April 9, 2016

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Behind Closed Doors, Top U.S. Commander Frustrated With Obama.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of major disagreements between the White House and the Pentagon over U.S. Asia policy. Two weeks ago, the well-connected David Ignatius indicated that top Defense officials would like to see the U.S. take a tougher line in the South China Sea. But this Navy Times report is pretty remarkable. It’s difficult not to assume that although Harris’ office declined to comment on-the-record, someone close to the Admiral has been disclosing Defense’s frustrations off-the-record.

It’s easy to see why Defense officials would be exasperated. China is slowing but steadily taking control of one of the world’s critical shipping lanes, and the U.S. President doesn’t want to try harder to stop them because he’s focused on nuclear non-proliferation and non-binding climate agreements. Yes, the United States needs China’s cooperation on many issues. But America has, since the end of World War Two, defended freedom of the seas as a cornerstone of a peaceful world order that has largely benefited the world.

President Obama, the White House keeps saying, is focused on legacy-building in his final year. Well, a Beijing-controlled South China Sea and the embittering of America’s Asia Pacific allies and partners who asked the U.S. to intervene on their behalf would certainly be quite a legacy.

Worst commander-in-chief ever?

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