There is a point to this post. Wait for it…
Let’s start with this clip from an Australian morning show in 2010. Hillary met with Hamish and Andy for a very funny piece about the “gift” she received from the Australian people as Secretary of State. She’s relaxed, has a good sense of humor, seems genuinely authentic to me, Jon Stewart. But it gets better. Listen to the banter between the morning show hosts at the end of the clip and ask yourself what they must be thinking of Americans this year.
The reason I bring up this clip is because I read the editorial in the NYTimes International version this morning about the tempest brewing in the South China Sea. The piece, titled “Playing Chicken in the South China Sea“, is about a American surveillance plane’s “near miss” with two Chinese fighters while over the area recently. China has been building up islands and atolls and installing military bases on them. It’s making Indonesia and the Phillipines nervous.
Back in 2010, Clinton was an early advocate of staring down the Chinese before the tensions in the South China Sea got too touchy. That’s why she was in Australia. Her job as Secretary of State was to forge a better working partnership with the Australians to take a strong interest in area.
Why is the South China Sea so important? According to the NYT editorial:
“China has been behaving in a bellicose fashion in the South China Sea for some time as part of a sustained and increasingly dangerous effort to assert sovereignty over a vital waterway in which other nations also have claims. In a few weeks, an international arbitration court is expected to rule in a case brought against China by the Philippines. The outcome could have a profound effect on the struggle for control of the sea, which is rich in resources and carries $5 trillion in annual trade.”
That’s right, the South China Sea sees $5,000,000,000,000.00 worth of trade each year passing through its waters.
We children of the 60s, 70s and 80s know that the world is mostly water but we seem to ignore the part of the geography class that taught us about ‘straits’ and ‘canals’ and ‘trade routes’. Those trade routes haven’t changed since Magellan circumnavigated the globe nearly 500 years ago.
It’s why Hitler wanted control of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It’s why the Japanese wanted the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea, why it invaded the Phillipines and why Iwo Jima was such a big deal.Take a look at the map:
That map shows liquified natural gas trade routes through the region and I think we could all make a good case that maybe increasing oil and gas trade is not such a good idea because of global warming. We should be working on energy alternatives. But it is also true that we probably don’t want someone abruptly turning the spigots on and off in order to manipulate markets and bring us to our knees before we have time to boot the Republicans out of power and get on with alternative energy research in earnest.
Plus, presumably, there’s more to trade than fossil fuels.
I think you get my point. But if you don’t, it’s this: World War II never ended. It never ended in the North Atlantic, it never ended in the Eastern Mediterranean and it certainly hasn’t ended in the South China Sea. These areas are always going to be flashpoints as long as the world’s continents stay put.
You are free to disagree with me but you can’t argue with geography.
Who would you rather see in the White House? Someone who doesn’t think we should spend money on NATO or the woman who was proactively diplomatic on the South China Sea issues 6 years ago?
To me, it’s a no brainer. But at this point in time, the rest of the world is probably getting very concerned that there are a significant number of Americans who have no brains.