(Archived document, may contain errors)
March 25, 1988
BLOCKING SOVIET GAINS INASIA. WITH A REINVIGORATED REAGAN DOCTRINE.
Capitalizing on its decade-long military buildup in Asia, Moscow is waging an active and sophisticated political campaign to undermine Western interests in the region. While in- creasing military cooperation with Vietnam and North Korea, Moscow and its proxies aid insurgents and terrorists and covertly support "peace" groups -in'-Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. A new generation of sophisticated Soviet diplomats,- meanwhile, offers trade and "peace" initiatives. Moscow's goal apparently is to create more proxies in Asia like Viet- nam and Cuba, which can provide bases for Soviet military forces and redoubts for further political destabilization.
If Washington refuses to confront this new active Soviet challenge in Asia, the United States will see its influence in Asia reduced and its friends flirting with neutralism.
The trends in Asia that challenge the U.S. include:
Decreasing support in Southeast Asia for Cambodia's noncommunist resistance.
Continued uncertainty over the continuation of U.S. access to Philippine bases.
New Zealand's reftisal to change the anti-nuclear policies that have destroyed the Australia-New Zealand-U.S. (ANZUS)alliance.
A U.S. strategy to blunt Soviet ambitions in Asia would include:
* A "Reagan Doctrine" for Asia to restore freedom to Indochina by increased backing of the noncommunist Cambodian resistance and by encouraging resistance groups in Vietnam and Laos.
* Help for Manila against the Philippines' 19-year-old communist insurgency, which has strong ties to Moscow.
* Expanded military cooperation with Japan, increased informal military cooperation with such
Southeast Asian friends as Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, and increased military assistance to friends in the South Pacific.
Expanded public diplomacy efforts to expose the Soviets' disinformation campaigns, self-serving "peace" initiatives, aid to terrorists and insurgents, and links to anti-nuclear "peace" movements. Targeted particularly should be New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.
THE SOVIET MILITARY BUILDUP IN ASIA UNDER GORBACHEV
Perhaps more than any previous Soviet.-leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. is focusing Soviet strategic attention on Asia. Soviet leaders and diplomats have tried to appear moderate and friendly, taking their cue from Gorbachev's July 1986 Vladivostok speech offering peace, arms control proposals, and improved relations with all Asian countries.1At the same time, of course, Moscow pursues its traditional goals in Asia of 1) strategically isolat- ing Japan and China; 2) undermining Western alliances and displacing the U.S. as the dominant Asian power; 3)consolidating Vietnamese-Soviet hegemony in Indochina; and 4) creating new client states.
Containing Japan and China. Gorbachev continues Moscow's military buildup, which seeks to contain Japan and China while placing -greater pressure on the. U.S. Yet he seems more willing than his predecessors to use political tools to expand Soviet influence. Ex- ample: Gorbachev supports the Philippine communist insurgency, and he is attempting to create new clients in the South Pacific.
While Soviet intentions for Asia may be debated, Soviet military capabilities are beyond dispute. The Soviet military buildup in Asia began in the mid-1960s in response to heightened tensions with China and reached a plateau in 1978-1979 with the formation of a Far Eastern TVD (Teatr Voennykh Deistvii or Theater of Military Operations).2 Through five geographic TVDs, command of all Soviet forces is centralized. The Far Eastern TVD now receives high priority from Soviet planners, second only to the Western TVD facing NATO. (The others are the Northern TVD facing Scandinavia, the Southwestern facing Southern Europe, and the Southern facing the Middle East and South Asia.) 3 Stocks of fuel, ammunition, and supplies for the Far Eastern TVD have been increased to sustain over 100 days of military operations.
Expanded Nuclear Threat. Today there are 57 Soviet tank and motorized infantry divisions in Asia, up from 43 in 1978. 5 These Army forces include over 15,000 tanks and over 13,000 artillery pieces and are supported by about 1,300 tactical aircraft, including the new MIG-29 and MIG-31 fighters, SU-24 strike bombers, and SU-25 close support aircraft. To improve offensive capabilities, the number of ground-attack air regiments in the Far Eastern TVD has been increased from 15 to 21 since 1978.
