Standoff: U.S. sends two B-52s through disputed airspace claimed by China

posted at 6:01 pm on November 27, 2013 by Allahpundit

I want to flag this now in case you missed it yesterday just so that we’re all on the same page when, not if, an “incident” occurs in the not-distant future.

Yesterday Obama sent B-52s, today he’s sending warships to accompany the Japanese navy in making its own approach. “Message (to America’s Asian allies): I care.”

An American carrier battle group and a flotilla of Japanese warships will arrive Wednesday near a vast stretch of ocean claimed by China in what is shaping up as a test of how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the USA will stand up to the challenge…

China has been laying claim to nearly 1 million square miles of ocean known as the East China Sea, insisting that the sea’s energy resources and fisheries belong to China. Much of the ocean territory it claims is hundreds of miles from its shore, including waters off the coasts of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

On Saturday China went further than ever, announcing it had designated much of the sea as an air defense zone it controls. The zone includes the Japan-held Senkaku Islands, a string of uninhabited islets that China calls the Diaoyus. The Chinese Defense Ministry said the zone was created to “guard against potential air threats.”

For a little background on the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, read Jazz’s post from this past weekend or mine from September 2012, the last time Japan and China flirted with war over the islands. The U.S. is caught in the middle, not only in having to balance its alliance with Japan against peaceful relations with China but in terms of its legal commitments to both sides. (Like I say, read the old post.) After declaring its new ADIZ on Saturday, China announced that it wanted all aircraft traveling through the zone to report their flight plans to, and maintain radio contact with, Chinese authorities. That was, of course, a power play, meant to test Abe and Obama by summarily essentially declaring the islands Chinese territory for air-travel purposes. Result: Bluff called. Two U.S. B-52s sailed straight through yesterday in direct defiance of China’s new rules:

Experts in Beijing expressed concern about a further escalation of tension and said military conflict was possible…

“It’s a clear provocation,” said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The possibility of China challenging the U.S. air defense zone could not be ruled out in the future, he said…

“The Chinese aren’t going to back off. We’re not going to back off,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia analyst at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank that consults closely with the Obama administration. “So right now, the trajectory is that there’s going to be some kind of mishap in the next couple of years.”

China said it monitored the flights but otherwise didn’t act, claiming, “We will in accordance with different situations take corresponding reactions.” One expert on Chinese foreign relations told the Journal he expects the next step will be for Chinese jets to “escort” planes inside the ADIZ, but whether they have the capability to police the zone on a continuing basis is unclear. Obama’s plan right now, it seems, is to impress regional allies with these shows of defiance on the one hand while working the diplomatic track (with, er, Joe Biden) to calm things down on the other. There may also be a concession to China in the works: It sounds from this Reuters story like the White House won’t put up a fuss if U.S. commercial airliners start complying with China’s ADIZ rules.

“We’re attempting to determine whether the new rules apply to civil aviation and commercial air flight,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a daily briefing.

“In the meantime U.S. air carriers are being advised to take all steps they consider necessary to operate safely in the East China Sea,” she said, adding: “obviously the safety of airplanes is key … and we’re looking into what this means.”

Asked whether U.S. carriers would advise Chinese officials of their flight plans, Psaki said: “I wouldn’t go that far, we’re still looking at it.”

Is that the compromise — defiance by the USAF to reassure Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines and deference by commercial carriers to flatter Chinese prestige? This is why I’m putting this on your radar now: There’s lots more to come over the next few weeks, months, and years as America’s regional sphere of influence bumps up against China’s growing sphere of influence and unhappy surprises result. For now, though, it’s enough to say that timing is … interesting. First Obama backs down on his red line for Syria, then he sends Kerry into intense negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program; all the while, he’s busy bargaining with Karzai over some form of U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan. Maybe China thought this was some sort of comprehensive strategy for O’s second term — gradual de-escalation across the board, even if it means abandoning longstanding U.S. allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and … Japan? Not so, as it turns out. Obama’s chilly towards further U.S. muscle-flexing in the Middle East but the Far East, where the economic stakes and the threat posed to the U.S. potentially are even higher, is a different matter. Their move now. Stay tuned.



