Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman . . . Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 130528
Tilting to Northeast Asia
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
June 4, 2913
Twenty-four years ago today, students and their supporters were struck down in Tiananmen Square by China’s Communist regime that could not tolerate the introspection demanded by China’s hopeful youth seeking freedom. Whatever we might have done then, or since, to help those students in their efforts in seeking freedom, recent and unfolding news of the day reveals growing concerns about the dangers emanating from China today. And they deserve serious attention as the Obama administration considers its recently announced new strategic policy that reportedly tilts to Northeast Asia. Whatever this means, we need to underwrite a serious “peace through strength” agenda in Northeast Asia with sound effective defenses.
It’s the Economy, Stupid.
There are concerns about China’s economic challenge, reflected in the growing massive debt that every U.S. citizen owes to China—last April, China and Japan each owned over a trillion dollars of our almost 17 trillion dollar national debt. Such numbers are hard to contemplate—perhaps, to understand our problem ‘s scope, it is better to note that each American family owes about $140,000 to cover this growing debt. Soon the largest item in our federal budget will be the interest on our national debt—which threatens to swamp us if overall interest rates grow, as some believe is inevitable.
In any case, I agree with former JCS Chairman Mike Mullen that our growing national debt, illustrated by this real time clock, is a major national security concern! But I digress.
My main subject in this email is China, which uses our dollars to buy up American interests, including here at home. Some are of strategic importance—as illustrated long ago when China purchased controlling interests for both ends of the Panama Canal, or just growing their business interests within our nation and culture—e.g., as noted in last Friday’s report that China is buying Virginia’s Smithfield Foods, Inc. for almost $5 billion. As a Southern lad who grew up on a diet of salt cured ham such as Smithfield hams, I think I object.
Still this important economic issue is not my main concern; rather, it is China’s more direct military, national security threat.
It’s the Naval Threat.
Consider “America’s China Mistake,” an excellent Los Angeles Times article last week, written by the author of The Coming Collapse of China, Gordon G. Chang, and Retired U.S. Admiral James A. (Ace) Lyons, Jr. former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. They argue that Washington has misplaced its hopes that military-to-military relations with China will somehow relieve tensions, even as Beijing becomes more bellicose. They argue persuasively that the Obama administration’s invitation to include China in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise is ill advised and should be withdrawn.
Chang and Lyons emphasize that Beijing is configuring its forces — especially its navy — to fight ours. China has often employed aggressive tactics, including regularly harassing unarmed U.S. Navy reconnaissance vessels in international waters, blocking the Impeccable in the South China Sea in 2009, downing of a Navy EP-3 in 2001 and, in 2006, surfacing a Song-class attack submarine in the middle of the Kitty Hawk strike group near Okinawa. And they note China’s new leader Xi Jinping’s bold war talk to senior officers and colonels who say they relish combat — a “hand-to-hand fight with the U.S.,” as one of them put it in 2010.
Perhaps, when the leaders meet in California this coming weekend, President Obama might wish to ask President Xi Jinping about what he had in mind in his discussion with these Naval officers — along with discussing Beijing’s high-tech spying, the cyber threat, and other threats to the U.S. economy and national security—and urging him to tamp down China’s longtime partner, North Korea—and its proliferation partner, Iran.
Then there’s Space.
China’s help to North Korea and Iran is obviously linked to our missile defense concerns, as emphasized in several recent High Frontier email reports. But it is also important to understand that China is doing more than simply aiding and abetting rogue states and their surrogate terrorist partners. After all, China is pursuing strategic modernization efforts and major advances in high technology applications—including others beyond those mentioned above.
For example, we have previously noted that China’s 2008 antisatellite (ASAT) demonstration contributed most of the space debris about which China joins others in feigning concern about a debris threat that the U.S. might cause in deploying space based defenses. Furthermore, recent reports of new Chinese ASAT program—and tests of a larger more capable rocket launcher suggest that Chinese ASATs might be able to reach U.S. high altitude satellites. And we still delay comparable developments.
Meanwhile, some Chinese have talked about a Chinese Astronaut planting China’s flag on the Moon within a decade—while our NASA manned space program languishes and rents launch capability from others to shuttle our astronauts to and from the International Space Station in low earth orbit. China understands the importance of controlling the “high ground”—or as we say the “high frontier,” and no doubt is clear headed in pursuing superiority there as best it can.
To deal with the growing global ballistic missile threat, we need to revive the space-based defense programs that were President Ronald Reagan’s top priority effort in his Strategic Defense Initiative. As Air Force Lieutenant General Jim Abrahamson, the first SDI Director, and I argued recently in our article, “The Dividends of SDI,” published in the Journal of International Security Affairs, the most effective missile defense system to be pursued during the SDI decade (1984-93) was a space-based defense concept called Brilliant Pebbles. It was cancelled in early 1993 for ideological not technical reasons—as then Defense Secretary Les Aspin said, he “Took the stars out of Star Wars.”
Meanwhile we can count on China, Russia and others—regrettably including American naysayers, who will seek to block the revival of the most cost-effective ballistic missile defense concept to come from the SDI program. But China and Russia will not ignore the accomplishment, and as our peer adversaries they will try to copy it when they can. It will take grass roots Americans to demand that Reagan’s vision be revived. More for another day.
Chang and Lyons persuasively argue against helping China increase their naval effectiveness with invitations to RIMPAC and other exercises—we should recognize the serious threat China poses to America and our way of life. It is foolish to count them as friends or allies in joint operations and hope for the best. Rather, we should pursue “peace through strength”—by reversing the current directions to the U.S. Navy to reduce its fleet, currently at 283 deployable ships. And we should modernize our other defenses, including in space to deal with the growing threats to America.
In any case, imagining that military-to-military relations with China will somehow relieve tensions with the Chinese is another triumph of hope over experience.
Grass Roots’ Advance for Dealing with the EMP Threat!
We have periodically reported on Representative Andrea Boland’s efforts in the Maine Legislature to pass her Bill (LD151) to assure an upcoming major power grid investment in Maine will be properly protected against consequences of a major solar emission—which will occur; it is only a question of when. Congratulations are due to Rep. Boland (D-Sanford)! Not only has her bill passed Maine’s full House, it passed the Senate with only three opposing votes, and now is on the Governor’s desk for signing. Until it is signed, we will withhold some of the cheers, but it is not too soon for generous applause to Andrea for her persistence in getting this important legislation to the home stretch—and for the others who supported her efforts. Hopefully other states will find equally dedicated representatives to follow her lead.
And what can you do?
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
We can use your help in spreading the word to grass roots and local authorities to press the powers that be to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!