“P

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics -

iv­ot­ing to Asia.” It’s the cen­ter­piece of the Pen­tagon’s strate­gic guid­ance re­port. Subti­tled “Pri­or­i­ties for 21st Cen­tury De­fense,” the re­port in­sists that the U.S. “will of ne­ces­sity re­bal­ance to­wards the Asia-pa­cific re­gion.”

So it’s out with the old-fash­ioned pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with Europe and the Mid­dle East [No prob­lems there, right?], and in — mil­i­tar­ily, eco­nom­i­cally and diplo­mat­i­cally — with the Far East.

But there’s a prob­lem. We’re not alone. China is piv­ot­ing to Asia, too.

On Sun­day, Bei­jing an­nounced an 11 per­cent in­crease in mil­i­tary spend­ing. The mes­sage was loud and clear: China will not let Pres­i­dent Obama’s rhetoric about amp­ing up Amer­i­can in­flu­ence in Asia go un­chal­lenged.

It is doubt­less that China will in­vest in ex­actly the ca­pa­bil­i­ties best cal­cu­lated to give its mil­i­tary a de­ci­sive ad­van­tage in key re­gional dis­putes from the Tai­wan Strait to the South China Sea, thereby di­min­ish­ing the in­flu­ence of the U.S. mil­i­tary in the Pa­cific.

Along the way, China will get more bang for its mil­i­tary buck (or, rather, yuan). That’s be­cause when it comes to in­flu­enc­ing Asia, China en­joys the ad­van­tage of what mil­i­tary strate­gists call “in­ter­nal lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.” Asia is Bei­jing’s back­yard. It doesn’t have to cross half the world to get its ships, planes and troops into pos­ture.

China has an­other ad­van­tage. It has to worry only about Asia. But Washington needs to de­fend the Amer­i­can flag wher­ever it flies and Amer­i­can in­ter­ests wher­ever they are ma­te­ri­ally sig­nif­i­cant. Since we still boast the world’s largest econ­omy, there are few places — from the Arc­tic to the In­dian Ocean — we can af­ford to ig­nore.

But wait, there’s an­other prob­lem with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pivot. It’s pretty much all talk. The White House cer­tainly is putting no money where its mouth is. Yes, it an­nounced that it would send more Ma­rine Corps and Air Force mem­bers for tours in Australia. But the Pen­tagon has iden­ti­fied no per­ma­nent in­crease for mil­i­tary force in Asia.

In pri­vate, of­fi­cials con­fess that the forces for Australia will be “glob­ally sourced.”

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