Research Paper On Strengthening Alliances;

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: United States, America, Asia, Region, Policy, Politics, Obama, Countries

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/10

The article “The US pivot to Asia” by Jacob Goldberg dwells upon the issue of the shift in American foreign policy which consists in America’s gradually paying less attention to this region and focusing more on the Asia-Pacific region instead. In the article the author tries to find answers to several key questions, analyzing what incentives the Obama administration may have had to shift the emphasis of its attention gradually from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific; what particular interests the US may have and what particular challenges may encounter in this new region of interest; the concrete ways the Obama administration not only plans to, but already does penetrate the region and what the reaction of the key regional leaders and world powers to this new spin in America’s foreign policy is (Goldberg).
Looking into the Asia-Pacific is a relatively new trend in the American foreign policy, which started to develop on the strategic level five to ten years ago. This particular trend is based on the number of specific interests and incentives the USA have in the countries of the region and in the region as a whole. So, why abandon Middle East and shift to the Asia-Pacific? Trefor Moss, the Hong Kong-based journalist for The Diplomat, outlines in his article “America’s Pivot to Asia: A Report Card” a number of major goals the US may pursue:

Deepening partnerships with emerging powers;
Building a stable and constructive relationship with China;
Empowering regional institutions;
Building regional Economic Architecture (Moss 2013).
Now, this outlining may seem a little bit too general. Here is another one. In her 2011 article published n the Foreign Policy Magazine called “America’s Pacific Century” the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also enumerates six key lines of action the US has to implement in the Asia-Pacific:

Strengthening bilateral security alliances;

Deepening working relations with emerging powers, including China;
Engaging with regional multilateral institutions;
Expanding trade and investment;
Forging a broad-based military presence;
Advancing democracy and human rights (Clinton 2011).
Judging from these two perceptions of goals to be reached by the US in the Asia-Pacific in the next decades we can group the US ambitions into three main categories which would help us see the main interests of the state in that region. The first category is security and, as an inherent part of the security policy, military cooperation. Before everything this means that whatever policy the US is going to implement – economic, humanitarian, financial or any other kind of policy – it is going to substantiate it in a very traditional manner, namely by locating its military bases all over the region. In fact, military presence of the USA in the countries of the region is already quite significant including military bases with troops contingent already located in eight countries of the region, namely Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Guam and even Vietnam (see the chart).
The second category is economic interests. This can be traced both through attempts of the USA to “expand trade and investment” and to “deepen working relations with emerging powers, including China”, as Mrs. Clinton has outlined in her article. However it also seems likely that in economic terms the USA want to be present in the region not only to use Asian markets and cheap work force but also to be closer to China in order to be able to watch and control it more closely in economic terms.
Finally, the third group of interests is probably the most universal one for the America’s foreign policy as a whole: advancing democracy and human rights.
As per some concrete moves in the America’s foreign policy as a follow-up of these strategic goals, Jacob Goldberg says that there are fewer of them than had been expected. At the same time, it must be admitted that America has managed to push forward in each of the three groups of interests mentioned above. For instance, what touches upon military cooperation and military presence of the US bases and troops in the Asia-Pacific, a few things have been done, including stationing 2,500 US marines in the northern part of Australia and shifting ten percent of American Atlantic naval forces to the Pacific (Goldberg).
The main economic project the Obama’s administration tried to launch (though not so much succeeded in) in the Asia-Pacific was the project of Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had to become a free trade agreement including not only the USA and Asian countries, but also Chile and New Zealand. And though Obama put very much effort into bringing this project to life, it eventually did not work out (Goldberg).
However, the Obama administration seems to have been luckier in bringing democracy and human rights to Asian countries. The most striking example of transformation is Myanmar (Burma), where starting from 2010 significant (though far from comprehensive) democratization took place. Since that time really much has changed in Burma: many prisoners have been released and press has become freer, many reforms have been implemented and economy has become stronger (Goldenberg; Campbell and Andrews). This is to a great extent due to the actions taken by America, including the establishment of diplomatic relations (and, therefore, creation of constant channels of ‘democratic influence’), President Obama’s visit to Myanmar in 2014 and Hillary Clinton’s active participation in ASEAN forums in order to press democratic and economic reforms in Burma, among other problems in Asian countries (Campbell and Andrews).
Therefore we can see that the article by Goldberg dwells on a very significant trend in the American foreign policy. Not so much has been implemented in this direction so far, so it may be a little early to judge about some very significant results, but this new trend seems to have a very strong potential, which makes it even more interesting to keep observing what happens next.
Map of American bases in the Asia-Pacific. Picture Courtesy of U.S. Defense Department

Obama Negotiating with Asian Countries’ Leaders. Picture Courtesy of the White House (Flickr)

List of Works Cited
Campbell, Kurt and Brain Andrews “Explaining the US Pivot to Asia.” Chatham House. August 2013. PDF. 06 March 2015.
Clinton, Hillary. “America’s Pacific Century.” Foreign Policy Magazine. 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 March 2015.
Goldberg, Jacob. “US Pivot to Asia.” About Geography. N.d. Web. 06 March 2015.
Moss, Trefor. “America’s Pivot to Asia: A Report Card.” The Diplomat. 05 May 2013. Web. 06 March 2015.

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