Freedom of Navigation

UNCLOS allow “Freedom of Navigation” for innocent passage through straits that is commonly used for transit, even if it is within the territorial waters of on or more nation(s):
Example of such Straits are the Hormuz, Gibraltar, Florida, Bearings Straits and the English Channel.

PRC regards Taiwan Strait as “within it’s waters” since they do NOT regard Taiwan (ROC) as an independent state, but a “renegade province” of China, as do UN and the US (officially).

The US Navy keep on sending warships through Taiwan Strait to “claim their right” and provoke the PRC Government, although there are a perfectly good route through Luzon Strait that is not provoking anybody. (probably shorter, in most cases):

Just a thought experiment:
What if Iran should send their Navy Supply ship through Florida Strait when going to/from Venezuela? (Not the shortest way but to claim their right)

Or the Chinese or Russian Navy steamed through one of the passages between the Aleutian Islands?:

I think the headlines would be a foot high and screaming for action.
Or what do you think??

See how this one plays out.
UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth in South China Sea sparks Beijing threats (

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Sadly, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH won’t be calling in to an Australian port. But it is good to see the Poms at last showing off their naval power ‘East of Suez’. I welcome the RN’s presence in its old stomping grounds.

The United States is now completely energy independent, that is not the case for China and much of Europe

The United States is completely Food independent, That is not the case for China and much of Europe

The United States is also the least dependent nation on earth in terms of imports in relation to gdp and the least in need of critical importa. Sure we like buying cheap Chinese stuff on amazon but very little of what we import is a critical need.

What does all this mean? It means that we, America, need freedom in navigation the least yet we pay the most for it.

While everyone else in the world has become more dependent on world trade over the last few decades, North America has become less dependent.

Combine this with the fact that Biden has not appointed a marad chief or navy undersecretaries. He really does not care about freedom of navigation… nor does the majority of American citizens.

You are sick and tired of us navy gunboat diplomacy? You’re sick and tired of our “peacekeeping” missions around the world? Well so are most Americans.

We might pull out of China but first we’re gonna pull out of the Persian Gulf and Africa. Good luck to China getting all the food they need an energy they need without the U.S. Navy protection their their merchant fleet in the straight of hormuz.

What all this means is: careful what you wish for OP, you might just get it.



That’s a theory. But the fact that two NATO carrier strike groups have visited the Taiwan Strait in the last five months would seem to argue against the administration not caring about something.

The easiest thing for the present administration to do re: Taiwan and China would be to ignore the whole situation. For example, as far as I know, no NATO CSGs hovered near Hong Kong when the PRC took over. A policy decision was made to ignore the situation, for obvious reasons.

Yet, the USS Theodore Roosevelt cruised the Taiwan Strait back in March. Now, a NATO CSG is there. Activity which tie into words the G7 issued about China back in June. Words China responded to angrily.

The only reasons NATO ships would be in the Taiwan Strait is to either put Xi on notice to keep his hands off Taiwan, or put Xi on notice that the Taiwan Strait is an international waterway, or both.

There could be other, more subtle, reasons, but usually the simplest reason is the correct one for a given situation.

An example of "speak softly and carry a big stick” diplomacy?

I didn’t say that he doesn’t care about Taiwan. Personally, I think we will improve our relationship with our closest allies and will continue to put pressure on China. But the actions you talk about were planned before Biden took office and they will likely continue throughout his presidency due to inertia.

It’s not a theory that he doesn’t care about freedom of navigation. As VP he redirected funds from destroyers to litoral ships. As President, he’s said very little about naval policy. If he cared about it he would talk about it and appoint Navy undersecretaries, he hasn’t.

It’s not a theory about the American public not caring about freedom of navigation. The majority of American’s could not define the term. Lots of studies have been made on the public’s sea-blindness.

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Apparent it’s not a very high priority but it’s not known for sure why that’s the case.

It does seem somewhat implausible that given the vast resources of the federal government that something like this could be overlooked but your comment about inertia could be the better part of the explanation.

I recall reading about a some critical crisis in Eastern Europe being overlooked during the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis. You’d think with almost unlimited resources they’d be able to walk and chew gum but evidently that’ s not always the case.