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Bluffs.

No, they’re called “BUFFs”.

B-52′s, that is…

climbnjump on November 27, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Maybe China thought this was some sort of comprehensive strategy for O’s second term — gradual de-escalation across the board, even if it means abandoning longstanding U.S. allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and … Japan? Not so, as it turns out.

Well, yet, you mean…the sellout is coming. Now way Obama will stand up to China if things start getting tense and the Chinese know it.

AUINSC on November 27, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Standoff: U.S. sends two B-52s through disputed airspace claimed by China

Happens all the time. The point of such transits is to stake a diplomatic stance that you do not recognize the claims of a nation when they go outside reasonable norms. There should be no surprise that the US has done fly-overs and are sending ships through the disputed area. We do it with Cuba all the time.

Happy Nomad on November 27, 2013 at 6:09 PM

And the BUFFs transit was met with silence by the PLAAF.

(Somebody ‘lost face’ over this, be sure of that…)

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 6:11 PM

My only question is, who did this without Obama’s approval?

jukin3 on November 27, 2013 at 6:16 PM

What was the guy’s name, back in 2001 (just before 9/11)? I remember it was pronounced “wong way”

Let’s hope there’s no collision and a flaming buff augering in.

WitchDoctor on November 27, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Red line.

Little Boomer on November 27, 2013 at 6:19 PM

“mark my words, somebody will test this man’s resolve”

Whatevs Joe. Probably as staged as the immigration protesters yesterday.

DanMan on November 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

War with China is inevitable.

China will act more aggressively in disputes like this as time goes on.

Right now, China is not quite ready for war, but feels much stronger than it used to be, so the impatient Chinese military leaders are showing their true nature sooner than would otherwise be ideal for them.

In 5-10 years, when China feels its military capability has completed modernization, and feels that it can take on the US enough to deal serious damage to any US combatants, it will provoke or otherwise initiate a war. China’s strategy isn’t to win decisively, it is to kill as many Americans as possible in order to cause the “paper tiger” weak democracy to cower and hide because our allies supposedly aren’t worth shedding our blood.

The Chinese think that their economic growth is proof of their superiority and greatness, and that they are entitled to eclipse the US as the dominant world power. The Chinese know that this cannot be accomplished without defeating the US militarily in order to force the US out of the Chinese “sphere of influence”, just as Japan attempted in planning for WW II. Of course if China accomplishes this, the result will be another Cold War, and proxy wars. China will act more aggressively than the USSR did, though. The USSR was primarily concerned with paranoid defensiveness, not global domination. China will want to intimidate or subjugate anyone in reach.

The best way to stop China is to take a hard line and force the issue sooner, not later. Appeasement doesn’t work. Delays only work in China’s favor, since it is rapidly building up its military. If the confrontation happens in 2025 instead of 2015, it will be far more bloody and dangerous.

kaltes on November 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Experts in Beijing expressed concern about a further escalation of tension and said military conflict was possible… pooped their pants and curled up into the fetal position and peed their pants.

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Bluffs.

No, they’re called “BUFFs”.

B-52′s, that is…

climbnjump on November 27, 2013 at 6:07 PM

You rockin it chief!

Big Ugly Fat …Flyers

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:24 PM

So we get upset over someone elses border/territory but care nothing about our own border/territory.

xblade on November 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM

My only question is, who did this without Obama’s approval? jukin3 on November 27, 2013 at 6:16 PM

I never use LOL because I never laugh out loud, but this time I did.

LOL!

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM

This type of exercise calls for F-15Cs that can defend themselves, not nuclear-capable bombers that cannot…unless Teh SCOAMT really is a Communist.

Steve Eggleston on November 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

You rockin it chief!

