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Stop using the word “strategic” on things like small islands and canals. Too easy for ICBMs to destroy.

Posted by John Reed on

Beijing bought the Solomon Islands, sort of. They are now refusing to let US and allied military ships visit there.
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The WSJ says those islands are "strategic citing the 1942 landings on Guadalcanal there.
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1. When we landed there then, the Japanese controlled them. In war, might decides who uses them, not some payment made by someone years before.
2. More importantly, what the hell strategic value does a Sourh Pacific island have in 2022? I keep saying surface navy ships have been obsolete since about 1955 because of long range bombers and missiles. Same applies to needing to refuel air craft there. We now have midair refueling and drones that can fly damn near around the world piloted by some E-4 at Nellis AFB in Vegas.
3. The most strategic places on earth are the Suez and Panama Canals. But what good are they? They shorten trip length for ocean-going cargo ships and tankers. In a war, ocean-going ships are docked or sunk. The Panama canal can be rendered closed in a hour by an ICBM. It has locks. If you open all the locks on one side with bombs, all the water in Lake Gatun flows out into the ocean. Repairing the locks might be done in months, but refilling Lake Gatun would take God knows how long.
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The Suez has no locks so it should be easier to repair but warring parties can sink ships in it all day every day.
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The notion that the Solomon Islands are strategic is based on 1942 thinking and 1942 technologies like surface navy ships and B-17 range. In a 21st century war between the US and China, places to refuel surface ships and short range piloted aircraft are irrelevant. America and its allies should quietly celebrate that China is wasting money building aircraft carriers and renting port facilities all around the world. In a US-China war, we could sink their entire surface navy in a day—if it were not a waste if ammo. Sink their two carriers if they get near anything within range of their carrier planes and they will promptly hide the rest of their surface navy in their rivers for the duration—like the Germans and Japanese essentially did wither their battleships in 1945.
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The word “strategic” as applied to atolls, small islands, canals probably went obsolete when ICBMs were invented. “Strategic” now only applies to things that can continue to function during a nuclear war.

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