The events that are now taking place in Washington, among other things, lead to deliberate or not deliberate leaks of sufficiently serious documents, which to one degree or another reveal the plans or actions of the United States in solving certain international problems. Such leaks have occurred and are occurring in most countries, where work begins to remove leadership at the presidential or prime minister level.
It is clear that people of this level do not sign "small" documents. Any document signed by the president plays a role not only in domestic but also in foreign policy. In their desire to remove the country's leadership, the opponents use all means, including secret documents. This is exactly what happened in the United States earlier this week.
In order to immediately exclude the version about the stuffing and intrigues of foreign intelligence services, I will say that the document was not "stolen" from Trump's desk, but officially declassified by the US government and is in the public domain. This is the 2018 Indo-Pacific Strategy. Don't be confused by the presence of a specific year in the title. Such documents are not drawn up for one year; this is a strategic document of rather long use. At least during the term of the incumbent president of the United States, for sure.
Where and why this document appeared
This document was developed by the US NSC (National Security Council - ed.) During 2017 and approved by President Donald Trump in January 2018. The level of secrecy is appropriate, the document was supposed to be declassified only in 2042. However, on the evening of January 12, this document appeared on the American segment of the Internet. True, with numerous fixes.
The fact that President Trump worked very carefully with this document is evidenced by the events that took place in the region almost throughout the presidency of Donald Trump. And the very fact that the US President's visa was issued immediately after the publication of the 2018 US National Defense Strategy confirms a serious examination of this document at the headquarters of the US Army.
The American media already have versions about the developers of this document. Among them are quite high-ranking officials from the intelligence and defense ministries who have just resigned after the events in Washington or left their post after 2018. But this question does not interest us today. Rather, it is a question of the relationship between Republicans and Democrats of the United States.
It remains to clarify the region referred to in the document. This is virtually the entire area from the west coast of the United States to the west, and this is not a typo, namely the west coast of India. That is, the area includes two oceans at once! Accordingly, the attentive reader already roughly understands which countries will be mainly discussed.
Who are the key opponents or possible allies for the United States in the Indo-Pacific region?
Let me remind you that the strategy was developed in 2017. Therefore, we have a unique chance to consider the plan and the implementation of this plan together. Although, as it seems to me, during his presidency, Donald Trump never managed to bring many plans to life, and this, given the temperament of the American president and his experience in big business, somewhat cooled the excitement and, possibly, prevented serious events in the region, which were planned during that period.
So, no matter how offensive it may be for us, the main enemy of the United States in the region is not Russia, but the People's Republic of China. According to the document, Washington does not take Russia into account in this region. Why? The strong see the strong. The elephant sees the elephant, but does not see the mouse. True, I heard somewhere that elephants suffer most from mice ...
Where are the "US national interests" today? The document does not directly say about this, but in the context of the confrontation with the PRC, one can understand to which territories these interests extend.
First, the United States must dominate the air and sea within the first island chain. Second, the US Navy must protect US allies, including Taiwan, from Chinese aggression. Third, America must dominate all areas outside the first island chain!
Naturally, a quite reasonable question arises for the Russian reader: "How does this concern us?" Alas, it does. The Americans refer to the "first chain of islands" all large archipelagos that are close to the Asian continent. And, if you look from the north, this chain of islands begins from our Kamchatka. It ends with the Malay Peninsula, the Japanese archipelago, Taiwan and the Northern Philippines. By the way, the document quite correctly points out that the PRC has territorial claims to many uninhabited islands in this area.
The main target is Beijing
I am not at all surprised by this choice. China indeed and rightfully took the place of the USSR as a strategic enemy of the United States. And here the matter is not even in the strength of the PRC army, not in the successes of Chinese industry and science, not in the economic competition between American and Chinese firms.
China as an adversary for the Americans is "more familiar". Somehow we have already forgotten about the "competition of two systems", which we were told about in the Soviet Union. But China is a completely different economic and political system for the United States, and a system that is successfully developing and is no longer catching up with the United States, but competing with them.
To illustrate this thesis, I will cite an excerpt from the document:
How to maintain US strategic supremacy [...] and promote a liberal economic order, preventing China from creating new, illiberal spheres of influence and cultivating areas of cooperation to promote regional peace and prosperity.
This statement is practically no different from the expressions of American diplomats and politicians during the confrontation with the USSR. Replace China with the Soviet Union, and everything will immediately fall into place. For example, this is no longer suitable for modern Russia, since such a statement would violate the anti-Russian propaganda system that is being created now.
