February 1, 2012

It is hard to believe that, at a time of growing consensus among American voters and officials that this nation should start reducing the number of military personnel stationed around the world, the Obama administration wants to reestablish a military “footprint” in the Philippines [“U.S. seeks to expand presence in Philippines,” front page, Jan. 26]. Apparently, our reason for sending a “strong signal” to Beijing is associated with some disputed territories in the South China Sea.

While legitimate issues are aggravating U.S.-China relations, it is generally understood, even beyond Washington and Beijing, that good relations between our countries are in the interest of all nations. What seems to be ignored is that China’s primary priority is its domestic problems, such as employment, the environment, corruption, education and local unrest.

In this day and age, a nation that is not a military power will not be accepted as a major international player. China can be a nuisance, but one need not be a China booster to suggest that the country, anxious to express a national pride that has been long absent, is not a thoughtless military threat in the East Asia and beyond.

Expanding our military presence will not generate stability in the region or solve our economic differences with China, but it will create unnecessary political friction between our countries.

Leo A. Orleans, Washington

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