Visiting the deep water harbor at Cam Ranh Bay, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took another step towards the most important US foreign policy shift since the 1940s as he talked about the importance of access to the prime ports of Asia to America’s emerging grand strategy in the east.Fresh from the announcement of a US-Singapore agreement on the “rotational deployment” of US ships in its habor and with a top aide flying to the Philippines to pursue another basing agreement, Panetta spoke of deepening US-Vietnam military and political ties.According to a Reuters report, the initial Chinese military response was low key.
Chinese Lieutenant General Ren Haiquan noted the U.S. decision to increase the number of warships in the Pacific during remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on Sunday.“First, we should not treat this as a disaster,” Ren said.“I believe that this is the United States’ response to its own national interests, its fiscal difficulties and global security developments,” he said in comments reported by Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television.
On a more somber note, news comes that a top Chinese intelligence official is being held on charges of spying for the United States.More than six months after the new US strategy began to take shape last fall, coverage of the new realities in the Pacific by the mainstream media remains scatter shot and haphazard. This is a problem; the Obama administration is committing the US to a path in Asia that has profound implications for the future of world politics and for American military and political responsibilities. At Via Meadia we think they are getting the big picture right, but the absence of public debate and discussion of a strategic shift this consequential is troubling.Admittedly with naked face-eating cannibals in Miami and corpse dismembering, bisexual porn stars fleeing to France there are a lot of distractions out there, but the biggest step in a generation for American foreign policy deserves systematic and sustained attention even so. Let’s hope this improves; distinguishing between noise and news is the essence of what good media should do and while Asia coverage is beginning to improve, we still have a long way to go.