Nuclear capable forces in Asia have been expanded and modernized. First deployed in 1977, there are now 171 SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the Far Eastern TVD, which along with earlier SS-4 and SS-5 missiles, account for over 1,000 nuclear war- heads. 7 In addition there are eight major fields containing about 387 SS-11 and SS-18 long-range ballistic missiles, and there are 32 Yankee and Delta class ballistic missile sub- marines, which carry about 385 missiles, with the Pacific Fleet.
Last September, a test-fired SS-18 landed only 500'miles from Hawaii, prompting a protest from Washington. 9 And older SS-N-3 nuclear capable, 300-mile-range cruise mis- siles on ships and submarines are being supplemented by the new SS-N-12, SS-N-19, and SS-N-21 cruise missiles. The SS-N-21, which resembles the U.S. Tomahawk and has a 1,200-mile range, was recently test fired in the Sea of Japan.10
Intercepting 825 Soviet Warplanes. Strategic air forces include about. 170 BacA;qre, Badger, and Blinder medium bombers. In 1986 the Japanese Air Force had to send its aircraft to intercept Soviet aircraft about 825 times. In 1987 the U.S. Alaskan Air Defense Command intercepted 53 Soviet aircraft, 24 of which were TU-95 Bear-H bombers, an old turboprop design updated to carry cruise missilesJ1 These bombers. soon will be supple- mented by new supersonic Blackjack bombers, now. being. tested.
Since 1983 the Soviet Pacific Fleet has been the largest in the Soviet Navy. 12 -It currently has about 82 principal surface combatants, including two Kev classaircraft carriers, four- teen cruisers, thirteen destroyers, 22 frigates, and 31 corvettes. 13 Anti-ship capabilities were expanded with the 1985 addition of the 24,000-ton nuclear powered cruiser Frunze. Offensive strike forces include about 76 nuclear and conventionally powered submarines, including Whisky, Foxtrot, and Klo diesel-electric powered, plus Victor and Akula class nuclear powered attack submarines. In addition the Pacific Fleet contains the Juliett and Echo class submarines armed primarily with the SS-N-3 or SS-N-12 long-range cruise mis- siles, and the Charlie class, which carries shorter-range -cruise missiles. Naval Air Forces include about 160 TU-22 Back-fire and TU-16 Badger medium bombers and TU-95 and 142 Bear long-range reconnaissance aircraft.
Attacking Allied Shipping and Ports. In wartime, the Soviet Pacific Fleet is expected to attempt to secure operating areas for ballistic missile submarines in the Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, and near the Kamchatka Peninsula. From these -areas, of course, submarines and aircraft can attack allied shipping, naval forces, and 'port\u223\'a7. Soviet submarines, merchant ships, and even some fishing ships probably will try to mine ports and strategic straits. Am- phibious forces will spearhead Soviet Army assaults against Japan and Korea. Tle Pacific Fleet has the only full Naval Infantry division assigned to. a Soviet fleet plus about 21 naval. landing ships, including one of the large Ivan Rogov class. Soviet naval power projection capabilities will be improved with the expected -addition of a; new class of nuclear-powered. aircraft carrier now under construction and with Moscow's expanded numbers of overseas bases. 14
EXPANDING BASE NETWORK
Since 1978 Moscow has built up its Northeast Asian defense infrastructure and expanded its exercises. 'nis intimidates Japan and enables Soviet air and naval forces to secure their ballistic missile submarine operating areas., Soviet troops -in the.Kuril.Islands now, comprise an army division and a regiment of MIG-23 fighters.- Last August ail unprecedented 25-ship Soviet exercise in this area practiced closing off the S6a of-.Okhotsk. 15
North Korea. Mounting Soviet activity around Japan has been complemented since mid- 1984 by growing defense ties with North Korea. Pyongyang now permits south and northbound overflight of its territory by Soviet aircraft transiting to and from Vietnam.
