Reprinted from Asia Times
If only Mad Men in real life were like Don Draper -- channeling his true inner self, after many a rocky season, to finally click on "I'm OK, you're OK."
Instead, we have a bunch of (Pentagon) madmen provoking every major geostrategic competitor all at once.
The Masters of War at the self-described "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" Obama administration are now announcing they're ready to dispatch military aircraft and ships within 18 kilometers of seven artificial islands China has built up in the Spratly Islands.
Beijing's response, via the Global Times, couldn't be other than There Will be War; "If the United States' bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea ... The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as 'friction'."
According to Beijing, two lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef -- sites of reclamation works -- were built "to improve navigation safety in the South China Sea."
There's no evidence China will cease its island-building work even with U.S. warships hangin' out in the naval hood. Will the U.S. Navy go heavy metal and unleash "friction" to prevent civilian Chinese vessels from moving around? Does the U.S. Navy expect Beijing to just roll over and collapse?
What the Global Times implies is that China will definitely strike back if the Americans come within 18 kilometers of the islands.
Beijing already has electronically jammed Global Hawk long-range surveillance drones spying on the Nansha Islands. And Beijing is contemplating setting up an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea once the work on the seven artificial islands is completed.
This South China Sea exceptionalist adventurism could alarmingly get out of hand. Couple it with the "patrolling" of the Western Pacific -- as the U.S. and Australia are about to be joined by re-militarizing Japan in their regular bi-annual war games. The result is a Shangri-La Dialogue -- the regional security summit held every year in Singapore, starting this Friday -- even hotter than usual. Assorted agent provocateurs better not mess with Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army's General Staff, who will be the guest star of the show.
All about the Maritime Silk Road
The latest escalation happens just as Beijing releases it new Military White Paper outlining in detail a new defensive strategy -- which is now, for all practical purposes, defensive/offensive in Full Spectrum AirSeaLandCyber Space mode (the full text is included here). Pentagon planners, eat your collective hearts out; the "pivoting to Asia" is about to meet its match.
Among the highlights, we now know China "will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked" -- which is a blueprint for what may happen next in the South China Sea.
Beijing will be focused on "winning informationized local wars" (a whole lotta electronic jammin' goin' on).
And the PLA Navy will gradually shift its focus from "offshore waters defense" to a mix of "offshore waters defense and open seas protection." Welcome to the (China) sea-to-shining-sea doctrine.
Zhang Yuguo, senior colonel with the general staff department of the PLA, clearly enjoyed himself at his press conference when he stressed, "Some countries adopt preemptive strategies, emphasizing preventive intervention and taking initiative in attack. Ours is totally different." And then came the Sun Tzu-style clincher; "Being 'active' is only a kind of means and 'defense' is our fundamental purpose."