The USA has transferred 3 of its 4 Tomahawk Missile carrying Trident Submarines from the Atlantic to Asia. One is at Diego Garcia, one is at Subic Bay and another is in South Korea. That leaves one for action against a European based enemy.
These submarines are converted from the old Trident missile launching subs of which 14 remain for that purpose still mostly focused on the old enemy Russia. Four of the original complement of 18 subs were converted to hold 154 Tomahawk Land assault missiles and up to 102 special forces troops for black operations overseas, but normally they accommodate 66 Navy Seals, this according to Naval Technology.com.
This is from a Heritage Foundation article on Pacific Sub race.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is rapidly emerging as a regional naval power and a potential global power, which “raises the prospect of intensifying security competition in East Asia both between the United States and China and between China and Japan.” Other Pacific countries in the region have also taken note of the changing security environment as evidenced in particular by their planned submarine acquisitions. Australia’s military buildup includes doubling its submarine fleet from six submarines to 12 larger, more capable submarines. In addition, “India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Bangladesh and South Korea are planning to acquire modern, conventional submarines.”[ Both Australia and India have explicitly described their naval buildups as responses, at least in part, to China’s naval buildup.”
The shift from European operations to Asian operations, the commencement of two major war games one in Hawaii and the other in Singapore should be a cause of concern to China as it was not invited to participate in either of the games. The USA is concerned about the missiles the Chinese have deployed across the straights from Taiwan. According to current NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative) reports there are 350 or so missiles, the Bush administration claimed there were 650 missiles back in 2005. A recent Time Magazine article claimed as many as 1000 missiles deployed. According to the Taipei Times there a 1500 missiles. These numbers seem to go up depending on your ideological position, the further to the right you are the more missiles China is deploying.
China has recently offered to redeploy its missiles away from Taiwan if the USA would not sell advanced weaponry to that Island nation according to Senator Diane Feinstein in recent Senate Hearings according to a June 6th article in the Asia Times. Obama has offered Taiwan $6.4 billion in new weapons a reaffirmation of a Bush administration offer for missiles and helicopters. Taiwan will not get the F-16 jets it was seeking. Feinstein who is close to Beijing said if the US dropped the weapons deal they would remove the missiles. Considering the questionable missile count, they could simply say they were moving 1000 missiles and leave the 350 on the ground there. It would be a great example of something for nothing.
The US has decided not to grant Free trade status to Taiwan. The US Beef industry is pushing for admission to Asian markets, particularly Japan, Taiwan and Korea. All of them have refused to allow American beef due to concerns over mad cow disease and American livestock razing practices. Free trade talks collapsed over this issue. It shows how strong the American agricultural interests are in determining US policy. According to a Texas Agricultural Extension Service report 28% of agricultural profits come from exports with over half the wheat and almost half of the rice produced being exported. Beef on the other hand has only a 7% export level according to a USDA Economic Research report for 2008. South Korea and Japan allow only minimal beef to be imported from the USA, with Canada and Mexico being the largest importers largely a product of the Free Trade Agreement.
Interesting bits of news, the USA is redeploying to Asia as the center of contention in the new world of 21st century political gamesmanship. The new order seems to be about containing China. But how do you contain the new King Kong of the economic world? Where is Fay Ray when we need her? The best we can hope for is the rising standard of living of the Chinese people. Perhaps the great mass of the people there simply won’t allow their leaders to go to war when they have so much at stake. China is no democracy and the Chinese government is a rising power in the world. The USA, having realized that Asia is where it is at, is now trying to mobilize its allies to surround China with a web of allied forces. This may be sort of a NATO for Asia. Question is will China’s economic power make such attempts to be fruitless? Time will tell, but the Obama administration seems to be taking a tougher line with regards to China, mostly under the radar as the American public focuses its attention elsewhere.
Are we as Americans prepared for another military buildup in another part of the world? As Russia becomes less of a threat and the Islamic terrorist threat is contained, or at least put in perspective, nothing to waste much military might on, are we ready to see the USA flex its still mighty muscle power in Asia in a race with China for dominance? Wouldn’t it make more sense to come to some kind of understanding with China? Perhaps the price of an understanding would mean the end of US hegemony over the world. Perhaps that is what we need to understand.