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Old 07-23-2010, 05:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
 
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US to Stop China's Bullying?

Clinton is talking big about the South China Sea.
Why has the US chosen to take action with this dispute?
How critical is this region to US trade?
Does the US have the spare military strength to take on China, on any level?

Link to the whole NY Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/wo...ef=global-home
Quote:
U.S. Challenges China on Island Chain
By MARK LANDLER
HANOI, Vietnam — Opening a new source of potential friction with China, the United States said on Friday that it was ready to step into a tangled dispute between China and its smaller Asian neighbors over a string of strategically sensitive islands in the South China Sea.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking in Vietnam at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation, or Asean, said, “The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea.”

The United States, she said, was prepared to facilitate multilateral negotiations to settle competing claims over the islands — among them the Spratly and Paracel islands — something sought by Vietnam, which has had deadly clashes with China over them. In 1988 warships from China and Vietnam traded fire in the Spratly Islands, sinking several Vietnamese boats and killing dozens of sailors.

China’s maritime ambitions have expanded along with its military and economic muscle. It has long laid claim to islands in the South China Sea because they are rich in oil and natural gas deposits. And it has put American officials on notice that it will not brook foreign interference in the waters off its southeastern coast, which it views as a “core interest” of sovereignty.

Tensions also flared on a more familiar front, North Korea, with Mrs. Clinton accusing that country of “provocative, dangerous behavior” while a North Korean official threatened a “physical response” to joint American-South Korean naval exercises off the Korean Peninsula and Japan this weekend.

“This is not defensive training” said the spokesman, Ri Tong-il, who noted that the United States would mobilize one of its most formidable nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the George Washington. “It is a grave threat to the Korean Peninsula and also to the region of Asia as a whole.”

While the harsh words between North Korea and the United States predictably dominated this meeting, Mrs. Clinton’s comments about the South China Sea turned a spotlight on a less visible source of conflict in the region.

For decades, China has sparred with Southeast Asian nations over control of 200 tiny islands, rocks and spits of sand that dot these waters. In 1974 China seized the Paracel islands from Vietnam, and in January it announced plans to develop the islands for tourism — ratcheting up tension with Vietnam, which has never recognized China’s territorial claims.

Vietnam’s strategy has been to “internationalize” the dispute by bringing in other players and forcing China to negotiate in multilateral forums. Mrs. Clinton’s announcement that the United States would be willing to play a part was a significant victory for the Vietnamese.

But it could irritate Washington’s relations with Beijing, which were frayed by the announcement of the joint naval exercises off the Korean Peninsula. Last March, the Chinese government told two visiting senior Obama administration officials, Jeffrey A. Bader and James B. Steinberg, that it would not tolerate any interference in the South China Sea, an official said.

Here's another website that gives a bit of background on the issues facing the South China Sea: http://volvbilis.wordpress.com/2010/...he-coming-war/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My initial gut reaction when I read this story was, "Why do they stand up now when they didn't fight for Tibet?" Then I decided to look at a map. My geography is a bit rusty, so I was a bit shocked when I realized the number of countries that are impacted by any dispute in the South China Sea (Note that Korea is North of this region).

US-based companies have a great deal of manufacturing in this part of the world. Check out your clothes, and if they're not made in India or China they're likely made in one of these affected countries: Taiwan, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia or the Phillipines. US energy companies also seem to have an interest in these waters. Somehow I think that the energy companies have more political pull than clothing manufacturers.

Any American businesses have more pull than a bunch of buddhist monks. Sure Tibet's land mass migh be more massive than all of the islands in the South China Sea put together, but it isn't exactly known for its impact on international trade. The following map shows that India is the only world power impacted by the dissapearance of Tibet.


They do have some substantial resources that China has tapped: Hydroelectric and geothermal energy, coal, chlorite and lithium deposits. But American companies don't seem to have a history of interest in Tibet's natural resources, explaining the lack of US military involvement that might have prevented the takeover.


