Obama has assured us that he’s a big picture kind of guy. He’s the deep thinker who can’t be worried about process because he’s so focused on the brass ring of success
“I’m less concerned about style points, I’m much more concerned about getting the policy right.”
Well, that’s a fair statement. I’m a big believer in winning. I’d rather win in an obvious and orderly fashion but I’m willing to win ugly if that is what it takes.
The difficulty of evaluating the success or failure of this statement depends on knowing what policy one is “getting right.”
Currently, China and Japan are embroiled in a dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. This island group consists of five islets and three uninhabited rocks. On its surface it doesn’t seem like much but with possession comes an exclusive economic zone and the rights to the oil, gas, and minerals that are believed to be there.
The policy Obama seems to have gotten right in Syria is that the United States is a strategic irrelevance whose words aren’t worth a whole lot. Back in the good old days under Chairman Mao the technical term was “paper tiger.”
Aircraft and ships from the two countries have played cat-and-mouse in the vicinity of the islands ever since, raising fears of conflict, perhaps sparked by an accident.
Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of General Staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, said during scheduled talks with U.S. counterparts in Beijing that China was determined to defend its territory, but had all along exercised restraint.
“This issue should not become a problem between China and the United States, and China hopes that the United States does not become a third party in this issue,” the Defence Ministry quoted Wang as telling U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller.
“The United States should maintain a consistent stance and policy, not send wrong signals nor support and connive with the relevant country to do as they please,” Wang added.
To underscore that they are serious the Chinese have refused to hold talks with Japan on this issue and have sent ships and drones into Japanese territorial waters.
This is simply the latest in a series of moves by the Chinese to establish actual hegemony over the South China Sea and East China Sea. Our allies in the area, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines, are looking to our actions to determine whether they should resist Chinese expansion or make the best deal they can with Beijing and avoid conflict.
Under a stronger president, or at least one who is not the laughingstock of the world, the Chinese would have been much more circumspect about dictating to the U.S. what U.S. policy is. But as Obama is happy letting Vladimir Putin set U.S. policy in Syria, I’m sure he doesn’t object to the Chinese establishing our policy with China.