In Asia, Trust but CYA

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After signing a deal in Moscow, reportedly for the purchase of six submarines to shore up its South China Sea claims, Vietnam’s defense minister made back-to-back visits to Washington and Paris to discuss further military hardware purchases. In France, the subject of discussion was helicopters and air transport. For all the talk in Asia of regional integration, military budgets don’t seem to be suffering much. If Reagan’s famous formula for U.S.-Soviet arms talks was “Trust, but verify,” the contemporary Asian version would seem to be, “Trust, but cover your . . . back.”

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