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Former US Marine Colonel Warns America ‘Deserves to Lose’ in The Central Pacific

Grant Newsham, Senior Research Fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and retired US Marine Colonel, has written a scathing piece on the failure of American bureaucracy to protect our interests in the Central Pacific, as China watches on waiting to lap up the agreements that help us control the area.

Asia Pacific Hangs in the Balance

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While the world’s attention may have been fixated on America’s tumultuous exit from Afghanistan, another crisis is quietly brewing in the Pacific region, writes Newsham.

The United States’ defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific hangs in the balance as crucial agreements face uncertainty and financial obstacles, threatening to undermine vital alliances and security measures.

Dependence on Central Pacific

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The security framework of the Asia-Pacific heavily relies on American control of the Central Pacific, which is facilitated through treaties known as the Compacts of Free Association (COFAs) with three nations Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Marshall Islands.

These agreements grant the US essential military access and control over vast maritime territories crucial for regional defense operations.

Financial Implications of COFAs

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Renewing the COFAs is imperative for maintaining US influence in the Pacific.

However, the agreements face challenges, including the requirement of $2.3 billion in offsets over 20 years.

Despite this relatively modest sum, disputes over funding allocation have created significant hurdles in the renewal process.

Blame Game in Washington

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Amidst the funding dispute, Washington is engulfed in a blame game, with Congress, the White House, and the Department of Defense pointing fingers at each other.

Despite the urgency of the situation, partisan politics and bureaucratic inertia have hindered progress on securing the vital defense agreements.

Strategic Consequences of Inaction

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Failure to renew the COFAs could have far-reaching strategic consequences, leaving critical regions vulnerable to Chinese influence and undermining US defense capabilities in the Pacific.

Without secure rear areas in the Central Pacific, defending against Chinese aggression along the First Island Chain becomes increasingly challenging.

China’s Strategic Maneuvering

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China has been actively exploiting the uncertainty surrounding the COFAs to expand its influence in the Pacific, explains Newsham.

Through economic incentives, political coercion, and strategic investments, Beijing aims to erode US alliances and assert dominance in the region, posing a significant threat to American interests.

Risk to American Service Personnel

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The stakes are high, with the potential failure to renew the COFAs putting American service personnel at risk.

Maintaining strong ties with Pacific allies is essential for regional stability and deterring Chinese aggression. Failure to do so could result in dire consequences for US national security interests.

Leadership Vacuum in Washington

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Despite the gravity of the situation, there appears to be a lack of decisive leadership in Washington.

The absence of coordinated action and strategic vision undermines America’s ability to navigate complex geopolitical challenges in the Pacific and safeguard its interests effectively.

Call for Action

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Amidst the political deadlock, there are growing calls for proactive measures to address the funding shortfall and secure the COFAs.

Whether through reallocation of resources, diplomatic initiatives, or international partnerships, urgent action is needed to prevent a strategic setback in the Pacific.

Importance of Pacific Allies

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The COFA nations play a crucial role in America’s Pacific strategy, and their continued partnership is essential for regional security.

Failing to uphold commitments to these allies could have profound consequences, jeopardizing America’s standing and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Potential Solutions

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While Washington grapples with internal challenges, there are potential avenues for resolving the funding dispute and securing the COFAs.

Whether through diplomatic negotiations, financial incentives, or strategic partnerships, finding a viable solution is imperative for safeguarding American interests in the Pacific.

Japan’s Role and Potential Contributions

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Japan, a key US ally in the region, could potentially play a significant role in addressing the funding shortfall and securing the COFAs.

Given its strategic interests and historical partnership with the United States, Japan’s involvement could provide much-needed support and stability in the Pacific.

Urgency of Action

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As geopolitical tensions escalate and China’s influence grows, there is no time to waste in addressing the funding crisis surrounding the COFAs.

The security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region depend on decisive and coordinated action to uphold vital defense agreements and deter threats to American interests.

Call for Leadership and Cooperation

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In the face of mounting challenges, there is an urgent need for leadership and cooperation to navigate the complex geopolitical landscape of the Pacific.

Only through concerted efforts and strategic foresight can the United States effectively address emerging threats and protect its interests in the region.

Newsham concludes: “If the U.S. government can’t get this done, maybe Tokyo will help. Otherwise, we deserve to lose.”

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