This complicates U.S. and Japanese detection of Soviet air movements. In return for send- ing troops to Angola, Mozambique, and the Seychelles, North Korea receives such advanced Soviet weaponry as MIG-23 and SU-25 aircraft.16 Soviet and North Korean war ships exchanged visits in 1985 and 1986 and held their first joint exercise in October 1986. Last October, when Pyongyang's terrorists destroyed Korean Air Lines flight 858, their first stop was Moscow. It is believed that they received instructions and explosives from control officers in Hungary. 17
Vietnam. Special Soviet weapons shipments enabled Vietnam to invade Cambodia in 1978. Since then over $17 billion in Soviet economic and military aid has enabled Hanoi to survive economically while maintaining 140,000 troops in Cambodia and 50,000 troops in Laos. Moscow also supplies Hanoi with MIG-23 fighters and SU-20 fighter-bombers. In return, the Soviets have gained military access to Haiphong harbor and Da Nang airfield. and they have turned Cam Ranh Bay into the largest overseas Soviet military base. An average of 25 to 30 Soviet warships and submarines use Cam Ranh Bay monthly. Since late 1984, these ships have been complemented by 16 TU-16 Badger medium bombers. These bombers and the cruise missile submarines that often visit Cam Ranh Bay can carry nuclear weapons. Soviet nuclear weapons, moreover, are believed to be stored at Cam Ranh Bay. 18
From Vietnam, Soviet forces threaten Southeast Asian- sea -lanes vital to regional,and Nor- theast Asian economies and U.S. forces in the Philipp@ines. Vietnam-based forces also support Soviet naval activity in the Indian Ocean. From Cam Ranh, Bay, TU-- 16 bombers-, can reach every Southeast Asian capital. Though not currently deployed in Vietnam, TU- 22 Backfire bombers could attack northern Australia from Vietnam.. In April 1984; Soviet and Vietnamese forces held their first joint amphibious landing naval exercise.19 In February 1986, Soviet air and naval forces in Cam Ranh Bay staged their first coordinated anti-aircraft carrier exercise in the -South China Sea. 20
Indian Ocean. Soviet political-military activity in South Asia is part of Moscow!s-strategy. to surround China and threaten sea lines of communication to Northeast Asia and the South Pacific. From air bases in Afghanistan, -Soviet, bombers. are. only one hour away from the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. 21 Since 197 8 Soviet naval forces have had access to the Ethiopian base at Dalak Island in the Red Sea.. Soviet- forces have used the South Yemen ports at Aden and Socotra island since the early 1970s. On the average, 15 to 20 Soviet warships steam in the Indian Ocean at any given time. 22
Moscow also helps India militarily. India has just received new MIG-29 fighters. In addi- tion to Soviet-built Kashin class destroyers and new K16 class submarines, the Indian Navy is due to receive Kresta class cruisers and TU-142 long-range reconnaissance aircraft. 23 In early February, India received a Soviet Charlie class nuclear cruise missile submarine. While increasing India's niilita7 dependence on the Soviets, this also may give Soviet ships 2 greater access to Indian ports.
Political Tools To Achieve Military Goals
In contrast to his predecessors, Gorbachev is tryingto advance Soviet goals in Asia through more sophisticated use of political tools. The Soviet Foreign Ministry has created new departments for Asia and is assigning more skilled Soviet diplomats to Asia. Oleg Sokolov, the Soviet Ambassador to the Philippines, for example, formerly was assigned to two tours of duty in the U.S. 25
In his July 1986 Vladivostok speech, Gorbachev proposed there be an Asian counterpart 26 to the 1975 Helsinki Accords. He repeated this pro osal during his November 1986 visit 2 p to India.X1 If it follows the Helsinki model, Soviet Asia-wide talks would include recogni- tion of Vietnamese control of Indochina and communist control of North Korea by noncommunist Asian states.
Public Relations Points. Gorbachev uses arms control proposals for theinpublic relar- tions impact and to weaken the West. Moscow also has offered to limit ballistic missile- submarines to certain operating areas in the Pacific Ocean meanwhile excluding the other side's anti-submarine ships and aircraft from those areas. 9 While this makes public rela- tions points, it also exploits Moscow's geographic advantage. Soviet submarines in the Sea of Okhotsk, for example, are surrounded by Soviet territory. The U.S. enjoys no similar ad- vantage in Asia.
