This map appeared in the Wall Street Journal back in December 2013. Nothing has changed with regard to tensions between the US and China since then, except that the US appears even weaker now than then in Chinese eyes. The reason the map is interesting is that it answers these important questions:
1) Why has the U.S. kept troops in South Korea for over half a century? [Hint: It's not (just) about North Korea.]
2) Why does the U.S. insist on backing relatively puny Taiwan? [Hint: It's not because we love an underdog.]
3) Why is the U.S.-Japanese alliance as crucial as the U.S.-U.K. alliance? Why is the main U.S. base on Okinawa, way out in the middle of the ocean? [Hint: Don't hold your breath waiting for Russian tanks to stream through the Fulda Gap.]
4) Why does China regard the U.S. as an adversary whose primary strategic goal is to keep Chinese influence boxed in on the Asian mainland? [Hint: Because we are, and it is.]
Extra credit (requires another map):
5) Why did the U.S. fight a ten-year war in Vietnam (Indochina)?
6) Why did the U.S. take over the Philipines in 1898 and brutally suppress an insurrection there (1899-1902)? Why was closing U.S. bases on those islands after the Mount Pinatubo eruption so strategically perilous? Why are we quietly re-establishing a military presence in the Philipines?
Answer(s): It's all about containing the Chinese!
Wonder how long we can keep it up?
To Ponder: Is President Obama's much bally-hooed "pivot" from the Middle East and towards Asia intended to telegraph a desire to maintain this policy of Chinese containment? When I hear the word "pivot," the only thing I think of is boxing. Could the President really be suggesting "avoiding a strike (in the Middle East), and landing a counterstrike (in Asia)"?