US naval, air maneuvers become ‘new normal’ in Asia Pacific
US moves in recent months have led to angry protests from China and Russia, which contend the Obama administration is fueling unrest in the Asia Pacific and conducting illegal and unsafe transit in the region. U.S. military leaders defend the operations and say they will continue to exercise freedom of navigation, and may do so more frequently as time goes on.
The escalating rhetoric reflects efforts by China and Russia to show military superiority in an increasingly crowded and competitive part of the world. And it sets up a tense game of political brinksmanship as leaders from the two countries and the U.S. thrust and parry across the military and diplomatic fields of play.
The military maneuvers have shadowed President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” a decision early in his tenure to try to focus the relationship with Pacific partners on economics and trade.
“We’re at a moment when China, Iran and Russia are all testing us, engaging in reckless behavior and forcing policy makers with the question of how far we push and when,” said Derek Chollet, a former assistant defense secretary for international affairs and now a senior adviser at the German Marshall Fund.
“We’re for freedom of navigation and following the rules, and to an extent we are
pushing back against changing the rules.”