Without any missile host in the Pacific, the new US strategy seeks to arm Japan against China
Without any missile host in the Pacific, the new US strategy seeks to arm Japan against China

Without any missile host in the Pacific, the new US strategy seeks to arm Japan against China

The United States is struggling to find allies in the Indo-Pacific region who would be willing to host its medium-range missiles (IRBM), a new report has found.

The report from the US-based think tank RAND Corporation, close to the Pentagon, looks at the likelihood that Pacific countries will agree to host US IRBMs, the pros and cons of potential alternatives and the most feasible alternative.

The report finds that the US strategy, which relies on an ally that permanently agrees to host these terrestrial IRBMs, is bound to fail due to its inability to find a willing partner in the Pacific region.

The author of the report concludes that in the absence of willing hosts, Washington should encourage Japan to develop its own missile arsenal to threaten Chinese ships, thus using Japan as a piece in its unhindered war against China.

After the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, it sought to develop and install ground-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km.

It immediately sparked a debate about where the United States will place these missiles. Since China was not a signatory to the INF and had developed its own missiles, the Americans saw the eye on the Indo-Pacific region.

The author of the report looks at the likelihood of US allies in the Indo-Pacific region – Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand – hosting its IRBMs to counter the Chinese threat, but finds them all reluctant. .

He also explores alternatives to permanently basing U.S. missiles on Allied territories, but finds disadvantages of each alternative and therefore recommends that Japan develop an arsenal of ground-based anti-ship standoff missile capabilities at the instigation of the United States.

In the report published on Monday, the author claims that “the likelihood of hosting such systems is very low as long as current domestic policy and regional security trends persist,” referring to Thailand, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan.

As long as Thailand “continues to have a military-backed government pursuing closer ties with China,” the United States “will not want Thailand to host GBIRMs,” it noted.

In the Philippines, as long as a president “continues a policy toward the United States and China similar to President Rodrigo Dutertes, the Philippines is” extremely unlikely to accept US GBIRMs. “

The South Korean government shares ties with China, so Seoul is also “highly unlikely” to accept hosting US missiles in the midst of “a general deterioration in US-ROK relations.”

Australia’s historical ties to the United States mean the possibility cannot be ruled out, but “its historical reluctance to host permanent foreign bases and its distance from continental Asia make this unlikely.”

Japan is willing to “strengthen its own defense capabilities against China,” but is reluctant to accept any increase in the U.S. military presence or “deployment of weapons that are explicitly offensive in nature,” the report said.

The report suggests that in order to continue pursuing Indo-Pacific GBIRMs, the strategy most likely to succeed will be “to help Japan develop an arsenal of ground-based anti-ship missile capabilities”.

“This would be the first step in a long-term US strategy to encourage Japan to acquire similar longer-range missiles,” it said.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) said on Tuesday that the country should deploy surface-to-surface medium-range missiles in Hokkaido’s northernmost prefecture to deter missile attacks from China, Russia and North Korea.

Masahisa Sato, the head of the LDP’s foreign affairs department, made the remarks at an event in Washington organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank.

In recent years, Washington has made a concerted effort to make inroads into the strategic Indo-Pacific region, with the sole purpose of countering the emergence of Chinese dragons. However, the experiments have not yielded results.

In an effort to increase its diplomatic engagement with the Pacific countries, the Biden administration is set to host leaders from the region later this year, a senior U.S. official said Monday.

Kurt Campbell, who serves as coordinator of Indo-Pacific affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, announced this at a summit between the United States and New Zealand, amid rising tensions with China.

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