By David W.F. Huang
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Additional resources for Asia Pacific Countries and the US Rebalancing Strategy
But that is all beside the point: in the USA, we are encouraged to think about “China” (military threat or economic miracle) as if it exists in a vacuum; like the “Japan as Number One” literature, most of the scenarios for what China’s rise means and where China is going demand of us a certain determined blindness or averting of the eyes, such that somehow they never alight on the American lake known as the Pacific, Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) in Honolulu, the Navy’s sixth and seventh fleets, the Kadena airbase, the singular Marine expeditionary force permanently located abroad in Okinawa, the international proctology practiced by myriad satellite and other technologies on China, the spy planes that the Pentagon sends along China’s coasts (while China has no such capability on our coasts), the incessant computer hacking practiced by both sides, or the B-2 “stealth” bombers that can lift off from Knob Noster, Missouri, bomb any point on the globe, and return without landing.
The “pivot to Asia” is usually seen as a move back to a neglected area, as if American forces abandoned East Asia years ago. In fact, the Obama pivot was meant to change the subject, from failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan back to the latent, ever-present structure of US military power in East Asia that undergirds economic exchange in the world’s richest and most productive region, and that towers over any conceivable rival. President Obama can file his fingernails, take a nap, or shoot a few jump shots on the White House court, sure in the knowledge that no one would be rash and stupid enough to challenge the core structure of American power in the world’s largest body of water which also happens to be an American lake: the Pacific.
Thus, there is no Obama doctrine generally, no Obama pivot regionally, little movement in his East Asia policy since 2009, and little hope that anything will change before he leaves office. , inside the Beltway) who move in lockstep, bipartisan fashion regardless of which president or which party happens to be in office, toward their desired policies (the best place to see this in action is the informative daily blog known as The Nelson Report). Hillary Clinton was the perfect Secretary of State for such people, being such a quintessential Beltway product herself, going back to her Watergate days in the 1970s.