Big Ugly Fat …Flyers

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:24 PM

…Flyers. Yeah, that’s it, Flyers! ;-)

climbnjump on November 27, 2013 at 6:36 PM

The USSR was primarily concerned with paranoid defensiveness, not global domination.

Mmmm… Cuber? Nicaragua? Granada? El Salvador? To name but a few non-defensive Soviet expansionist ventures in our back yard. Not to mention the fact that our strategy against the USSR was containment.

China will want to intimidate or subjugate anyone in reach.

Which is why we have to stay close to China strategically, I mean physically close, so as to give her plenty of opportunities to cower before us.

The best way to stop China is to take a hard line and force the issue sooner, not later.

Agreed. Sink their lone aircraft carrier and set them back ten years.

Appeasement doesn’t work. Delays only work in China’s favor, since it is rapidly building up its military.

No member of their active military has ever been in battle. We should not give them the chance to blood their troops. Standoff attacks, sinking ships etc., sends them home in shame without developing and employing command tactics.

If the confrontation happens in 2025 instead of 2015, it will be far more bloody and dangerous. kaltes on November 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

China will implode economically before that.

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Good. I heard it was a US bombing range before too. Bring that back.

Dongemaharu on November 27, 2013 at 6:38 PM

China will implode economically before that.

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Yeah, they’ve got a little Asian Flu brewing…

Wanderlust on November 27, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Steve Eggleston on November 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Flying a couple unarmed BUFFys over that place was the geopolitical equivalent of phoning it in.

“Provocative” would have been to fly a couple F-22 Raptors through that airspace, armed to the teeth…

Wanderlust on November 27, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Seeing as how much crap was directed towards the Beijing leadership by internet commentators over the non-response to the Buff-trusion, having a carrier task force steam into those waters should make the Chinese inter-tubes implode.

Say, who’s the Paper Tiger now?

Another Drew on November 27, 2013 at 6:47 PM

If an administration pie-hole said the planes were unarmed, they just broke another Super-power Commandment:

We can neither confirm nor deny the presence of xxxxx on the aircraft or ships in question.

I these guys and gals were just a bit smarter, they might qualify for Maroon status.

Another Drew on November 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

“If”

Another Drew on November 27, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Flying a couple unarmed BUFFys over that place was the geopolitical equivalent of phoning it in. Wanderlust on November 27, 2013 at 6:46 PM

But you can’t shoot down phones. I think the point was that they wouldn’t dare even escort BUFF’s, who can’t shoot back.

Why send the Ferrarris when the ’57 Chevy Belairs will make the same point?

Akzed on November 27, 2013 at 6:53 PM

For once: And I repeat, just this ONCE: I support the Commander in Chief.
We should have B52s, along with periodic flyovers of fighters with air-to-air refueling, going over the ‘disputed’ islands and through that airspace twice a day. Forever, if need be.

The Chinese are preying on the weakness of our administration. No surprise, since: Hey, it’s a weak, rudderless administration. Good time to indicate that there are still some lines that may not be crossed.

orangemtl on November 27, 2013 at 7:03 PM

I’m glad they did this, and am frankly surprised the Obama Administration had the balls to flip the Chinese the bird in this way. If the Chinese get the idea that we will kowtow to them and not back up our allies, then war at some point will actually become inevitable. Better to take a small risk and disabuse them of that notion as early as possible.

I just hope they thought it through and planned for any possible contingencies. For example, what if the Chinese decided to send up some fighters to intercept the unarmed B-52s, and maybe even try to force them down, as in the infamous EP-3 incident from 2001? If I was running the show, I would have sent the B-52s in to play around in that airspace… but I also would have had a squadron or so of F-22s lurking just beyond visual range, just in case. If the Chinese try to intercept the BUFFs, the Raptors come racing in to try to convince them that maybe just going home is a better idea.

But that is assuming the Obama Administration is competent and plans ahead. Given that this is the same administration which brought you Healthcare.gov, the record is not encouraging.

