U.S. Should Lead From Within, Not From Behind

November 1, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command decried the concept of "leading from behind" and called for the United States to "lead from within." Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), told the audience at the opening keynote address for TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the United States must work closely with nations in the Asia-Pacific region to ensure security and reduce the threat of conflict. The admiral related how he and his Pacific Command (PACOM) staff visited 30 of these nations, and every one-at some point or another-described the United States as "an indispensable partner." With the South China Sea as a lightning rod for possible conflict, the United States should work with nations in ways with which they are comfortable. This does not mean installing bases in many countries, he explained. Yet, PACOM must maintain direct contact with these countries in spite of looming budget cuts. Reducing the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region would be the wrong move at this time, as there is no substitute for direct contact. "Virtual presence can equal actual absence," the admiral declared.

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