Following up on yesterday’s post about the Obama administration’s preliminary moves to sell arms to Vietnam as the latest example of the White House effort to ensure a bellicose legacy rivaling that of previous Republican administrations, a story from Reuters:
Vietnam hosts a defense symposium this week attended by top American arms manufacturers, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama and as Washington weighs whether to lift an arms embargo on its former enemy.
Secrecy has surrounded the event staged by the communist country and attended by firms including Boeing (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N). It coincides with the biggest arms buildup in the country since the Vietnam War.
There has been no mention in state-controlled media and defense reporters are not covering the forum. Efforts by Reuters to gain permission to attend have been unsuccessful and Vietnam’s defense ministry could not be reached for comment.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think-tank, which tracks defense trade over five-year periods, Vietnam’s total arms imports during 2011-2015 represented a 699 percent jump from 2006-2010.
The World Socialist Web Site adds some context:
On Tuesday, in an open military provocation, the Obama administration authorised the US Navy to send a guided-missile destroyer into the 12-nautical-mile territorial zone surrounding Chinese-held Fiery Cross Reef, located in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea. The operation was carried out on the fraudulent pretext of “freedom of navigation”—that is, the assertion by US imperialism that it has the right to send its military forces anywhere it chooses, at any time, in Chinese-claimed waters.
Yesterday’s action achieved its real aim of ratcheting up military tensions in the Asia-Pacific. The Chinese military responded by scrambling at least two J-11 fighter jets. Chinese pilots reportedly issued warnings to the American destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence, to leave Chinese territory or face engagement. The Chinese Navy dispatched three warships, but there have been no reports that the rival vessels came into contact.
These developments represent a sharp escalation. The US Navy carried out a “freedom of navigation” mission last October in Chinese-claimed waters around Subi Reef in the South China Sea and a second operation in January, near Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain. On those occasions, China did not react militarily but issued strongly-worded diplomatic protests. The response to the intrusion near Fiery Cross Reef indicates that, from this point on, US provocations will be engaged by Chinese forces, posing the danger of a military clash.
Fiery Cross Reef is one of the most sensitive of all the disputed territories. It has been held by China since 1988, but is still claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. Tensions have grown since 2011 as a result of the US “pivot to Asia” and Washington’s development of closer military ties with Vietnam and the Philippines.
And then there’s that other — and primary — Cold War adversary, no longer proclaiming allegiance to the Marxism that China and Vietnam still espouse.
The latest provocation from BBC News:
Russia’s foreign ministry says US activation of a European missile defence shield in Romania, scheduled for Thursday, violates a treaty on nuclear forces.
A ministry statement quoted by Interfax news agency said it was a breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987.
The US says the Aegis system is a shield to protect Nato from long-range missiles and is no threat to Russia.
Romania is hosting part of the system.
A ceremony will be held at a Nato airfield in Deveselu, southern Romania, on Thursday to mark the start of Aegis operations there.
Meet the Brave New World, same as the old one, with defense contractors the primary beneficiaries of both.