Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Deference or Honesty?

Is America giving in to China's claims in the South China Sea?

Six weeks ago, the United States Pacific Command requested permission from senior American officials for a United States warship to sail within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a disputed reef in the South China Sea that is claimed by the Philippines and China. ...

But instead, the Pacific Command request — and two others by the Navy in February — was turned down by top Pentagon officials before it even made it to President Trump’s desk. More than 100 days into the Trump presidency, no American Navy ship has gone within 12 miles of any of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, Defense Department officials said.

We may simply be delaying missions until we get concrete help on North Korea.

Or we may be putting pressure on the Philippines by not defending their claims with our Navy while Duterte plays footsie with China.

Or there may be no change in basic policy, and it is a total coincidence that no opportunities for missions have been approved. Okay. The former I believe. The latter? Not so much.

But the premise of the article is that under President Obama's basic policy our Navy actually conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) near Chinese-claimed territory rather than merely carrying out innocent passage missions that don't actually challenge Chinese claims.

If we are refusing to conduct phony FONOP missions, I think that is a good thing.

I certainly don't want the Trump administration to abandon our defense of international waters that China claims for their own. But is that what is really happening?

I guess we shall see if the Trump administration authorizes real FONOPs or phony FONOPs.