Monday, August 9, 2010

Would you like rice with your Cold War Special?

The USS George Washington (CVN-73) spent the weekend cruising 200 miles off shore from Danang, The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. What’s going on you say, does Nike need negotiating leverage for that new sneaker plant? Officially the “G-Dub” was there to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the US and SRV. It did however bring along 4 million pounds of bombs, seventy aircraft and 6000 men and women ready to go to war at the sound of the claxon.

Based in Japan the “G-Dub” is widely believed to carry a typical deployment of 100 nuclear warheads. Japan has revealed recently that they have always turned a blind eye to this despite official policy prohibiting nuclear weapons on their soil.

Were the Vietnamese upset with this show of force just outside their territorial waters? No, in fact they could not have been more pleased as they chose the location. This is the part of the South China Sea that they claim as their own that includes a number of small islands known as the Spratly and Paracel Islands. These islands are the reason Hanoi and Washington are getting so cozy militarily.

The super carrier task force arrived off Vietnam having just completed joint exercises with South Korea and during the entire trip from Japan they were shadowed by a number Chinese warships. You see Beijing claims absolute sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, its islands, fishing grounds, oil & gas reserves and the sea lanes themselves. They don’t care much for trespassers but so far have been out gunned by the USN.

Vietnam has tried very hard to cultivate relations with the US, especially after the collapse of their primary benefactor, the Soviet Union. Before, during and after the US-Vietnam War, the Vietnamese were at war with China and repelled several invasion attempts that killed large numbers on both sides. The third and final invasion took place in 1979 and China withdrew after taking heavy losses but looted and laid waste to the northern part of Vietnam on the way out.

China has made no secret of the fact that at some point they intend to throw the US out of its South China Sea. To press home that point they have recently announced the pending deployment of a new generation of hyper-sonic anti-ship missile called the Dong Feng 21D. With a large conventional or nuclear warhead and a 900 mile range they are reportedly capable of defeating any counter measures and intercepting a moving target. Of course at 6000 miles per hour it closes the 900 miles in 9 minutes, so even at flank speed a carrier would only move maybe five miles, not quite like shooting fish in a barrel but close. Some reports are that the new missile may have a much longer range on the order of 2000 miles.

There is a debate about when the weapon will be deployable, it could be ten years or maybe less than two. There is no question that China is capable of producing such a weapon thanks to technology sharing by American companies like Boeing and Lockheed. In order to get access to cheap manufacturing, US companies are required to turn over information that prior to the Bush Administration people went to prison for giving up.

In short, the greed of American corporations has made possible a new Cold War. Of course FOX News is making the most it can from the tensions by hyping fear of the yellow peril. This allows the same “defense” contractors that gave China the technology to be able to sell even more hardware to the US military to counter this “unexpected” threat. China will of course increase their military spending, they can afford it and they have the factories. The right-wing is probably kidding itself that we can out spend China and destroy it like Reagan did to the Soviets. That wasn’t what really happened of course, the USSR was on an irreversible downward spiral long before Reagan, kind of like the one we are on.


Joseph S. said...

You said: "This allows the same 'defense' contractors that gave China the technology to be able to sell even more hardware to the US military to counter this 'unexpected' threat."

Similarly, the U.S. military's and private contractors' presence in Iraq and Afganistan is justified (at least in part) by our opponents' use of money and weapons "lost" by the U.S. military and private contractors.

I have no doubt that there is a long history of arming the enemy in order to sell more military hardware to counter the enemy.

SanMigMike said...

Indeed there is a long history of that. The Ethyl Corp selling their fuel additive to Japan and Germany, the technology as well. Standard Oil was for it, General Motors (who made money in Germany during the war by making trucks among other things).

One of the big deals after the War to end all wars was the arms dealers, Krupp and others but as all too often happens, deals were cut, names were changed and the same families in a lot of cases kept selling weapons to all sides.

Right now it seems as if we don't directly sell weapons to some rather odious states we have the Israelis (among others) sell them instead so we can have a few thugs or terrorist governments at "arms" length.