In an apparent bid to quell Western concerns over a series of accidents involving U.S. naval vessels, General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, insisted the U.S. "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea have not suffered a setback and the U.S. military will continue them to combat China's territorial claims.
These remarks expose the U.S.' hegemonic mentality: Never admit you have done something wrong, put the blame on others.
The USS John S. McCain was the latest U.S. vessel to collide－with a tanker off Singapore on Aug 21－in what was the fourth accident involving a U.S. naval warship in the Pacific this year. Media reports said the 10 missing sailors were confirmed dead after their bodies were found on Monday. Together with the collision of the USS Fitzgerald in mid-June, which left seven U.S. sailors dead, the U.S. Navy has lost 17 personnel, compared with the 11 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan so far this year.
Judging by these figures alone, what the U.S. claims to be "freedom of navigation" operations for peaceful purposes have become far more dangerous for the U.S. military than fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The U.S. should rethink its "freedom of navigation" policy for the safety of its military personnel, if not for anything else.
Yet O'Shaughnessy's remarks show the United States prefers to stick to its hegemonic mentality.
The Barack Obama administration ordered several "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea, using the maritime disputes involving China and some Southeast Asian countries as an excuse to interfere in regional affairs. The Donald Trump administration is continuing that practice, perhaps because it perceives the so-called freedom of navigation operations as a major U.S. strategy to check China's influence in the region. But the reckless behavior of U.S. naval vessel commanders have helped people to see through the U.S.' dangerous strategic games.
Instead of defending the so-called freedom of navigation, U.S. naval vessels sailing in the South China Sea have become moving threats to other ships. And their frequent and unannounced presence in the waters should make the international community realize it is the U.S. Navy that is militarizing the waters.
But instead of urging the U.S. to rethink its strategy, some Western journalists have hinted that cyberattacks, orchestrated by China, could have led to the accidents involving the U.S. warships. Are these journalists trying to prevent the U.S. Navy from thoroughly investigating the accidents because they fear that it would reveal the dirty truths?
And if the U.S. believes in such preposterous ideas, its naval vessels will continue to pose a threat to not only other ships but also its own military personnel.