B-52s sing ‘pivot to Asia’ song
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of 'Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Red Zone Blues' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Obama does Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2009) and a contributing editor for a number of other books, including the upcoming 'Crossroads of Leadership: Globalization and the New American Century in the Obama Presidency' (Routledge). When not on the road, he alternates between Sao Paulo, New York, London, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
The twin B-52s took off from a US base in Guam and breached China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) only a few days after it had been announced. Lost in the usual ‘exceptionalism’ fog was the fact that both the US (in 1950) and Japan (in 1969), not to mention Russia, Indonesia and others, also imposed their own ADIZ – which essentially means planes entering a particular airspace must identify themselves.
Predictably, the Washington/Wall Street reaction to the B-52 show was loud cheers for the “cause of global security” against “China's increasingly aggressive military actions,” “Beijing's brinksmanship,” “serious violation of international law,” “threat to freedom of navigation” and attempt of “naked aggression.”
Even US ambassador to Japan, Carolyn Kennedy, went out on a limb to scold China for “raising tensions”.
Nonsense: The Pentagon – via Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel – and the State Department – via Secretary John Kerry – gave the game away when both condemned China’s ADIZ as an attempt to change “by force” the “status quo” over the Senkakus.
Worse: Washington insists Beijing is allegedly trying to “control” an immense area of the Western Pacific, which, of course, are God-given American waters. Thus Washington had to “send a message”; otherwise President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” will be stuck in credibility limbo.
So it’s all here, in a nutshell: the “pivot to Asia” once again proved to be a fundamental military strategy to “contain” China, part of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which has been the US military Bible since 2002. It’s always crucial to remember the “pivot” was officially announced by Obama at the Pentagon.
There will be payback
The US Air Force insisted the B-52s were unarmed and there was “no communication” with the Chinese. That implies the Chinese had to infer, in a flash, that the B-52s were not lethal. China’s Ministry of Defense duly confirmed they “monitored” the B-52s all along.
An ADIZ is essentially a notification zone. Even Taiwan – not exactly a cheerleader of Beijing – officially announced that China’s ADIZ is peaceful. And the islands in fact are closer to Taiwan than to either Japan or China. So the B-52 adventure cannot be construed as anything else but a provocation.
Now imagine if Beijing had decided to scramble jet fighters to intercept the B-52s, followed by the US Air Force scrambling their jet fighters from Japanese bases. The whole B-52 adventure could have gone lethally wrong.
The provocation, on top of it, has made a mockery of the “international law” so prized by Washington. Nothing now prevents China or Russia, for example, to fly their own nuclear bombers through Japan's ADIZ.
Chinese media accused both the US and Japan of overreacting, stressing China has an equal right to impose its own ADIZ, which is not targeted at “any particular country.”
What makes it even more absurd is that China and Japan made a deal in 2008 to cooperate on the joint development of the East China Sea. Yet nothing concrete came out of it.
There’s also a crucial factor that Beijing cannot admit publicly. Based on reams of ancient texts, Beijing is adamant that the islands have been Chinese territory since “immemorial times”, until they were captured by the Japanese in 1895. So it’s back to those venomous strands of mutual nationalistic hatred and their manipulation by current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. One of the reasons Beijing has imposed the ADIZ is to prevent deranged Japanese nationalists from parachuting into the islands to literally plant the flag.
This post by The Saker argues the definitive case about Washington’s cowboy behavior and its implications for the geopolitics of the Western Pacific. When it comes to the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance and its offshoot, the “pivot to Asia,” there’s no room for soft power and diplomacy, not to mention the alleged superpower’s “responsibility.” The B-52s splendid adventure is the equivalent of the NSA snooping on the mobile phones of political leaders around the world.
Did Beijing get the message? You bet they did. Professor Sun Zhe at Tsinghua University in Beijing observes China won’t allow itself to be in a position of being a paper tiger: “If the United States conducts two or three more flights like this, China will be forced to respond. If China can only respond verbally it would be humiliating.”
There will be a non-verbal response. Expect stealth, lightning fast developments regarding Chinese nuclear submarines, missiles with multiple nuclear warheads, and all sorts of asymmetric strategies.
Yet, most of all, don't expect a spectacular response. Sun Tzu rules. Payback will come. It will be swift. And when US exceptionalism least expects it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.