Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another Fine Mess

I hope and pray this is just a case of being prepared ... an overabundance of caution. Because if it's not, we're in deep kimchi.

In Japan’s Drill With the U.S., a Message for Beijing
In the early morning along a barren stretch of beach here last week, Japanese soldiers and American Marines practiced how to invade and retake an island captured by hostile forces.

Memo to Beijing: Be forewarned.

American military officials, viewing the cooperative action of the former World War II enemies from a nearby hillside, insisted that the annual exercise, called Iron Fist, had nothing to do with last fall’s game of chicken between Tokyo and Beijing over islands that are largely piles of rocks in the East China Sea. But Lt. Col. John O’Neal, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said that this year, the Japanese team came with “a new sense of purpose.”

“There are certainly current events that have added emphasis to this exercise,” he said, as Japanese soldiers made their way up into the rocks before disappearing into the hills above the beach. “Is there a heightened awareness? Yes.”

In the United States military, commanders are increasingly allied in alarm with Japan over China’s flexing of military muscle. Capt. James Fanell, director of intelligence and information operations with the United States Pacific Fleet, recently said in San Diego that China was training its forces to be capable of carrying out a “short, sharp” war with Japan in the East China Sea.

In a sign of continuing concern, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, was in China over the weekend seeking to improve the limited relationship between the American and Chinese militaries, perhaps through exchanges of top officers. In recent years, the Pentagon has worried about the buildup of China’s military and a lack of transparency among its leaders.

The islands at the center of the dispute, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese, are a seven-hour boat ride from Japan, even farther from China, and thought to be surrounded by man-eating sharks. Japan has long administered the islands, but they are claimed by China and Taiwan.

Last year, China set off a trans-Pacific uproar when it declared that an “air defense identification zone” gave it the right to identify and possibly take military action against aircraft near the islands. Japan refused to recognize China’s claim, and the United States defied China by sending military planes into the zone unannounced — even as the Obama administration advised American commercial airlines to comply with China’s demand and notify Beijing in advance of flights through the area.

A few weeks later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan approved a five-year defense plan that took the pacifist nation further toward its most assertive military posture since World War II.

This year’s Iron Fist, Colonel O’Neal said, was the largest and most involved operation so far. The exercise included drones and the kinds of air support that would be needed to protect Japanese and American troops retaking an island...

For Japan, defense experts said, the shift to the more comprehensive training with the Marines is a direct response to a more assertive China. “The Japanese have been getting more serious about broadening their training,” said Christopher K. Johnson, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, because “the Chinese are doing their own exercises that look a lot like island-grabbing.”

He pointed to recent military exercises by China that Asia experts believe could be rehearsals for landing operations targeting the uninhabited islands.

And imagine, Asia experts said, if China became assertive about islands where people actually live, like Okinawa.

Some Asia experts believe that is already happening, pointing to recent talk from Chinese scholars, though not the Chinese government, about Okinawa, which the Japanese call Ryukyu.

“All of a sudden,” said Andrew Oros, an associate professor of political science at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and a specialist on East Asia, “it’s no longer about protecting some deserted island; it’s about protecting somewhere where more than one million Japanese people live.”
There can be little doubt that the chicoms have become more aggressive in their approach towards the West. Given our economic dependency on China, along with their military build-up and increasingly intransigent attitude, it appears that they are the next big threat to the U.S. and our Far East allies.

What is particularly worrisome is that, in this time of increasing tension, our foreign policy is being shaped and executed by the modern-day political equivalent of Laurel and Hardy - obama and kerry.

God help us...

No comments: