What others say: U.S. military's eyes on the Asian Pacific

Slowly and gingerly, the United States is rebuilding its military presence in the Asian Pacific, and in two cases doing so at the invitation — though cloaked in diplomatic double talk — of the Philippines and Vietnam.

In 2012, the Philippines reopened to the U.S. Navy Subic Bay, a onetime major American naval base dating to the end of the Spanish-American War. That same year Vietnam reopened the huge and largely abandoned naval base at Cam Ranh Bay with the caveat that it was to be used by U.S. noncombat vessels.

The Navy pulled out of Cam Ranh Bay at the end of the Vietnam War and was more or less forced out of Subic Bay by the Philippine government in 1991.

Meanwhile, Japan, undoubtedly with tacit U.S. approval, is abandoning a ban that has stood since the end of World War II on the export of weapons and military materiel.

The related events are, as The Associated Press put it, part of an Obama administration policy of “reasserting the U.S. role as a Pacific power after a decade of war elsewhere.” It is also a clear and growing reaction to the Chinese military buildup and China’s growing aggressiveness in asserting jurisdiction over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The islands are largely uninhabited, but they give the possessor a claim on fishing rights and what are believed to be extensive oil and gas deposits. They are claimed not only by China but variously by Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

Speaking Monday in Manila, where he signed a 10-year agreement providing U.S. access to Philippine military bases, President Barack Obama said, “Our goal is not to counter China. ... Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected, and that includes in the area of international disputes.”

Even so, if building up an arc of military treaties and basing-rights agreements around the South China Sea has the presumably unintended consequence of countering China, no one in Washington, Tokyo, Manila, Hanoi or Seoul will be the slightest bit dismayed.

— The Commercial Appeal, Memphis,

May 3

More

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 23:42

What others say: Obama took right tack on Cuba

There’s no solution to the half-century old Cuba problem that will satisfy everyone, but we strongly believe President Obama made the right decision to end the troubled “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

Read more

What others say: Obama’s legacy a mixed one

President Barack Obama leaves office Friday after eight years as the most consequential Democrat to occupy the White House since Lyndon Johnson. And unlike that Texan, whose presidency was born in tragedy and ended in failure, Obama will not have the ghost of the Vietnam War haunting his days and eating his conscience as LBJ did all the remaining days of his life.

Read more

Op-ed: Trump won the news conference

Donald Trump should do press conferences more often. Not for the country’s sake, certainly not for the media’s sake, but for his. He really shouldn’t have waited 167-plus days to hold one, because the man gives great sound bite. Although I’ve participated in probably thousands of these staged encounters as a reporter, they’re not my favorite way of getting news — you almost never get any. The guy at the podium controls the proceeding. He can get his message out with little challenge from the assembled journalists who are limited to a question and a follow-up, maybe. Politicians can bob and weave through that without any of us landing a blow. And that’s our job: to penetrate the canned responses to their version of the controversy du jour and get at whatever truth they are hiding. Besides, Trump — who uses contempt for the media as a weapon, his preferred way to discredit reporting that displeases him —has a wonderful forum to do that. At the very least he should hold these confrontations as a supplement to his Twitter tirades. And frequently. It’s his opportunity to hold the media hostage as they cover live his rain of abuse on them.

Read more

Good luck in Juneau

The 30th Alaska Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our Kenai Peninsula legislators good luck over the coming months in Juneau.

Read more