Exclusive Interview With Lee Bellinger
Lee, you predicted 15 months ago that before Obama leaves office, he is likely to blunder us into a shooting war with the Chinese.
Since my April 2014 story, “World War III in 3 Years,” Beijing has stepped up its eviction notices to Mr. Obama to vacate the South China Sea. To a point that it’s making some news now. The building of artificial islands and reefs in disputed waters. The extension of Chinese airspace to large swathes of international ocean. The towing of oil rigs to provocative spots. And now routine and dangerous air confrontations between our ally Japan and Chinese warplanes.
Here’s the rub: The South China Sea has been a U.S. security protectorate zone since World War II. Half of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage passes through it every year. It has been lost on no one abroad that Mr. Obama has recast the U.S. Navy as a glorified coastal defense force.
Are you beating the war drums, Lee?
Absolutely not. Mr. Obama has not reduced our military commitments to match his headlong retreats. This sudden policy reversal is what’s most dangerous; creating a regional power vacuum without a coherent transition plan or the military muscle to do it more safely. Abruptly outsourcing regional security to Japan is a much bigger issue than is generally understood.
I could fill an encyclopedia ….suffice it to say official Chinese media have been very clear that the waters around American protectorates in the region are going to come under Beijing’s control. Lots and lots of official, high level quotes on their intentions are truly scary.
Will attempting to be the world’s policeman be our ultimate undoing?
That’s what some influential Australians think. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has a history of being pro-U.S. In a recently published book, “Dangerous Allies,” he states that the U.S. and China are headed for war. And that Australia should close the U.S. Marine base in Darwin and shut down our surveillance facilities in Pine Gap. All to avoid becoming “a defeated ally of a defeated superpower.”
Barack Obama recently reiterated that the U.S. has a binding military alliance with Japan. And that we will steam to their defense even if the Chinese attack disputed islands. The Administration also pushed for Japan’s recent reversal of its coastal defense only policy – ending a regional status quo that’s been in place since the end of World War II.
Beijing is going to go ballistic once Japanese rearmament ramps up. The Chinese quite simply are not going to tolerate the sudden rise of a militarized Japan without a very substantial response. They have said so in many, many forums. It’s like ignoring a snarling dog’s warning.
Do you think Obama’s policies are responsible for all this?
For many reasons China sees us as a declining power. Or at minimum a superpower that is exhausted by war. The way I see it, the current global neighborhood as akin to a prison culture – in that the perception of weakness is in and of itself likely to encourage violence.
Mr. Obama is not dealing with Somali pirates here. China is not fooling around. Now is not a good time for a passive-aggressive U.S. foreign policy. Mr. Obama is a very hard-headed strategist with an “aggressiveignorant” personality.
As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial noted: “The final two years of the Obama Presidency will be the most dangerous since the end of the Cold War as the world’s rogues calculate how far they can go before a successor enters the White House in 2017.”
And the U.S. Navy is thinly spread.
Right. The former director of the U.S. Naval Institute, Steve Cohen, notes that the USA has about 100 deployable ships left, including three aircraft carriers. It would take about a month to put a fourth carrier into action. Even these numbers are cooked – many ships of our deployable Navy are support and hospital ships.
Add to our incredible shrinking Navy the fact that Mr. Obama has encouraged our ally Japan to informally extend our reach of sub-protectorates to include Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, New Zealand and Vietnam. All of these countries – including the Philippines and Taiwan – have seen dramatic incursions into disputed waters.
Compared to the Soviets, the Chinese seem to be conservative in their use of military power. Would China’s leadership be so brazen as to attack U.S. forces acting in support of Japan?
You should ask the crew of the U.S.S. Cowpens. In December 2014 a Chinese vessel physically blocked this U.S. Navy missile cruiser. Confrontations like this are escalating throughout the region, especially with Japanese patrol planes.
You are saying that a South China Sea war is already underway?
It’s not a perfect analogy, but think of it as the early period in World War II known as the “Phony War.”Here’s another thing: Prior to Japan attacking the U.S. in 1941, the U.S. was engaged in a secret shooting war on the high seas with Hitler’s U-boats.
One of the region’s most respected and influential strategic analysts is Hugh White, author of “The China Choice.” In it he says China and the USA are headed for war unless they reach a “power sharing” arrangement over the South China Sea.