So, it's apparent that the South China Sea has greater international importance than other regions that China has taken over. But just wha can the rest of the world do about it? And what will we decide to do? Seems like an interesting bit of news to follow.
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Why has the US chosen to take action with this dispute?
Economic interests. Open access to Asia is crucial for the continuance of the American way of life.
Quote:
How critical is this region to US trade?
Consider this: it's possible that over 80% of the stuff stocked by Wal-mart comes from this region.
Quote:
Does the US have the spare military strength to take on China, on any level?
I wasn't aware that the U.S. had any spare military strength. I'm pretty sure China does though.
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Can the US military have the strength to take on China without nukes?
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Can the US military have the strength to take on China without nukes?
Okay, what is meant by "take on"? Do you mean seize control of the South China Sea?

I'm sure it's possible without nukes. I'm certain the U.S. has a stronger naval force than China. What China has, however, is proximity. But if it came down to this, it wouldn't be pretty. North Korea would have a fit. If it got bad, China would probably retaliate economically. It wouldn't be pretty.

I don't think either side wants an all-out party in the South China Sea.

This could all just be sabre-rattling/politics. After all, China is poised to be the next superpower. I think the U.S. wants to let them know they're not afraid to use their own superiority.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes, it would start with taking control over the South China Sea, but I don't see any dispute with China as ending with the immediate threat. Any action would be opening a can of worms that I don't think the US is prepared to face.

Why do you think North Korea would become involved?

Seems like the US is trying to make more allies in the region. The US recently lifted a ban on contact with the Indonesian Special Forces Unit. Link to full NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/wo...html?ref=world
Quote:
U.S. Lifts Ban on Indonesian Special Forces Unit
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and NORIMITSU ONISHI
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The United States is lifting a ban of more than a decade on military contact with an elite Indonesian special forces unit implicated in past killings of civilians and other abuses, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Thursday, after meeting here with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.

The decision to lift the ban and to take steps toward training the unit, called Kopassus, was reached after intensive internal debate among the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department over whether it had truly left its brutal history behind.

The Indonesian government lobbied hard for an end to the ban, and officials dropped hints that the group might explore building ties with the Chinese military if the ban remained. The Pentagon had long pushed for the 1999 ban to be lifted, but met resistance from the State Department and White House.

For the most part, current criticism of the unit has been limited to human rights organizations. In the past decade, the military lost much of its political influence and power to the national police, whose abuses and corrupt practices have now become the focus of Indonesian society. The anticipated lifting of the ban on Kopassus drew little attention from the public, news media or politicians here. Indonesian rights organizations say that the unit has continued to commit abuses, especially in Papua, a mineral-rich island with a secessionist movement, since Indonesia began democratizing in 1998. They say that Kopassus has also been behind the kidnapping of human rights activists since 1998.

“The governments of Indonesia and the United States must be aware of the political violence involving Kopassus not only during the past military era, but during the current era of democracy,” said Usman Hamid, executive director of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, a private organization. “So far, not one single person in the military has been held accountable for past violations. Impunity is the weakest point in the democracy of Indonesia.”

Defense Department officials said they had received assurances from the Indonesian government that any member of the group who is credibly accused of abuses from now on would be suspended, and that any member convicted of abuse would be removed.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Why do you think North Korea would become involved?
I'm not suggesting they would with any certainty become involved in any capacity, just that they'd have a fit. They already have issues with the U.S. and South Korea doing operations in the region (though in the Yellow Sea/Sea of Japan or whatever). I can't imagine how they'd respond to the U.S. becoming aggressive to China in the same area—China being North Korea's main source of trade. I would imagine that the U.S. would want to use South Korea as a basis for operations considering they already have a military presence there.

Remember, North Korea is both isolated and paranoid.

I'm just throwing out all kinds of scenarios. I'm not sure how this would go down. It's all very curious.

Like I said, I don't think anyone wants anything to happen.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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To me the premise of this question seems to be "can the U.S. continue to bully the world in order to maintain it's economic interests?"

IMO, in the long run it's in our best interests, and the world's, for all countries to find better ways of cooperating and working with the rest of the world that flexing military muscle, regardless of who has the bigger, more enduring muscles.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Good points, all of them. You especially, BadNick.

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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
Remember, North Korea is both isolated and paranoid.
True, true.

