US Wants to Surround China With Missiles, but Its Asian Clients Don’t Want to Host Them

What the US left the INF Treaty with Russia to do

The governor of a Japanese territory where the Pentagon is thinking about basing missiles capable of threatening China has a message for the United States: Not on my island.

“I firmly oppose the idea,” said Gov. Denny Tamaki, the governor of Okinawa, in an email to The Times.

Officials in other Asian countries are also signaling they don’t want them.

But Pentagon planners aren’t backing down after the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 33-year-old arms control treaty that barred U.S. land-based intermediate-range missiles in Asia.

Senior officials now say that putting hundreds of American missiles with non-nuclear warheads in Asia would quickly and cheaply shift the balance of power in the western Pacific back in the United States’ favor amid growing Pentagon concern that China’s expanding arsenal of missiles and other military capabilities threaten U.S. bases in the region and have emboldened Beijing to menace U.S. allies in Asia.

The missile plan is the centerpiece of a planned buildup of U.S. military power in Asia projected to consume tens of billions of dollars in the defense budget over the next decade, a major shift in Pentagon spending priorities away from the Middle East.

But it also highlights the complex relationship between the U.S and its Asian allies, many of whom feel increasingly threatened by China but are reluctant to back new U.S. military measures that might provoke Beijing, which has built the biggest navy in the world in the last decade.

Australia and the Philippines publicly ruled out hosting American missiles when the Trump administration first floated the idea last year. South Korea is also considered an unlikely location, current and former officials say.

In Japan, the decision on whether to allow U.S. missiles on its territory will be made by the central government in Tokyo. Gov. Tamaki said officials at the Pentagon and in Tokyo have told him there are no definite plans to put missiles on Okinawa. But Tamaki isn’t reassured.

With a Japanese mother and an American father who served with the Marines on Okinawa before abandoning the family, Tamaki personifies the complex relationship between the U.S. and its allies in Asia. He was elected two years ago after pledging to oppose expansion of the already-substantial U.S. military presence on the island.

More than half of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan are in Okinawa, most concentrated at a Marine base surrounded by residential areas in the largest city. Opposition to the 70-year-old U.S. military presence has sparked local protests for years, which would probably intensify if there were a move to base missiles there.

“If there is such a plan, I can easily imagine fierce opposition from Okinawa residents,” Tamaki said.

For the last year, the Pentagon has been testing several new types of short- and intermediate-range missiles — those with ranges up to 3,400 miles — including a ballistic missile that could be placed in Guam, a U.S. territory, and mobile missiles carried on trucks.

The first of the new weapons could be in operation within two years, though no decision has been announced about where they will be based. Similar missiles are now carried on U.S. warships and planes based in Asia, but there are no land-based systems.

U.S. officials say that many allies are privately supportive of the missile plan and may come around to permitting them on their territory but don’t want to provoke opposition from Beijing and their own public before decisions are on the table.

The U.S. has a defense treaty with Japan, as it does with South Korea, the Philippines and Australia. Taiwan is not a formal ally but has close, unofficial defense ties with Washington.

“We are very attentive to our allies’ concerns, and we recognized their political challenges,” said a senior defense official, who agreed to discuss Pentagon planning if he was not identified. “Everything that’s said in the media is not necessarily what’s said behind closed doors.”

To lessen the political opposition, the U.S. could rotate missile batteries in and out of locations around the region or place them in strategic locations without publicly disclosing it.

“It wouldn’t make much sense to announce plans now, which would stoke Chinese anger and possibly play into the domestic politics,” said Randy Schriver, who was a senior Pentagon official responsible for Asia until his resignation last year.

A decision to go ahead in Asia would intensify an arms race between the region’s two biggest powers whose relations — already tense over President Trump’s confrontational trade agenda and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hawkish policies — have nosedived since the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s naïve and dangerous,” said Alexandra Bell, a former Obama administration arms control official and a critic of deploying U.S. missiles. “Instead of looking at how we can prevent a full-out arms race, that’s our opening salvo?” added Bell, a senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington.

Putting land-based missiles in Asia capable of attacking China is not a new strategy.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. kept them at bases across the region, including in Okinawa, where hundreds of nuclear-armed warheads were stored secretly for decades even though Japan’s constitution prohibited the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory.

