Peace in our time: ‘Game of carriers’ in Eastern Med

Elephants dance.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia has moved to clamp down on Ukraine in advance of the laughably rigged “referendum” scheduled for 16 March, when Crimeans will vote on which way to secede from Ukraine: either as an “independent” state or through annexation by Russia.  Crimeans who want to remain part of Ukraine are out of luck.

The battle for Crimea may be preordained; the battle for Ukraine underway.  There are also indications of a larger battle shaping up in the region, as the aircraft carriers of Russia and the United States perform an elaborate minuet in the Eastern Mediterranean.  If you weren’t convinced that the Russian move on Ukraine would rapidly destabilize the region, consider what has been going on in the last week west of Cyprus. Continue reading “Peace in our time: ‘Game of carriers’ in Eastern Med”

Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big

Breaching the peace.

Mariners and the specialty mariner press know it’s big.  But mariners can’t fix this.  It will take national policies to fix it, and non-specialist citizens therefore need to understand its importance.

So, I reiterate: this is big.  After several years of preparations for this day (see, for example, here, here, and here), China has issued a unilateral order that foreign fishing vessels will have to obtain permits from China to fish in two-thirds of the South China Sea (SCS), an area in which China has long made excessive territorial claims. Continue reading “Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big”

China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop

Post-Pax blues.

If you were wondering whether it’s bad that the Chinese navy maneuvered aggressively near a U.S. Navy ship last week, ordering the ship to stop and then driving a Chinese ship right in front of it, dangerously close, the answer is yes.  It’s bad – bad from two standpoints: naval professionalism, and China’s posture in the South China Sea.  We’ll look at both here.

Briefly, the backstory is that China’s new aircraft carrier, the former-Soviet carrier refitted by China and named the Liaoning, transited in November from a northern port to the South China Sea for her first operations in southerly waters.  In late November, Liaoning got underway with an escort of two destroyers and two frigates to conduct operations in the South China Sea.

These are Liaoning’s first naval activities outside of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, Continue reading “China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop”

Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges

Memorial services for the Pax Americana will be held shortly.

“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” — Ronald Reagan

It made the most news when China did it a few days ago.  But it’s been building for a while, and it’s not just off China.  As the holidays settle in on us, probes of other nations’ sea and air space are in the air.  Is war coming tomorrow?  No.  But whether it comes after tomorrow will depend on more than gestures from that shapeless blob of geopolitical potential that we may now, in a post-superpower world, call the “status quo powers.”  It will depend on the outcomes the status quo powers can secure.

The China Challenge Continue reading “Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges”

Meanwhile, in the South China Sea: “Forget the US”

Maritime Munich?

Senator James Webb (D-VA) told David Gregory on Meet the Press three weeks ago that he thinks the US is facing a “Munich moment” with China in Southeast Asia.  While no exact analogy is on the horizon to the original Munich moment – Neville Chamberlain proclaiming “peace in our time” after agreeing with Hitler to the partition of Czechoslovakia – Webb’s larger point is that China’s career of aggression in the South China Sea needs checking.

Recent activity

Perhaps a better analogy would be calling the current situation in the South China Sea a prospective remilitarization-of-the-Rhine moment.  In any case, Webb is right that there are things to worry about. Continue reading “Meanwhile, in the South China Sea: “Forget the US””