Obama's dithering response to Chicom man made islands frustrates military
The U.S. naval challenge to China's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea this week came after months of frustration within the Pentagon at what some defense officials saw as unnecessary delays by the White House and State Department in approving the mission.Obama seems to have a hard time making military decisions quickly unless he is ordering a retreat. The dithering response made things more difficult for the US and its allies. It should have been an easy decision for anyone who knows history and the importance of freedom of the seas. I get the feeling that Obama was not a history student and if he did take the courses, he probably did not do well. It also seems clear he has not studied the issues since becoming President.
As early as mid-May, the Pentagon was considering sending military aircraft and ships to assert the principle of freedom of navigation around China's artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago after Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options to respond to their rapid construction.
That patrol eventually took place on Tuesday when the USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, triggering an angry rebuke from China and threatening to ratchet up tensions between the world's two biggest economies.
An intense, prolonged internal U.S. debate over the patrol revealed by Reuters' reporting appears to contradict Washington's insistence that it was simply another routine freedom-of-navigation operation.
The months leading up to the patrol allowed Beijing to harden its stance and, according to some U.S. officials and security experts, blew the operation out of proportion.
Washington's caution also caused disquiet among some military officials in Japan and the Philippines, both U.S. security allies, feeding concerns that China's ambitions in the South China Sea would go unchecked.