Hayabusa on November 27, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Another Drew on November 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

True enough… tho the ChiComs, being who they are, probably don’t believe such declarations.

And as for messages, just those 2 BUFFs alone, fully loaded out, could’ve dialed China back a hundred years or so.

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

And as for messages, just those 2 BUFFs alone, fully loaded out, could’ve dialed China back a hundred years or so.

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

And not like China could retaliate or anything…

DarkCurrent on November 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Hayabusa on November 27, 2013 at 7:04 PM

It is hard to imagine, but given the poll-hole he’s sitting in, any opportunity to put on his He-man suit would be hard to pass up.

Besides, he can always apologize on the sly to the ChiComs, when nobody’s looking.

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

DarkCurrent on November 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

So we lose LA, San Fran, Portland, and Seattle… boo hoo. /

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM

“Message (to America’s Asian allies): I care.”

And he sends a B-52? Why didn’t he whip out the big guns and send them an iPod with some of his speeches on it?

Glenn Jericho on November 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Not to worry; when asked, Obama will say he just learned about it when he read the papers today…

“If you want your Japanese airspace, you can keep your Japanese airspace”

albill on November 27, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Good thing Obama is reducing our nuke weapons…

albill on November 27, 2013 at 7:19 PM

This type of exercise calls for F-15Cs that can defend themselves, not nuclear-capable bombers that cannot…unless Teh SCOAMT really is a Communist.

Steve Eggleston on November 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

I might be giving too much credit here, but one possible explanation, no way the Chinese were going to miss a couple of 52s on Radar. No one in the CIC was going to say “sh1t, where did those come from!” either.
Just the same, it had to be a bit nerve wracking for those crews, because outside of a side arm or two, they had nuttin’ that went bang. Maybe that was the reason to send the BUFFs? Not a real threat?

JusDreamin on November 27, 2013 at 7:21 PM

This is one of those issues that won’t matter who the U.S. president is, because the Chinese will continue to do stupid and aggressive stuff in Asia. It won’t matter for the rest of Obama’s term, or if the next president is Cruz, Christie, Clinton, Paul, etc…China’s uncontrolled behavior will remain unchanged.

China feels their time has come, that they are destined to run Asia and to re-establish their ancient suzerainty over their neighbors even if that is mythological to a certain extent. What matters is they believe it, or at least the CCP and PLA leaders and up and coming leaders do. Of course there are many Chinese who don’t want war, especially those who want to make money and live a good life, but they don’t hold the reins of power.

Too many American leaders, especially in the business community and in wall street investment circles confidently say China will never go to war over something this idiotic. That it would kill their money tree, or that it is not logical, but what those businessmen do not understand is this is not about logic. This is about honor, fear and glory. This about emotion and dreams, and it is about ethnic hatred and superiority.

China right now is displaying the same traits every country does that are on the rise economically and socially from humble beginnings. The Germans, after unification, and the Japanese, after being forced to open their country, followed a path of massive economic and social change, which led to aggressive behavior on the international stage. This led to wars with their neighbors that culminated in WWII.

Even the U.S. followed this path after the American Revolution. I am not talking about moral equivalency, because the U.S. advancement of a republican form of government was superior to what the Germans and Japanese envisioned. What I am saying is this a very dangerous period in any county’s history as our own American history has shown. We fought the British in the War of 1812 in which our capital city was burned to the ground, and we nearly got into numerous other wars with Britain throughout the first half of the 19th century, and Britain at the time was the most powerful military on earth. We also had our destiny, called “Manifest Destiny”, which drove us to greatness, but put us in danger on numerous occasions. We survived as a country by not falling into the same trap the Germans and Japanese fell into, but we did fight a bloody civil war that nearly destroyed the country.

