Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.
Read Justin Tepper's thoughts from a moderate perspective:
Since 9/11, the United States has concentrated on the Middle East and wasted a vast amount of time, resources, and personnel on the area. Because so much was allocated towards Iraq, Afghanistan, and various other parts of the region, America's influence waned in other areas of the globe. One of these locations was Asia, where China quickly filled the void left by the U.S. However, many Asian countries have been looking towards America as the Chinese have pursued a more aggressive policy towards the South China Sea. We have exploited these rifts in order to gain more power in the region and contain a rising China. These moves are very prudent because China is rapidly become a Leviathan on the international stage but our first priority needs to be fixing our problems at home rather than containing the rising power in the East.
Recently, the Chinese government proclaimed the disputed areas of the Spratly islands, the Paracels and the Macclesfield Bank, all of which are in the South China Sea, to be an administrative province, Sansha City. This is important because it expands China's exclusive economic zone. A country has the right to the natural resources 200 nautical miles off their coast and the South China Sea is believed to hold vast amounts of petroleum and other natural resources.
China's unilateral move to proclaim disputed territories a Chinese province has angered their neighbors and created a wedge in the region. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is on the verge of collapse because of factionalism. The United States has played a role in the proceedings and exacerbated the regional conflict in order to stymie China's rise.
The two countries in ASEAN, which have protested China's claim to the South China Sea the loudest have been US-backed Vietnam and the Philippines. Unfortunately, the dispute has escalated militarily, with China deploying soldiers to protect the contested lands. The President of the Philippines, Benigna Aquino III, announced the country will get new aircrafts and ships to defend their land claims (most likely from the US). The United States also has a very strong military relationship with Vietnam. In June of this year, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta visited the country and in a speech, announced the U.S would move a majority of its naval force to the Asia-Pacific region.
The South China Sea land claims have been a debated issue since the 1940's. However, diminishing US influence and the rise of China's naval power has emboldened the Chinese and heightened tensions. The world in which the United States issued authoritative edicts has long passed. It seems to me, regional powers like China and Iran will continue to push the US to see how far we have fallen and how much power they can usurp. However, I don't think we'll be able to regain our undisputed prominence until we get our own house in order. Americans should understand our international sway will continue to wane as long as we squabble with ourselves.