“Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move,” suggests the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Prof. Nye

“Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move,” suggests the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Prof. Nye

Joseph Nye's article is posted in the opinion pages of The New York Times web site.


November 23, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense of the Clinton administration, Professor Joseph Nye supports the United States Government’s policy to move the U.S. Marine Corps to Australia. He is known as a key figure in the pro-Japanese group, and has been involved in the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station issue from about 15 years ago. Nye contributed an article entitled “A Pivot That Is Long Overdue” to the opinion pages of the New York Times (on its website) on November 21, in which he pointed out “The current official plan to move the Marines inside Okinawa is unlikely to be acceptable to the Okinawa people.” He also stated his support for the Obama Administration’s plan, saying, “Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move.”

Professor Joseph Nye


As a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1995, he engaged himself in the “East Asia Strategy Report” known as the “Nye Initiative,” in which he advocated that the United States should maintain a total of 100000 troops in East Asia and emphasized the importance of the U.S. Marine Corps and other forces in Okinawa. As a professor at Harvard University after leaving the Clinton administration, he has a strong influence on U.S.-Japan’s security relations, including U.S. policy toward Japan.

With regard to moving the Marines to Australia to restrict China’s moves to increase its maritime interests, Nye suggested, “they will be able to train and exercise freely without inadvertently signaling a withdrawal from the region.”

On the Futenma Air Station, he pointed out, “There is the fine print about Okinawa, where the crowded Marine air base at Futenma has caused friction that undercuts our larger strategy,” and also added, moving the Marines to Australia “sends the right message to China, and avoids further friction with Japan.”

With regard to the U.S. Marine Corps being stationed in Australia, U.S. President Barack Obama showed this plan at his summit meeting with the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, held on November 16. According to both governments, between 200 and 250 Marines will be deployed in there the middle of next year, and the number of Marines will be increased in stages, and their bilateral military exchanges will also be expanded. The United States will not construct its own base, but instead use existing military facilities in Australia. It also announced that it will extend the scale to 2500 Marines in the future.

Article by Professor Nye (Summary)
There are three good reasons for President Obama’s decision to rotate regularly 2,500 Marines through an Australian base. … Third, there is the fine print about Okinawa, where the crowded Marine air base at Futenma has caused friction that undercuts our larger strategy. The U.S. and Japan have been working on the Futenma issue since I co-chaired a special action committee on Okinawa — in 1995! The current official plan to move the Marines inside Okinawa is unlikely to be acceptable to the Okinawa people. Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move because they will be able to train and exercise freely without inadvertently signaling a withdrawal from the region.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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