Smiles Belie Persistent Mistrust
On January 5, 2012, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta released new defense strategic guidance, highlighting U.S. national defense priorities and underscoring America’s determination to maintain its global leadership and military superiority despite budgetary constraints . The strategy indicates the United States will continue to focus on counter-terrorism, and highlights the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East as key regional priorities. Specifically, it states the U.S. military “will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region,” in keeping with the broader “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific illustrated by President Obama’s November 2011 Asia-Pacific trip, progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) economic agreement and plans to rotate U.S. military forces through bases in Australia—moves that many Chinese analysts have interpreted as aimed at countering China’s growing power and influence (“China Assesses President Obama’s November Asia-Pacific Trip,” China Brief, December 20, 2011). . . .