- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez tells Hispanics to vote and ‘punish those’ who oppose amnesty
- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
Inside the Ring: Asia pivot threatened
Question of the Day
National security officials in the military and at the Pentagon are voicing growing worries that the second Obama administration is preparing to jettison the new policy focus on Asia known as the “pivot” or rebalancing.
Evidence cited by these officials includes a recent Chinese government visitor who was told that the White House plans to kill the shift to Asia in mid-2013 as part of its conciliatory approach to China. Beijing is the key, but unspoken, target of the major military and diplomatic effort to increase security in Asia and calm the fears of U.S. allies alarmed by what they see as the new Chinese hegemon in Asia.
The Obama administration so far has failed to criticize China for its years of cyberespionage attacks or even acknowledge publicly that China is conducting computer assaults. The administration also has provided lukewarm support for key allies, as its low-key handling of visit last month by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed.
China is currently engaged in maritime disputes with most of its neighbors in Asia and is becoming increasingly aggressive in claiming control over vast areas of international waters that host vital shipping lanes used by energy-poor countries in the region.
A second troubling sign for the shift to Asia was the departure last month from the State Department of Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, a key policy player who was widely respected for his handling of most Asian policies and who is considered the father of the Asia pivot.
Mr. Campbell left last month to launch a new consulting firm called the Asia Group.
China’s state-controlled media continue to ramp up criticism of the Asia pivot and especially the U.S. military element known as the Air Sea Battle Concept. Official Chinese spokesmen have called the battle plan a stalking horse for what Beijing calls U.S. “containment” or “encirclement” of the growing regional communist power.
The Air Sea Battle Concept, unveiled from its classified roots in November 2011, seeks closer Navy and Air Force cooperation in the Pacific, along with closer alliances and joint training. The plan also involves new weapons to counter what the Pentagon calls anti-access and area-denial weapons, such as China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles, cyberwarfare capabilities and anti-satellite weapons.
However, with the budget cuts of the past four years and now the additional sequester reductions, officials say the outlook for funding the pivot and Air Sea Battle is dimming.
Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told a House hearing Tuesday that the recent budget cuts have the potential to undermine the pivot “as our ability to operate and maintain our force is at increased risk.”
Mr. Hagel also could be influenced to drop the pivot by the Chinese military, which viewed him favorably in a recent report in the official PLA Daily newspaper. The paper praised Mr. Hagel in a Feb. 28 story as “not a pacifist but [someone who] has always held a cautious attitude on the use of U.S. forces overseas.”
The article written by Wang Zhengxu said Mr. Hagel favors abandoning what the author called a U.S. policy of treating states as either “friend or foe,” and said Mr. Hagel “recognizes that the two sides have their differences but he points out that ‘concentrating single-mindedly on common interests’ is the key to the development of mutually profitable relations.”
Asked by senators in written policy questions during his confirmation if he believes the Asia pivot is a “necessity,” Mr. Hagel declined to say it was needed. He said the policy “will require strong and continuous U.S. commitment” amid budget constraints.
A State Department official also avoided a direct answer when asked if the pivot is on the ropes. The official told Inside the Ring that the Asia-Pacific region is a “strategic priority” and that “we will broaden and deepen our engagement in the region accordingly.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Humanists seek support from Congress on military chaplains
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Big milestone for Britain's little prince
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq