As President Obama closes the door on the war in Iraq, he opens a window into the Asia-Pacific region.
President Obama announced the establishment of a U.S. Marine Base in Australia, and some are saying China’s growing military is the reason for a new military shift.
The shift comes nearly a month after President Obama announced the end of the war in Iraq. But at the same time, Obama is stating the need for the United States to establish a new military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I’ve therefore made a deliberate and strategic decision [that] as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with allies and friends,” Obama said in his address to the Australian Parliament.
While the Obama administration maintains its stance that this transition is for diplomatic reasons, Chinese representatives see this as a threat and are comparing it to the Cold War.
“Moves that run contrast to the current trend of peace and cooperation are not helpful in building mutual trust and cooperation among regional countries and will damage their common interests,” Geng Yansheng, spokesman of the Chinese Defense Ministry, said in his monthly press briefing.
Power struggle over Taiwan
On Oct. 21, President Obama promised that all U.S. troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays. While the U.S. military post offices in Iraq are no longer receiving mail, there are soldiers stationed around the world who could still receive care packages. If you would like to send a package to a member of the U.S. military for the holiday season and beyond, here is a list of frequently requested items.
*Toiletries (deodorant, toothbrushes, lip balm, soap, shampoo, feminine products, etc.)
*Non-perishable foods (chips, trail mix, soups)
*Drinks (powdered Gatorade, tea, coffee)
*Entertainment (DVDs, boardgames, decks of cards, etc.)
For a more detailed list visit, click here.
Many sites recommend sending care packaged in a U.S. Post Office Flat Rate Priority Boxes. The box is approximately 8 ½” x 11” x 5” deep. Make sure not to send anything that could break. It is also recommended to wrap liquid in plastic bags just in case there is a spill. Liquids should also be in travel size containers
There are many organizations that help people send care packages. Here are four sites that could provide more information on mailing a package or letter of appreciation:
*Treats for Troops
* U.S. Troop Care Package http://www.ustroopcarepackage.com/
http://www.uso.org/uso-holiday-boxes/ (while it is too late to send a holiday box, you can still send a care package in time for the Superbowl or Valentines Day)
While China’s growing military could be one reason Obama has established this new military base in Australia, some say that the U.S. relationship with China over Taiwan may be another reason.
Michael Swain, a U.S. analyst on Chinese Security at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says Taiwan serves as an explanation of how China is a threat to the United States. The U.S. supports Taiwan by providing weapons, while China’s military presence continues to grow in the same territory.
“The Chinese could think that they have more coercive power and therefore employ it,” Swain said. “And that’s a threat. It’s a threat of instability. It’s about perception, it’s about deterrence.”
However, Swain said the biggest threat is not knowing who would be in control if a crisis emerges.
“The big problem is that it undermines escalation control. It makes it more uncertain to how a situation will be managed,” Swain said.
“We are the stabilizer”
This isn’t the first time China has emerged as a topic in military discussions this year.
On Oct. 12, the House Armed Services Committee discussed the future of the U.S. Defense Department if the Congressional super-committee failed to reach an agreement on budget cuts. One of the primary arguments was that this isn’t the time to reduce the defense budget since China has surged its military capabilities.
“By 2020, China will be the dominant military force in the Western Pacific if it wants to be,” former Congressman Duncan Hunter said in testimony before the committee he used to chair.
Other people on the committee’s panel testified that America was making progress in building a military-industrial base in the region, but now China has begun to take over. Several Congressmen expressed grave concern over the threat of China’s growing military capabilities. They also wondered how America will be able to respond if drastic budget cuts are made.
“Our country will be relegated to the sidelines of history,” Ike Skelton, another former chairman of the committee said.
Perhaps a even greater concern is a fear that America’s status as a military superpower could be challenged. Although the U.S. hasn’t had a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific since the Vietnam War, members of the panel argued why the United States needs to maintain its authoritative position and its ability to defend freedoms and democracies.
“We are the stabilizer, and we must remain so,” former Sen. John Warner said in the panel discussion.
Logistics of the new base
Even though many challenge the necessity of this new Australian base or debate the reasons behind this new strategy, plans are in motion. The Marines will be sending in 2,500 troops in units of 250 to serve for six months.
The troops will stay in Australian facilities and will undergo training there, according to The Washington Post. The Air Force will have aircraft stationed at base as well.