Friday, July 30, 2010

Ni hao to a Grasshopper

Lynn: Guam Plays Pivotal Role in Globally Important Region
The realignment of forces on Guam is key to maintaining an effective U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the deputy defense secretary said here today.

“We must commit our forces carefully to ensure they are effective across the widest possible range,” Lynn said. “And Guam is the linchpin in our force structure strategy in this region.

The realignment on Guam is part of a larger U.S. posture shift in Asia, Lynn explained, as forces become more “geographically dispersed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable.”

Geography alone guarantees Asia a key role in world affairs since Asia and the Pacific take up more than half of the Earth’s surface, with 43 countries and 60 percent of the world’s population, Lynn said.

“Reflecting its importance, five of the seven bilateral defense agreements the U.S. has are with nations in Asia,” he said. “Without question, the rise of Asia in economic and military terms is the most significant change in the strategic environment for the United States.”

“We need the right mix of forces to address the increasing set of security missions across the region,” William J. Lynn III told an audience of local officials and community leaders while taking part in the University of Guam’s Presidential Lecture Series.

As the westernmost U.S. territory in the Pacific, Guam is centrally positioned in a region of increasing global importance, Lynn noted. The island offers access to U.S. allies and potential hot spots throughout the region – Guam is two-to-five hours by air and two days by ship from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and other key western Pacific locations.

“If done effectively,” Lynn said, “our work will help safeguard our fellow citizens, ensure the long-term health of Guam and bring continued stability to the entire Pacific region. And these are things we all have a stake in.”

To graphically understand the statements and statistics Undersecretary Lynn referred to, see the maps showing the relative and near proximity of Guam to neighboring countries in this Guambat post. To give a flavor of it, this map shows Guam at the center of a circle (elongated by the location slightly north of the equator) with a radius 5000 miles, which is about the distance between the US states of New York and Hawaii.

Back before computers and internet, Mr and Mrs Guambat enjoyed watching that overly fictionalized modern western show Kung Fu, with David Carridine. Carridine played a sort of Chinese Monk/Warrior on a Crusade through the western US. Guambat did say it was fictional.

Carridine's character, named Kwai Chang Caine, was a hapa-Sino man, but in the many flashbacks to his young days in the monastery, his Master called him Grasshopper, or sometimes Young Grasshopper. Guambat reckons Master Yoda's Young Skywalker name is too close in cadence and connotation to be coincidence.

Guambat is now worried that a plague of Grasshoppers may be steaming their way to his Bayview Burrow, after reading this story:

U.S.-South Korea war games raise China's hackles
China views the military exercises in the Sea of Japan as a threat to its territorial integrity. Beijing's indignation appears calibrated to push back at U.S. dominance in the

"What will Americans feel if the Chinese or Russian military travel across the ocean to hold their exercises in the high seas not far from the coast of Florida, New York or California?" demanded an editorial writer in Tuesday's English-language China Daily.

China's reaction has been equally sharp regarding remarks Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Hanoi suggesting that China submit to international mediation to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The Global Times, which has close ties to the Communist Party, accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to "ambush China in its backyard."

"China is protesting because they now feel powerful enough to do so," said Han Suk-hee, an expert on Chinese-North Korean relations at the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. "They feel more mature as a superpower, ready to manage the world, certainly the seas off their own coastline."

"The U.S. and South Korea paid attention to China's worries and changed the location of the drill," Zhou Yongsheng, a professor from China Foreign Affairs University, wrote in Oriental Outlook, a government magazine. "It is not merely because the U.S. and South Korea were trying to 'give face' to China. It has shown China's power and impact in Northeast Asia is rising."

While Guambat prefers to think, and as history has shown, Guam is the Crossroads of the Pacific, others want to portray it as the Tip of the Spear. Either way, Crossroads or Spear, with all the US military buildup taking place now and planned over the next decade, China will take notice.

Whether China sees Guam as an insignificant but strategic bit of geography or a spear pointed at its soft underside, it will take an interest that has very much potential to unsettle Guambat's nervous system.

Guambat will take Chinese lessons. Ni hao and xie-xie very much.

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