The struggle for the rights of liberal organizations in Russia implies their existence. In the "Chinese" version, one can safely speak about totalitarianism, and about ideological oppression, and about the state policy of destroying liberal thought. Moreover, the PRC can be blamed even when the Chinese government does not take any steps to expand its sphere of influence:
China will bypass international rules and regulations to gain an advantage.
What is so worried about American politicians and the military? What areas of Chinese life have suddenly become critical for Americans? In the USSR-USA confrontation, everything was more or less clear. Comparable Armed Forces, nuclear arsenals, number of carriers and other types of weapons. But the PRC ... The answer is also in the described document.
First, China's growing nuclear potential. This is indeed a serious threat to the United States. However, nuclear charges without an appropriate number of carriers are rather dangerous for US military bases in the region or for US allies in the region. Hence the second "concern" follows.
Second, an increase in the capabilities of long-range ballistic and cruise missiles. The presence of such carriers, coupled with the development of strategic aviation, makes the territory of the United States already vulnerable. And this is the main danger for the Americans. Striking one's own territory can cause an unpredictable response from the US population.
Third, the rapid development of the PLA Navy. American dominance time fleet the region has come to an end. Yes, today the American fleet is the strongest in the region, but without taking into account the capabilities of coastal anti-ship formations. Ashore, the Americans have no chance now. There is only one thing left - to take measures to suppress coastal anti-ship systems.
Fourth, the development of Chinese digital technologies. The presented document does not emphasize this, but there is one link that deserves our attention:
... Beijing's proliferation of digital surveillance, information control, and influence operations [which] will harm US efforts to advance our values and national interests in the Indo-Pacific and increasingly in the Western Hemisphere and at home.
We must pay tribute to the American specialists who correctly predicted three years ago the increase in the military activity of the PRC and the United States in the South China Sea. Moreover, they pushed the US president to take some actions, which are discussed below.
A few thoughts outside the document
The South China Sea has long been a zone of tacit disputes between the United States and China. But, if China openly makes claims to uninhabited islands, while, contrary to international law, simply equips its settlements and fishing villages on them, the Americans are forced to act through their allies. Simply because it is legally easier.
At the same time, any appearance of Chinese settlements on uninhabited islands, if it is possible to protect them with the help of military force, strengthens the position of China. It seems to me that understanding this fact became one of the reasons for the trade war between the United States and China. Trade as one of the ways to put pressure on the governments of other countries. Quite American.
Another way of war with China, the Americans made the supply of military equipment and weapons to their allies in the region, in particular Taiwan. The logic is clear enough. The American navy has done a great job in the "scare" situation with the DPRK. Taiwan's confidence in defending against the PRC was shaken. So the "humanitarian" deals of American companies began to supply modern weapons systems to the island.
And one more observation. The Americans have significantly increased diplomatic pressure on the PRC. It is in matters of relations at the regional level. We can already talk about a diplomatic war.
This intractable Kim Jong-un
Again I will “offend” Russian patriots - in second place, according to the published document, North Korea - North Korea is among the enemies of the United States. The reason for such hatred, I think, is clear to everyone. Even in our country, for a long time, the attitude towards the DPRK was about the same as towards China of the model of the "cultural revolution". And many even today speak quite seriously about the concentration camp country and give examples of North Koreans fleeing south.
At the same time, they delicately keep silent about the fact that this has happened and is happening in almost all countries of the world. Someone is running illegally, while someone is quite legally moving from country to country and changing citizenship. There is no country in the world in which there would be no dissatisfied. Migration was, is and will be. And under what "sauce" it is served to the layman - this is a question for politicians.
The DPRK does not pose a threat to the United States at sea or in America itself. This is a purely regional adversary. And Pyongyang's second place is largely due to the demonstration of numerous tests not only of nuclear weapons, but also launch vehicles. It was these tests that showed the Americans their weakness as defenders of South Korea and Japan.
It was perfectly clear to everyone that during the land operation, the losses of the Americans would be catastrophic. And strikes on Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons will lead to a quick withdrawal of these countries from the war. Moreover, with all the advantages of Seoul, the option of seizing the south of the peninsula by the northerners was the most likely.
... North Korea's nuclear missiles and its declared intent to enslave South Korea pose a serious threat to (...) the United States and our allies.
The main task of the United States is very clearly defined as:
... to convince Kim's regime that the only way to survive is to give up nuclear weapons.
The question arises about the sanity of Americans. However, let's remember 2017. Even then, President Trump promised all sorts of punishments to the "anti-popular regime of Kim Jong-un", even then the American fleet threateningly deployed its missile launchers towards the DPRK, and then a campaign to intimidate the North Koreans began. That is, the conviction of the DPRK leadership to abandon nuclear, and possibly all other types of weapons of mass destruction, is a forced decision.
