In a move that could prove as momentous—and dangerous—as President Truman’s 1947 decision to initiate a cold war with the Soviet Union, President Obama has chosen to commence a military buildup in the Asia Pacific region aimed at reasserting US primacy and constraining China. Announced in Canberra, Australia, on November 17, the buildup will include deploying 2,500 US marines at Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, and an expanded naval presence in the South China Sea. Along with this shift is a fresh US drive to bolster alliances with countries on China’s periphery, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. None of this is explicitly aimed at China—indeed, Obama insists he still seeks good relations with Beijing—but it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the White House has decided to counter China’s spectacular economic growth with a military riposte.
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