Obama: Reversing Nixon's 'Guam Doctrine'
37th President Reduced America's Presence In Asia; The 44th Is Bringing It Back
Written by Jeff Marchesseault, Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Sunday, 29 November 2009 22:41
GUAM - Wrapping up his tour of Asia with a stopover on the American Territory of Guam in the summer of 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced at an island news conference the makings of a force-reduction policy that would become known alternately as the 'Nixon Doctrine' or 'Guam Doctrine'.
Uncle Sam Does A 180
Fast forward four decades and President Obama's recent overtures to East Asia seem to be a reversal of the United States' longstanding 'Guam Doctrine' – launched by the 37th President on his momentous Territorial stop 40 years ago. Nixon then set the stage for East Asian allies to defend themselves with secondary augmentation, rather than frontline 'primary' trooping, from the U.S.
Didn't Know What We Were Getting Into
It was a different era. The War in Vietnam was increasingly unpopular at home as the American body count piled high. And the 'communist containment' strategy fought by Americans on North Vietnamese terms was looking more and more unwinnable in a booby-trapped realm of terra incognita.
Furthermore, by then America had been embroiled in Asian wars for nearly 30 years -- from the Second World War's Pacific Theater in the '40s to Korea in the '50s to Indochina in the '60s.
Older, Wiser, No Worse For The Wear
But after a generation of active military engagement in the Middle East, 40 years of technological advancement, and years of gradual defense reduction in the Far East, America is reemerging better equipped and more remarkably allied as Protector of the Pacific.
It all comes together (1) at a time when the Air Force in particular and Department of Defense in general are enjoying high public approval ratings in the U.S. and Guam; (2) at a time when the Navy is aggressively pursuing an agenda of carbon reduction; (3) at a time when DOD is increasingly committed to job satisfaction; and (4) at a time when the Pentagon is demonstrating that its commitment to humanitarian assistance trains soldiers while dissolving negative attitudes about the U.S. military worldwide.
Guam At The Cusp
As Obama renews security commitments to the region, buttressed by his whirlwind East Asia tour earlier this month and a state dinner for India's prime minister at the White House last week, US-Guam's military-buildup symbolizes America's growing resident power in the Pacific.
Although invited more than once to visit Guam on his return trip from Asia, Obama didn't have time for his own Presidential stopover to the Territory this go-around. But as the buildup takes hold and Guam's stock rises on the global stage, an Obama visit remains foreseeable, if not imminent.
Perhaps by the time he does visit, an Obama Doctrine will be firm in hand. One that is presaged by diplomacy; driven by active engagement; supported by a strong defensive posture; and prioritized by peace. And instead of announcing a withdrawal from East Asia, he'll instead be celebrating a new era of economic prosperity protecting mutual interests and deterring common foes.