So China is at that point now where they will either go the Japanese and German route, or they will go the American route. Both of those paths have a lot danger involved in them, not just for China, but for all their neighbors and in fact for the world. They could attempt to fight bloody wars of conquest spurred on by nationalistic pride, like Japan and Germany did, or they could be forced to face their internal problems which will probably lead to a civil war that could destroy China and even draw all their neighbors, including American, into it.

Either way America must prepare for possible war, at least a cold war with the CCP, and not be distracted by side shows in the Middle East, no matter how tempting. It is going to be a wild ride, so buckle your seat belts. Hopefully we can avoid war and China will navigate this danger phase in their development without killing too many people. I have my doubts…however…

William Eaton on November 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

No, they’re called “BUFFs”.

B-52′s, that is…

climbnjump on November 27, 2013 at 6:07 PM

BUFs,actually, standing for “Big Ugly Fornicator” (more or less). I was a B-52 crewdog back when the term became common (ca.1970) and before the Air Force bowdlerized it.

Incidentally, has it occurred to anyone else that a ‘kinda’ war with China would give us a ‘principled’ excuse to abrogate all the debt they hold on us without panicking our other creditors? Just sayin’.

PersonFromPorlock on November 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Not to worry; when asked, Obama will say he just learned about it when he read the papers today…

“If you want your Japanese airspace, you can keep your Japanese airspace”

albill on November 27, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Comment of the Day™

Steve Eggleston on November 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

I would be more afraid of a repeat of KAL 007.

The EP-3E incident by Hainan Island was caused by a hot dog Chinese pilot who screwed up and slammed into PR32.

The KAL 007 incident was a conscious act on the part of the Russian leadership, even though they misidentified the aircraft (they all look the same in the pitch blackness).

The Chinese are trying to make the world see the East China Sea the way the Russians wanted the world to consider the Sea of Okhotsk. As their own private lake.

I could see the Chinese misidentifying a commercial aircraft as military and taking it out by mistake. Just like KAL. Especially if the aircraft had a glitch in their nav and went off the jetway. Probably won’t happen, but it could.

NavyMustang on November 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

kaltes on November 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

I agree…although war might be avoided if we can delay China until China breaks down over internal issues. There is always that hope.

Basically a cold war, hope China implodes without taking the rest of the world with it, and some form of Chinese government that is more sensible emerges from the ashes. That right now would be the best outcome. The worst is unthinkable…

William Eaton on November 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Incidentally, has it occurred to anyone else that a ‘kinda’ war with China would give us a ‘principled’ excuse to abrogate all the debt they hold on us without panicking our other creditors? Just sayin’.

PersonFromPorlock on November 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Yep…that is a possible positive outcome from our side, but what a reckless gamble that would be. Although it could be a good scare tactic to force the Chinese to reconsider something stupid they are about to do.

William Eaton on November 27, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Big, Ugly Fat F*****

http://web.mit.edu/btyung/www/nickname.html

davidk on November 27, 2013 at 7:44 PM

William Eaton on November 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Good post.

Lourdes on November 27, 2013 at 7:45 PM

i know i sleep better at night knowing
Caroline Kennedy is on the case from Japan..

going2mars on November 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Good. I have O’s back on this one, or at least I would to the extent that I think he isn’t going to pull another Syria.

I don’t think war with China is necessarily inevitable, but I do know that it *will* be inevitable if the Chinese military leaders believe that we’re willing to flip the switch and wage full-scale war over a provocation.

HitNRun on November 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

What happened? We were told that all the world was going to love America after we elected Obama.

RJL on November 27, 2013 at 7:50 PM

but I do know that it *will* be inevitable if the Chinese military leaders don’t believe that we’re willing to flip the switch and wage full-scale war over a provocation.

Oops, my bad.

HitNRun on November 27, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Wonder what Obama would do if the ChiComs sank a Japanese or South Korean fishing boat in the “East China Sea”?