Are there no current US bases in the Phillipines?
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BadNick View Post
To me the premise of this question seems to be "can the U.S. continue to bully the world in order to maintain it's economic interests?"
The U.S. spends more than it takes in, doesn't it? How long can they keep doing that? How long can they keep increasing military spending?
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The U.S. spends more than it takes in, doesn't it? How long can they keep doing that?
As long as the rest of the world is slightly less economically-sound? I bet someone else can answer this one better.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
As long as the rest of the world is slightly less economically-sound? I bet someone else can answer this one better.
The simple answer is: until interest payments cut too deeply into the budget.

When that happens the simplest options are: 1) cut spending, 2) default on loans, 3) raise taxes.

The second option is bad. It would drive the U.S.'s credit rating down, thus making it difficult to raise more funds for more toys.

The first option usually hurts poor people first.

The third option I think is heresy, or socialism, or unconstitutional or something.
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Old 07-23-2010, 08:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I believe Clinton is trying to change media focus from China (primarily) to the issues mentioned in the OP regarding Vietnam. Also Mrs. Clinton probably has her marching orders to sound strong and wait until China gets involved with something they can't accept from North Korea thus letting them take over North Korea, not us.

How could we think the US could get invlolved in a military conflict with China and expect to win? I do not believe our Government wants to do anything to piss off the Chinese leaders and rock the boat since China practically "owns" the US.

/C'mon we need all those Barbie dolls and those dumb ass plastic toys for McDonalds....and Walmart, Sears, K-mart/
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I wasn't aware that the U.S. had any spare military strength. I'm pretty sure China does though.

Read more: http://www.tfproject.org/tfp/general...#ixzz0uWke7VOI
We have 7 fleets, of which maybe half a fleet is needed for Iraq/Afghanistan.

With the US Navy we could demolish China's navy and take a giant chunk out of it's Air Force if not destroy it completely.

It'd be stupid to do, ruin both of us economically to the point of both sides lose.
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:34 AM   #14 (permalink)
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We have 7 fleets, of which maybe half a fleet is needed for Iraq/Afghanistan.

With the US Navy we could demolish China's navy and take a giant chunk out of it's Air Force if not destroy it completely.
Yes, but the proximity issue is a bitch. China could use several domestic locations for launching short- and medium- range missiles into the South China Sea. Didn't they recently shoot down a satellite?

Quote:
It'd be stupid to do, ruin both of us economically to the point of both sides lose.
Um, yeah.
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:41 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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here's a bit of background information, as much for my own reference as anything else (not terribly familiar with the south china sea)...and lo:

Quote:
More than half of the world's annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok, with the majority continuing on into the South China Sea.

Tanker traffic through the Strait of Malacca leading into the South China
Sea is more than three times greater than Suez Canal traffic, and well over five times more than the Panama Canal. Virtually all shipping that passes through the Malacca and Sunda Straits must pass near the Spratly Islands.(...)
South China Sea Shipping Lanes

here's a good resource of materials on the south china sea, more in depth than the "Security" bullet above:

WWW South China Sea Virtual Library




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Old 07-23-2010, 09:47 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Critical to trade, indeed....
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:42 AM   #17 (permalink)
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The problem is that, from the Chinese perspective, the US Navy (esp. the carriers and escorts) are just one, big, happy target. You heard right: target.

Thanks to the advent of the following:

1: High-speed antiship cruise-missiles. Weapons like the SS-N-22 "Sunburn" and it's successors are too fast, too maneuverable, and too stealthy for the Phalanx CIWS to defend against. The Navy has been quite forthright about this for years. We simply do not possess a defense against these weapons, one warhead from which could severely damage a carrier and destroy any smaller vessel. With semi-ballistic hypersonic warhead busses (ie the "Sizzler" variant of the Klub missile complex) now coming online, the Navy has more-or-less gone into Panic Mode to find something that can even detect, let alone intercept, such a weapon. Raytheon is working on a laser system, but says they're 5-7 years away from deployment at best. The Russian/Indian "BrahMos-I/-II" project is even more worrying, with a cruising speed which exceeds 5.2 Mach in the Brahmos-II. At those kinds of speeds, kinetic energy alone is a significant cause of damage, even discounting the explosive payload.

