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Obama Forges New Special Relationship with Australia, Makes Asia-Pacific a ‘top Priority’ with Military Presence

Posted on the 17 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Obama forges new special relationship with Australia, makes Asia-Pacific a ‘top priority’ with military presence

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US President Barack Obama. Photo credit: Pete Souza, official White House photo

US President Barack Obama issued his strongest challenge to China yet after forging an agreement with Australia to install 2,500 US Marines in an Australian military base the country’s Darwin region – the first long-term expansion of America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific region since the Vietnam War. The news was announced during Obama’s first official visit to the country; in a speech in Australian Parliament on Thursday, Obama declared that the US is a “Pacific power” and explaining, “Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in this region.”

China was swift to react, accusing the US president of heightening military tensions in the region, The New York Times reported: “It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Liu Weimin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in response to the news.

But while the president has said that the US is not attempting to isolate China, the decision to forge ahead with a military presence in the region, despite Pentagon budget cuts, and the US’s warming ties to Australia seem to say otherwise.

China’s neighbours scared. The decision to increase America’s military presence in Asia also comes as America’s jittery allies in the region are reportedly demanding more back-up, CNN reported. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that other nations in the area have asked for help, saying, “[T]here’s a demand signal from the nations of the region, and this is something that we’re doing in concert with one of our closest allies. So we believe it’s not just entirely appropriate, but an important step to dealing with the challenges of the future of the Asia Pacific region.”

‘Special relationship’ with Australia blossoming. Look out, Britain – the US has made some new friends. In announcing this new military partnership with Australia, President Obama declared, “The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia. We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish.” David Rothkopf, writing at Foreign Policy, warned that this new special relationship could “transcend” America’s relationship with Britain, though it’s at least still in the colonial family. Australia is America’s natural ally in the Asia Pacific region, a position that will only grow in importance as China and the rest of Asia continues to rise.

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