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China and the West
Mixed US Messages in the S. China Sea

The Pentagon has been sending mixed messages about whether it recently conducted a full freedom of navigation operation or a less assertive “innocent passage” operation in the South China Sea. Reuters reports:

A U.S. official speaking to Reuters last week described the patrols as an “innocent passage” operation, but later said that had been a mistake.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis insisted to reporters on Wednesday that the patrol was not an “innocent passage.” Pressed further on the issue on Thursday, he declined to explicitly restate that position or elaborate.

According to Hostra University law professor Julian Ku, an “innocent passage” operation by the U.S. would implicitly recognize that “China is entitled to a 12 nm (nautical mile) territorial sea around its artificial island on Subi Reef” and thus undermine the whole point of the operation.

Far be it from us to parse out technical details about naval maneuvers. It’s the messy messaging that concerns us. After months of waffling about whether to conduct the operation at all, the White House appeared to finally have made a decision. Now, the picture looks blurry again. The whole point of sailing within twelve miles of the artificial islands was to send a clear signal, so that signal had better be clear. Even if the U.S. did in fact conduct a complete freedom of navigation operation, stories like these only make the operation less effective.

Almost seven years into the current administration, you’d think the president would know how to make sure his officials are on the same page. The president and his advisors might disagree about the best course of action, but they would eventually come to work in concert. Yet that doesn’t appear to be how this administration operates.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Obama is the worst President in American History. He is incapable of learning from his mistakes. Because he is so arrogant and narcissistic that he can never accept blame for his mistakes, and accepting responsibility is the first step in learning to do it right the next time.

  • Dale Fayda

    The “wizards of smart” at TAI still haven’t grasped the fairly obvious reality that everything Obama has been doing and will do in the future in the field of foreign policy is just for show. There is no foreign policy strategy, there has never been a strategy nor will there ever be a strategy with this regime.

    Obama is merely running out the string until the end of his term, hoping to get a few more at-bats in “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” and looking forward to six figure speech honorariums in his retirement. Otherwise, he has checked out and is simply hoping that things around the world don’t get noticeably worse in the next 12 months.

    The end.

  • Jim__L

    ISIS is jayvee.

    These guys are Frosh.

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