It’s not easy being the world’s policeman; you can’t just afford to focus on one issue at a time. Case in point: As the U.S. settles on a plan to conduct regular freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea, the head of the U.S. Navy tells the Financial Times the force is “reassessing its global posture in the face of the Russian activity.” Admiral John Richardson says the Russian navy is more active now than it has been in twenty years, and that the U.S. needs a new strategy to confront Moscow.
It’s very good that the navy is paying attention. Last week, we learned the Kremlin has been eyeing critical undersea cables that carry internet communications across the Atlantic. The free flow of goods and information are core American interests and maintaining freedom of the seas has been one of America’s chief responsibilities since World War II. The Russians would like to make that job harder—and America appear more hapless at doing it.
The Navy will need support from the White House and Congress to make any new strategy work. The Admiral has spoken. Is Washington listening?