- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

John Kerry’s major campaign theme is that his election would bring about a “stronger America.” The claim is based on the notion that President Bush’s policies have isolated the United States from its allies, leaving the nation alone and vulnerable in a dangerous world. The charge is false, and America’s pre-eminence in Asia exposes the Kerry canard.

In Asia’s volatile hot spots, India and Pakistan stare each other down with nuclear weapons; China and Taiwan have ratcheted up the military standoff at the Taiwan Strait; and ancient animosity between Japan and China has grown. The Bush administration has deftly managed America’s relationships with all the nations involved in these conflicts.

Both Pakistan and India are allies in the war on terror. The Bush administration convinced Japan and China to set aside their differences to work together in negotiations to disarm North Korea. U.S. relations with China continue to mature and trade grows even though the United States remains the largest arms supplier to Taiwan. Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia provide daily assistance and intelligence against terror.

The Korean Peninsula remains a trouble spot, but the Bush administration has rejected the failed Clinton policy of using oil and food to bribe Pyongyang into complying with nuclear inspections. Mr. Bush’s order last month to move 15,000 U.S. troops away from the demilitarized zone lessened tension at that fortified 50-year-old trip- wire. Their redeployment to other spots along the South China Sea reminds Beijing that Washington isn’t neglecting its role as the military check on Red China’s hegemonic interests in the region.

Like all good stories in Asia, however, this one has a kicker. The Philippines — a former U.S. commonwealth and one of America’s strongest allies in the Cold War — has emerged as a leader of those nations acquiescing to terrorists. Two months ago, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo caved in to terrorist demands to pull Filipino peacekeepers out of Iraq and bar citizens of the Philippines from cooperating in any U.S.-led activities there. Since then, she has proudly defended her betrayal in trips across her archipelago and rebuffed U.S. requests for skilled Filipino workers to help in the reconstruction effort.

In an Aug. 28 interview, President Bush said regarding the war on terror: “Make no mistake about it, we are winning, and we will win.” Progress thus far is largely a result of the strong alliances Mr. Bush has built across Asia. Despite Mr. Kerry’s plea for votes, it is a dangerous time for America to change course.

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