Joint naval drill only benefits militaries

Updated: 2010-07-27 07:53

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

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The massive joint military drill by the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), which began Sunday in the Sea of Japan, is intended to show off its mighty power.

But that is simply to state the obvious. No one today doubts that the US, whose defense spending accounts for half of the world's total, is superior militarily than any other country on earth.

The US and the ROK have sent about 20 ships, 200 aircraft and 8,000 sailors and airmen to the Sea of Japan. These drills plan to display a fleet of F-22 fighters and the USS George Washington, a 97,000-tonnage nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that is one of the largest in the US navy.

The US, by time and again reminding other countries of how inferior their militaries are and how afraid they must feel, has only encouraged them to increase, not decrease, their military build-up.

The US always says it feels uneasy about China's growing military spending, but it does not seem to realize that such a large and prolonged drill, which US officials say might move to the Yellow Sea in the coming months, could be one of the main reasons why China makes a strong argument for the modernization of its military.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the primary target of the ongoing military exercise, is also unlikely to back down in the face of the American power display, as anyone who understands its rationale can tell.

That will make it far more difficult to find a solution to the DPRK's worrisome nuclear program. The Six-Party Talks, which involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia, is also less likely to resume under such escalated tension.

For anyone who finds it hard to understand why the Chinese should be uneasy, angry or even threatened by the drill, think of this: What will Americans feel if the Chinese or Russian military travel across the ocean to hold their exercises in the high seas not far from the coast of Florida, New York or California?

While some claim that the ongoing war game, with the codename "Invincible Spirit", is intended to preserve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, it is exactly the opposite. Military drill as a show of hostility instead of hospitality destroys the basis for trust, dialogue and cooperation. It will only make the issues in the Korean Peninsula even more complicated.

Such a drill is bad news for the peoples in every country involved because it wastes money at a time of great financial difficulty. However, it is great news for the military.

Facing huge budget cuts in the coming years due to a federal deficit reduction plan, the US military leaders would still hope to find an excuse to justify its colossal spending. Military expenditure even now makes up about 5 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP).

To justify its monstrous budget plan, the US military needs to convince the Congress that there are still threats to American interests everywhere in the world. Otherwise, the Congress is unlikely to approve the appropriation of the colossal amount, especially when the US federal deficit exceeds $1.4 trillion.

I have heard the same kind of military rhetoric, of "threat everywhere", during my visit to Camp Smith, the US Pacific Command based in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the 1990s. A top military officer who described the Chinese military threat in the South China Sea was arguing even then for a stepped-up US naval presence.

It is no wonder that the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to play up China's threat in the South China Sea last week. She just proved herself to be yet another lobbyist for the US military by employing the same old trick.

Sino-US relations have become stronger in the last decades. Please do not let the militaries hijack those ties.


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