The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, June 22, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page A5, Image 5

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THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, JuNE 22, 2019
Should US forces beef up Pacific naval
presence to offset China’s provocations?
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
Amphibious assault vehicles maneuver inland in April northwest of Manila, Philippines. Hundreds of Philippine and American troops participated in a military exercise facing the disputed
Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
PRO: China needs
reminding — America
is also an Asian power
to field the forces needed to counter
one of the earth’s most ethni-
their growing might.
cally and religiously diverse
To neutralize the threat, we must
regions. But in geopolitics, it’s a place,
expand our military capability and
not an ethnicity, and America is just as
capacity in the Indo-Pacific — on land,
much an Asian power as China.
above and below the sea, in the air and
If it takes a bigger U.S. military foot-
in space and in cyberspace. We need
print for Beijing to wise up to that, so
more numbers for sure — more ships
be it.
in particular. But we also need to field
The Indo-Pacific is bordered by con-
some capabilities we don’t have now.
tinents on both sides of the oceans.
Among those not-yet-there items
The U.S. — and all of North and South
needed is a long-range strike stealth
America — have just as great
drone that can be launched from
an interest in the region’s future
a carrier. Other yet-to-be-devel-
oped capabilities would include
and well-being as do those on its
a land-based anti-ship cruise
western shoulder.
Hence, America has every
The need for a beefed-up
right to be concerned about the
presence in the Asian Pacific is
destabilizing impact of China’s
nothing new. President Barack
China has reneged on its guar- CARAFANO Obama spoke of the need to
antees to Hong Kong’s freedom,
“pivot to Asia,” although very
threatened Taiwan, sup-
little pivoting was actu-
ported North Korea’s
ally done in his last
nuclear program, laid
debt traps for Sri Lanka
Washington can
and Pakistan, and
field the forces America
sought to restrict free-
SHOuLd BE ABLE needs in a cost-effec-
dom of the seas in the
tive, responsible man-
ner if it can commit to
South China Sea. And
sustained investment in
that’s just a partial list of
defense over time.
Beijing’s transgressions.
China knows that,
Instead of working
but the regime won’t
to increase world peace,
TO FuLFILL THE believe the U.S. can
stability and prosperity,
China is actively under-
CORE FuNCTION neutralize
mining it.
military build-up unless
OF THE FEdERAL it sees real, continued
Thankfully, the cur-
rent administration has
and persistent efforts
been pushing back —
by the White House
and doing so in the right
TO PROVIdE FOR and Capitol Hill to
way — politically and
strengthen U.S. forces
diplomatically. One key
area is defense policy.
For years, Bei-
this effort is in jeop-
jing has been followed
ardy. Unless Congress
an “anti-access, area
can agree on a bud-
get, the defense appro-
denial” strategy, fielding
priation next year will be sequestered.
military capabilities that make it more
Translated into real-world effects, that
difficult for the U.S. to operate safely
means defense spending will be cut by
and effectively in the Indo-Pacific.
a third, leaving the military virtually no
China’s plan is to “win without fight-
ing,” confronting America one day
resources for beefing up. Under seques-
with the cold realization that the U.S.
tration, the Pentagon will be able to do
is no longer a real military power in the
little more than make payroll and keep
the lights on.
This is no time for Washington to
The only realistic counter to China’s
scheme is to demonstrate the capac-
play chicken over the National Defense
ity that proves them wrong — to show
Authorization Act and the defense
them that America is willing and able to
appropriations bill. Both parties should
defend our vital interests.
be able to put aside the partisan squab-
bling to fulfill the core function of the
We have a ways to go. Each year
federal government: to provide for the
The Heritage Foundation publishes the
national defense.
“Index of U.S. Military Strength.” In
Remember, Beijing is watching.
