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Here’s what the US is doing to prepare for war in Asia

The US shaping of the theatre for war in Asia has been a gradual strategy using a hub and spoke approach
A graphical image of the US, China, and the Philippines flags

A graphical image of the US, China, and the Philippines flags. (Photo: Pearls and Irritations)

Published: September 15, 2023 03:46 AM GMT
Updated: September 15, 2023 04:06 AM GMT

Preparations for the United States to launch a war against China are far more advanced than many people realize. And when you look at just how much work has been done, it no longer looks like a matter of “if”, but more of a question of “when”.

Quietly, the United States (US) has gone through a multi-step preparation process in Asia.

First, frame China as the problem

To start with, China is being framed as the “bad actor” challenging the “International Rules Based Order” in the narrative. It is China that is threatening the stability of the region, according to repeated allegations. The US, in contrast, is the heroic savior from far away, militarising Asia to bring peace and safety to the region through what they refer to as “an integrated deterrence strategy”.

This framing serves several purposes.

First, and most importantly, it builds consensus among the West’s allies to work to gather the unwavering support of the people they claim to represent.

Second, by establishing China’s bad-guy positioning early, it makes the timing flexible. It is abundantly clear by now that this “Shaping of the Theatre” in respect of Taiwan is very advanced; almost as advanced as the shaping of the Ukraine theatre for war with Russia was in 2021.

Third, it provides material so that the war can be provoked into being, and the victim blamed; China will be presented as wholly responsible for any and all conflicts that break out.

Photo: fridayeveryday.com

Could conflict really happen?

But is a war really possible? It would be a big step, but the possibility is very real. It is worth remembering the vacillation of many people around the world about the tensions around Ukraine in 2020.

Many people were skeptical that real fighting would happen — including Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. People assumed that the various parties were just posturing. And yet, here we are, one and a half years into a very real conflict.

The Ukraine conflict was flagged well in advance of fighting breaking out – and the same can be said of the Taiwan situation.

Creating pacts

The preparations for war have taken several steps forward with quiet changes in pacts and agreements. This started in June 2022 with the modification to Article 5 of NATO’s mutual defense pact, which says that an attack on one is an attack on all.

This forces others to fight with, or on behalf of, the United States.

Photo: fridayeveryday.com

The geographical remit of NATO has been quietly expanded to include the Indo-Pacific region. NATO increased its “Major Non-NATO Allies” membership list to include Ukraine, South Korea, and others. This includes the Chinese territory of Taiwan, under the auspices of the Taiwan Relations Act. This is yet to be signed, awaiting final passage at an optimal time of the US administration's choosing.

In short, it is undeniable that the United States has spent several years, at least since 2016, carefully preparing for conflict in Asia. They have been insidiously shaping the theatre for war on multiple levels. It will be a hybrid, multi-domain, full-spectrum effort when ultimately ready for launch.

Photo: fridayeveryday.com

When will it start? It is inching closer with each passing month and week. There have been many deliberate acts of escalating provocation over recent years.

Turning Australia into a partner 

The U.S. shaping of the theatre for war in Asia has been a gradual strategy using a hub and spoke approach.

Take Australia. The AUKUS defense agreement was signed between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 2022. But with a decades-long development program, the weapons that will ultimately come into being were clearly not intended for near-term use. No; AUKUS has been about turning Australia into a spoke in the hub — a partner who cannot say no.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / fridayeveryday.com

The AUKUS pact was designed to close gaps in existing defense agreements, and pacts between Western allies, and also to lower the bar for compelling the signatories of said pacts and agreements to participate actively in a potential war.

It doesn’t matter if the nuclear-powered subs won’t be ready for many years – look, the US can say, Australia is already a partner who has to fight in our wars; they signed up for this.

Photo: Matt Hrkac, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0, No Nuclear Submarines, No War

Use of the Philippines 

The announcement earlier this year of additional access to bases in the Philippines by the US is also part of the hub and spoke shaping.

That story really began in 2016 with the revised posture of the US Marine Core. It made a doctrinal switch, abandoning heavy armor and artillery in favor of more nimble and versatile mobile missile batteries. The transitional period for such a doctrinal change at that level of operational unit usually lies between six and seven years. Bases relatively near China are needed.

Before, the US had five operational bases in the Philippines. That number has now grown to nine, according to reports.

But is it really nine in total? The National Security Secretary of the Philippines challenged the base expansion; however, interestingly, she did not simply refer to four new bases. She instead referred to the implementation of “21 projects”, questioning the risks presented.

This correlates to the suggestion that the new bases are likely intended as Forward Operating Bases with satellite bases connected to them, to service the deployment of scores of mobile missile units and their force protection personnel.

As recently as the past month, Japan and the Philippines acknowledged they are close to signing a defense pact in the form of a Visiting Forces Agreement, which will incidentally accelerate another emergent trilateral alliance between Japan, the Philippines and the US And, yes, of course it has the mandatory ugly acronym: JAPHUS.

Therefore, the integration of the Philippines as a major hub in the US strategy is almost complete.

Camp David summit 

Then of course there are the US’s traditional outplacements in Asia. President Joe Biden hosted a trilateral summit in Camp David on the 18th of August 2023 between the US, Japan, and South Korea.

It was lauded by the US (and echoed by Western mainstream media) as a necessary and timely display of unity by the West and their Asian allies as a means to contain and counter the rise of China, which they portray as a source of conflict with other nations. (Projection, much?)

They alleged that China had predatory hegemonic and aggressive designs on its neighbors and beyond, and presented a clear and present danger to the much-trumpeted international “Rules-Based Order” ordained by the platinum club of rich Western nations.

(We shall not even get into the stunning hypocrisy of the hysterical coverage by the media of similarly designed defense and security alignments between nation-states such as China and Russia, or other non-platinum club nations.)

Photo supplied

The recent Camp David trilateral meeting is not merely another spoke in the hub development, drawing Asia ever closer to the divisive strategy of the United States and its much sought-after Cold War 2.0.

It is a very dangerous next step, escalating already dangerously high tensions between Asian neighbors.

Japan and South Korea are critical hubs in this US strategy. Their defense pacts and agreements with the US, Australia, Philippines, UK and other nations are the spokes. The inclusion of agreements regarding assurances for the defense of Taiwan are designed explicitly to be interlocking.

Raising tensions 

These interlocking defense pacts and agreements, layered upon each other, are spreading like tentacles across the region.

They are exacerbating problems with already fragile fault lines and raising tensions to a dangerous level.

Which is exactly what they are intended to do.

The irony, of course, is that the media warnings about a dangerous superpower poised to cause enormous harm in Asia, are absolutely true.

But that superpower is not China.

*Phill Hynes is a regional risk analyst based in Hong Kong specializing in international geopolitics. This article was first published by Pearls and Irritations in association with fridayeverday.com and is republished by UCA News with permission. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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1 Comments on this Story
This article is full of inconsistencies, unsubstantiated statements, outright lies, misinterpretations, personal opinions presented as "facts". Neither the US nor China have perfect governments, but his article does no justice to either. The article also omits Chinese expansion which is woriesome to neighboring countries; it did indeed interfere in HongKong; has vetoed important issues at the UN; and so far, seems to be supporting Russian aggression in Ukraine. etc, etc.
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