Ironic convergence in Asian missile defense

by Chris Zappone

There is no clearer sign that tensions in East Asia are warming up than the news that the Russians are deploying a new reconnaissance ship to snoop on US missile defense in Hawaii and Alaska. This comes after the Russians simulated a bombing run on a US missile defense radar in Japan. The Russians vehemently oppose increased US missile defences around Asia, which could compromise Russian offensive missile capabilities. The short-term catalyst for more US missile defense is North Korea, of course. Kim Jong-Un can only threaten to leave Seoul – or Washington – in a “sea of fire” so many times before the US begins shoring up defenses – even if the stories of threats may be poorly translated into English. The longer-term catalyst for increased US missile defence is China, which is developing anti-ship missiles designed to keep the US Navy further from its shores. There is a great irony the latest deployments by the US. For years, China and Russia, especially, have been glad to look the other way on North Korea’s threats because they tied up the US in Asia. Now that North Korea has ramped up the rhetoric to new levels, the US has all the justification it needs to boost its presence in the region – something neither Russia nor China wants. And they say the Cold War ended.