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Old 10-03-2016   #1
Bill Moore
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Default Is the Rebalance unbalanced?

http://atimes.com/2016/09/us-pivot-t...pacific-waves/

Barack Obama’s Asia pivot is sinking beneath Pacific waves

Quote:
They conceded that the great game is about maintaining US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.
Economic:

Japan’s, Australia's, and Singapore's political leaders all stated the outcome of the TPP will determine the future of U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific.

Quote:
But doubt is growing in the Asia-Pacific as to whether TPP will see the light of day. Nothing else can explain the last-minute rethink in Hanoi to shelve the ratification of TPP at the forthcoming session of Vietnamese parliament.
Military:

Quote:
the 8-day long China-Russia naval exercises in the South China Sea, which concluded on Monday, would have a multiplier effect. The grand finale of the exercises was a spectacular amphibious and air landing operation on an island off the coast of China’s southern Guangdong Province, which the region watched with riveting attention.
As the article stated, this was a clear effort by China and Russia to challenge U.S. leadership in the region. Duarte, the current and controversial President of the Philippines, stated (inaccurately) that China was the preeminent military power in the region.

The perception of the U.S. faltering in both the economic and military realms gives China impressive information and diplomacy power to further push their agenda of marginalizing the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific, while simultaneously U.S. leadership/influence seems to be shrinking in the Middle East and Europe. If this trend continues, we will need to determine what an appropriate U.S. national security strategy when the U.S. is no longer viewed as a global leader. I am sure there are lessons from the past.
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Old 10-03-2016   #2
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Bill,

If it is any help the UK "pivoted" away from 'East of Suez' in the late 1960's, driven largely by financial pressures and a desire to avoid commitments so faraway. Some residual presence was kept, often in strategic spots and lo & behold the UK has of late "pivoted" back to at least the Persian Gulf / Arabia, with mainly air and naval elements.

It took a long time for the UK, or the British Empire after 1945. to learn it was no longer a superpower, but a medium-sized power.

Power we are often told is no longer measured in divisions or warships, but in "softer" terms.

I don't think the world accepted the USA was the global leader; the USA may have thought it was the global leader.
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Old 10-04-2016   #3
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Default There are no easy answers

WoTR has an article today, an overview and book review combined:http://warontherocks.com/2016/10/the...-asia-pacific/
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Old 10-09-2016   #4
Bill Moore
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Bill,
It took a long time for the UK, or the British Empire after 1945. to learn it was no longer a superpower, but a medium-sized power.

Power we are often told is no longer measured in divisions or warships, but in "softer" terms.

I don't think the world accepted the USA was the global leader; the USA may have thought it was the global leader.
David,

I think only a Brit could make that comment. The U.S. has a been in fact, and has been perceived as a global leader since WWII. I can't think of any major effort by the free world during the Cold War, or any major global effort that was successful since the Cold War that wasn't led by the U.S. Putting patriotic pride aside, I know from experience when the U.S. asks other nations to step up and lead, most refuse to do so, and will only support if the U.S. leads the effort. I think we can dismiss that comment as being inaccurate.

Moving to today, that reality is certainly changing. There are a number of factors that are influencing that, to include the emergence of new financial and military power bases, the impact of increasing globalization in all domains, social media, the leveling impact of new technologies, and so forth. However, there are moral factors also. The Bush/Chenney/Rumfeld team seriously damaged our credibility by invading Iraq in a hubristic manner, based on bad intelligence. When you don't think it can worse, we get the Obama administration, whose preferred way of fixing our misstep is to simply withdraw and pretend it didn't happen. New political leadership could turn the moral factors around, but it won't happen over time. New leadership won't change the other factors.

I have "The Pivot" sitting on my desk, it is number 3 in the cue, but I already anticipate that that Campbell's recommendation's will fall short of changing the current trend. Hard power still matters, soft power accomplishes little without hard power parked in the garage. I think most realize that hard power can force change, to include undoing anything accomplished with soft power. I think we need both soft, medium, and hard power. Russia is accomplishing little with soft power, and soft power is not effectively countering the bear or the dragon. While I like considering my an idealist, I'm also a realist.
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Old 10-14-2016   #5
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I think we need both soft, medium, and hard power.
This assumes 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue does not actively wish to abdicate Pax Americana's position on the world stage.
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Last edited by AdamG; 10-14-2016 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Yes, I'm being the Devil's Advocate. I do that sometimes.
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Old 12-17-2016   #6
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Default The Pivot

With the recent incidents in the South China Sea (again), it is worth reviewing what the Rebalance Strategy is all about. Kurt Campbell's "The Pivot, The Future of American Statecraft in Asia" is an excellent start. It is basic enough to provide a good introduction to those not familiar with the policy and the region, and advanced enough to provide nuanced insights for those very familiar with the strategy and the policy.

https://www.amazon.com/Pivot-Future-...1967956&sr=1-3

The book advances two overarching arguments. First Asia should be placed more centrally in the formulation and execution of American Foreign Policy, and second, that the U.S. should pursue a comprehensive and flexible strategy in Asia to keep credible its alliance commitments, and sustain Asia’s operating system.

