Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Playing with fire: Obama's threat to China

Obama says US influence will turn from the Middle East towards the "vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region".

When it comes to China policy, is the Obama administration leaping from the frying pan directly into the fire? In an attempt to turn the page on two disastrous wars in the greater Middle East, it may have just launched a new Cold War in Asia - once again, viewing oil as the key to global supremacy.

The new policy was signalled by President Obama himself on November 17 in an address to the Australian Parliament in which he laid out an audacious - and extremely dangerous - geopolitical vision. Instead of focusing on the greater Middle East, as has been the case for the last decade, the United States will now concentrate its power in Asia and the Pacific.

"My guidance is clear," he declared in Canberra. "As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region."

While administration officials insist that this new policy is not aimed specifically at China, the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of US military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land - at whatever risk or cost.

The planet's new centre of gravity

The new emphasis on Asia and the containment of China is necessary, top officials insist, because the Asia-Pacific region now constitutes the "centre of gravity" of world economic activity. While the United States was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes, China had the leeway to expand its influence in the region. Read More