Why the Americans need the EDCA bases and Why We cannot allow them to stay

Revised Statement to the Forum on “Bases of Insecurity and the Taiwan Question”

By Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan | 09173364366 | adolfopaglinawan@yahoo.com

Part Three : Towards Our National Insecurity

After many could not believe that the purpose of EDCA Bases was for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), geopolitical karaokists are now belting the lyrics of “deterrence”.

But deterrence against what? We have no issues with China that cannot be solved by bilateral negotiations or creative diplomacy our Department of Foreign Affairs has been most wanting. I also believe that China will use only peaceful means to carry out its reunification with Taiwan.

It is only the United States that is itching to war with China and it is using Taiwan and the Philippines as click-baits towards that goal. Without the Philippines and Taiwan acting up against China and risking an accidental or intended violent confrontation, there is no possibility of war.

Insofar as the Philippines is concerned, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the United States what he called “ironclad” commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The trouble with this agreement is that the genie is only allowed outside of the bottle in case of an actual armed attack on any aircraft, public vessels, and personnel, including the Coast Guards in the Pacific.

This why the US is so interested in having joint patrols with the Philippines, it even wants the Japanese and the Australians to join in. Austin even prodded Marcos to make an accident happen soon, saying “Mr. President, we will always have your back in the South China Sea…”

But before any escalation happens, let us weigh the odds by summarizing the issues.

Stakes in War

Barely 20 years from the Third Taiwan Straits Crisis, the September 1, 2020 US Department of Defense report to the American Congress spoke of a China developing a military by mid-century that is equal to—or in some cases superior to—the U.S.

“The PRC has marshalled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the PLA in nearly every respect. Indeed, as the report showed, China is already ahead of the United States in certain areas such as:

  1. Shipbuilding: The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020.
  2. Land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles: The PRC has more than 1,250 ground launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States currently fields one type of conventional GLBM with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers and no GLCMs.
  3. Integrated air defense systems: The PRC has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems—including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems—that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system architecture.”

Since 2014, China has carried out several tests of its hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). The HGV, the DF-ZF, can be configured to carry a nuclear or conventional warhead and China claims it is precise enough travelling ten times the speed of sound, to attack ships at sea thereby earning the title of “Ship-Killer”.

Currently, the DF-ZF is carried by the DF-17 HGV-armed MRBM, which was first fielded in 2020. China continues to develop its hypersonic weapon technology, with the testing of an ICBM-range DF-2F HGV that traveled 40,000km in July 2021, flying around the world and barely missing a target back to where it was launched in the Gobi Desert in China.

In June 2022, a US Department of Defense report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) indicated that China possesses 400 DF-26 intermediate-Range Ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The DOD estimates that the DF-26 has a range of 2,500 miles, rendering it capable of striking Guam, giving it the nickname “Guam Killer” by Chinese media.

On August 4, 2022, China began a three-day exercise in which they launched 11 ballistic missiles. This came after Pelosi visited Taiwan against the multiple threats from Chinese leadership.

DF27 vs USA’ Broken Arrow

Recently, one leaked Pentagon intelligence document obtained by Navy Times, shows that Beijing tested an HGV this year that carry a “high probability” of besting American ballistic missile defenses – “Beijing’s February test saw the DF-27 cover 2,100 kilometers, or 1,300 miles, in just 12 minutes.”

The Pentagon believes that land attack and antiship variants have already been deployed as its own assessments have warned of even longer DF-27 ranges.”

This is significant because Bloomberg has exposed Air Force Acquisition Chief Andrew Hunter wrote the House Armed Service’s tactical air and land forces subcommittee: “After a rocky development and a recent failed test [its second], the Air Force has decided it will not go on to buy [Lockheed Martin’s] hypersonic Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)….”

In another Navy Times update, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command leader Adm. John Aquilino admitted the Pentagon is behind Beijing on hypersonic weapons and the systems to defend against them, agreeing that progress “needs to go faster.”

The man charged with potentially leading a war against an ascendant power called the velocity of China’s nuclear breakout “concerning,” but said direct conflict is not inevitable.

Michael O’Hanlon, writing for Brookings Institution, agrees (!) but quickly points out – “Agreed, though this system is really relevant only for defending China, not for projecting power abroad.”

