Rice Re-emphasizes Importance of U.S. Shift to Pacific
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2013 While there are many concerns around the world, the rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific remains a foreign policy priority for the Obama administration, Susan Rice, the president’s national security advisor, said at Georgetown University yesterday.
Rice announced that President Barack Obama will travel to Asia in April, making up for a trip he had to cancel in October due to the government shutdown.
The United States is a Pacific power, and has used its influence, diplomacy, economic might and power to provide a safe and secure region where countries in the Asia-Pacific can thrive. America wants this to continue and this is the reason for the U.S. strategic shift, Rice said.
“Ultimately, America’s purpose is to establish a more stable security environment in Asia, an open and transparent economic environment and a liberal political environment that respects the universal rights and freedoms of all,” she said. “Achieving that future will necessarily be the sustained work of successive administrations.”
Enhancing security in the region is the underpinning for all progress, Rice said.
“We are making the Asia-Pacific more secure with American alliances -- and an American force posture -- that are being modernized to meet the challenges of our time,” Rice said. “By 2020, 60 percent of our fleet will be based in the Pacific and our Pacific Command will gain more of our most cutting-edge capabilities.”
The resources shift will leave the United States better able to respond to provocations and better able to launch operations like Operation Damayan that is helping millions of people in the Philippines recover from the impact of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
“We are updating and diversifying our security relationships in the region to address emerging challenges as effectively as we deter conventional threats,” Rice said. “We are urging our allies and partners to take greater responsibility for defending our common interests and values.”
Rice said she expects to complete the first fundamental revision of the bilateral defense guidelines with Japan in more than 15 years.
“In South Korea, we’re enhancing the alliance’s military capabilities to ensure that our combined forces can deter and fully answer North Korea’s provocations,” she said.
U.S. Marines now are using rotational bases in Australia, and American and Australian officials are examining ways to work together to confront space and cyber security threats.
The United States also is working with all allies in the region to get them to work more closely together and to cooperate to solve mutual problems.
“When it comes to China, we seek to ‘operationalize’ a new model of major power relations,” Rice said. “That means managing inevitable competition while forging deeper cooperation on issues where our interests converge -- in Asia and beyond.”
There are many areas where Chinese and American interests converge, the national security advisor said. Both nations want nuclear weapons off the Korean Peninsula, both want a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as well as a stable and secure Afghanistan, and both want an end to conflict in Sudan. China and the United States working together could make an immense difference in the world, Rice said.
Improving military-to-military ties between China and the U.S. plays a role, and the two nations have already cooperated in countering piracy and improving maritime security.
“Greater military engagement and transparency can help us manage the realities of mistrust and competition, while augmenting the high-level communication that has been a hallmark of this administration’s approach to China,” Rice said.
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