COMMENTARY | The Washington Times reports that the Defense Department has indicated that the United States will continue to fly combat air patrols over the East China Sea in defiance of China’s “Air Defense Identification Zone.”
Shortly after the United States sent two B 52 bombers through the zone, a joint force of American and Japanese fighters conducted a patrol, closely watched by a pair of Chinese fighters. South Korea has also sent planes through the zone.
It is a puzzlement why President Obama is behaving like Teddy Roosevelt in the Pacific while at the same time acting like Neville Chamberlain in the Middle East. It is usually not the president’s MO to actually stand up to an American adversary, even if we are obligated to do so by a mutual defense treaty with Japan.
This is not a bad thing. The United States is doing exactly the right thing is defying China’s unilateral grabbing of air space that does not belong to it. If this were to be let go, there would be no end to China’s imperial actions. It means to be a super power and the dominate power in Asia and the Western Pacific. It is in the interest of the United States and her allies to prevent this from happening.
Of course care has to be taken. With so many combat aircraft from several countries flying about in close contact it takes only one mistake to cause an incident that could result in a shooting war. A pilot could see or thinks he sees something on his radar screen and then respond and, before we know it, an air battle would develop over the East China Sea. That is the sort of thing that could rapidly get out of control.
To be sure the United States and her allies would rapidly defeat China’s air force and navy. But the cost would be horrendous, especially if China decides to use her ballistic missile force to bombard the territory of her enemies. And a conflict between two powers with nuclear weapons has the potential for epically awful consequences.