DoD Committed to Peace in Asia, Brookes Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 10, 2001 The Defense Department is committed to a stable Asia and ensuring that the region remains peaceful, a senior DoD official said.
"Our commitment to peace and stability in Asia and our capabilities will remain at such a level that will allow us to address all of the issues ... in the region," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Peter T.R. Brookes told reporters Sept. 7 at the Pentagon.
Senior U.S. government officials "are becoming acutely aware of the rising importance of Asia," noted Brookes, a former Navy pilot and legislative adviser on the Hill who took up his new position July 16.
"We have increasing trade out there and, obviously, security (interests)," he added. The United States, he continued, will "do what is required to promote our interests in the region." Brookes noted that U.S. defense officials are concerned about potential flashpoints, Korea and Taiwan.
DoD continues to monitor the situation involving North and South Korea, he said. The two countries have maintained an often-uneasy truce for 48 years. About 38,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea help preserve the peace.
"Obviously, we're very concerned about the North Korean threat -- the conventional forces, ... the missile forces, as well as the proliferation of forces," Brookes said, adding that he regards recent talks between Pyongyang and Seoul as "a positive step."
Regarding the sometimes-contentious relationship between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, Brookes noted that the United States continues to stand by its defense obligations to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act.
China's current military buildup, to include ballistic missiles, reflects its seriousness of purpose regarding its defense establishment, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed in a Sept. 6 press briefing.
Rumsfeld told reporters that China is an important regional player, but one that seems to be trying to achieve greater economic power while preserving a nondemocratic system of government. He likened the situation to a traveler trying to go in two directions at once.
In his opinion, he said, the United States and other free systems should behave in such ways that Chinese economic impulses prevail over the nature of its governing system.
"A greater transparency on the part of the Chinese regarding why this missile build up is ongoing is something that would be important not only for the United States, but other regional players such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan," Brookes noted. "We're trying to figure out how to deal with this."