A U.S. admiral gets it on China and North Korea

Reuters

U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear checks his notes before testifying at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2014 in Washington, on April 9, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • Samuel Locklear revealed that he hasn’t talked with his Chinese counterparts for at least the past two weeks

    Tweet This

  • Beijing cannot possibly be ignorant of what America wants it to do

    Tweet This

  • American energy should be focused on presenting as credible a military posture as possible

    Tweet This

In Senate testimony this week, Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, revealed that he hasn’t talked with his Chinese counterparts for at least the past two weeks as the North Korean crisis has raged. Some senators, such as New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, urged Locklear (and by extension, the administration) to let the Chinese know our expectations for their role in curbing North Korea’s threats and aggression.

The problem is, we’ve tried that for years. Beijing cannot possibly be ignorant of what America wants it to do (use its economic influence to pressure Pyongyang and modify their behavior). Clearly, China just has absolutely no interest in doing so. In fact, just last month, when the latest U.N. sanctions were passed in response to the North’s most recent nuclear test, Beijing again watered them down. 

Although Locklear stated that he expected such communications with Beijing to happen at higher levels, perhaps he is on to something. Like his predecessor, Admiral Robert Willard, he doesn’t seem to be rushing to try to engage the Chinese when there is little chance of a receptive hearing. Clearly, Locklear talks with Chinese military leaders (even though he has no direct counterpart), and he visited the country for four days in June 2012. No American commander turns down opportunities to try and improve relations with the Chinese military, no matter how little reciprocity he receives.

Read Admiral Locklear's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 9.

Yet, during this crisis, when he has been juggling deploying radars, fighters, bombers, and guided missile destroyers around the Pacific to deal with any contingency from Pyongyang, Locklear has recognized it’s not worth his time to reach out to the Chinese. That is sending the right message to Beijing, as well as to North Korea. American energy should be focused on presenting as credible a military posture as possible, regardless of what political calculations will be made in Washington, D.C., about responding to Pyongyang’s provocations. More empty talk about restraining the North is the last thing America’s overburdened and increasingly underfunded commanders need to invest in. Let’s hope this sets a pattern for the future, so that when we do talk with Beijing (and maybe even Pyongyang), it will be worth everyone’s time.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Auslin

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.