Soviet support for nuclear free zones in Asia is also designed to weaken the West by making it difficult for U.S., U.K., and French. navies-to operate in Asian.w-aters. In Decem- ber 1986, Moscow rushed to sign protocols to the South Pacific- Nuclear -Free Zone Treaty. The U.S. and U.K. so far refuse to sip - to the disappointment of Australia and New Zealand - because the Treaty places limits on their nuclear forces, which diminishes nuclear deterrence. Protocol 2 asks that the nuclear weapon powers pledge not to use nuclear weapons against the treaty signatories. Moscow sought to exploit this protocol by is- suing a statement of reservations the day it signed saying it mi not comply with Protocol 2 if treaty signatories allowed port calls by nuclear armed ships. This was aimed at Australia, whose military relationship with the U.S. allows American warships, including those that may be carrying nuclear arms, to visit Australian ports. Moscow can be expected to support a similar nuclear free zone treaty now beirig studied by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Warnings of Nuclear Atta& Nudging U.S. military forces out of Philippine military bases is a major Soviet goal. Gorbachev in July 1986, for example, implied that if U.S. for- ces left the Philippines, then Soviet forces might leave Vietnam. 31 More recently, however, Moscow seems to imply that departure of Soviet forces from Vietnam depends not only on U.S. forces leaving, the Philippines but also on China reducing its military presence in the South China Sea.32- But Moscow is also willing to be less subtle. In August 1986, a Soviet official visiting Manila implied the Philippines was open to nuclear attack if it continued to host U.S. military forces. 33
Aid to insurgents. Gorbachev continues to fuel "wars of national liberation." Last year, a top official of the Communist Party of the PhilippinesJCPP) said the Soviet. Union and - - Vietnam had been offering "material aid" since 1984.@ Both U.S. and Philippine sources 35 suspect Moscow is indirectly aiding the CPP. through pro-Soviet front groups in Europe.., In an interview published in July 1997, the leader of the CPP said that, once formal CPP- Soviet relations are estal)lished, "the Philippine revolution will be favored by increased international support." At the appropriate time, Moscow most likely will ship to the CPP, via Hanoi, U.S. weapons left behind from the Vietnam War.
Proxies such as Libya also support Asian insurgent groups which further Soviet objectives in Asia. In 1984 and 1985, groups of radical Kanaks, opposed to French rulein.New. - - - . Caledonia went to Libya for military training. In April 1987, Tripoli hosted a conference on Asian national liberation movements attended by about 150 members ot.Asian revolution- ary groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, Muslim groups.-seeking independence from Manila, and radical Kanaks. 37 Libya has built its closest relations in the South Pacific with Vanuatu, the only South Pacific member of the nonaligned movement.
It seems radicals in Vanuatu's ruling party have facilitated Libyan contacts to revolutionaries in New Caledonia and Indonesia.
Trade unions, peace movements. To promote its goal of neutralizing the ANZUS Al- Hance, Moscow has found allies in the Australian and New Zealand "peace" movements, which strongly influence the Labor Parties in both countries. Recently elected New Zealand Parliament member Sonja Davies since 1986 has been a Vice President of the World Peace Council, a major Soviet front. And Ken Douglas, leader of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, a recent confederation of most public and private sector unions, is also National Chairman of the small but powerful S 'ocialist Unity Party (SUP), the only New Zealand communist party to have formal relations with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. New Zealand trade unions leaders like Douglas and other SUP members have stron ly supported the Labor Party's anti-nuclear policies that led to the 1986 break in 9 U.S.-New Zealand defense relations.
At the 1978 meeting of the Soviet front World Federation of Trade Unions, a decision was made to form the Pacific Trade Union Foruni, to promote anti-Western policies through the developing trade unions in the South Pacific island states.38 Led by pro-Soviet Australian and New Zealand trade union leaders, the PTUF's greatest success was to en- courage union leaders in Fiji to form a Labor Party in-1985, which won.the general zlection in April 1987. Though overthrown within a month by a military coup prompted largely by ethnic rivalry, the Fiji Labor Party had promised to abandon Fiji's Vro-Western policies, 3, - join the nonaligned movement, and improve Fiji-Soviet relations. Fiji could have evolved into a Soviet client state.