This might be a good time for Japan to be developing nukes. You know, to defend against Kim Jong Un, and his friends…

Steve Z on November 27, 2013 at 7:51 PM

i know i sleep better at night knowing
Caroline Kennedy is on the case from Japan..

going2mars on November 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-27/biden-to-press-china-on-air-zone-as-hagel-assures-japan.html

Sleep well,g2m.

davidk on November 27, 2013 at 8:10 PM

davidk on November 27, 2013 at 8:10 PM

see …Joe (i wouldnt know a gaff if you hit me with one) Biden
is there too….

im sure all is well now that Joes on the deal…
he’s a very deep thinker..
what could go wrong ??…
be wrapped up in a jiffy…
you worried davidk?

going2mars on November 27, 2013 at 8:23 PM

“So right now, the trajectory is that there’s going to be some kind of mishap in the next couple of years.”

Cronin, the “mishap” may occur much earlier than the “next couple of years.” Sheriff Joe Biden is on his way to smooth the tensions, and he is carrying his shotgun. It’s a toss up whether he will shoot it or his mouth off first.

onlineanalyst on November 27, 2013 at 8:29 PM

I agree…although war might be avoided if we can delay China until China breaks down over internal issues. There is always that hope.

Basically a cold war, hope China implodes without taking the rest of the world with it, and some form of Chinese government that is more sensible emerges from the ashes. That right now would be the best outcome. The worst is unthinkable…

William Eaton on November 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Major difference: The Soviet Union was indebted to us for all the grain we sent. We are the ones indebted to China.

WitchDoctor on November 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Flying a couple unarmed BUFFys over that place was the geopolitical equivalent of phoning it in.

“Provocative” would have been to fly a couple F-22 Raptors through that airspace, armed to the teeth…

Wanderlust on November 27, 2013 at 6:46 PM

52′s can carry a powerful AAM load these days, launched from the bays and/or wing mount.

Who is John Galt on November 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

So we lose LA, San Fran, Portland, and Seattle… boo hoo. /

CPT. Charles on November 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Hmmm….add an Iranian EMP on the east coast and we might be FREE again.

I so did not say that…yes i did. NSA, come get John Galt!

Who is John Galt on November 27, 2013 at 8:42 PM

I agree that China is emboldened enough to raise dust, there has been a long history of that. Asians are fond of ‘skirmish’ tactics that push but don’t escalate to full-on war.

The only problem is, they are better at it than we are. It’s a cultural thing.

“I would be more afraid of a repeat of KAL 007.”

That’s why the airlines are being put in the loop.

So far, it’s interesting but there’s nothing new in the actual behavior. Whether China is willing to go further this time than usual remains to be seen.

Meremortal on November 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

The Hainan Island incident was the last show of force by China over disputed air space. They lost a fighter plane and a pilot, we lost a nose cone and had to make a delicate statement to get the crew released.

Meremortal on November 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

I’m sure China was impressed by our reliance on planes first designed in 1955.

kcewa on November 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM

I have a theory on that. The suggestion to fly would have been sent up to the White House, as it’s standard practice. The WH approved, but doesn’t do details like what planes to use. The Buffs were used because they are big, and they say “big bombs”. It’s symbolic, and I like it.

Meremortal on November 27, 2013 at 9:11 PM

Obama’s only hoping to distract from the massive ongoing trainwreck that is Obamacare. You have to remember, Obama only understands the politics of anything as they relate to him, he is utterly self-centered to the point of delusion.

TallDave on November 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM

But we still have a few diplomats and soldiers who know the score.

tngmv on November 27, 2013 at 10:50 PM

For once: And I repeat, just this ONCE: I support the Commander in Chief.
We should have B52s, along with periodic flyovers of fighters with air-to-air refueling, going over the ‘disputed’ islands and through that airspace twice a day. Forever, if need be.

