Obama’s Pacific Innovations

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    Valdai Club's expert Alexei Fenenko shares his view on new White House’s position in the Pacific Rim

    What does Washington fear?

    The system governing America’s presence in the Pacific was established in the1950s. The country signed alliance treaties with Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Korea. Later came other treaties… but In the late 2000's the economic threat posed by China was the main concern. In 2009, Obama proposed that the USA and Beijing enter into dialog on the global economy, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and climate change. In response, Beijing announced its commitment to the concept of a "multipolar world" and the rejection of the G-2 format proposed by America. These contradictions deepened due to the growing U.S. trade deficit with China. Thus the Obama Administration decided to revert to the policy of “containing China” which had been in place since 1995.

    Longer term projects

    Firstly, Washington is strengthening political and military cooperation with Australia and New Zealand. Secondly, the USA intends to expand its political and military presence in Mainland Southeast Asia. Third, the Americans are expanding their political and military contacts with India. Fourth, the United States is considering a rangeof scenarios for the establishment of an alternative to ASEAN. Obama’s new pacific strategy clearly changes the idea of the containment strategy as applied to China. Where previously the Obama administration would have displayed its might as close to China’s borders as possible, now it is banking on the rise of alternative loci of influence on China. The U.S. is ready to provide them with the resources they need to become regional powers. Thus, the focus of America’s interests has shifted from the triangle of China-Taiwan-Japan to the South Pacific region.

    From Russia’s perspective, America’s new Pacific Strategy has its positive and negative aspects. Washington's interest in the Russian Far East could facilitate U.S. investment in the region. As a result, joint economic projects under the APEC framework, which are potentially lucrative for Russia, could see some acceleration. In the longer term this could include the creation of free economic zones in the Russian Far East.

    The full version of this material published on valdaiclub.com
     

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