2018, the index concluded the Chinese
A Heritage Foundation vice presi-
military threat is still growing.
dent, James Jay Carafano directs the
Beijing can count. If we want to
think-tank’s research into matters of
show them America is no pushover, we
national security and foreign relations.
have to demonstrate a firm commitment
CON: Deliberately sailing into
areas China considers as territorial
waters is not a good idea
OLUMBUS, Ohio — The
Command encompasses “six of the
United States is raising the
seven continents, 71 countries, and more
profile of its naval activity in
than 74 million square miles of ocean.”
response to Chinese assertiveness in the
The Coast Guard was created by
waters of the South China Sea. But it is
an Act of Congress to guard our own
far from clear that such activity on our
coasts. By one provision of that law the
part will resolve the admittedly volatile
president may send the Coast Guard
situation in those waters.
to assist foreign governments. But the
Tension has been highest of late in
worldwide reach developed by the
waters not far from the Philippines that
Coast Guard goes far beyond what Con-
gress authorized.
are claimed by China. Fishing rights
The Navy’s Seventh Fleet already
are the flash point. In May, U.S. Coast
has 75 ships and submarines and
Guard ships staged a joint exer-
cise with two Philippines naval
140 aircraft. Its personnel ros-
ter tops 40,000. That is more than
vessels in those waters. The
enough for a mission whose aims
apparent purpose was to send a
are not well-defined. Some of its
message to China.
personnel have formed a brass
It is hard to ascertain how
band that gives good-will con-
much help the Philippines wants,
certs in Asia.
or whether we are pushing it to
A Navy website explaining
take it.
our policy stresses that we have
Philippines President Rodrigo
treaties with Korea,
Duterte has been going
Japan and the Philip-
easy on China over its
pines to defend them if
incursions in Philip-
pines-claimed waters
they are attacked. But
in return for billions
the treaties don’t require
of dollars of Chinese
long-term deployment
investments in his
of thousands of naval
Duterte is under
The most visi-
component of U.S.
pressure domestically to
naval policy has been
challenge China more
WAyS TO CARRy so-called “freedom of
vigorously, especially
in the wake of a recent
THEM OuT THAT navigation”
where we send a ves-
incident in which a Fil-
ipino fishing vessel
dON’T VIOLATE sel into waters of the
South China Sea that
was rammed and sunk,
China claims as territo-
apparently by a Chinese
often reacts to
The introduction of
the U.S. Coast Guard
REASON TO FuNd actions it considers as
trespassing. In a num-
in the picture is a recent
ber of instances, these
development. Coast
have nearly
Guard cutters USCGC
FORCES THERE. operations
resulted in military
Bertholf and USCGC
Stratton are now
Our naval presence
deployed with the U.S.
in Asia, if it is to continue at all, needs
Navy’s Seventh Fleet, operating out of
its base in Yokosuka, Japan.
At a recent security conference in
Coast Guard Pacific Area Com-
mander Vice Admiral Linda Fagan
Singapore, Acting Secretary of Defense
says that a Coast Guard presence in the
Patrick Shanahan criticized China for
South China Sea shores up the sover-
its territorial claims in the South China
eignty of “partner nations” in the dis-
Sea. But while in Singapore, Shanahan
puted waters.
met with China’s Minister of Defense to
“Partner nations” would include
plan for exchanges between the two mil-
itaries. We seem to be coordinating mili-
the Philippines and Vietnam, which
tarily with China at the same time as we
is also in contention with China over
are confronting it.
waters in the South China Sea. Vice
Until we have precise objectives in
Admiral Fagan explains that the Coast
the South China Sea, and ways to carry
Guard vessels help “law enforcement
them out that don’t violate federal law,
and capacity-building in the fisheries
there is little reason to fund large naval
enforcement realm.”
forces there.
You can be forgiven if you are sur-
prised that the Coast Guard has a Pacific
John B. Quigley is a professor at
Area Command, or that it bases ves-
Ohio State university’s Moritz College
sels in Japan. A Coast Guard website
of Law and a leading scholar on u.S.
explains, proudly, that its Pacific Area
relations with Russia.