Campbell describes the strategy for pursuing this strategy using the familiar ends, ways, and means approach. Each explained in detail.

Ends: Selling shirts (free trade), saving souls, spreading liberal values, and protection of American Territory in Asia. Ways: The hope is that if Asia does not fall under the domination of another power, trade will flow more freely, religious freedom will grow, liberal values will flourish, and US territory will be safe from menacing powers. And the means: Diplomatic efforts, economic statecraft, and military force

Throughout the book he makes a clear case on why the Asia-Pacific must be central in U.S. policy for economic, political, and security interests, and while the USPACOM AOR (different than State's East Asia Pacific region) has 36 countries and China is the elephant in the room, the pivot thankfully rejects the “China First” approach to Asian diplomacy, and instead embeds China policy within a much wider and more inclusive regional framework.

The book provides an insightful tour of the region, our diplomatic engagement history (worth the price of the book by itself), and detailed explanation of the strategy to pivot (Kurt's term) to the Asia-Pacific. It also provides historical details of our relationships with our regional allies and key partners in the region.

Some interesting points from the book:

The US adopted its initial military posture in the region to protect its economic and missionary interests, not to protect colonial outposts like the UK. This made the U.S. a welcome partner by many nations in the region, especially by China.

The discussion on Japan's rise and how that led to WWII in the Pacific eerily parallels in many ways what we see with China today, although Campbell never said that in his book, but readers familiar with China will see the parallels.

Nixon's policy of Vietnamization was intended to reduce America's active commitment in the world by supporting self-reliance of regional military forces, which downgraded the American security guarantees that had underpinned security in Asia. It was seen as an American retreat.

We lack an adequate number of Asian experts, and repeatedly surge and retreat from the region. An example of the risk incurred by not having sufficient experts was the Chairman, JCS during the Korean War. GEN Bradley said the Russians were not ready to risk global war over Korea; therefore, there would be no Soviet or Chinese intervention in Korea. This view was held because the U.S. viewed the USSR and the PRC as one collective block. So even though China signaled it would invade via diplomatic channels through India if the coalition crossed the 38th parallel, we remained surprised when they did.

See next post
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Old 12-17-2016   #7
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The strategy is focused on shaping the region, and in the book he identifies (and discusses at length) six crucial choices for Asia's future. I'll address three of them here.

1. Hegemony or more toward a balance of power.

2. An open 21st Century operating system, or a return to the spheres of influence model (what we Russia and China pushing in different regions).

3. Economic interdependence and military deterrence pulling the region back to coexistence, or national grievances and mutual mistrust toward heightened tensions.

Asia is at a tipping point, and it is important. Engagement in Asia does not mean withdrawing the rest of the world, but it is a hard sell to Americans as Campbell points out:

Our responses are rooted in the legacies of the past. In the wake of every modern conflict, the public has called upon politicians to return and focus on domestic issues. The US oscillates between periods of maximalist foreign policy and periods of retrenchment. A sharp crisis, such as 9/11 often precipitates a max response and over commitment, when the maximalist president overreaches, the retrencher comes in to pick up the pieces. When retrenchment fails to rebuild American power, meet new challenges, or compete effectively, the maximalist reappears.

We're currently in a retrenchment mindset as a nation, and it is a time that we need to be more engaged. Kurt points out that our largely failed strategy in the Middle East has soured Americans on foreign policy and understandably so, but we need to mobilize the people to support the rebalance, because it is central to our economic interests.

He notes, that Americans are increasingly skeptical of global economic engagement due to fears that increased competition would threaten US jobs, so building public support will be difficult.

Another challenge, the reason to focus on Asia does not come in the context of a clear and present threat to American interests. The history of US engagement with the world has frequently been driven by direct challenges to America’s security or way of life, be they from fascism, totalitarianism, Communism, or Islamic extremism. Based on clear goals and objectives, US foreign policy was relatively easy to understand and support. (the military mindset)

This type of view does not apply to modern Asia, the Pivot is not a reaction to a clear cut and unambiguous threat, but a recognition that the Asia-Pacific will become an increasingly key driver of global politics and economics in the 21st Century.

US foreign policy is out of balance; policy makers have a tendency to elevate the intransigent problems of the ME over the more patient game of strategy that awaits us in Asia.

