Swoop: Washington’s World: November 21st – 27th, 2011 – The Chinese Delicate Balance

Swoop: Washington’s World: November 21st – 27th, 2011 – The Chinese Delicate Balance
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Swoop: “President Obama’s continuing trip to Asia and the announcement of new partnerships with Indonesia and, as we foreshadowed last week, with Australia mark the further development of what is being called in Washington “America’s Pacific Century.”

The agreement for a permanent base in Darwin symbolizes the continuing US commitment to maintain a substantial forward physical presence in Asia. Additionally, the installation of an integrated maritime surveillance system to be operated by the Pentagon and capable of monitoring vital sea-lanes like the Malacca Strait signals the US determination to be involved in these key maritime potential areas of dispute. One prominent commentator put it this way: Obama to Asia: It’s our Party. Officially, these moves are not aimed at any specific country but, privately, all US officials concede that they are intended to “send a message” to Beijing that the US is not abandoning Asia.

US foreign policy planners know that they have a delicate balance to maintain in relations with China. While many Pentagon officials point with concern to China’s military build up and persistent cyber attacks on US Royal Australian Navy Class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) By By #PACOM / FlickRfacilities, the wider Administration, notably the financial and commercial departments, are looking to maintain a positive partnership with the Chinese. As one NSC official commented to us privately: “The balance in Washington will not be easy to maintain. Military fears have a habit of trumping civilian hopes.”  From our conversations with senior officials we hear that, while the new emphasis on Asia is real, it does not mean that the US turning its back on the Middle East.

Indeed policy toward Iraq and Afghanistan is starting to rise up the scale in the Republican presidential debates. The latest reports from the IAEA about Iran are prompting debate about US options but, we are firmly assured, these do not include military strikes. There are, however, rising concerns that the electoral reform in Egypt is flagging and that the situation in Syria may descend into civil war. These factors will keep US eyes firmly in the Middle East.

Deputy National Security Advisor and Admiral Robert Willard of the U.S. Pacific Command speak on the U.S. commitment to the security of the Asia Pacific Region. November 13, 2011.

Finally, the November 23rd pre-Thanksgiving deadline for the Congressional “super committee” will take place next week. The signs are highly discouraging that they will be able to deliver implementable suggestions for deficit reduction. Further political indecision on this front lies ahead.”

Source: http://theswoop.net

Photos Credits:
US ships take part in exercise with Malaysian ships By Official U.S. Navy Imagery / FlickR
The Royal Australian Navy Class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) By #PACOM / FlickR