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Is Australia Free-riding on the U.S.?

aussiefreerode.jpg

First Japan announces a reduction in defense spending, and now Australia has announced plans to trim its own defense bill.

This at a time when the U.S. has just bolstered its military commitment to Australia.

Funny how that works.

The Pentagon believes its defense commitments offer "reassurance" to Asian allies living under the shadow of an increasingly powerful China. Yet as we've seen in Europe, such "reassurance" can eventually degenerate into free-riding where allied defense budgets shrink, confident that Uncle Sam is on hand if the going gets rough.

The U.S. can ill afford more debt. If additional U.S. allies decide they'll trim their own defense tabs too as the U.S. "pivots" into the region, the administration may need a rethink.

(AP Photo)