Strategy: National Security Scenarios for Post-Election Period

In the 112th Maritime Forum, I responded positively to the proposal of a former Undersecretary of National Defense, Atty. Fernando Campos to discuss Strategy. He suggested discussing “National Security Scenarios for the post-election period.” Campos was also a former Governor of Cavite and a former Congressman of Cavite. He sent me his discussion paper, THE BIRTH OF A NEW PHILIPPINES:  Converting a crisis into an opportunity, which offered perspective scenarios. I also designated some participants to be reactors and asked them and those who may wish to discuss to “hold no punches” in giving personal views; we would use the rule “no attribution” and that views would be construed as not reflecting the position or views of their agencies or organizations. I also said that there is “no school solution” and certainly there are no wrong answers.

Having seen the people’s response to a Cavite rally of Rodrigo Duterte, Campos, experienced in political analysis (having been a President’s son-in-law in the ‘60s and a Liberal Party pundit), was certain the Davao Mayor would handily win the Presidential race.

His discussion brief included a SCENARIO 1 with DONALD TRUMP winning the US Republican Nomination in July 2016, plus several “developments” such as:

  1. U.S. moves closer to Russia, shifts pivot to Asia;
  2. China thru North Korea strikes Blue House of South Korea with conventional rackets, to test American response;
  3. South Korea with U.S. support responds with conventional missiles;
  4. China strikes Taiwan Island base and Japan’s Shinkaku with tactical nuclear missiles but avoids attacking U.S. Aircraft Carriers;
  5. Japan and the U.S. attack North Korea with tactical nuclear missiles but destroy only China’s nava base in Hainan and Spratly’s (not directly Mainland China) with convnetional missiles; and
  6. RP goes to UN Council for Halt to war.

Thus, in LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS he suggests:

  1. President Duterte calls Initiative & Referendum in December to convert into Parliamentary Federal Government with 12 Regional States – a Federal Republic of the Philippines (FRP); and
  2. FRP goes to UN Security Council to stop military and naval confrontation over WPS and asks for Non-Aggression Pact between U.S. and China to guarantee territorial integrity of the pact of the Philippine Archipelago;
  3. FRP commits to remove all foreign military bases on Philippine soil in return for CHINA’s commitment to help convert the Philippines to be the next International Trading and Financial Center to replace Hong Kong and Singapore as they are too small and expensive to accommodate the doubling of trading and financial transactions of China, projected to be the biggest economy by year 2030 upwards;
  4. FRP to expand the concept of new Global Trading and Financial Center to include BIMP-EAGA Region;
  5. FRP to pioneer in establishing a new Federal Reserve Bank for the 12 Regional States but with separate Regional Central Banks to use only 2 international reserved currencies, namely the U.S. dollar and the CHINESE REM/YUAN;
  6. FRP to adopt the doctrine of Extraterritoriality in forming the BIMP-EAGA as the nucleus of the Malayan Economic Union overcoming the obstacles of the present European Economic Union;
  7. FRP to harness the 4 different National Defense Colleges of BIMP to pioneer in using their separate armies’ engineering corps to build integrated TOWNSITE projects In 500 to 1,000 hectares in each of the 4 countries to house at least 20,000 families (5,000 from each country) composed of bureaucrats, technicians, professionals and farmers, to form the nucleus of the future interracial, interfaith and intercultural communities to promote the culture of peace in BIMP as a global example of peace and harmony of different peoples;
  8. Through the 4 NDCs of BIMP to pioneer in the mass production of housing units out of old or discarded vehicles and machines of highly developed countries by developing the machines, furnaces, to melt the different parts to mould them into prefabricated parts of the modern house from kitchens to bedrooms, storerooms, solar roof panels, water tanks, sewerage to furniture, etc., to stimulate infra-regional trading among the four economies; and
  9. Through the 4 NDCs of the BIMP because of the peculiar terrain and ownership of agricultural lands, REGIONAL governments could go into farm mechanization and cultivate agricultural lands by hundred hectares, with subsidies if necessary, and open food manufacturing plants to be owned by the farmers (instead of a few capitalists) to increase their incomes to make growth more inclusive to the bigger part of the population.

Campos called his SCENARIO 2, the dawn of a MULTI-POLAR WORLD

U.S.  TRUMP leadership accepts the inevitability of a multi-polar world, reconciles with RUSSIA, and accepts the ascendancy of CHINA as a global superpower along with RUSSIA for as long as USA remains the center of the world’s attraction with its high standard of living under the DOCTRINE of EXCEPTIONALISM.

U.S. will cease to enforce its political, economic and religious ideals and principles but will maintain its leadership in all facets of life by preserving the power of the market and leading globalization to rule the world.

Necessarily, Wall Street must co-exist with at least three other global international reserved currencies (the Ruble, the Dollar, & the Rem/Yuan) if Russia could unify the Moslem world leaving Israel, Europe, India, Australia, Canada and South America under the dollar block. Because of the nature of CHINA’s state capitalism, it must have its separate sphere of influence; and most likely, the majority of Africa and the ASEAN Nations, and Pacific island nations would fall under its sway. Pakistan and others may eventually join the China Block.

Israel is expected to accept the 2-state solution to the Palestinian Problem if Russia reigns over Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Oddly, Campos included a SCENARIO 3, Third World War.

At the outbreak of hostilities in SPRATLYS and combatants start to use of nuclear weapons, there will be a massive Bank run and civil disorder will follow. Unless the country is taken over by a leader like SPARTACUS and martial law is enforced, the country will descend into an Afghanistan, dynasties will behave like tribal warlords and curb the country into fiefdoms. Mindanao will be taken over by MUSLIMS and secede from the Country.

