On the one hand, this story is so over-the-top astonishing that it has to be either a media hoax or there is a Seven Days In May military coup de tat in progress. On the other hand, if this story is on the level, I'm going to have to rummage through my mental closet to find my "Obama is incompetent and in over his head" paradigm in order to start worrying that he's about to provoke the Sino-Russo-Iranian all-out attack on the United States prematurely:
The U.S. has authorized a Navy warship to sail near islands built by [Red] China in disputed waters of the South China Sea, according to a U.S. defense official, a move that risks intensifying territorial tensions in the region.
A Navy patrol within a twelve-nautical mile zone surrounding the Chinese-made islands could happen soon, said the official, who discussed the decision on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials have repeatedly said that they will act to protect freedom of navigation in one of the world’s busiest commercial waterways.
Okay, I like that we're going to reassert freedom of the seas and cruise right through their usurped, artificial claims to 90% of a sea that washes up on at least five other countries....
....effectively annexing all their SCS coastlines. I'm not so overjoyed that we're only doing so with one ship....
....even if that is today's equivalent of what used to be known as a "carrier battle group". I guess O thought that sending the one we have left that isn't scrap and rusting in mothballs would be too evocative of the hated 1980s, even though it would serve as such a vivid reminder of why we NEVER want to revisit THOSE years again, and symbolically "right" their "wrongs" by allowing this flotilla to perish in a storm of DF-21D missiles. After all, it would only be "fair".
The patrol was approved by the White House National Security Council, according to the defense official. The U.S. has already flown Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the area....
....though not within the twelve-mile zones set by [Red] China.
I may have overestimated the size of the U.S. Navy "warship" assigned to this mission.
[Red] China has warned in recent weeks that any U.S. move inside the twelve-mile zone....
....in international waters....
.....would increase “the danger of miscalculation” and make it harder to resolve disputes over the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
i.e. The ChiComms' conquest of the South China Sea would technically be opposed, if only symbolically.
The question scintillating the minds of "analysts" and "experts" now is whether Beijing will send its coast guard or a naval task force after Red Barry's little dinghy. The following ChiComm statement seems to answer that question fairly definitively:
A recent editorial by the official Xinhua News Agency, suggested that the [Red] Chinese government might escalate its approach if the U.S. began sailing patrols near the islands.
“The U.S. move, if carried out, will leave [Red] China no choice but to beef up its defense capabilities,” Xinhua wrote.
Their threats, unlike those barely recognizable ones from President Dinghy (other than the devastatingly real ones hurled at Republicans), are quite real and will be backed up, but probably won't have to be because the threat will be more than sufficient deterrent.
And, sho' 'nuf:
The first defense official said that the so- called freedom of navigation patrol could be delayed if [Red] China deployed a number of ships in the region as a show of force.
Designed to stop Barack Obama's show of farce. Our enemy proudly deploys its mounting naval might, and we furtively stick one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer outside our burrow to rodentially dart its head around and then duck back undercover before it gets stepped on by a storm of DF-21D missiles.
Would save us a "carrier battle group," though.