The Obama administration’s declared a shift in strategy from the Middle East — “pivoting” to the Pacific Rim. The result in the Middle East is that we have to ask a French carrier battle group (CVBG) to assume our role and responsibility, because we have to pull out our own CVBG. China’s response has been to build islands in the South China Sea and emplace military weapons — along a sea lane of commerce transited by nearly 35% of the global trade. The administration has sent some U.S. Marines to Australia, but what effect does that have upon regional hegemonic expansion by Red China? And so the latest revelation from the Pacific Rim is cause for great concern.
As reported by the Washington Times:
In a deal that has raised eyebrows around the region, Thailand’s coup-installed regime is on the verge of purchasing three attack submarines from China for $1 billion, after the country’s navy received exclusive anti-submarine warfare training from the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Criticism of the deal has been strong in Bangkok’s media, with some skeptics saying it would waste money because Thailand has no enemies — [at this moment] — and the military previously bought an unimpressive aircraft carrier and blimp, plus fake bomb detectors. Royal Thai navy officials selected China over competing bids from Russia, Sweden, France, Germany and South Korea.
Bangkok has long been a key U.S. ally in the region, but it has been stepping up economic and transportation ties with Beijing under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan -Ocha, the former army officer who heads the military junta that seized power in 2014. Talking to reporters in Bangkok Tuesday, Mr. Prayuth denied the submarine deal was another bid to curry favor with China, the region’s rising power.“There is no need for that,” he said. “We have a good relationship with China already. Every country is good to us, except those who are still stuck on the word ‘democracy.’” And so it goes, yet another example of the level of respect President Obama claims the United States has globally. First of all, I just have to ask: why are we supporting a “coup-installed regime” in Thailand, and we give little to no support to the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — who removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power? The foreign policy of President Obama is beyond comprehension.
And to add insult to injury, we’re training and working with the Royal Thai Navy, who then goes and purchases submarines from China? Of the nations who gave bids to Thailand, there should’ve been no consideration of Russia — and certainly not China. Those should’ve been caveats to any U.S. 7th Fleet training support to Thailand. It’s obvious that in the Pacific region, China commands the fear and respect.
Furthermore, Mr. Prayuth evidences his disdain with his statement about countries “still stuck on the word democracy.” If that’s not a blatant finger into the chest of the United States, what is?
This is clearly in response to the Obama administration’s actions:
After last year’s coup that ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the U.S. State Department has repeatedly criticized Mr. Prayuth’s regime’s harsh human rights abuses, called for a return to democracy and canceled some U.S. aid. The Pentagon however continued strengthening Mr. Prayuth’s military, and the massive annual Cobra Gold U.S.-Thai military exercise was held this year after being sharply scaled back in 2014 in the aftermath of the coup.
Unlike the Obama administration, China has not criticized Mr. Prayuth’s coup or his crackdown on free speech and political activity. Instead, China hosted the junta’s top officials during trips to Beijing and offered sweetened military and commercial deals.
I am confused. We condemn Mr. Prayuth — and then we strengthen his military and continue conducting the combined-joint military operation Cobra Gold? We’re enabling the solidification of dictatorial power in Thailand? So why does the Obama administration refuse to assist Egypt as it fights ISIS-affiliated Islamic jihadists in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula? China’s conducting cyberattacks against the United States (apparently affecting 7% of the population) and selling submarines to Thailand — and we look utterly weak and just a bystander. This is President Obama’s definition of improved respect.
Now, let’s be honest, will the Thais be able to equip and man these three submarines soon? Probably not, but the real issue here is the expanding influence and regard of Chinese power. China’s also promising a high-speed rail system to Thailand. It’s no different than the port facilities being built by the Chinese in the Bahamas and Jamaica. The Chinese are all over East Africa seeking resources. We’re witnessing an incredible expansive growth by China — who still holds some 24% of U.S. debt. China is acting with complete impunity and disregard towards the Obama administration, who appears ineffective.
Do we need to be concerned about a Thai submarine force? Nah. But we do need to be concerned about China’s increasing economic and military hegemonic dominance.