The world needs to jump on that silly 9 dash line they just put on a map.
China needs the world so the world can do something.
Saying that the CCP are only interested in themselves so they could well turn it back into a Nth Korea…( until there is no CCP that is…)

Now we get into theories…

One theory is that the US Military is strong politically and the Navy no longer wants to maintain freedom of navigation (especially in the middle east), they want to engage China. They also want to have fewer destroyers and more mega-expensive-ships (e.g. supercarriers or the $8B zumwalt class) because that’s what defense contractors want.

Another theory is that the world has gotten so accustomed to the “normal” of an American-dominated order that we have all forgotten the historical norm: several smaller, competing powers and economic systems throughout Europe and Asia. As dislike for American policy by Bidens international friends (e.g. European liberals like @ombugge ) grows alongside growth in American seablindess there isn’t much desire for naval policy. This is the premise of Peter Zeihan’s book Disunited Nations.

A third theory is that the real beneficiaries of freedom of navigation is big business but, with the rise of media’s political influence and the rise of populism, they don’t have the political power they once had. Or it could be that the particular brand of big business (manufacturing, construction, agriculture) that depends on freedom of navigation is mostly republican while the big business that does not (tech, medical, education) is mostly democrat.

A fourth theory is that the top beneficiary of free trade and freedom of navigation this century is China. Politically America can’t kill decades of freedom of navigation patrols overnight but we can let the policy atrophy along the sea-routes that china is most dependent on and we are the least dependent on.

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The world used the USA forces for free, Trump looked at the bills and said no way, time to change and nobody liked it.
The Longest war, the USA must now have grandkids on duty in foreign countries where their grandfathers once did the same job.

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There is another theory: that major wars of the future will largely be cyber wars, fought between digital constructs, with the winner being the side that can control the cyber domain. Therefore, most of a nation’s defense resources should be devoted to building this new tech.

In this theory, naval assets are like a bolt action rifle in WW1, outclassed by automatic weapons; or like battleships in WW2: useful, but outclassed by aircraft carriers; or huge armies being transported from continent to continent in amphibious invasions being outclassed by nuclear cruise missiles.

War changes. New tech outclasses the old. The old still has its uses, but militaries that don’t focus on the new tech lose. The new tech is cyber attack. Ransomware attacks are the beginning of the new warfare. An enemy that can disable your fuel transport infrastructure, and then force you to pay to restore it, is a pretty powerful enemy, and that power will keep growing, until a government focuses effort on stopping it.

So, in this theory, the real question should be, where are the undersecretaries for cyber warfare?

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Reagan Star Wars…the USA needs it again

What exactly do you mean by that?

That’s absolutely a concern. The only counter is that, gain, we are the only country that can exist independently. Cut the transatlantic cables and satellites and much of the internet still works fine in North America… not so for the rest of the world.

And again… protecting the cables is the US Navy’s job.

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Reagan asked his team to go to town on defense high tech spending to thwart Russia, right up to the part where he convinced Russia there were rockets in space just waiting.
It did a huge amount for industry in so cal.
So hence move that thought forward and the same idea just has a bit more focus to networking.
Perhaps create a separate network with different protocols for everything important.
These days it seems all the important stuff is on the internet, like DOH?

This could be a delayed reaction to his calling out some NATO countries.

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It’s interesting that right now in the infrastructure deal working its way through Congress, there is something like $43 billion being earmarked for internet security to protect against cyber attack (there are no hard details on what that means). Both parties seems to be for it.

To put $43 billion in prospective: the Strategic Defense Initiative cost about $200 billion in development costs, but no SDI weapons were ever created, as far as I know.

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I had to smile at your thinking here. You applaud one administration for trying to get money from allies. But then you want the USA to spend billions more of its own money protecting the internet that everyone uses.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to ask our allies to pony-up billions to the USA to pay for internet protection?

Sure but you would own the technology.
Its not the global internet which is a huge mesh, its just US assets that are plugged into it and IMHO should not be.
Security is all about airgap…
No airgap lets the enemy damage you from the comfort of their own arm chair anywhere they want to