The missiles were gradually taken out of service in the 1960s and 1970s, because of budget cuts and a shift in U.S. strategy away from defense of the region focused on nuclear weapons. In 1987, the Reagan administration signed an arms control treaty that prohibited the U.S. and the Soviet Union (and later Russia) from deploying any land-based intermediate range missiles, including in Asia.

China was not a signatory, leaving it free to build up its missile arsenal.

The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty last year after accusing Russia of developing new land-based missiles that violated its terms. The exit opened the way for the Pentagon to consider reintroducing ground-launched missiles in Asia.

With mobile missiles around the region, the U.S. could pose an even bigger challenge for China, forcing it to hunt for hundreds of launchers capable of targeting its planes, ships and bases, strategists say.

“Ground-based missiles aren’t some kind silver bullet,” said Eric Sayers, a former consultant to U.S. commanders in the Pacific and a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. “But they are a way in the near term … to create dilemmas for the [People’s Liberation Army] planners.”

Although the risk of large-scale conflict with China seems low, tensions have continued to ratchet up over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, its military maneuvers near Taiwan, its border dispute with India and its offshore maritime claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Nearly a quarter of world trade travels through the South China Sea, making the contest between Beijing and Washington over control of its maritime lanes and rich resources especially tense and certain to continue, no matter who wins the U.S. presidential election in November.

The U.S. Navy for decades dominated the “first island chain,” as strategists call the area of the western Pacific stretching from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines that fell within America’s defense umbrella after World War II.

But American reliance on bases, warships and airfields in the region has become increasingly risky, officials and analysts say.

China has developed its own missiles, sophisticated radars and anti-satellite weapons as well as a growing fleet of warships and submarines in recent decades that could threaten American bases and other targets early in a conflict, said Collin Koh, a research fellow in Asian maritime security at the S. Rajatnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

China’s People’s Liberation Army can project significant firepower on U.S. and allied military installations in the western Pacific and “threaten to overwhelm” American forces “in times of armed conflict,” Koh said.

The Chinese weapons in many cases have ranges that exceed those on U.S. warships, though the U.S. retains a significant advantage in attack submarines and in advanced fighters and bombers armed with cruise missiles that can be fired from long distances.

“Their capability and their reach have created vulnerabilities for our legacy basing structure,” said the defense official, who agreed to discuss U.S. planning on condition that he not be identified.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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abinico
abinico
3 months ago

For almost 70 years now I have seen my country either at war, or preparing for war, and I am sick of it.

Melville Pouwels
3 months ago

your yanks are such a cowardly race of people, [ knock that wee girl up then run like a bitch in the night , back home…fukcing whores ]..
getting people who dont want war, let alone carry your crap weaponry, so you cowardly fcuks can sit at home & force other nations to begin what you gutless fcuks cannot !
the only thing i hate more that america’s management, is the jew bastard coward, who hides in his castle & controls ALL debt, & takes state owned assets in leiu of interest payments…

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

Unfortunately for Governor Tamaki, the US base preceded his political tenure. That alone makes Okinawa a vulnerable target to Chinese, Russian, and North Korean military strategies.

Your only alternative is to ask the occupying force (US) to remove its troops, ships, and fighter jets.

I wish you good luck.

itchyvet
itchyvet
3 months ago

Haven’t they been doing that for the last ten years ? The Japanese P.M. refuses to conceed to their wishes and remains a U.S. lap dog.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  itchyvet

All of Japan’s lap dogs are so due to the continuing American occupation of the island per treaty.

Rowdy-Yates
Rowdy-Yates
3 months ago

America is the most aggressive Western power in Asia but without any knowledge or interest in Asian societies, faiths, or cultures. If there is any interest it is hostile as that against Islam or China. Trump has turned out to be the worst US President against Asia

itchyvet
itchyvet
3 months ago
Reply to  Rowdy-Yates

STOP laying the blame for this increased aggression at the feet of Trump. America, no matter WHO was/is in the W.H. has always been aggressive of persuing it’s own selfish interests at the expense of others. This behaviour was started well before the Orange man came into the W.H. so trying to us him as the target for this aggression, is out of order and ignores his predessors.

Rowdy-Yates
Rowdy-Yates
3 months ago
Reply to  itchyvet

True that America had only 22 years of peace since 1776. All the other years America was at war but all Presidents were not equal war mongers. Some were worse than others and Trump is among them

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  Rowdy-Yates

Presidents do not have the constitutional authority to declare war. If Congress had impeached the first president to declare war (Abraham Lincoln) for that treason, we wouldn’t have been at war since WW2.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  Rowdy-Yates

Trump is too ignorant of what is being done behind his back by people like Pompeo to be expected to shoulder the majority of the blame therefor.

