The United States has been engaged in anti-submarine exercises with South Korea to demonstrate resolve in the aftermath of the sinking of a South Korean vessel, the Cheonan, by the North Koreans. The USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered super-carrier, was set to take part in the second phase of the exercises next month. The 97,000 ton vessel can carry approximately 80 aircraft. It’s not merely a symbol of deterrence; rather, it’s deterrence itself.
That is, it was deterrence itself until China rattled its tail. Among other things Beijing announced that it will soon test-fire a Dong Feng 21D, the world’s only ballistic anti-ship missile. The Chinese dispatch came complete with an artist’s rendering of such missile striking an American carrier:
The UN Command promptly announced in return that the George Washington will not take part in exercises in the Yellow Sea. Whatever the reality, the inescapable perception is that we have buckled under threat. Our deterrent has been deterred.