Trade, aid initiatives. Gorbachev has also sought to make greater use of trade and economic assistance to improve relations with Asia and exploit Western weaknesses. In the South Pacific,where Moscow has a small presence, an: d where repeated aid and trade offers have been rebuffed, Moscow signed its first fishing agreement with Kiribati in August.1985. The agreement with Kiribati did not include port access for Soviet fishing ships and was'not renewed. But in January 1987 Moscow signed a.fishing agreementwith.,Vanuatu, that did allow for Soviet fishing ships to make port calls. Soviet fishing ships are integrated into the Soviet Navy's intelligence network. Moscow has alsomade.-trade and aid proposals to the Philippines. These include having Soviet ships repaired in Philippine yards close to Subic Naval Base, used by the U.S. Na and refurbishing a nickel mine in Surigao, an area of heavy communist rebel activity.4Y'
A U.S. STRATEGY TO COUNTER MOSCOW'S ASIAN AMBITIONS
The Reagan Administration must craft a strategy to reverse Soviet gains in Asia. It should counter the military and political means Gorbachev employs to achieve his objec- tives.
For a start, Washington must end the current drift in the region, typified particularly by New Zealand's continued anti-nuclear stance, the weakening of the noncommunist Cam- bodian resistance, and the growing Philippine communist insurgency. These are areas where the Soviets are sure to increase their pressure.
So far, Washington has refused to attack strongly the anti-nuclear policies of the New Zealand Ubor government for fear of generating New Zealand public resentment. The Reagan Administration has been reluctant to fund Cambodia's noncommunist resistance groups, giving only $ 3.8 million last year.. Strong U.S. friends such as Thailand and Sin- gapore now are less willing to support the Cambodian resistance because of its lack of progress, for which Washington is partially to blame. The growing Communist Party of the Philippines, meanwhile, threatens U.S. access to strategic bases and raises doubts about Washington's ability to help defend Asian democracies.. Ronald Reagan should not allow his successor to inherit- these Asian problems. Reagan can build a foundation for a U.S. strategy to contain and reverse Soviet expansion in Asia;
Reinvigorate the "Reagan Doctrine" for Asia. Washington must take a stronger role in encouraging resistance groups in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The aim eventually is to restore freedom to Indochina. The U.S. should work closely with Thailand to improve the leadership and political organizingskills of Cambodia's noncommunist resistance. As such, Washington should raise its annual sup- port from $3.5 million to $5 million for fiscal...year.. 1989. Washington,should aim at - . eventually replacing Chinese assistance to the noncommunists.., China supports primarily the infamous Khmer Rouge faction of the Cambodian resistance. Washington also should work closely withThailand to identify and support leaders of the anti-communist resistance in Laos and Vietnam. The alternative is to continue to allow the Soviets to use Indochina as a springboard to further destabilize Southeast Asia and threaten the sea lanes through the South China Sea.
Help Manila Defeat the Communists. Despite President Corazon Aquino's measures for spurring economic growth and reinstituting Philippine democracy, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) con- tinues to grow. To help Aquino combat the communist guerrillas, the Administration should increase its military aid to Manila from $110 million, currently requested, to $300 million for fiscal year 1989. Washington should insist that Aquino adopt a counterinsurgen- cy strategy that attacks the CPP's political as well as its military strength. A CPP victory in the Philippines would be disastrous for the Philippine people and a major strategic gain for the Soviets.
Contain Moscow's Military Position in Asia.
The Reagan Administration has improved greatly the U.S. defense position in Asia by stationing an additional two squadrons of F-16 fighters in Japan, adding new warships to the U.S. Pacific fleets, many of which are receiving Tomahawk cruise missiles, prepositioning defense materials in Thailand, and improving U.S. troop readiness and sustainability. These gains should not be threatened by Pentagon budget cuts. Maintaining the goal of a 600-ship Navy is key to preserving Washington's ability to fulfill military commitments in Asia. Washington should station new F-15E fighter-bombers in Clark Air Base in the Philippines to counter Soviet medium bombers in Vietnam. In addition, strong considera- tion should be given to stationing new U.S. Navy minesweepers in Subic Naval Base in the Philippines. There they will be ready to quickly counter mine threats in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea.
