As the U.S. president sits in the Oval Office and contemplates the proper role of the powerful military force at his disposal he might ask himself this question: "Of all the countries in the world which one should this nation never, ever think about intimidating militarily?" The answer that immediately should come to mind is -- CHINA!
While that might be a natural conclusion and one that our leaders should take to heart, that doesn't seem to reflect their thinking and their recent actions seem to bear that out. It is becoming more and more evident that the U.S. government considers China to be a significant threat to its interests around the world; and so it is taking steps to increase its military presence in many areas of Asia and all around China itself.
I doubt that many Americans have even heard of what the Obama Administration calls the "Asian Pivot." In short it is a plan by which a large portion of U.S. military resources would be shifted from the Middle East and some European countries into regions of Asia. The entire effort is based on the knowledge that this region will be a hotbed of activity as the 21st Century evolves. The main objective is to increase U.S. military presence in that area and keep China at bay or totally out of the picture; but that's far easier said than done.
As part of this Asian Pivot which is, quite obviously, a clear means of intimidation, President Obama, just recently issued orders by which two U.S. B-52 bombers, said to be unarmed, flew over the airspace that China had just recently designated as an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the area around the Diaoyu islands, just off the Chinese mainland. Interestingly those islands just happen to be surrounded by a massive area of unexplored oil and gas.
China did not immediately respond to that November 26 overflight but did send up fighter jets a couple of days later. An Asian Times report asked this question: "Did Beijing get the message? You bet they did. According to reports coming out of Beijing "China won't allow itself to be in a position of being a paper tiger: If the United States conducts two or three more flights like this, China will be forced to respond. If China can only respond verbally it would be humiliating."
I hope President Obama got that same message and I would say that he should think very deeply about those straightforward words "China will be forced to respond." That's a very clear warning that should be heeded and taken very seriously. If Mr. Obama were wise he would back off this extremely dangerous confrontation (that he initiated) and let the tensions simmer down. But, that's probably not going to happen because that's not something the U.S. government does.
Now, as this situation evolves, let's hope that cooler and wiser minds prevail; and let's look at this entire situation in a broader scope and see what the future may hold for the now increasingly tenuous relationship between the U.S. and China. We have a U.S. government and a military that seems to think that they can do whatever they wish and that nothing can stop them. But that's delusional thinking on their part and here is what this president and his military advisers need to consider.
This situation can be likened to a heavyweight boxing match with the U.S. being the aggressor, throwing powerful punches but landing few, as evidenced by its failed objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, when home-based guerillas held the power of the American military to a standstill and made it head for the exits, very reminiscent of what happened in Vietnam. China, on the other hand is saving its energy, not throwing wild punches and is, instead, counterpunching and keeping America off balance.
Now let's get back to that statement coming out of China that said, "China will be forced to respond." What does that really mean? Will that nation use its air power to respond if more U.S. planes are sent into its airspace, possibly initiating a massive confrontation between those two powers; or do those words mean something else?
Who knows? But one thing is certain and that is that China can see that the U.S. hasn't learned anything at all from its recent military debacles and is still not the least bit hesitant to use its military to intimidate other nations in forcing its agenda where it is not wanted. China knows that in this cat and mouse game it holds the winning hand, its rising economic power.
We know that it is in the process, with its BRICS partners, to lay the groundwork for replacing the dollar as the world's main currency. We also know that the U.S. has an ongoing, very large trade deficit with China, and that China possesses about 3 trillion dollars in U.S. securities. We also know that, without constant funds flowing from China, the U.S. military empire cannot be sustained.
China can and will use every one of these non-military weapons if threats from the U.S. become intolerable. And there is a little known "weapon" that it could also use to greatly damage significant portions of America's defense industry; it's called "rare earth minerals" that include these four precious minerals, lanthanum, lutetium, yttrium and scandium) together with 13 others. China has a monopoly on these minerals as it produces 97% of the world's total supply.
Rare earth elements are used in a variety of U.S. defense-related applications. This from Wikipedia: "Their end uses include key portions of missile guidance and control systems, disk drive motors installed in aircraft, tanks, missile systems, and command and control centers; lasers for enemy mine detection, interrogators, underwater mines, and countermeasures; satellite communications, radar, and sonar on submarines and surface ships." Shortages of these kinds of minerals would severely harm important areas of U.S. defense mechanisms.
Here's what could take place coming up. The U.S. has no intention of pulling back from its aggressive military agenda in that region of Asia where China has a great presence. It's only a matter of time until some very serious confrontation that could really inflame tensions, happens between these two countries. Now if China has its back against the wall, with no other options, it will have to retaliate in some way; but it will not challenge America's military superiority except as a last resort; and we don't even want to think about what that last resort would lead to.