Author Topic: Provoking the dragon  (Read 2282 times)


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Provoking the dragon
« on: August 07, 2017, 02:57:41 AM »
The one thing that Chinese fear the most is appearing weak before their own people -- and the Communist Party membership in particular. Their country is held together by duct tape and the belief that their authority should never be questioned . . . by anyone. The leader that is viewed as weak to the party faces consequences . . . such as suddenly falling pray to "anti-corruption drives" that can end in execution.

It is a fiction that permeates all aspects of their bureaucracy which is why they are trained with pre-programmed responses to any challenges. Their "sovereignty is indisputable" response is standard fare. Even the US gets its share of these messages. When I was working in Taiwan, I actually saw two of examples of these incidents from the Taiwanese perspective: the 2001 incident in Hainan involving a USN EP-3, and I lived through the SARS epidemic of 2002 where China and Taiwan traded barbs over who got WHO resources. I lived a block away from one of the officials SARS quarantine hospitals. So I actually experienced what it's like to be a pawn in China's game of perception control.

PNoy's rhetoric, from the time he started in office, was built upon confrontation. Right or wrong, Arroyo got the ball rolling with the controversial JMSU. The PH, China, and Vietnam were all part of that exercise. PNoy's response to that, in characteristic Aquino fashion, was to simply to try to put the genie in the bottle . . . with out any realistic alternative.

That was a shot across China's bow . . . before we had anything to back it up.

It also came at the worst possible time given how war-weary the US had become. The US had no appetite for more conflict after 10 years of an ill-planned war. China knew that the US under Obama had no stomach for a fight with an enemy that could actually hit back and cause damage. Xi Jin Ping's rise to power in 2012 brought with it a messy internal "house cleaning" agenda that needed a show of strength . . .

. . . one that Aquino unwittingly provided with the Scarborough incident where we militarized a coast guard-vs-coast guard incident with the use of the PF-15. Criticism of this approach was in the papers a fews ago. But on Timawa, we've been talking about since 2012.

That incident also had another effect. It also signaled to the US that we were a wild card that could potentially draw them into a conflict with China by virtue of our MDT. It's bad enough that the US / JUSMAG had detailed -- inside -- knowledge of our internal screw ups over the years that showed our organizational weaknesses. Knowledge of our levels of competence at different points in the command chain. Whatever hesitation the US had about giving the AFP equipment more sophisticated than Vietnam-era equipment was not only justified, but heightened. This culminated in US refusal to grant access to missiles as part of the FA-50 acquisition.

Now PNoy had a confrontational agenda with no real game plan . . . other than the hope the US would actually come in to clean up the mess that was emerging.

Like his mother before him, PNoy's priority was simply to undo whatever his predecessor did with no thought about sorting between what was good and bad. On the modernization front, for example, PNoy got rid of the "patron saint of failed bidders" who was causing all sorts of problems in acquisitions. But in the process, he also got rid of the existing bureaucracy that had been working with the GPPB to hash out the ins and outs of the DND portion of the government procurement law. That left the DND with a rookie acquisition team, under the leadership of a SND with no exposure to martial matters beyond COIN.

So in PNoy's first two years in office:

1. He put us on a confrontational path with hyper-sensitive, paranoid, regional rival
2. Destroyed the organizational infrastructure that would have actually allowed him to buy equipment faster and with fewer mistakes
3. Gave the US pause about our intentions and our ability use whatever they gave us properly