By Li Shurui
The US officially quitted the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) on August 2, and now it is planning to deploy land-based medium-range missiles in the Asia Pacific, according to its Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s remark on August 3. Although he didn't specify a location, the news couldn't meet with less enthusiasm in the next few days as Australia, the ROK and the Philippines said no one after another from August 5 to 7, which denoted how unwelcome American missiles were in the Asia Pacific.
Why does the US want to deploy land-based medium-range missiles in the Asia Pacific? Rtd Brig Gen Xu Guangyu, senior advisor at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA), pointed out two reasons.
For one thing, on the strategic level, Washington wants to realize a kind of "strategic balance" in the Asia Pacific and secure more strategic advantages in order to make up for the "distance deficiency" of attacks launched by aircraft carriers, which can only strike within 1,000 km from shore to exert its deterrence. For another, in the global scope, by withdrawing from the INF Treaty, the US no longer has any restraint or scruple in beefing up its arsenal. What’s more, the deployment of land-based medium-range missiles will make up for its weak links and further maintain its military domination in the world.
It sounds like a good plan but reality isn't so rosy. Financial Times, an English-language international daily newspaper headquartered in the UK, analyzed, quoting an expert with the American Arms Control Association(ACA), that although the US was keen on deploying medium-range missiles in the Asia Pacific, the reality was that no country in the region needed such weapons. Neither was the deployment authorized by the American congress nor was any ally ready to accept it. So far Australia, the ROK and the Philippines have made it clear that they wouldn't deploy America's land-based medium-range missiles on their territory. The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte even made the tough statement that Manila would never allow Washington to deploy nuclear weapons and medium-range missiles on the Philippine territory. Analysts said Japan, considering public reaction to missile deployment, might reject the US proposal as well.
“Chances were slim that Asian countries would accept the deployment of American land-based medium-range missiles as every nation would put its own interests first,” Rtd Brig Gen Xu commented, "Accepting the deployment means the country will become a target of strike once a war broke out amid the contest of medium-range missiles". Besides, once a nation agrees, that might trigger a round of medium-range missile race in the Asia Pacific and destroy regional peace and stability, which would be against Asian countries' wish for peaceful development. Even if some country did accept the deployment, the US would have to pay a high price for it and explain to other regional countries.
Yuri Shvetkin, Deputy Chairman of the Defense Affairs Committee in Russian State Duma said Esper's remarks once again proved that Washington has no intention to observe the INF Treaty and it even planned to create tension in the Asia Pacific, to which Moscow definitely would not just look on with folded arms.
Quitting the INF Treaty, stepping up the deployment of medium-range missiles and shifting the focus to the Asia Pacific - the series of movements taken by the US are sending dangerous signals to the world. This obsession with absolute, all-round military superiority and super hegemony has made the US the biggest source of instability and uncertainty in the Asia Pacific region and the world at large. Its actions that go completely counter to the global trend of peace and development and against the tide of the times will eventually end in failure.