The pivot, we tell the Chinese, is not about them. But then Manila and Tokyo ask: "What do you mean the pivot isn't about China. The Chinese are unwelcome visitors into our waters at least once a week!"
Oh, and we have new battle plan called "Air Sea Battle" that again is not about China. However, it is meant to operate in "anti-access" environments -- those in which enemies have many missiles, submarines, and cyber warfare capabilities. Sounds like China. We will be able to operate again in those environments once the plan is executed, but we will not execute it because we are cutting the defense budget, so China should worry a bit but not too much. Our allies should have just a little dose of reassurance to go along with their fears. - Dan Blumenthal
I wonder if "uncertainty" is actually the problem. What Blumenthal highlights is not really "uncertainty" but the administration's mealy-mouthedness (my word) with respect to what's it's doing in Asia. As Blumenthall notes, it's putting in place a semi-militarized containment strategy with the pivot, but is also taking great pains not to call it that lest it damage relations with China, which are rather important.
So what's the problem with this? There is nothing "uncertain" about establishing military bases in Australia and holding naval exercises with countries at China's perimeter. Does Blumenthal think U.S. allies in Asia would be more reassured if the administration actually took a sharper tone with China or explicitly framed its "pivot" in terms of Chinese containment?
He also writes:
Here is another part of the uncertainty doctrine that must leave Europeans and Middle Easterners scratching their heads: The United States is pivoting to Asia (under fiscal constraint) but not abandoning its allies in Europe or the Middle East.
I agree this is silly. If we're prioritizing Asia then it means we must correspondingly de-emphasize other regions. So imagine if President Obama said: "the U.S. is under fiscal strain and has to prioritize resources accordingly. That means we must shift our attention from a Europe that is peaceful and secure to Asia, where our interests will require more attentive monitoring."
Would Blumenthal hail this as providing clarity or would he condemn Obama for betraying U.S. leadership? The president's current rhetoric is designed to shield him from just such an accusation because Washington is unable to have an adult conversation about this stuff.