After having devastated the Middle East through sanctions, warfare, and infiltrating militants to fight proxy wars, the Indo-Pacific region is the new ‘priority’ region for the Pentagon.
Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defense, while speaking at the Naval War College earlier this week, expressed the Pentagon’s wider goal of curbing and containing China’s expanding influence throughout the region. He called for expanding military base presence across locations in the Pacific region, dubbing the Indo-Pacific theater as “our priority theater.”
Esper made it evident that the US had its eye on a number of key locations in the Indo-Pacific region, in which he would be looking to invest “more time and resources into certain regions we haven’t been to in the past.”
The US will specifically target locations around the South China sea, namely the countries of Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even some of the smaller Pacific Island nations such as Palau.
Palau is the most likely candidate, given the Western media has already applauded its stance against China over its dispute with it on Taiwan.
According to Eric Sayers, the Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, given the geo-strategic and historic posturing of the numerous countries in the region such as Phillipines, which may not allow full access to its ports, it is highly likely that the US would consider to utilize smaller nations like Palau to combat China.
What will be interesting to see in the coming years is where states such as Australia and New Zealand fit into this “priority theatre.”
According to some analysts, the United States is shifting its focus to the Indo-Pacific as a ‘priority theater’ all of a sudden because it is increasingly finding itself being sidelined completely in its quest to dominate over China.