Beyond the Smoke Screen: Deconstructing American Pivot to Asia

American Aircraft Carrier

The United States’ foreign policy community, academia and think tanks are still debating the idea of American pivot to Asia. According to John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, the United States does not tolerate peer competitors in international politics. America has done everything in the past to ensure that there would be no near-peer competitors. It had fought Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union to preserve its primacy. The United States will emulate its past behavior. The US and its allies will go to great length to contain the influence of China within its own geographic frontiers. If American strategy succeeds, Beijing will be forced to spend and exhaust its resources and power to confront regional rivaling powers. In the past, Washington was willing to maintain healthy relations with China because it was weak and its aspiration and confidence were limited. China is growing rapidly, so it would not behave in the same way as it did in the past. China is getting rich, building a huge army and navy; so its behavior will be assertive and domineering day by day.

Rebalancing or the policy of American pivot to Asia is designed to contain the influence of China within its own region and maintain a strategic balance between China and the US-led alliance. Key elements of the American rebalancing strategy are as follows:

  • Mobilization of US naval assets around China (the USA will shift 60% of its naval assets in the Pacific).
  • It will strengthen security cooperation with Japan, India, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and perhaps Taiwan.
  • The United States will help the above-mentioned countries to build strong navies and armies so that they can check the influence of China within its own backyard.
  • In the long run, Washington will embrace Russia to prevent the formation of an alliance between Moscow and Beijing. (A Nixon like opening to Russia, though geopolitical trends are not favorable right now to take such an endeavor).
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) was designed to establish a U.S.-dominated Asia-Pacific trade network and replace China.
  • In the future, the USA might deploy its nuclear weapons in South Korea and Japan as well as dispatch more soldiers highlighting the excuse of the North Korean nuclear program.
  • It can use the same North Korean issue to deploy anti-ballistic missile systems in the region to undermine Chinese nuclear forces.
  • There is a remote possibility that somewhere in the distant future the White House will encourage Japan and South Korea to go nuclear, although the United States’ declared policy is to fight proliferation.
  • The US will try to dominate the First and Second Island chains to preserve its primacy in Asia-Pacific.
    I think all of these things will be done by the United States in the name of rebalancing to contain the influence and power of China.