I opined that this discussion paper reflects the ambiguity and complexity of the international situation, and that there is no incorrect answer that may be given and then asked for responses.

No harsh or untoward statements were given, and generally discussants took the exercise in a positive way.

The DFA, the PN and the PCG according to their respondents, would follow the chain of command and would act in accordance with their missions.

One lawyer participant lauded the Forum organizers and particularly the proponent of the SCENARIO discussion, as “the scenarios are quite possible and many of the projections are plausible.” Many concurred.

Many others gave their views as to the probability of war, taking either side of the equation.

It was generally agreed that the next administration should pursue some dialogue with China; some opined that we really should go to the UN Security Council as well as increase the effort to get developed countries to support our cause.

The exercise reminded me of an article, “If World War III Erupted in Asia” (How a U.S.-Soviet clash would have played out, based on Washington’s war games) that originally appeared at The National Interest written by Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest and author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.

Farley describes how, in the 1970s and 1980s, the US Naval War College traced the potential course of war in East Asia as part of a series of global war games. These games lend a great deal of insight into the key actors in the conflict, and how the decisive battles of a Second Pacific War might have played out.

He starts:

Nearly every analyst during the Cold War agreed that, if Moscow and Washington could keep the nukes from flying, the Central Front in Europe would prove decisive in war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The NATO alliance protected the Western European allies of the United States from Soviet aggression, while the Warsaw Pact provided the USSR with its own buffer against Germany.

But when the Cold War really went hot, the fighting took place in Asia. In Korea and Vietnam, the Soviet Union waged proxy struggles against the United States, and both sides used every tool available to control the destiny of China. However, while few believed that the Pacific theater would determine the victor of World War III, both the United States and Soviet Union needed to prepare for the eventuality of war there.

Scholars have devoted far less attention to the planning of World War III in East Asia than to the European theater. The two classic novels of the Third World War (Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and John Hackett’s The Third World War) rarely touched on developments in Asia.

Since China was not a dominant player in the region, Farley’s article delved more on how a U.S.-Soviet clash would have played out in Asia, but he based it on “Washington’s war games” as carried out by the annual war games in which, as he explained, “the Naval War College examined the potential for World War III in Asia as part of its global war game exercises in the 1970s and 1980s. Played annually between 1979 and 1988, each of the games explored alternative strategic and techno-logical aspects of a confrontation between the superpowers.”

It explored the players – China, Japan, North and South Korea, and the Southeast Asian countries – and the “chess pieces,” the Soviet Pacific Fleet and the US Pacific Fleet. His précis on the War Games:

Although generally focused on Europe, the games always included an East Asian component. While the early war games saw some variance (informed to some degree by the Sino-Vietnamese War), they held to a basic pattern; the Soviets hunkered down, while U.S. and allied naval forces chipped away at the bastions and tried to distract the Russians from Europe.

The 1984 war game played out much differently. Instead of sitting on its hands, the Soviets opened the war with a massive air and missile assault against Japan. This assault destroyed most Japanese air assets on the ground, along with those of the U.S. special operators delivered by submarine and by clandestine civilian ship-launched unconventional attacks against U.S. bases across the Pacific, including Guam and Pearl Harbor.

The Soviets unleashed Pyongyang early in the conflict, redirecting U.S. attention towards the Korean Peninsula. Washington had effective answers; it quickly undertook offensive anti-submarine operations in the Sea of Japan, decimating Soviet SSN and SSBN forces. Soviet surface ships also came under attack. Nevertheless, in a daring move the Soviets launched a successful amphibious assault against Hokkaido. Although the operation suffered heavy losses, it succeeded in establishing a beachhead in Japan (though this was later withdrawn under fire).

The United States took a more aggressive stance in the 1988 war game. Instead of waiting for a Soviet attack, Washington immediately began air and unconventional offensives against installations in the Soviet Far East, designed to decimate Soviet air defenses and threaten the survival of military-industrial installations.

For their part, the Soviets hoped that a reticent military stance and a diplomatic offensive could keep Japan out of the war. This gambit succeeded to a point, as the Japanese suspended active military cooperation with the United States. American pressure eventually forced Tokyo to yield, and the Soviet opened offensive operations against the archipelago. By this time, however, the U.S. Navy had devastated Soviet naval forces, confining the Pacific fleet to its bastion in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Late in the war, the Soviets gave Pyongyang the green light to invade South Korea. However, this operation backfired, as the North Koreans failed to make substantial progress against combined U.S. and South Korean forces. Moreover, the Soviet move confirmed the U.S.-Japanese alliance, and helped drive Beijing into a much more hostile disposition towards the Soviets.

Both the Soviets and the Americans had options in Asia. The strategic environment was far more fluid than in Europe, allowing a variety of different choices to disrupt and destabilize the opponent. This made the course of war far less predictable.

At its (nonnuclear) worst, war could have raged across Asia on multiple fronts, from Korea to Japan to the Sino-Soviet border. At its best, the combatants might have observed an uneasy quiet, at least until it became necessary to outflank a stalemate in the West. But as was the case in Europe, everyone concerned is fortunate that tensions never led to open combat.

To me, it would appear that the new scenarios would be quite different. East Asia will be a totally separate arena and not tied to the old Russo-Central European-American power game, given the newfound strength, confidence and aspirations of the Sleeping Giant that was.

Commodore Carlos L. Agustin was the Philippine Coast Guard Commandant 199-93, General Manager of Philippine Ports Authority 1993-98 and President of National Defense College of the Philippines 2001-2010. He is the current Chairman of Maritime Forum and President of The Maritime League.