emergence of China as a global power. Far from being concerned about the tilt to Asia-Pacific, the European NATO powers should welcome the fact that the US is willing to engage in this new strategic challenge on behalf of the alliance.”
‘Using the right hand to reach the left ear…’
That Washington is playing with thermonuclear fire in drawing Japan and South Korea into its China-Russia military encirclement strategy became even clearer in reported remarks of Japan right-wing Prime Minister Abe to US Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command. According to the report, Abe, referring to efforts of President Obama to make a US “No First Use” of nuclear weapons official US policy, something not now the case, Abe protested. He told the Admiral, “Japan, in particular, believes that if Obama declares a ‘no first use’ policy, deterrence against countries such as North Korea will suffer and the risks of conflict will rise.”
The potential thermonuclear cocktail of THAAD deployments across Japan and now South Korea and its navy, combined with expansion of the US ballistic missile defense deployments there, and a right-wing rearmed Japan under an Abe regime rejecting “no first use,” is a cocktail that one should neither stir nor shake but rather dismantle before it is irreversible and confronts China and Russia with the only option of survival, namely, nuclear preemptive strike.
That is what is insane about the US Full Spectrum Dominance policy in place since 1992 when US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and his assistant, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz drafted the Wolfowitz Doctrine.
Vladimir Putin and the Russians have patiently pointed this out since the 2007 Putin Wehrkunde Munich speech, where he bluntly and clearly opposed the US ballistic missile deployment in Poland and across European NATO, then proclaimed by Washington allegedly to defend European NATO allies against “rogue missile attacks from Iran or North Korea.” It’s worth re-quoting a section from that February, 2007 Munich speech of Putin’s, remarks even more ominously prescient of future Washington actuality today more than nine years after and developments that bring that reality far, far closer:
“…what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within. And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy.. Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders…It is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?
Referring to the Bush Administration’s just-announced plans to deploy its missiles and special radar in Poland and the Czech Republic allegedly to protect the EU NATO countries from rogue North Korean or Iranian missile attacks, Putin concluded,
“Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do. Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometres that really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem countries. And in the near future and prospects, this will not happen and is not even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean rocket to American territory through western Europe obviously contradicts the laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear.”
Now a policy-bankrupt Washington has moved to do precisely the same military encirclement with missile “defense” against China and against Russia’s strategically-vital Far East. If someone in Washington was trying deliberately to firm up a strategic military alliance between Beijing and Moscow to parallel their unprecedented economic alliance, then they are doing brilliantly. It is not so brilliant for mankind or the prospects for world peaceful economic development of our planet to blindly march toward mutual annihilation.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”