Saturday, November 28, 2015

We Can Carry Out Military Drills in International Waters

This article says we will likely conduct a freedom of navigation exercise aimed at China in the South China Sea sometime in December. Will it actually be a freedom of navigation exercise that challenges China's sovereignty claims?

We will sail near a Chinese artificial island again. But this information about the last one raises questions about whether we actually carried out a freedom of navigation operation:

Earlier this month, Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Senate Armed Services Committee called on the Pentagon to clarify publicly the legal intent of last month's patrol.

U.S. officials said the Navy avoided military drills that could have exacerbated tensions with Beijing during the Lassen's Oct. 27 patrol in the Spratly Islands, an approach experts said could reinforce rather than challenge China's sovereignty claims.

As I noted, avoiding those military drills gut the purpose of a freedom of navigation operation and turn it into an innocent passage that does not challenge claims of territorial waters.

Are we defending freedom of navigation or just pretending to do that?