As President Obama confirmed the Alaskan glaciers were melting in the summer, the Chinese navy gave our president a warm Alaskan welcome as he made his historic trip to the 49th state. Curiously timed to coincide with his Alaskan visit, the five Chinese warships operated in the Bering Sea, which separates the United States from Russia. The small contingent included combat ships and support vessels.
The naval expedition to the frigid international waters off the American coast also comes on the heels of the largest naval exercise ever between Chinese and Russian naval forces in the South China Sea.
Was the arrival of the new Chinese blue-water navy near northern American shores, while the president was acting on reality TV in the bush, a coincidence?
I think not. I think it was meant to send a message.
In spite of administration manifestations that the Chinese operation was legal per international law and nothing to worry about, the simple fact is, the Chinese have never operated that far north with such a naval force. The Pacific Ocean used to be nicknamed the “American lake.” The Chinese want us to completely understand that this is no longer the case. The Chinese wanted to flaunt their new-found naval capability in our commander-in-chief’s face.
China has been building a blue-water naval capability for some time now. The long-term goal, in my humble opinion, is to counter the American Navy in the Pacific. The islands they are building on reefs down near the Philippines in the Spratleys are not there for scientific research. They are there to project power, despite all of the China apologists in the Western press vociferously denying this reality.
If the Chinese need to shut down the Pacific shipping lanes to harm America’s — and our allies’ — interests, they want to be able to do so. If they want to keep the diminished American Navy out of their sphere of influence, they want to be able to do so.
The Obama administration’s departure from power cannot come soon enough for those concerned about long-term American national security. The next American president has a big job ahead of him: rebuilding the U.S. Navy and its power projection capability.
This has to be done not to start a war, but to prevent one. As Ronald Reagan said, “The best war is the one not fought.”