US Draws Ire with Dispatch of 'Small Armada' into South China Sea

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US Draws Ire with Dispatch of 'Small Armada' into South China Sea

Critics warn that continued military build-up in East Asia could lead to war between global powers

"We inhabit a war culture and machine with a vast reach and capacity never seen before," wrote the antiwar group United for Peace and Justice. (Photo: Naval Surface Warriors/flickr/cc.)

The United States' globe-spanning military on Thursday dispatched a "small armada" into the South China Sea, reported the Navy Times, in the latest show of American force in the contested territory since the widely condemned patrol of a Navy destroyer within Chinese waters last October.

"We inhabit a war culture and machine with a vast reach and capacity never seen before," antiwar group United for Peace and Justice wrote on Wednesday as it called for a global refocus on diplomacy instead of military action. The group warned that "the U.S. and China, another nuclear-armed nation, are facing off against each other."

This week's "deployment of thousands of U.S. sailors" was to a region that a top U.S. official has characterized as "increasingly militarized by China," reported the Washington Post.

"Talking about militarization, if you look into it carefully, the advanced aircraft, warships in and out of the South China Sea, aren’t most of them deployed by America?" Fortune quoted China's National People's Party spokesperson Fu Ying as she responded to the U.S. Navy's actions on Friday.

Ying argued, "America made an important decision, which is deploying over 60% of its navy to the Asia-Pacific region … [The U.S.] is strengthening military deployments with its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. If we’re talking about militarization, what’s this? Isn’t it militarization?"

There's something in the air...

Michael Klare, a professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, warned in The Nation on Thursday, "History suggests that such [jostling for geopolitical advantage] tends to create an atmosphere of ever-increasing tension and suspicion, where one provocation too many can lead to crisis, panic, miscalculation, and a resort to arms—exactly the scenario that led to the outbreak of World War I just over 100 years ago."

In a lecture at Harvard in February, Klare made similar points, arguing that the Obama Administration's "China pivot"—its refocusing military resources to contain what it perceives as China's growing hegemony in East Asia, of which its South China Sea deployments is a part— is "turning the entire Chinese population against the United States and also pushing China closer to Russia...in strategic terms."

Klare characterized an anti-U.S. alliance between the two nations as another step toward war—a particularly sobering possibility considering the nuclear armaments of all countries involved.

"What could be done to prevent that kind of escalation of events that led to WWI?" the professor asked. "That’s the way we have to think today. How do we reduce this geopolitical competition, the muscle flexing, and reduce the unintended escalation that would lead to a real war?"

Klare's full lecture can be viewed here:

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