Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Underwear Incident Revisited

San Nicholas Island 75 miles west of Los Angeles.
Incident off Hainan Island

The incident last week involving a thinly disguised American spy ship, posing as an oceanographic survey ship and five Chinese spy ships posing as fishing boats, continues to simmer across the blogosphere. The big War crowd cries, "Beware! we told you so! those dirty communists are at it again." While other's are taking a more pragmatic view, by criticizing China for actions more becoming the hermit kingdom than a rising great power. The following is a series of posts from distinguished blogs looking back, after some of the fog has burned off.

A post at the United States Naval Institute Blog by Springbored! offers this advice from the past, regarding the "Underwear Incident."

As Chinese and American warships ships go toe-to-toe in the seas off China, I find myself wishing Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. was still alive.

The venerable Admiral knew China. In the closing days of World War II, he helped China re-occupy the Yangtze River, and found his wife–a Harbin native–in the chaos of 1945 Shanghai.

Admiral Zumwalt also knew how to confront challenges at sea. As a young captain of the guided-missile frigate Dewey, Admiral Zumwalt kept his cool as Russian vessels charged to within 50 yards of his new command.

Read more:

Galhrn the master of Information Dissemination weighs in with these comments.

His concluding words will encourage you to read the whole post.
There has been speculation that China reacted strongly to the Impeccable because the Impeccable was tracking one of the new PLA Navy nuclear submarines out of Sanya. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming US-China military meet and greet goes. Depending upon the results of that meeting, it is possible we may end up with confirmation what the US was doing, and why China decided to react so strongly.

Read more:

And joining the conversation in childing the Chinese and reflecting the direction of the previous post is this from Tom Barnett's weekly column.

China's naval shenanigans
Those aggressive and immature Chinese are at it again: sending their spy ships to harass our spy ship as it conducts submarine-related surveillance in international waters off their coast. Our new director of national intelligence warns that this is the "most serious" military push back we've encountered since 2001, when the Chinese forced down one of our spy planes right off their coast.

Sense a pattern? I'm not a China expert, but it strikes me that Beijing manufactures a new spy crisis every time we field a new president -- like clockwork.

Checking out what your neighbor owns, has gone on ever since Fred Flintsone spied Barny Rubble bring home dinosaur steaks and threw a fit of anger in to Wilma that Barny wasn't sharing.
Not to make light of this incident, but before we get our underwear in a twist and let either side ramp up what may turn out to be a little emperors syndrome or as Tom Barnett notes, an immature nation testing the resolve of a new American President. If we remember the 2001 incident, it was a lot more provocative, and it passed. Or back in 1999, when NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during Operation Allied Force, it too passed.
To put the distance from Hainan Island in prospective. The map of the California coastline shows San Nicholas Island off shore in the Santa Barbara Channel. San Nicholas island is 75 miles from Los Angeles, the same distance our ship was operating out side their major naval base on Hainan Island. Freedom of the seas is protected as well as the rules of navigation. A polite request, goes further than juvenile behavior.


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