Will America Challenge China's Sweeping Sovereignty Claims?

The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) and the oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) break away from a formation with ships from Carrier Strike Group 5 and Expeditionary Strike Group 7 following a photo exercise to signify the completion of Valiant Shield 2016.​ Flickr / COMSEVENTHFLT

Experts are second-guessing the dangers associated with freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

In conclusion the U.S. Navy should be allowed to conduct both formal FONOPs and normal freedom of navigation activities unfettered by an epistemological fear of FONOPs, which sees them as either accomplishing too little or purporting to do too much. Under the authors’ approach, FONOPs are not considered to be a substitute for normal freedom of navigation activities; yet, freedom of navigation activities are not supposed to look too much like FONOPs. Such criticism puts the Navy in a no-win situation. The FONOPS tail should not wag the freedom of navigation dog. The USS Dewey operation should be the model throughout the South China Sea.

Joseph Bosco is a national-security consultant. He served as the China country director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He retired in 2010.

Image: The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) and the oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) break away from a formation with ships from Carrier Strike Group 5 and Expeditionary Strike Group 7 following a photo exercise to signify the completion of Valiant Shield 2016.​ Flickr / COMSEVENTHFLT

Pages