Monday, February 22, 2016

Is the Vaunted Pivot Faltering in a Little-Known Area?

Before the places we pivoted from (the Middle East and Europe) reverted to violence, the grandly announced Pivot to the Pacific was considered brilliant strategy. How's it going there?

Hope and change seem to be failing to affect rulers in Micronesia where even President Obama's odd focus on global warming fails to win hearts and minds across a large swathe of low-lying Pacific islands.

Behold the restoration of our global reputation in the Pacific:

In December 2015, in an oft overlooked corner of the globe, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (F.S.M.) passed a resolution signifying the intent to end the Compact of Free Association with the United States of America in 2018. The two sides were in the process of discussing a potential renewal of the Compact when it expires in 2023.

While the rest of the world watches events in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the People’s Republic of China is positioning itself to be in the driver’s seat in an area of key strategic interest to the United States. If Washington fails to act in a timely manner to renew the sometimes troubled Compact relationship, it will inadvertently drive the Micronesians into the arms of China and simultaneously leave a gaping hole in strategic access.

Right now we have China penned west of the first island chain from Japan to the Philippines.

Although it is difficult to see the impacts of our pivot so far on Chinese actions.

If China exploits a cancellation of our relationship with Micronesia, the location of many World War II battles to push closer to Japan, China has the potential of pushing their anti-access/area denial forces east of that line and add to the complications of sending our forces west to contest a Chinese advance in the western Pacific.

Indeed, holding bases here would put China in the position to threaten Hawaii.

It is important to nail this compact issue down to the satisfaction of Micronesian sovereignty issues and our defense concerns.