World View: U.S. Military Presence Increases in Yemen

World View: U.S. Military Presence Increases in Yemen

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Defense Secretary Panetta explains America’s ‘pivot’ to Asia
  • China warns Panetta to choose his words carefully
  • U.S. Urges China to Free Tiananmen Protesters
  • U.S. military presence increases in Yemen

Defense Secretary Panetta explains America’s ‘pivot’ to Asia

In a speech in Singapore on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta provided further details of America’s planned “pivot” from Europe to Asia that was announced last year, including a Marine Corp troop and aircraft deployment to northern Australia. By 2020,the United States will have 60 percent of its naval forces in the Pacific and 40 percent in the Atlantic, in contrast to the current 50-50 split. The strategic shift to Asia will use traditional allegiances and new budding partnerships with countries such as Vietnam and India, to offset China’s rising military power and assertiveness. According to Panetta:

The United States has key treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines and Thailand. We have key partners in India, Singapore, Indonesia, and other nations. And we are working hard to develop and build stronger relations with China.

Panetta addressed concerns about the U.S.-China relationship:

I know that many in the region and across the world are closely watching the United States-China relationship. Some view the increased emphasis by the United States on the Asia-Pacific region as some kind of challenge to China. I reject that view entirely. Our effort to renew and intensify our involvement in Asia is fully compatible — fully compatible — with the development and growth of China. Indeed, increased U.S. involvement in this region will benefit China as it advances our shared security and prosperity for the future. …

China also has a critical role to play in advancing security and prosperity by respecting the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades. The United States welcomes the rise of a strong and prosperous and successful China that plays a greater role in global affairs.”

This last paragraph contains a zinger. This is an allusion to China’s policy in the South China Sea, where China is refusing to respect any “rule-based order,” and is demanding complete ownership and control over the entire region. China even wants to forbid American ships from entering the South China Sea without its permission, even though it’s one of the most heavily trafficked bodies of water in the world.

Panetta expanded his criticism of China as follows:

On that note, we are obviously paying close attention to the situation in Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. The U.S. position is clear and consistent: we call for restraint and for diplomatic resolution; we oppose provocation; we oppose coercion; and we oppose the use of force. We do not take sides when it comes to competing territorial claims, but we do want this dispute resolved peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law. We have made our views known and very clear to our close treaty ally, the Philippines, and we have made those views clear to China and to other countries in the region.

As a Pacific power, the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, in unimpeded economic development and commerce, and in a respect for the rule of law. Our alliances, our partnerships, and our enduring presence in this region all serve to support these important goals.

Washington Post and U.S. Department of Defense

China warns Panetta to choose his words carefully

China was not convinced by Panetta’s assertions that the Asia “pivot” wasn’t targeting China, according to an article in the state-run media:

Although the US has insisted that its strategic shift to the region is not targeted at China, experts said Washington’s deeds, including its plan to highlight the South China Sea issue …, exposed its true intentions.

They also reminded US officials to choose their words carefully to avoid denting Beijing’s trust.

The article concludes:

“The US is not only attempting to consolidate ties with traditional allies but is also expanding its influence to new partners,” Shi Yinhong, an expert on international relations with Renmin University of China, said.

“Although Washington denies its strategic shift is aimed at any one country, it is obvious that China is one of its concerns … The shift shows that the US is taking strategic precautions against China,” Shi said.

“The strategic shift indicates that the US has concentrated more of its focus on China,” said Liu Hui, an expert on American studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

People’s Daily (Beijing)

U.S. Urges China to Free Tiananmen Protesters

Monday is the 23rd anniversary of the start of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre, where China’s military massacred thousands of unarmed students who were demonstrating peacefully in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In China it’s still forbidden to talk about the massacre, but it caused profound changes. In China, it triggered the Falun Gong protest movement, which has also been violently suppressed. In Taiwan, it triggered the Wild Lily rebellion, which led to the activist movement demanding Taiwan’s nationhood and independence from China. On Sunday, the U.S. State Dept. called on China to release all prisoners who are still being held for their participation in the 1989 demonstrations, and to provide a full accounting of all those killed, detained or missing during the violent suppression of the demonstrations. VOA

U.S. military presence increases in Yemen

With several hundred special forces already deployed in Yemen, the U.S. is being drawn militarily more and more into Yemen, despite the recent assertion by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that there was “no prospect” of “boots on the ground” in Yemen. Yemen is the headquarters of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), currently the most dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate to the United States. Growing numbers of special forces advisers are now training Yemen’s military, while financial and humanitarian aid from Western and Gulf states has increased sharply. At last week’s “Friends of Yemen” meeting in Riyadh, foreign powers pledged some $4 billion to the country. Britain said the country was at a “critical moment”. Yemen