Democrats & Liberals Archives

Show Of Force

The Russians and Chinese are holding their first ever joint military exercise to “strengthen the capability of the two armed forces in jointly striking international terrorism, extremism and separatism.” Sounds good, but if you look behind the curtain, there’s a lot more going on here.

The most mundane facet of the exercise is to give China a test drive of Russian bombers for sale (the Tu-160 "Blackjack" in particular - similar to our B-1B strategic bomber). China's current bomber fleet is a joke, and Russia is using the exercise as a sales pitch, demonstrating the nuclear and conventional capabilities of Russian bombers, including their anti-ship capabilities.

Think that through, and things get a little more interesting. Should China acquire an advanced bomber fleet, they raise the bar for deploying US aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Straits. A show of force would require more than the two carrier groups President Clinton deployed in 1994, and an intervention on that scale would meet increased political resistance from both sides of the aisle.

After all, what is Taiwan to us, really? The Bush administration made it clear we consider Taiwan a Chinese province and we want to see an eventual reunification - preferably peaceful. Are we really willing to go to war with China to prevent something we'd like to see happen anyhow?

On the Russian side, the exercise is also more than it seems. It's also aimed at bolstering the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Central Asian security alliance including China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan to oppose, "interference into the internal affairs of other states, including under the pretext of humanitarian intervention."

Russia adamantly opposes US military bases in the 'stans, and the exercise serves to demonstrate Sino-Russian ability to forcibly eject US forces, if necessary.

Last, the operation is exactly what the Russians and Chinese say it is: a rehearsal of joint action to "settle regional crises."

President Bush's lack of a coherent Asia policy is boosting China's hegemonic ambitions in the Pacific. In addition, the administration's preference for unilateralism and weak international treaties signals America's retirement as global cop. Regional security alliances are coalescing to fill the void, and in the process, gaining the ability to someday challenge US military supremacy at the regional level.

By backing away from permanent multinational alliances, treaties, and organizations, we - the "indispensable nation" - weaken the international community's ability to enforce law and order, and we encourage smaller nations to join the hegemonic sphere of stronger states more willing to project force to "settle regional crises" - states like China and Russia.

President Bush's foreign policy promotes a new global polarization of power. Is that really what we want?

Posted by American Pundit at August 12, 2005 11:40 AM