White says that nothing is more important to China than being the undisputed regional power. “If necessary, [Beijing] will fight for it,” he warns. White is a careful analyst. He shocked many China watchers when he assessed the risk of nuclear exchanges as potentially more catastrophic than any since World War II. He said nuclear escalations “are not remote or implausible.”
So I stand by my prediction of April 2014. There will be an incursion or military action against one of our protectorates in the South China Sea region before Mr. Obama is scheduled to leave office. Should the U.S. send in our capital ships in support of a regional ally whose forces have been hit – such as Japan – history suggests that China will try to sink one of them.
If there is a surprise attack against U.S. allies in the South China Sea, it may parallel other land-grabs or other actions by other powers in other parts of the world that are friendly to China.
Lee, the Chinese are relatively restrained about projecting their military power globally.
Yes, they are. It’s the buzzing around what they see as their borders that actually boils Beijing’s water. Let me repeat what I said in April 2014: “When something they don’t like is happening near their borders, Beijing’s rulers have a history of being fearless, brutal and extreme.”
Still, many say they would not dare strike at U.S. forces directly.
That’s just not true, because they have done so before. Consider my original April 2014 story: “During the Korean War, U.S. troops suffered massive casualties at the hands of 700,000 troops that the Chinese threw at General Douglas T. McArthur’s forces. It was a bold and unexpected risk. This massive intervention by China came long before they tested their first nuclear bomb in 1964. Put another way, Beijing was not afraid to kill large numbers of American GIs near their border. And at a time when we enjoyed a total nuclear advantage over them. It had been only six years since we had used nuclear bombs on Japan. American nuclear credibility was at its peak.”
Would the Chinese seek to challenge the U.S. Navy on the high seas?
They are not structuring their naval assets to challenge us on the high seas. They are adjusting their strategies to make their ‘local waters’ an armored lake. And creating some nasty surprises for our capital ships by constructing a layered regional defense system. A Naval Institute magazine compared it to the defensive rings of Imperial Japan (which took an overwhelming U.S. armada 30 months to dismantle).
Take the extensive ship-killing defensive weaponry they have ringed the South China Sea with. Even China’s dated missile systems are likely sufficient to take out capital ships such as U.S. aircraft carriers – especially in the relatively confined space of the South China Sea.
They have the technology to evade the tight defenses of U.S. carriers?
I love carriers but think they are going the way of the battleship. They are $13 billion power projection assets. Unfortunately, improved missile targeting technology is proliferating. China can swarm our carriers with fairly good missiles from 800 miles away now. So official U.S. military plans include striking at launch sites very far inland in order to protect our fleet.
We already know that China and its proxy North Korea have the means to take out America’s entire power grid. If we end up striking deep inside Chinese soil, I would anticipate a proxy EMP attack on the U.S. power grid. They have the technology to do that and my research strongly suggests that this is high on the list of retaliatory options that Beijing and its proxies have at their immediate disposal. I do have a free video on how you can make your very own EMP resistant home power backup device…Go to this link www.independentlivingnews.com/landing/pw
You told me earlier that this is Hillary Clinton’s fault.
Kind of, yes. You may remember that the Clinton Administration accepted tons of cash from Chinese interests for massive “soft” political advertising in support of White House objectives. In return, lots and lots of military friendly technology got into the hands of Beijing’s technology copying machine. Now that technology has been incorporated into Third World weapons systems aimed at China’s adversaries in the South China Sea.
What do you think will trigger a Chinese attack against an American protectorate?
A big triggering event could be the coming January 2016 elections in Taiwan. Last November, mid-term elections in Taiwan handed a serious defeat to the Beijing-friendly ruling party. The opposition party that favors complete independence from Beijing is expected to win the presidency in January 2016.
A pro-independence party coming to power in Taiwan is seen as a mortal threat by the Chinese regime. They may well take that moment to make a dramatic move to demonstrate that the South China Sea is their lake now.
Hard-line Chinese president Xi Jinping’s motto is “Asia for Asians.” An eerie echo of the Japanese war party of the 1930s. Those warlords then saw the British in the region — like China sees U.S. forces now — as paper Mache enforcers of a failing status quo. Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo of the People’s Liberation Army recently spoke of President Xi’s plans. Xi views the U.S. alliance system is an antiquated relic of the Cold War that should be swept away — and replaced with Asian-centric security architecture.
It goes without saying that a major international crisis creates opportunities for Mr. Obama to take extreme domestic measures. Everyone should stay on their game. Continue to make your home as resilient to outside chaos as you can.
Please see the home-defense strategies covered in this issue of Independent Living.