If you're interested in East Asia, diplomatic history, and a broader view of strategy this book is well worth reading.
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Old 12-18-2016   #8
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There is a lot more to story, and it seems to change everyday, but comments like this make openings for countries like China and Russia to further drive a wedge between the troubled relationship between U.S. and some of its Allies. This is the implication of living in an increasingly multipolar world, we're no longer the only country that can offer deals, but we still like we are.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/w...rica/95557384/

Quote:
The 71-year-old Duterte, who describes himself as a left-wing politician, has made similar threats before and after taking office in June, but he and his officials have walked back on many of his public statements, causing confusion.

While calling Americans "sons of b------" and "hypocrites," Duterte praised China as having "the kindest soul of all" for offering what he said was significant financial assistance. "So, what do I need America for?" he asked.

He also said Russia can be a very important ally. "They do not insult people, they do not interfere," he said.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/18/wo...lies.html?_r=0

Muted U.S. Response to China’s Seizure of Drone Worries Asian Allies

Quote:
“Capability times resolve times signaling equals deterrence,” Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. told a blue-chip crowd of diplomats and analysts at the prestigious Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, the leading city in America’s closest ally in the region.
Quote:
“The weak link is the resolve, and the Chinese are testing that, as well as baiting Trump,” said Euan Graham, the director of international security at the Lowy Institute. “Capability, yes. Signaling, yes, with sending F-22 fighter jets to Australia. But the very muted response means the equation falls down on resolve.”
So true, the outgoing President needs to grow a pair, while the inbound President needs to think before he reacts on Twitter. In other stories, it is now apparent that China is prepared to give the drone back, but Trump tweeted we don't won't it back. Not sure what that is signaling, but I have to assume the Chinese are equally confused, so this may be a brilliant move, or simply an emotional rant. Only time will tell.

In other news related to the Rebalance, there is growing concern the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal won't get ratified in the U.S., yet Canada, Japan, and others still intend on ratifying it (after modifying it), and leave an opening for the U.S. to join later. The TPP is the core of our Rebalance Strategy, so it will be interesting to see if U.S. influence remains stead, increases, or decreases in the Asia-Pacific over the next four years.
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Old 12-19-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore


So true, the outgoing President needs to grow a pair, while the inbound President needs to think before he reacts on Twitter. In other stories, it is now apparent that China is prepared to give the drone back, but Trump tweeted we don't won't it back. Not sure what that is signaling, but I have to assume the Chinese are equally confused, so this may be a brilliant move, or simply an emotional rant. Only time will tell.

In other news related to the Rebalance, there is growing concern the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal won't get ratified in the U.S., yet Canada, Japan, and others still intend on ratifying it (after modifying it), and leave an opening for the U.S. to join later. The TPP is the core of our Rebalance Strategy, so it will be interesting to see if U.S. influence remains stead, increases, or decreases in the Asia-Pacific over the next four years.
I think Trump's response was smart. The fact is that China returning the UUV does not make amends for stealing it in the first place. Yet Obama is probably relieved and will do nothing...

As for the Philippines, the United States should withdraw from that country and let them export brides and care aides to China. The US has more than enough security commitments in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. At least those allies can defend themselves to a large degree...

I don't know enough about the TPP's provisions to make a claim one way or another. But it looks like TPP will not be ratified by the United States...
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Old 12-29-2016   #10
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Default China's Response

Any strategy must adapt to an adversary's strategy that is opposing yours. While it is difficult to assess what side is competing best when you look with a long view, the short view is not positive for the U.S.

http://warontherocks.com/2016/12/it-...uth-china-sea/

Quote:
In seeking to minimize the risk of confrontation at every step, the United States and its allies have effectively ceded control of a highly strategic region and presided over a process of incremental capitulation. Bad precedents have been set, and poor messages have been transmitted to the global community. In parts of the Western Pacific, the allies are in danger of losing their long-held status as the security partners of choice.
http://www.atimes.com/chinas-militar...elligence-scs/

Quote:
Harris announced that Chinese island-building had been completed and the next step was militarizing the islands – something he noted pointedly that Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping had promised would not take place.
Quote:
“China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea and you’d have to believe in the flat Earth to think otherwise,” Harris said. The buildup included the new surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, new radars on the Cuarteron Reef, the 10,000-foot runway on Subi Reef, on Fiery Cross Reef and other places.
http://www.voanews.com/a/thailand-ex...s/3652487.html

Quote:
During the talks, China accepted a Thai proposal to build a maintenance and production center for Chinese weapons in Thailand. Prawit also invited China to join Exercise Cobra Gold, a series of military exercises in Thailand that are led by the United States.
Quote:
Despite the growing relationship with China, Thailand is now setting a more moderate course by building closer ties with major powers such as Japan and India and reconnecting with the United States. Bilateral relations with Bangkok's longstanding ally were downgraded amid Washington's pressure on Thailand over that country's fishing industry and human rights issues.
More to follow when I have time.
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