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World reacts to Obama's new military focus on Asia

Chinese newspapers call on China to assert itself, while India and African nations ponder the implications of becoming 'strategic partners' with the US. 

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Ron Matthews, from the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore, told Al Jazeera that much of the Obama plan has been “progressing over the last two or three decades.”

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"What we're looking at now is the recognition of the difficulty of financing war on a global scale, and rationalising down-sizing their forces."

Regarding the US focus on Asia Pacific, he said: "What you'll be looking at is the Americans seeking to expand the technology gap which they have and enjoy already against China, and other emerging nations, that also are seeking to pursue this new type of doctrinal warfare.”

Reducing the size of the US military will almost certainly bring a strong reaction at home with American conservatives – especially in an election year.

Bloomberg quoted an e-mail from US Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“An honest and valid strategy for national defense can’t be founded on the premise that we must do more with less, or even less with less,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

 But Obama anticipated this criticism in his speech yesterday.

 "I think it’s important for all Americans to remember, over the past 10 years, since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace. Over the next 10 years the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership."

The new strategy, he added, would still maintain a defense budget “larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined."

Australia welcomed the new US strategy, a reflection of the US’s growing partnership in the Asian Pacific region. India, too, was identified as a “strategic partner” in the Indian Ocean, as both the US and India share parallel concerns about how to counter the growth in regional terror and piracy networks.

"The United States is investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region," said the strategy document. 

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