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President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard toast during the Parliamentary Dinner at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What many viewed as a routine Presidential visit to Australia to finalize an agreement for a new deployment destination of American troops as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down was anything but. Australian Networks Catherine McGrath reported that "post Iraq...America would have a permanent presence in the interest of democracy and trade protection..." Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated this "regional change" was "necessary." Actually the only potentially negative comment was issued by Green Party spokesman Bob Brown who merely indicated, "There were many unanswered questions."

Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann also reported "the United States is here to stay." Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also supported the American position of expanding its military presence in Australia indicating President Obama's message was "well received."

Kevin Rudd, however, addressed the fallout from mainland China acknowledging the GLOBAL TIMES had editorialized "Australia was playing China for a fool" regarding Oz's new American policy. Rudd pointed out that since 1941 Australia has had an alliance with the United States and that "Australia does not dictate foreign policy to China" and as such "China should not dictate foreign policy to Australia."

Each individual report emphasized the talking point that the expanded Australian-American policy centered on "economic and trade protection." Once again the official positions of governments are reported in a manner to hide and mask what is really going on. Perhaps bureaucrats feel we common masses should not know the truth or are too ignorant to comprehend "interests of national security"?

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Yes, it is true the South China Sea, called the Eastern Sea here in Vietnam, controls one-third of the world's trade through this sea lane. Remember Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remark not long ago about the Eastern Sea being of "vital U.S. National interest?" Only China seemed to pick up on it and declared in the People's Daily that China would "protect core rights (in the South China Sea) with use of military means (if necessary)".

What gives is this, the Eastern Sea is rich in natural resources. Although Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia occupy some islands, China appears to want possession of the entire lot, stock, and barrel. Chinese maps indicated that this million square mile area "belongs to China." Chinese professors, like Shen Dingli, disregard the history of all other nations and teach China has "ancestorial claims" to the "entire region."

As a matter of policy, China routinely harasses vessels of all other nations in the Eastern Sea, including American ones. Not only have they rammed and sunk non-Chinese fishing boats, they have also taken surviving crews hostage. In the not too distant past the Chinese Navy, with malice aforethought and premeditation, attacked and murdered scores of Vietnamese on the Sprately Islands in an attempt to force all Vietnamese from the island.

This region is a powder keg yet no one wants to offend the 500-pound Panda in the room. If you want to know where America's next war may be, I would suggest one study the history of this region because there is no indication the behavior of the Chinese will change anytime soon.

jim rhodes

James Rhodes