Joseph Nye, President Clinton’s first Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs wrote an opinion article for the New York Times that applauds President Obama for his ‘pivot’ towards the Asia Pacific region and decision to increase U.S. military training in Australia. This appears to be a concession that the move of Futenma air station within Okinawa is not feasible. But one should read this article as the logic driving U.S. policy in the Asia Pacific. As you can see, the concerns and wishes of peoples of the Pacific do not factor into his thinking.
There are three good reasons for President Obama’s decision to rotate regularly 2,500 Marines through an Australian base.
Obama is right to ‘pivot’ American foreign policy toward East Asia. It sends the right message to China, and avoids further friction with Japan.
Of the U.S. “message to China” he writes:
The Pentagon’s East Asia Strategy Review that has guided our policy since 1995 offered China integration into the international system through trade and exchanges, but we hedged our bet by simultaneously strengthening our alliance with Japan. Our military forces did not aspire to “contain” China in a cold war fashion, but they helped to shape the environment in which China makes its choices.
And of the Okinawa situation he concedes:
The U.S. and Japan have been working on the Futenma issue since I co-chaired a special action committee on Okinawa — in 1995! The current official plan to move the Marines inside Okinawa is unlikely to be acceptable to the Okinawa people. Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move because they will be able to train and exercise freely without inadvertently signaling a withdrawal from the region.