For the third time in seven months, the US has sent a warship to challenge China in territorial waters it claims in the South China Sea. The US claims its purpose is to keep shipping lanes open, while China arguably benefits as much as anyone from trade going in and out of the region. Similar to US military operations off the Baltic coast, this latest clash in the South China Sea resulted in military jets being dispatched to send a message. With its interventionist policies toward both Russia and China, is the US opening itself up to the unintended consequences of pushing Russia and China closer together in opposition to the US empire? Can the countries in the region not better solve these disputes without US involvement?