Rowdy-Yates
Rowdy-Yates
3 months ago

Trump could have stopped the shutdown but he did not. He let it gut the economy. Now it is costing trillions just in bail outs and stimulus checks. It could go as high as 10 trillion. He could have engaged China on trade issues, instead he started a war. Trump’s financial sanctions on a dozen nations using the dollar as a weapon has resulted in those nations dumping the dollar for other currencies.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  Rowdy-Yates

Are you saying that Americans should surrender their common sense to the government?

Rowdy-Yates
Rowdy-Yates
3 months ago

Hasn’t that already happened?

David McClintock
David McClintock
3 months ago
Reply to  Rowdy-Yates

As long as the international banking cartel is on America’s side the value of the Dollar will continue to be manipulated by the central banks. The banks are what create monetary value and as long as they are allowed to issue the worlds currencies they hold the real true power; They can enrich or impoverish any country they desire. The Non Farm Payroll Reports have been a disaster for the US for 3 straight months – millions of jobs lost and another trillion in debt – and each time the USD has strengthened.

LS
LS
3 months ago

This is a red line. China and Russia should use military force to prevent these missile deployments. Just do it.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  LS

Are you advising them to succumb to the temptation to launch first strikes like our war planners desire?

Anne
Anne
3 months ago

Frankly, we reap what we sow. Were we not so bloody well intent on dominating the world, dictating to other societies, countries, peoples how they should behave (especially toward us), rather than taking care of our own fu**ing deficiencies at home (homelessness, widespread impoverishment, slave labor in our prisons – never mind the Uygers some of whom spent time working with Daesh etc. – lack of free at point of service medical care and so on), we would be far more respected.

Our profound hypocrisy (it matters not at all the color of the “party” in the WH or in the majority in Congress) is abundantly clear to the rest of the world. What we do to others cannot be done by others. Nope.

We are all about the $$$ – nothing, absolutely nothing else at home and abroad. And our consciences are completely untroubled by our killing millions, destroying lands and livelihoods and lives for decades if not centuries (Agent Orange, depleted uranium) if doing so destroys an oppositional (to ours) polity in another country (if we can). The bombs, weapons, military this and that – all equal war-profiteering, the major reason for what we do thousands of miles from our shores.

What right have we to dictate, anyway, what goes on in the South China Sea? Isn’t it thousands of miles from our shores? Clearly given our outlook on this, we should have absolutely no complaint if/when China decides to have warships in the Gulf of Mexico’s waters…

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  Anne

The American government would be more likely to take care of its legitimate domestic responsibilities if doing so were made as profitable to the MICIMATT as the saber-rattling.

David McClintock
David McClintock
3 months ago
Reply to  Anne

I knew I’d found the right website when I read this comment. Well said.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago

If I were China, I’d place the same number of missiles off the coast of America that it places off my coast. I’d place advertising on American television to advise Americans about the balance of terror so created. Odds are, all the missiles off the coast of China would cease to be quickly.

itchyvet
itchyvet
3 months ago

This was already done by the Russians with the Cuba situation that brought the World very close to WW 3. Looks like it might be time for a repeat of that situation.

disqus_3BrONUAJno
disqus_3BrONUAJno
3 months ago
Reply to  itchyvet

The Soviets put missiles in Cuba in response to NATO’s incursions into their neighbors. There would never have been Soviet missiles in Cuba if NATO hadn’t ringed the USSR with them. The Pentagon and NATO are back to playing the same games in former Soviet states, especially the Ukraine.
The Cuban missile crisis was mostly a media circus, since Kennedy and Soviet leaders never stopped talking. The same can be said of Trump’s relationship with Putin and Xi, as noted in Bolton’s book, he getting along better with them than he does with most of hi cabinet. If I were Trump, I’d leave any position open that the Senate wouldn’t approve my choice for. If that were the case, Pence wouldn’t be the VP.

cechas vodobenikov
cechas vodobenikov
3 months ago

clients—LOL…anglophone insecurity, especially amerikan has long been observed: in amerika the citizen has been transformed into a client, the worker turned into a consumer”. Christopher Lasch
the proper term is colony, not client

Undecider
Undecider
3 months ago

The answer should be evict Americans from all these nations.

Anti-Empire