Possible “October Surprise”
That Bush is down in the polls has caused a number of people to speculate on an “October Surprise” in an effort to boost his run for a second term. Lets also remember that Bush’s strong suit is supposed to be that he is decisive and more likely to keep us safe. In that vein lets put on our tin hats and look at an editorial by Chalmers Johnson in today’s LA Times entitled . Sailing Toward a Storm in China.
Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.
This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.
At a minimum, a single carrier strike group includes the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or 10 squadrons and a total of about 85 aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship.
So what is the reason for such a massive deployment?. There appears to be a number of possibliites. From Johnson's editorial.
According to Chinese reports, Taiwanese ships will join the seven carriers being assembled in this modern rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy. The ostensible reason given by the Navy for this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to concentrate massive forces in an emergency, but the focus on China in a U.S. election year sounds like a last hurrah of the neocons.
The neocons have been pushing hard for Bush to take a strong stand against China. I am going to try an put something together on that aspect of the story later.
What is China's response. Again from Johnson's editorial:
Needless to say, the Chinese are not amused. They say that their naval and air forces, plus their land-based rockets, are capable of taking on one or two carrier strike groups but that combat with seven would overwhelm them. So even before a carrier reaches the Taiwan Strait, Beijing has announced it will embark on a crash project that will enable it to meet and defeat seven U.S. carrier strike groups within a decade. There's every chance the Chinese will succeed if they are not overtaken by war first.
If left alone by U.S. militarists, China will almost surely, over time, become a democracy on the same pattern as that of South Korea and Taiwan (both of which had U.S.-sponsored military dictatorships until the late 1980s). But a strong mainland makes the anti-China lobby in the United States very nervous. It won't give up its decades-old animosity toward Beijing and jumps at any opportunity to stir up trouble — "defending Taiwan" is just a convenient cover story.
However, I think there may be a more likely scenario, that is, a strike against N. Korea's nuclear facilities. Clearly this is speculation on my part, but lets look at some other information.
From the July 01, 2004 Stars and Stripes Stealth fighter-bomber unit is temporarily deployed to S. Korea
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — As part of a high-tech commitment to enhancing military capabilities in the region, a squadron of F-117 Nighthawks — more commonly known as stealth fighter-bombers — has been deployed temporarily to South Korea, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The squadron, from the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., arrives this week at Kunsan Air Base in central South Korea.
“In coordination with the Republic of Korea government, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea have identified certain forces to deploy to the ROK from June to September 2004,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Deborah Bertrand, a USFK spokeswoman.
This is the first time this equipment has been deployed to S. Korea and is scheduled to be there through September.
In addition it has been reported that the US has pulled its troops back from the DMZ. Link
Whether it is meant as a show of force against China or is in fact a prelude to a strike against N. Korea I can't image anything but bad coming from it in the long term. Both scenarios are in perfect harmony with neocon thinking. However, a show of force against China would have little impact on the election and Bush needs a way of bolstering his image as a protector of the US.
OK, hats off and stay tuned.