In a conventional warfare, therefore, this means China can intercept any approaching threat by air and water, even without launching a single ship or aircraft.

The scenario is very different from when Bill Clinton sent two aircraft carrier groups, the Nimitz and the Independence to de-escalate the Third Taiwan Crisis of 1995 and 96.

Today, when China so decides, no ship or any surface platform can stand between its mainland and Guam – Taiwan, Japan and South Korea included.

O’Hanlon wrote his piece in 2020, much ahead of the blockade that China simulated after the Pelosi visit to Taiwan in 2022, but he foresaw a deadly scenario.

“Were China to use a partial blockade, cyberattacks, and some menacing missile strikes against Taiwan in an attempt to coerce it into capitulation and forced reunification, for example, it is not clear to me that the United States could confidently defeat that PLA strategy.

“Geography works heavily to China’s advantage in such a scenario.

“To win, we might wind up feeling the need to attack Chinese submarines in port, missile launchers on mainland soil, and Chinese command and control networks that are also used for China’s nuclear arsenal.

“Escalation could certainly ensue; China could easily respond with attacks against U.S. bases in Japan or beyond. Any such scenario would be highly fraught and not easily or confidently won.”

Besides DF-5 ICBMs that can cross the Pacific eastwards to hit the United States, China has already perfected its DF31s and DF41s.

The DF-31A can carry a single 1,000 kt warhead, or up to three 20-150 kt MIRV warheads and has a range of 11,000+ km, far enough to reach Los Angeles from Beijing.

The DF-41 (CSS-20), capable of being armed with ten or twelve MIRV warheads, is China’s newest addition to its nuclear arsenal. With an estimated range between up to 15,000 km, it can reach the Atlantic Ocean from Beijing across the Pacific Ocean, surpassing New York City and exceeding the range of the US’s LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM, to become the world’s longest-range missile.

But what is more ominous is that it has improved its MIRV system to the maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) type of warhead for ballistic missiles that is capable of maneuvering and changing its trajectory. MaRV uses a terminal active homing guidance that can autonomously track a ground target to make sure the missile does not miss it, even with frequent trajectory shifts.

he MaRV technology was first developed by the US, with a prototype AMaRV built     by McDonnell Douglas. Of the four made, three were launched by Minuteman-1 ICBMs on 20 December 1979, 8 October 1980 and 4 October 1981. It was re-adapted for the Pershing II, but program has been retired. Again, China has perfected it.

Deterrence, my foot!

So, who is even talking deterrence on the side of the United States against China?

By the Pentagon’s own admission, the United States “The United States currently fields one type of conventional ground launched ballistic missile with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers and no ground launched cruise missile?”

What can the HIMARS or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System deter? It could not even hit BRP Pangasinan, the navy junk the recent Balikatan used as target.

What has President Marcos Junior’s prepositioning of four additional and five original EDCA bases done to help the security of our country?

Notice that the US is very particular about improving airstrips more than anything else, and has prioritized on locations that jots out to the South China Seas and Taiwan. Unwittingly for us, they were already testing their F22 Raptors and F35 Lightnings on our airstrips. Their intention is to make Northern Luzon and Palawan “aircraft carriers”, shielded by a third independent country, the Philippines.

Let us not mince words here – EDCA bases are American bases.

Unlike the defense cooperation agreements (DCAs) the Bulgaria, Romania and Australia signed with the United States, we have no say on what the Americans can do with these bases. There are exclusion clauses on paper but the US does not have to seek permission nor even inform us of what they can position there

It means that these EDCA bases, when populated especially by US aircrafts and offensive weaponry, can trigger the Caroline principle justifying a preemptive attack by China on any of the EDCA bases.

Further to that, the Caroline test that is a 19th-century formulation of customary international law, reaffirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, said that the necessity for preemptive self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

That means total annihilation.

In recent history, Sass Rogando Sassot said war has only occurred where the United States has military presence. For the past 20 years, the Americans have spent $6.4 trillion creating wars around the world.

 Bongbong Marcos has officially placed his own country and people in extreme harm’s way with extreme prejudice – he has allowed the enemy not only to enter our house but to occupy the bedroom.

Now, with EDCA, we are sleeping with the enemy.

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