Clarity, Determination Needed for U.S. Pacific Strategy

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The United States risks losing the region if it waffles on tough issues.


Viewed as an indispensable force for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States risks losing the support it enjoys from nearly every nation in that hemisphere if it is ambiguous and not willing to take a stand during crises, said defense experts. A panel on the Indo-Asia Pacific region comprising former military flag officers and moderated by a China expert explored the developments taking place in the region and the importance of U.S. forces to peace and prosperity there.

In this panel at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, was Vice Adm. Doug Crowder, USN (Ret.), former commander, Seventh Fleet. Adm. Crowder was blunt about the role the United States must play if it is to be taken seriously in the Asia-Pacific region. If the United States is not transparent in dealing with China and does not stand up to it when necessary, then other nations will doubt U.S. resolve, he charged.

Adm. Crowder’s remarks built on earlier comments by fellow panelist Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Pacific Command. He cited an old saying that “virtual presence equals actual absence.” He added, “Everybody over there wants us there one way or another.”

Adm. Keating also was blunt about dealing with China. “Do not relent ever when the Chinese want to put a finger in our chest,” he stated. “When they say our presence is just to contain China, they flatter themselves.

“Treat them with respect, but don’t ever shy away when an issue requires being clear,” the admiral declared.

 

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