A Pilot on the Chinese Brouhaha

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everyone now knows, on April 1st a US surveillance P-3
and a Chinese F-8 fighter collided over the South China Sea. The
collision resulted in the loss of the F-8 and its pilot and damage
to the P-3. The P-3 then made an emergency landing at a Chinese
air base on the island of Hainan in Chinese territory.

has been written about the incident by our press and with rare exception
the emphasis has been the reckless behavior of the Chinese military
and the pilot of the lost F-8 in particular. A few days ago the
Pentagon trotted out videotape of a similar encounter to again make
the emphasis.

media and the US military seem bent on convincing the public that
the Chinese military is aggressive and reckless. The inference being,
of course, that they are, we aren't.

pity of this whole incident is that it did make the news and the
politico double talkers got involved, on both sides, most of whom
are warmongers anyway.

the many articles I read, one in particular caught my attention
mostly because of its title: We Lost, appearing in the Washington
Post. The author spent an inordinate amount of time on the Chinese
harassment of our P-3 as if it were an isolated occurrence. Hogwash.

harassment of our P-3 over the South China Sea was routine operation.
The collision was not intended, by either side. Had the incident
not made the papers, there is no doubt in my mind that the P-3 driver
would have been disciplined and the F-8 driver, though now dead,
would not have been anyone's hero. The military rules being what
they are, dent the tin and expect a hearing, and the hearings almost
always end in discipline of some type (ask the submarine captain
who was doing nothing numerous others before him hadn't done, but
you can be assured his career is now over, absolutely dead end).

few years ago, over the Med, a French "observer" plane
was poking around some US ships during an exercise. Two carrier
aircraft were launched to investigate and deter, i.e., harass u2018em.
According to one of the pilots, they made passes at slow speed within
2 meters (and not 2 meters from the wing tip). They would get in
front of him, go as slow as they could so that their jet exhaust
was being sucked up by his air conditioning system (jet exhaust
stinks, that's for sure), as well as for just general harassment.
This was routine procedure for our good friends, not just the French.
While that incident made a few European papers, it did not make
the US papers. Dozens of similar incidents go unreported.

my day there was the "cold war" excuse, but the harassment
was no different and the proximity was no different. What was and
still is different is that we were a couple of thousand miles from
our shore harassing them.

fact is China is not a threat. Yes, I know, there are a lot of people
who make their living stirring things up, and who need someone or
something in the limelight as the threat. But, the facts are the
facts, and China is not a threat. They are a threat to their own
people, but not to us. Not socially, not militarily.

bottom line: No one won. Both lost. For me, the main loss was the
loss of the chance to treat this whole thing for just what it was…
a collision of two aircraft. A collision neither side wanted. A
collision that unfortunately took the life of a pilot. We could
have done so much with this incident in a constructive way that
the world would have stood in awe of such power of being graceful.

we were and are being treated to the warmongers polka. Good grief!

23, 2001

R. Sebrell, a Member of the Mises
, was an airline pilot for 28 years.

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