We know with certainty which the other East Asian countries that the United States wants to connect to their nation are.
”Overshadowed by China and India, a group of smaller Asian economies has committed to rapid economic integration and cooperation. The six largest economies among them – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam – have diverse population sizes, incomes and cultural affinities but share a common desire to prosper as independent and open countries. Together, they are on their way to becoming a powerful new economic bloc.” LIGNET (CIAs former public page) August 29, 2013
In the above citation from LIGNET, Japan and South Korea are omitted in the American-preferred union against China. It may be because of Japan’s and Korea’s early nineteenth century history dominated by Japanese supremacy in a time when hundreds of thousands of Korean women and girls were taken as sex slaves to Japanese soldiers while Korean men were force recruited to the Imperial Army.
The mentioned countries in the quote – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam – encircle China in the South China Sea, and by including the to a large extent Muslim Malaysia, the US covers the important Malacca Strait geostrategically.
Islam is the state religion of Malaysia, about half of the population are Muslims. The malays are defined according to paragraph 160 of the Malaysian Constitution as Muslims. A piece of the puzzle is added, but it may raise more questions than answers, at least what concerns the US plans for Japan and South Korea. It has been interesting to follow the development. We can begin by citing the CIA LIGNET from October 15, 2013:
Why Japan Lost Faith in America’s Security Guarantee
Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently held important talks with their counterparts in Tokyo to revise the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines. But rather than bringing the United States and Japan closer together, the talks revealed a growing divide between them, as Japan appears to have lost its trust in the U.S. security guarantee over North Korea’s triumphant emergence as a nuclear missile power. LIGNET
The questions we need to answer are;
a. Why do they or did they want to revise the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines?
b. Why is there a growing gap between Japan and the US?
c. And why have the Japanese lost their confidence in the US security guarantee (nuclear umbrella)?
Question b. above has already been answered in previous lessons, it happened because of US fears of a possible Chinese-Russian-Japanese axis. Perhaps this is also why the Japanese have lost their confidence in the US security guarantee?
December 8, 2013: South Korea expanded its air defense zone so that it partially overlaps an expansive air defense zone that China had declared just before South Korea’s expansion of their air defense zone. The area includes two islands in the South East China Sea, and an underwater reef that China also claims. The new zone was effectuated from December 15th, 2013. South Korea conferred with the United States before the country decided to expand their Air Defense Zone, according to the Washington State Department. According to the Korean Defense Ministry, the decision ”will not violate the sovereignty of neighboring countries”. Now we at least know what role South Korea playes in the equation under LIGNET on August 29, 2013 mentioned before. The statement by the Korean Defense Ministry carries the Americans’ thumbprint, and the parties – quite rightly and technically correct – makes no secret of the fact that South Korea conferred with its US advisers.
December 26, 2013: Perhaps we have the explanation for the US prudent behavior in the neighborhood of the East China Sea. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raises anger from neighboring countries. This because he made a visit to a controversial memorial on December 26, honoring his country’s fallen soldiers of the second world war. Abe later explained that he visited Yasukuni in Tokyo to pray at the memorial. He said that the intention wasn’t to provoke anger in China and Korea, and he said that Japan is working for peace these days. Abe also again mentioned that he felt ”deep repentance” over Japan’s past. But there was angry comments and condemnations coming from the regime in Beijing. South Korea also condemned the visit. Abe’s visit to Yasukuni was the first from a seated prime minister since the year 2006.
In Washington, the government expressed disappointment because of Abe’s visit to Yasukuni since Abe should have known it would increase tensions with neighboring countries. [Washington said ”neighboring countries” but what they really meant is that they were disappointed that Abe had done something to increase the tension between Japan and South Korea, since it counteracts US interests to unite the region economically under US supervision against China.]
In 2015, the Japanese military budget amounted to 42 billion US Dollars, up 3.5 percent since 2014. The military budget has been on the rise since 2012 and pending. Overall, this means that Japan is developing a military capacity to carry out limited offensive undertakings, in terms of the ability to recapture an occupied island/archipelago, within the framework of a defensive military operation with an emphasis on qualified air and naval forces. Source; Johan Elg, Swedish National Defense College
Japan has three (3) ongoing border conflicts. These concern three islands as well as an island group with Russia, the island of Takeshima with South Korea and the Senkaku Islands with China. Japan only controls the Senkaku Islands.
Why are Japan and China arguing about some small uninhabited islands off the coast of China? I can only imagine three reasonable explanations:
A) It is believed that the waters around the islands hide oil deposits. But no oil or gas has yet been found.
B) China feels threatened because Japan possibly may develop and deploy non-ballistic cruise missiles or ballistic missiles on the islands, so that Japan can strike China’s mainland faster than they can from Okinawa or any other of the Riukiu Islands.
C) China wants to circumscribe Taiwan by building an airbase and a missile base on the islands and Japan oppose it because they want to prevent China from strengthening its position in the region.
LIGNET reported on July 3, 2013 that China was on a charm offensive at an ASEAN meeting. Certainly it was a causality based on Obama’s State of the Union speech from February 12, 2013, when he gave his “And level the plane-field in the growing markets of Asia” speach. This speach in turn was a causality based on the RCEP rounds, but above all it was based on China’s industrial espionage. Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on me; The Chinese proverb that President Bush could not get it right in a television speach. Obviously, Obama would have had no problem getting it right. Obama played hardball when he delivered his speach on February 12, 2013. But already Hillary Clinton threw the glove too early at China when she wrote in November 2011; ”When the war in Iraq ends and the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the United States faces a turning point in the US Pacific Ocean.”
Hillary Clinton revealed the US plans which could be interpreted as the United States doing as they please and that no morality is necessary to apply to any emerging situation for the US to take the right to intervene in any part of the world. We are not yet there, but we are heading there. For the time being, there is always someone holding the rudder, if not America then someone else, and someone else is not better.
CIAs LIGNET; and Johan Elg at the Swedish National Defense College
What do you make out of this information? Is Trump just following a charted course demarcated by Obama and Hillary Clinton?
Do Japan and South Korea play any important geostrategic role you think? I am not asking if they play any important geopolitical role, because obviously they do.
Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden