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Robert Kaplan: Indian Ocean becomes battleground for India and China

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(Read caption) Helicopters fly past the Chinese Jiangwei II class naval frigate "Luoyang" at an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province in this 2009 file photo. India is concerned about China's potential aggressiveness in the area of the Indian Ocean.

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Let's play connect the dots. After the US midterm elections, President Obama will visit India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan. Trace a line between the nations, noting how it loops down through the Indian Ocean and back up through the South China Sea and East China Sea, forming a semicircle around China.

The route underscores the importance of these nations and bodies of water as the United States seeks to check the growing assertiveness of China, says Robert Kaplan, author of newly published “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.”

“It's not a war I'm predicting, but what I am alluding toward is a very complex, Metternichian arrangement of power from the Horn of Africa all the way up through the Sea of Japan,” Mr. Kaplan told a small crowd Monday at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge. "We don't have to interfere everywhere, we just have to move closer to our democratic allies in the region so they can do more of the heavy lifting."

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