A Wake-up Call for East Asia – and the World
So warned Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2020. He was referring to the consequences for East Asia of a conflict between the US and China.
Fast forward to October 2, 2021, about one year later, and the first patch of grass has been stomped on by the U.S. elephant, trudging stealthily about, far from home in the South China Sea. On that day the nuclear-powered attack submarine, the USS Connecticut, suffered serious damage in an undersea incident which the U.S. Navy ascribed to a collision with an undersea object.
After sustaining damage, the submarine apparently surfaced close to the Paracel Islands which lie only 150 nautical miles from China’s Yulin submarine base in Hainan Province. The Connecticut is one of only three Seawolf class of submarines, which are assumed to be on spying missions. But they can be equipped with Intermediate Range (1250-2500 km) Tomahawk cruise missiles which can be armed with nuclear warheads. It is claimed that they are not so equipped at present because the Navy’s “policy decisions” have “phased out” their nuclear role, according to the hawkish Center For Strategic and International Studies.
When a US nuclear submarine with such capabilities has a collision capable of killing U.S. sailors and spilling radioactive materials in the South China Sea, it should be front-page news on every outlet in the U.S. This has not been the case – far from it. For example, to this day (October 30), nearly a month after the collision, the New York Times, the closest approximation to a mouthpiece for the American foreign policy elite, has carried no major story on the incident and in fact no story at all so far as I and several daily readers can find. This news is apparently not fit to print in the Times. (A notable exception to this conformity and one worth consulting has been Craig Hooper of Forbes.)
A blackout of this kind will come as no surprise to those who have covered the plight of Julian Assange or the US invasion of Syria or the barely hidden hand of the United States in various regime change operations, to cite a few examples
The U.S. media has followed the narrative of the U.S. Navy which waited until October 7 to acknowledge the incident, with the following extraordinarily curt press release (I have edited it with strike-outs and italicized substitutions to make its meaning clear.):
Tan Kefei, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense although not so terse, had much the same to say as my edited version above, as reported in China’s Global Times:
The crash of the USS Connecticut goes beyond the potential for harmful radioactive leakage into the South China Sea, with potential damage to the surrounding nations including the fishing grounds of importance to the economy. If the US continues to ramp up confrontation far from its home in the South China Sea, then a zone of conflict could spread to include all of East Asia. Will this in any way benefit the region? Does the region want to be turned into the same wreckage that the Middle East and North Africa are now after decades of US crusading for “democracy and liberty” there via bombs, sanctions and regime change operations? That would be a tragic turn for the world’s most economically dynamic region. Do the people of the region not realize this? If not, the USS Connecticut should be a wake-up call.
But the people of the US should also think carefully about what is happening. Perhaps the foreign policy elite of the US think it can revisit the U.S. strategy in WWII with devastation visited upon Eurasia leaving the US as the only industrial power standing above the wreckage. Such are the benefits of an island nation. But in the age of intercontinental weapons, could the US homeland expect to escape unscathed from such a conflict as it did in WWII? The knot is being tied, as Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and if it is tied too tightly, then no one will be able to untie it. The US is tying the knot far from its home this time halfway around the world. It should not tie that knot too tight.[su_panel background="#e8eaed" border="1px solid #4c3a3a" shadow="3px 1px 2px #eeeeee" radius="3"]John V Walsh, until recently a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for Asia Times, EastBayTimes/Mercury News, LA Progressive, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, The Unz Review, and The Greanville Post, among others.[/su_panel]
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