On October 10th 2017, the USS Chafee, a Navy Destroyer, sailed within 12 miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. This was the fourth “freedom of operation” mission since President Trump was inaugurated. The U.S. air force also flew two bombers over the Korean peninsula simultaneously, in another maneuver designed to demonstrate its military might.
These moves were not routine patrols or exercises, but the latest activity in a multi-dimensional chess game in one of the world’s most contested and sensitive regions. The smallest miscalculation from either side could have huge consequences for trillions of dollars in trade and billions of lives, not just in the immediate vicinity but around the globe too.