At the same time, all the US proposals “beautiful for Kim Jong-un” are completely refuted by the further plans outlined in the Strategy. Again, the Americans have proposed removing all types of weapons of mass destruction and cyber weapons from the peninsula. The Korean Peninsula is a zone of peace! Hurrah!
However, simultaneously with the destruction of weapons of mass destruction on the peninsula, the Americans planned to increase supplies to the South Koreans and Japanese of the most modern non-nuclear weapons. Thus, firstly, North Korea was losing its advantage in conventional weapons, and its nuclear-free status generally raised the question of the very preservation of the DPRK as a state.
Secondly, the Americans would get the right to safely use Korean territorial waters for operations against the DPRK. American ships are capable of defending against conventional Korean missiles.
Thirdly, the PRC would be deprived of quite serious support from the DPRK in confronting the United States.
Alas, the "young North Korean dictator" did an excellent job of calculating the Americans. Starting with the formidable approach and the rapid withdrawal of the American fleet and ending with the big American "sweets" that Trump promised during personal negotiations with Kim Jong-un. If you look at the plans, then everything converges, but if you look at the implementation - Trump's complete failure.
The main US ally in the region
In order to immediately dot all the "i" s, I will quote part of a quote from the document under consideration, which says that the United States should focus on the following:
Accelerating India's growth and ability to serve as a networked security provider and major defense partner; strengthen a strong strategic partnership with India, backed by a strong Indian army capable of working effectively with the United States and our partners in the region to address common interests.
A strong India in cooperation with like-minded countries would act as a counterbalance to China.
Agree, in a situation where there is no possibility of escalating the military component, it is logical to use those who can create such a situation. India is ideally suited for this. Comparable population, military and economic potential, and geographic location. Moreover, the influence of the United States there is quite tangible.
By the way, I do not exclude that the next confrontation between China and India in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, which resulted in armed clashes between the border guards of these countries, is the fruit of American pressure on New Delhi. The Americans have long been repeating that China's territorial claims in these areas are unfounded.
Among other things, American analysts do not take into account the long-standing and bloody "love" of India and Pakistan. But Pakistan is the PRC's ally! Therefore, China is quite capable of neutralizing India in a land war, even with the support of the Indian army from the United States and NATO. And the Americans have strengthened this support. The Indian army is now receiving modern weapons from American firms at a frantic pace.
Another component of the plan outlined in the Strategy looks much more promising. This is the creation of a powerful American naval group in the Indian Ocean and adjacent areas of the Pacific Ocean. A certain square of defense. USA-Australia-India-Japan. Thus, an area that is really important in all respects falls under the control of the Americans. By the way, this has already happened under President Bush.
Geopolitics in its "underwater part" is much more interesting than in the surface. In particular, I hardly touched on Russia, but those who remember the events of 2018-2019 have already guessed the reasons for the increased attention of our government to the defense of Kamchatka and the Far East as a whole. Alas, sometimes you have to "patch holes at an accelerated pace." Respond to emerging threats.
Overall, the 2018 US Indo-Pacific Strategy is an excellent example of planning strategic directions for government agencies responsible for geopolitics. This is a "string" on which "beads" of events of many ministries and departments will be strung in the future. This is the “lighthouse light” that sailors look to in stormy weather.
In general, the plans of the Trump administration in the described region have failed. Maybe that's why they declassified the Strategy on the eve of the inauguration of the new US president. As if hinting that the strategy will change, and this old one is just historical document. You can assume a lot and ... nothing. We have what we have.
However, I have a completely different explanation for the appearance of this particular document in the public domain. Just yesterday, January 14, while listening to the speeches of the American congressmen on the events in Washington, I "stumbled" on the speech that China, Russia and a number of other countries would "throw firewood on the fire" of the riots.
To be honest, in my opinion, everything that is happening in the United States today is just a play put on by a rather inept director. The Americans are too "soft" nation for protests to develop into any real action. And all these paratroopers in the Capitol, calls to identify "internal terrorists", a wave of denunciations against relatives and neighbors are just an indicator of the "revolutionary spirit" of the Americans. Weak nation, no ridge.
The main rival of the United States today is China. The document, declassified by the government, is mostly about China. I think this is a preparation of public opinion to the idea that it is the Chinese and, in part, Russia who have destabilized the situation in the most democratic country in the world. It is doubtful that this idea will "take root", but the fact that it will be played out is beyond doubt ...