While the world’s attention has been focused on Vladimir Putin’s bloody handed rape of Ukraine and his bullying of virtually all Russia’s European neighbors, the real strategic battleground for the United States is in the South China Sea. The South China Sea controls over forty percent of all the world’s maritime traffic as well as over fifty percent of all oil shipments, including nearly 100% of Korea’s and Japan’s access to oil from the Middle East. For years China has been quietly suborning our allies and creating facts on the ground by constructing artificial islands to lay claim to territorial waters hundreds of miles offshore. (See my previous posts here and here.)
The US strategy to stop China’s campaign for hegemony in the South China Sea has been to work through a coalition of small nations with claims to territory China is now claiming (such as Vietnam and the Philippines) along with help from Korea and Japan. Unfortunately, weakness and uncertainty, the twin pillars of Obama’s foreign policy, tend to scare the bejeezus out of nations living alongside of China.
A recent election in the Philippines has brought into power what can only described as the Philippines’ answer to Donald Trump and with it a new defense policy:
The Philippine defense chief said Friday that he had suspended participation in any joint patrols with the U.S. of the disputed South China Sea, the first concrete sign of a crack in the military alliance following the election of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said he also would ask a small detachment of American troops providing counterterrorism assistance on the southern island of Mindanao to leave as the president requested. But he said that would happen only after the Philippine military can carry out such operations on its own, something that could take years.
Since taking office June 30, Mr. Duterte has caught U.S. officials and his own military off guard with seemingly off-the-cuff pronouncements with potentially far-reaching strategic implications. His aim, he said, is to loosen ties with the U.S. and give his Southeast Asian country a more “independent” foreign policy, with “new alliances” with China and Russia.
We are currently approaching the nadir of American power as it has existed since the Spanish-American War. We have become that big, fat, weak, and somewhat slow kid that even the runts in middle school could pick on with impunity. We have betrayed our friends and kowtowed to our enemies. No one fears us. No one respects us. Obama has singlehandedly destroyed American power and influence abroad for the next couple of generations.
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