2: Ballistic anti-ship missiles. China's newest toy, with a sub-orbital impact velocity of over 10.0 Mach. The Navy admits bluntly that they have no defense against such a weapon, and cannot strike its' launchers due to the weapon's extended range.

3: Rocket-propelled bottom-rising mines. These are typically buried in the sediment of the seabed (rendering them undetectable to minesweeper's sonar) and are triggered by the magnetic-field distortion of a large ship overhead. Most types detonate approx. 100' below the ship's keel, creating a rising column of expanding gasses (along with a powerful shock wave) which is capable of breaking the keel of any ship afloat. These mines are undetectable until they fire, and unstoppable once they do.

4: 2nd Generation guided supercavitating torpedoes. A guided torpedo with a short range (5-7 miles), but with a closing speed of over 200mph, this weapon is designed to do two things: distract and disorient attacking submarines (by forcing them to maneuver radically to avoid the weapon, requiring them to cut the control wires of any weapons they have already fired) and to destroy carriers at close range. The Chinese have proven multiple times that the extremely quiet diesel-electric attack subs (running new German and Swedish powerplants) can and -do- approach to within firing range of this weapon. The first time was 4-ish years ago, but Chinese D-E attack boats have repeatedly surfaced within striking range of US CBG's since, having approached under electric power and remained undetected until they broke the surface.

Since the invention of the anti-ship cruisemissile, carriers have been nothing but targets. The Falkland Islands War should have been a "Billy Mitchell Moment" for the major navies of the world, but was mostly ignored (and for most of the same reasons Mitchell was). The price will be paid in the next war.


Basically, short of a nuclear engagement, we have no military means of stopping the Chinese from doing whatever they like within their own naval sphere of influence. They've never been very good at projecting power beyond their own territorial waters, and are still somewhat deficient in this*. However, everything with 1,000 miles of the Chinese mainland is essentially theirs. If nukes are off the table, the only potential leverage we have over the Chinese is economic, and while our currencies are closely tied the Chinese posess a growing economy (which we don't) and a huge domestic manufacturing capability (which we also don't). Any economic action taken against China would hurt us -far- worse than it would hurt them, and don't think Mr. Hu et al aren't aware of that.



* The new Aircraft Carrying Heavy Cruiser currently undergoing final fit-out may change this, in part.

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Old 07-23-2010, 11:42 AM   #18 (permalink)
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^^ This is what I was talking about/referring to...just said by someone who actually knows stuff.
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Old 07-23-2010, 12:36 PM   #19 (permalink)
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A good read on the subject:

The War Nerd: This Is How the Carriers Will Die (Updated Version) - By Gary Brecher - The eXiled

Quote:
The Chinese military has developed a ballistic missile, Dong Feng 21, specifically designed to kill US aircraft carriers: “Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.” That’s the US Naval Institute talking, remember. They’re understating the case when they say that, with speed, satellite guidance and maneuverability like that, “the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased.”

You know why that’s an understatement? Because of a short little sentence I found farther on in the article—and before you read that sentence, I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you’ll think hard about what it implies. Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

That’s right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I’ve argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they’re Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.
Quote:
Well, instead of just paging through Jane’s and drooling over the Harpoon’s range and 221-kg warhead (don’t bother lying, I spent years doing that stuff myself and I know), think about what that weapons means in terms of this key sentence from my last story: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.” Now put that together with the fact that the Harpoon, way back in the Disco Era, had a cool little feature called “pop-up.” And what it meant is that the Harpoon itself worked as a ballistic missile. So even in our own inventory, we’ve had a weapon lying around for decades that could have taken out all our carriers.

What “pop-up” means is-well, it’s actually kind of cool and for once I can talk my old fave, hardware, without feeling like a tool. So anyway, the Harpoon has an interesting trajectory. It’s fired from vertical or diagonal tubes on the deck or the hold of surface ships, but there are other models that can be launched from aircraft or even subs. If you’ve seen video of a harpoon launch, you see it zoom up from the tube, then slide down to fly level, just above the waves, so’s to avoid enemy radar.

But once the Harpoon’s own radar has spotted the target, does it keep flying level to slam into the side of the ship? Nope. I’ll quote from the owner’s manual: “Once a target has been located and the seeker locked…the missile climbs rapidly to about 1800m before diving on the target (”pop-up maneuver”).”

