Debate Over Direction as US Marines March Into Darwin
AMERICAN troops have landed in Darwin to handshakes from Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith and a welcome parade.
But the government seems unable to decide whether America belongs in the region - switching again from promising an ”Asian century” back to an ”Asia-Pacific” one.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year commissioned a strategic blueprint to be known as the ”Australia in the Asian Century” white paper, changing the language from Labor’s 2009 defence white paper ”Defending Australia in the Asia-Pacific Century”, a phrase that links the US to the region.
The US was more explicit. On the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: ”The 21st century will be America’s Pacific century.”
Defence expert Professor Hugh White said the phrase ”Asia-Pacific” makes the United States central to Asia’s future, while ”Asian century” leaves that question open.
And China responded coolly to the announcement last November that US marines would be based in Australia for six months of the year.