The Chinese are preying on the weakness of our administration. No surprise, since: Hey, it’s a weak, rudderless administration. Good time to indicate that there are still some lines that may not be crossed.

orangemtl on November 27, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Anti-submarine patrols would make for less showy headlines and more useful information.

slickwillie2001 on November 27, 2013 at 11:26 PM

Incidentally, has it occurred to anyone else that a ‘kinda’ war with China would give us a ‘principled’ excuse to abrogate all the debt they hold on us without panicking our other creditors? Just sayin’.

PersonFromPorlock on November 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Yes, I’m sure our other creditors will be totally unconcerned if we get into a military entanglement with another country that we owe money to and then use it as an excuse to not pay our debt.

RINO in Name Only on November 28, 2013 at 5:12 AM

Flying a couple unarmed BUFFys over that place was the geopolitical equivalent of phoning it in.

“Provocative” would have been to fly a couple F-22 Raptors through that airspace, armed to the teeth…

Wanderlust on November 27, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Raptors are invisible to radar, B52′s are hard to miss.

Akzed on November 28, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Anti-submarine patrols would make for less showy headlines and more useful information.

slickwillie2001 on November 27, 2013 at 11:26 PM

ADIZs are enforced with air power, not submarines. The main point of an ADIZ is to make everyone ask your permission to move aircraft through it. While submarines can shoot down aircraft at low to medium altitude with the right equipment (see Blowpipe submarine-mount system), they can’t enforce the zone short of a shoot-down.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is a littoral-warfare force with a single flattop (with inadequate escorts) for “show the flag” work. It’s a light carrier by our standards, and wouldn’t last long against one of our CBGs. Assuming one of our fast-attack SSNs didn’t put it on the bottom first.

The PLA itself isn’t a credible threat to anybody else in the South China Sea due to lack of amphibious warfare/sealift capability. They can’t walk to Japan or the Philippines.

This leaves the PLAAF, which is very large and fairly capable. Any confrontation with China will likely be in the air over open ocean, at least at first.

As for the “nuclear option”, other than freefall bombs and ASMs on medium bombers (the PLAAF’s H-6 is a copy of the old Russian Tu-16 Badger dating to the mid-1950s), their nuclear deterrent consists of land-based, silo-mounted ICBMs and one SSBN.

If they try to use the former, it will probably be counterforced. If they try to use the latter, the U.S. SSN that is very likely “camped out” on it whenever it leaves port will sink it.

Look for this to evolve, if it does, into a repeat of the 1950s Quemoy & Matsu situation on a larger scale.

clear ether

eon

eon on November 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Yes, I’m sure our other creditors will be totally unconcerned if we get into a military entanglement with another country that we owe money to and then use it as an excuse to not pay our debt.

RINO in Name Only on November 28, 2013 at 5:12 AM

Hope springeth eternal: Brazilian debt still sells, or did until recently.

PersonFromPorlock on November 28, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Hope springeth eternal: Brazilian debt still sells, or did until recently.

PersonFromPorlock on November 28, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Has Brazil recently been in a shooting war with its major creditors?

DarkCurrent on November 28, 2013 at 1:58 PM

B-52s were perfect, and I bet Obama had nothing to do with that. It’s not important that he may get a little good PR out of this. What’s important is the proper response.

This is cultural. Aisians like to parade up and down in front of their adversary, displaying their weapons and attitude. It’s a tradition that goes back centuries, and not necessarily a prelude to war in their culture.

The proper answer is to play along and answer in kind.

Relax, for the moment.

Of course, the normal ongoing vigilance is in order, but this behavior is old and repetitive, not new.

Meremortal on November 28, 2013 at 3:43 PM

52′s can carry a powerful AAM load these days, launched from the bays and/or wing mount.

Who is John Galt on November 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

You’ve either been reading too many Dale Brown novels or you confused the B-52 and the B-1. The latter has a proposed upgrade (to the -R standard) that will restore the Mach 2+ speed the -A had before Carter cancelled it and add up to 24 AMRAAMs.

Steve Eggleston on November 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Worth a read.

DarkCurrent on November 29, 2013 at 3:59 AM