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The Obama administration is quietly encircling China.


President Obama's "pivot" to Asia has been overshadowed by events in the Middle East, but as John Reed reports, that hasn't stopped the administration from implementing a policy of military encirclement around China:

The United States Air Force will dramatically expand its military presence across the Pacific this year, sending jets to Thailand, India, Singapore, and Australia, according to the service's top general in the region.

For a major chunk of America's military community, the so-called "pivot to Asia" might seem like nothing more than an empty catchphrase, especially with the Middle East once again in flames. But for the Air Force at least, the shift is very real. And the idea behind its pivot is simple: ring China with U.S. and allied forces, just like the West did to the Soviet Union, back in the Cold War.

What kind of reaction will this encirclement provoke in China?

One way to answer this is to flip the question: If China began using bases in Central America to station offensive air power, would the U.S. sit idly by?

The administration seems to be banking on a deterrent effect -- that the Chinese will see the constellation of forces arrayed against them and relent on some of their territorial claims and acquiesce, however begrudgingly, to American military dominance in their backyard. This is a high-risk roll of the dice, to say the least.

(AP Photo)