The U.S. should strengthen and expand alliances and other military cooperative relation- ships with Japan, Australia, and friendly states in Southeast Asia. The number and complexity of U.S.-Japanese military exercises should be increased. The U.S. should be.. prepared to sell advanced weapons technology to the Japanese that. will increase their naval defense capability, such as Aegis radars for naval ships. The U.S. and Japan should consider methods to insure the rapid reinforcement of U.S. and Japanese forces in wartime. The U.S. should improve defense cooperation with friends in Southeast Asia by inviting ob- servers and then encouraging participation in annual RIMPACregional naval exercises.
To counter Soviet ambitions in the South Pacific, Washington should improve bilateral defense cooperation with Australia and offer Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and other island states closer defense cooperation relationships. Military and economic aid to-Fiji,- - suspended following last May's coup, should be restored as soon as possible. Defense rela- tions with New Zealand should not be considered -until Wellington changes its anti-nuclear policies that make such cooperation impossible.. Washington should continue to refuse to sign the protocols of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone!-Treaty.
And in the upcoming Military Bases Agreement review with the Aquino government in Manila, Washington should make clear that a continued U.S. presence is essential to main- tain Western capability to deter Soviet aggression in Southeast Asia and against the Philippines. The Philippine bases are as critical to Western security in Asia as was Gibral- tar to the defense of the British Empire. There is no alternative for the U.S. in Asia.
Expand Public Diplomacy Programs.
To counter Moscow's increased political activity in. Asia, the Reagan Administration should expand its public diplomacy efforts to expose Soviet aid to insurgents and to proxies in trade unions and the "peace" movement. The State Department can hold more news con- ferences on these subjects, while the U.S. Information Agency can include more private and public sector experts on these subjects in its international "American Participants" (AM- PARTS) speakers program. In the Philippines, the U S. should be more frank in exposing Philippine communist ties with the-Soviet bloc, and the U.S. should encourage other friends in Southeast Asia to speak out against Soviet aid to the CPP.
In the South Pacific, instead of considering New Zealand a lost cause, the U.S. should warn New Zealanders regularly of the adverse impact of its Labor government's anti- nuclear policies on New Zealand's security and how a weakened Western Alliance reduces the threshold of deterrence and invites further Soviet meddling. Washington must also state more forcefully its opposition to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and its possible constraint on future U.S.-Australian defense cooperation. The U.S. also should detail Soviet penetration of trade unions and the "peace" movement.
Mikhail Gorbachev continues to pursue traditional Soviet ambitions in Asia, but he is more willing than his Kremlin predecessors to use political means to achieve military- strategic gains. While continuing to strengthen Soviet military forces in Asia, Gorbachev is using arms control to lull U.S. friends and allies and attack key U.S. defense relationships. Furthermore, he is covertly assisting the Communist Party of the Philippines, and he is trying to create new client states in the South Pacific through skillful use of proxies -inz . . - - Australian and New Zealand trade unions. - Moscow aims to outflank Washington in the South Pacific, should the U.S. lose access to -Philippine militarybasesi---
Reinvigorated Reagan Doctrine. In its last year, the Reagan Administration must in- crease its efforts to reverse existing Soviet gains in Asia and expose Gorbachev's new efforts to expand Soviet power. A reinvigorated "Reagan Doctrine" aimed at restoring freedom to Indochina is needed, as is expanded defense cooperation -with America's friends and allies and a more active public diplomacy campaign.
Should Moscow succeed, Asia in the 21st century would be less free and prosperous. Noncommunist states would be forced to recognize communist domination.of Indochina, and possibly, the Philippines and island states in the. South,.Pacific., And these same states would be forced to curtail their economic and military relations with Washington, endanger- ing the security and future prosperity of the United States.
Richard D. Fisher, Jr. Policy Analyst