Military Agenda: U.S. Using ASEAN to Weaken China

Strategy to contain both China and Russia in South East Asia


Washington is using the Asean region for a bigger military purpose and this strategy is becoming clear to observers due to the U.S. push for greater influence in Asia. The show of force of the American navy in the recent ‘military games’ bordering the Chinese seas and the American tough policies towards North Korea coupled with its diplomatic penetration in Myanmar and Vietnam

The show of force of the American navy in the recent ‘military games’ bordering the Chinese seas and the American tough policies towards North Korea coupled with its diplomatic penetration in Myanmar and Vietnam gave the Asean group an idea of the ‘global’ powers that Washington is capable of wielding.

The United States is fermenting a long term strategy to contain both China and Russia in South East Asia but it is the hesitations of Beijing and Moscow to make use of their influence over the Asean grouping is helping Washington to consolidate its powers in the region.

There is no doubt that the Americans have found an easy target with China’s slow paced attempts at imposing itself in South-East Asia. It is also clear that a certain degree of ignorance and caution of the Asean nations with regards to the political and economic importance of both China and Russia is also helping the U.S. in its apparently single handed domination of the grouping and of the nations within the grouping.

With the U.S. successfully taming roping in the Vietnamese army – once its arch enemy in the region – to join the Nato forces in Asia, the signs of a probable Chinese defeat at the hands of the Americans in the Asean region is now more than apparent.

As of today, three Asean nations are confirmed participants in the American-Nato lead military carnage in Afghanistan where the Afghan war has slipped from being a war to capture America’s public Enemy number one to a war that will eliminate any opposition to America’s interests in Afghanistan and the Asian region as whole. This war has demonstrated to any resisting Asean members that opposing the U.S. will be a fatal mistake. Thus Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are official contributors of troops – whether they are cooks or medics – in the Afghan war.

Vietnam and Cambodia are also pondering over their ‘role’ in the bigger Afghan war and the lack of presence of China – on the diplomatic and military spheres – are indications to the Asean that the U.S. is winning the region’s hearts and soul. China has over played the role of a sleeping military and political giant in the South-East region and this is now resulting in the Asean nations’ disbelief of China’s potential and capacities.

Before the Afghan war, the Americans could count on Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia along with Brunei in the region. Today the U.S. has Vietnam and Cambodia on its side. Both nations were seen as pro-China until recently and their swerving towards America is a concrete example of the Chinese defeatist policies within the Asean. China is focusing all its efforts on economic successes for the Chinese nation within the Asean group. This has given the giant nation a sense of comfort believing that its economic clout within the Asean is far enough to maintain its political influence among the member states.

Failing to deal blows to the Chinese economic powerhouse in the Asean, the Americans are now pushing openly for political and military confrontations with China. Washington’s sugaring of the Myanmar regime with a rare diplomatic offensive since 2008 has simmered talks that Washington may eventually add Myanmar as a ‘friend’ in its Asian strategy. This will curtail China’s influence in the Angean seas and directly affect China’s economic liberty in the mouth of the South China Seas altogether.

The question to answer is how will this strategy used by the Americans affect the Asean region? The answer is very simplistic indeed: The Asean states will stand together in favor of a U.S. domination of the region, thus enlarging the conflicting situations created by the Americans aggressiveness while the Chinese sloppiness to counter the Americans on the political and military landscape become obvious. This is turning China into the weak link in the Asean region with the consequences that China’s economic independence and its national growth altogether will be at risk due to the American political and military push in the region.

A weaker China will weaken the Asean further and will make it totally defenseless against any future American plans for the Asean, which it want to turn into a para-military corps to fight for the American causes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and surely Georgia and North Korea.

Reducing the Asean to the level of a rubber stamp group and dominating the region with Australia and Japan being given more powers – politically and militarily – are the ultimate goals of the Americans as they do not really trust neither the Thai’s or the Indonesians and definitely not the Malaysians or Brunei nations.

Once the U.S. has achieved such goals, it will control the Malacca Straits and the sea ways of the region thus defeating the Asean itself since the grouping is purely an economic one and is not interested in the political struggle that the U.S. is leading against the Chinese nation.

Without the Chinese option, the Asean will become lame while its territory will become the chess board for the Americans to push further for the disintegration of China as a communist run state. The U.S. is fully aware that China is not in a position to launch any military operations against the Americans unless an invasion of North Korea is undertaken by the Pentagon. Beijing is still in the belief that Washington has only one option to overrun China’s growing role as a super power and that is to invade or cause the invasion of North Korea. This would trigger another Korean war that China will eventually win since it will be played right at its doorstep.

The policy makers in Beijing, over confident with their economic invasion of South-East Asia and the Asean altogether, are thinking that the U.S. will not play the political or military cards in the region. We have seen how the American military game plan is being put in place with Japan and Australia as the optional Asian allies that will consolidate America’s military might in the region. This strategy will only work if the Americans hold the Asean grouping hostage and the only way for the U.S. to do so is to use the Asean to cause China to literally ‘kaput’ by forcing it to lose its economic clout in the region.

The U.S. military show case in Asia is to bolster the confidence of its ‘Asian partners’ which included the Asean member states and to challenge China to a military confrontation that Washington knows will not take place, at least they think Beijing will not react violently to America’s conquests in the region. Or will China do so in order to cut the Americans from enlarging their influence?

Knowing China, it will be hard for Beijing to confront the Americans in South-East Asia which is far away from the Korean peninsula and the Taiwanese littorals where China will have more reasons to react violently against any U.S. military penetration. This leaves the Asean much feeble and an easy prey to the American offensive in Asia.

Articles by: Kazi Mahmood

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