In other words, the Harpoon does a last-minute transformation from wave-skimmer to ballistic missile. If you diagrammed its flight path, seen from the side, You’d get a capital “P” lying on its back, with the loop of the “P” being the pop-up maneuver.

The reason the Harpoon was designed to hit the target from above rather than the side is simple: a ships defenses are configured to stop planes (and missiles, even though they don’t work against missiles and everybody knows it) coming in diagonally or horizontally. To repeat that sentence again–and I’m going to keep repeating it till everybody realizes what it means–”ships currently [just like in 1977 when the Harpoon entered service] have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

So we have the Navy’s own weapons system testifying against it: way back in Carter’s time the Navy bought a weapon that was designed to hit ships like a ballistic missile, yet now, forty years later, USN ships have no defense against ballistic missiles.
Edited to add: More good info from Fred Reed:

http://www.fredoneverything.net/DeadCarriers.shtml

Quote:
Any military buff knows that the Navy cannot defend itself against these. It says it can. It has to say it can. In fleet exercises against submarines, the subs always win—easily. The Pentagon has been trying to invent defenses against ballistic missiles since the days of Reagan (remember Star Wars?) with miserable results. If you have close friends in the Navy, ask them over a few beers what scares the bejesus out of them. Easy: Swarms of fast, stealthy, sea-skimming cruise missiles with multi-mode terminal guidance.

Add to the brew that today’s ships are fragile, based on the assumption that they will never be hit. Go aboard a WWII battleship like the Iowa, BB-61 (I have) and you will find sixteen-inch belt armor and turrets designed to withstand an asteroid strike. Now go aboard a Tico-class Aegis boat (I have). You will find an electronic marvel with big screens in a darkened CIC and an amazing SPY-1 phased-array radar that one burst of shrapnel would take out of commission for many months.

Now note that cruise missiles have ranges in the hundreds of miles. Think: Persian Gulf. A cruise missile can be boxed and mounted on a truck, a fast launch, or a tramp steamer. The Chinese ballistic missile has a range of 1200 miles, enough to keep carriers out of aircraft range of Taiwan. I wonder whether the Chinese have thought of that?
Quote:
So: Does the Navy say to Congress, “We really aren’t of much use any longer. We suggest that you scrap the ships and put the money into something else”? Mankind doesn’t work that way. The appeals of tradition, ego, and just plain fun run high. (Never underestimate the importance of ego and fun in military policy.) A CVBG is a magnificent thing, just not very useful. The glamor of night flight ops, planes trapping ker-whang!, engines howling at full mil, thirty knots of wind over the flight deck, cat shots throwing fighters into the air—this stuff appeals powerfully to something deep in the male head. The Navy isn’t going to give this up.

Thus it can’t admit that its day comes to a close, whether it knows it, suspects it, or refuses to think about it. The carrier is forever. Unless one gets sunk.

Which (I suspect) is unlikely, because the admirals won’t risk the test. I don’t know what Iran has but, if a shoot-out came, and half a dozen ships appeared on international television smoking and listing with large holes in them, that would be the end of the Navy’s credibility. Remember what happened in when an Iraqi fighter hit the USS Stark with two French Exocet missile: The missiles worked perfectly, and the Stark’s multitudinous and sophisticated defenses failed utterly. The Navy produced all manner of face-saving explanations.
Please note that the USS Stark was equipped with the Phalanx CIWS, and was unable to kill the Generation-1 Exocet.
Exocet: Subsonic, no terminal maneuvering, short range.
Sunburn/Sunstroke/Sizzler/Brahmos: High Supersonic-Hypersonic, nasty-ass terminal maneuvers, long range.

Good article on the USS Stark incident, with details of the Exocet's performance and the Stark's inability to counter it:

http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id344.htm

Last edited by The_Dunedan; 07-23-2010 at 01:52 PM..
The_Dunedan is offline  
Old 07-28-2010, 05:27 AM   #20 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I got the impression that there are island chains in that area that are claimed by the Philipines, by Vietnam, by Japan and by China.

So the best approach in a conflict might be to stand aside until the fireworks are over. That's my silly theory anyways.
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