Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization adopted its first Strategic Concept for the 21st century a year ago this month in Portugal, and in the process all but formalized the bloc as a global military intervention force, discussion has been rife concerning a collective partnership with the 54-nation African Union, a “mini-NATO” in the Persian Gulf and another in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, the culmination of the transformation of the Mediterranean into a NATO sea and the effective “NATOization” of the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). [1-5]
In a six-day span the U.S. State Department has bluntly affirmed unequivocal backing for Japanese territorial claims against both Russia and China, even invoking a defense treaty provision that could lead to direct military intervention and war with the world’s most populous nation.
Beginning a 13-day, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region on October 27 in Hawaii, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and met with Admiral Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command – the largest overseas regional military command in the world – and held a joint press conference with new Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in Honolulu.
In keeping with the global trend manifested in other strategically vital areas of the world, the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – a consortium of all major Western military (including nuclear) powers and former colonial empires – are increasing their military presence in Southeast Asia with special emphasis on the geopolitically critical Strait of Malacca.
The latter is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes and major strategic chokepoints.