Asia Pivot: Boost Trade—and Don’t Forget the Navy
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  • thibaud

    How do those of a “Jacksonian” libbetrarian persuasion justify the evident desire of their heroes, the Pauls and Paul Ryan, to gut the US blue water navy?

    It seems obvious that the deep fiscal hole that Mr. Mead has written about, eloquently and at length, will make it extremely unlikely that the US can deploy its power on a global basis at anything remotely close to the scale we’re doing now or have done for half a century.

    If a selective, regional approach is to be taken – and our retreat from Afghanistan and the winding down of so much of our European military presence indicate that this process is already underway – then what is the US strategy in Eastern/Southern Europe and the Near East?

    In these regions, Turkey, Russia and Iran, regardless of who leads those nations, will inevitably advance as the US begins to shift more and more resources and focus to the Pacific Rim.

    The Paulies’ response to these nations’ rise, more often than not, is to a) sneer at those evil and lazy furreigners, b) shrug at the implications and boast about this or that Fortress America attribute; and finally c) change the subject.

    Is their an intelligent, non-sarcastic “Jacksonian” strategy for dealing with Turkey and Russia?

  • Jim.

    Does all of it have to be our Navy?

    It seems to me that the world is ready for Japan to have a carrier group again. Not the IJN, of course, but something a bit more commensurate with its economic stature and interests in the region.

    Australia too. They need to beef up their Navy as well, even to the point of having a carrier of their own. New Zealand needs to be prodded into actually having a navy. Honestly. Now would be a good time.

    First thing we do is greatly expand our cooperation programs; carrier operations are no walk in the park. American flight decks need to be a home away from home for hundreds, or even thousands, of Japanese and Australian sailors and pilots. Annapolis needs to greatly expand its language programs in Japanese. (And Strine, for that matter.)

  • Cunctator

    Some of the criticism of the Obama Administration (of which I am no admirer) is undeserved. The shortfall in capabilities, particularly in fleet size, was also unaddressed by Bush II in the eight years he was president.

    However, what is worrying right now is that there is little attention being paid at the highest levels to the strategic implications of the drawdown in the USN. Fewer ships being built means a descrease in the country’s shipbuilding industry — and the loss of expertise and insights, to say nothing of industrial capacity, is extremely worrying. And those ships that are being built, such as the Littoral Combat Ship, are so fundamentally inadequate for the job expected of them that the situations can only deteriorate.

  • Anthony

    WRM, Asia pivot comparable to Marshall Plan (rebuilding Europe after WW II – modernizing industry, removing trade barriers, containing Communism, etc.) assumes major strategic investment. Geopolitically, concept makes sense but sensibilities of Europe and other allies must be part of equation. Equally, the maritime theater reality must be given cognizance as it correlates to a serious pro-trade Asian agenda. Implications as you suggest – diplomatically, militarily, economically, etc. – are going to be large. Here’s looking for a serious national discussion beyond Via Meadia.

  • @ WMD “These critics are right. We can’t have a serious Asia strategy without a serious pro-trade agenda.”

    And include China in? In any case we can’t have a serious pro-trade agreement with that part of the world unless we are prepared to address its adverse effects on the distribution of income here at home. The options are limited and, at this point, politically unpalatable to the ruling class. As in higher taxes, more progressive taxes, and a huge expansion of the EITC or something equivalent for the bottom 80 percent.

    It’s the difference between a responsible, sustainable foreign policy that seeks to project American values and the American example along with military and economic power abroad while protecting them at home and an irresponsible, unsustainable foreign policy which neglects the first and undermines the second.

    That our policy elites don’t know this can be chalked up to the highly decadent state of academic economics. It’s not just the greed of the plutocrats — and, no, it isn’t the fault of the corporations who, given the rules of the game (Gatt and all that) do what they gotta do to survive in the marketplace.

    It is really a disgrace.

  • [neglects the latter while undermining the former?]

  • Solid common sense and, as usual, some embarrassingly good questions from (IMO) four of Via Meadia’s best commenters and – really, what more do I need to say? Other than that, (1) yes, the Indo-Pacific Anglosphere desperately needs to rise to its naval occasion before the moment escapes it; and (2) sadly enough, America has never been much more than a reluctant empire (there, I’ve uttered the hateful word). I. e., much as I think we’ve always reveled in the periodic opportunities for swagger and bravado, we’ve also tended to hate the REAL work of empire – the responsibility, commitment and lengthened attention-spans required (though who – at least among the “experts” – could have predicted the stamina and focus of the bulk of our troops in Afghanistan?).

    In other words, DEFINITELY high time for what Anthony calls a serious national discussion.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “Via Meadia‘s overall position is that the Obama Administration has correctly drawn the outlines of America’s new policy in the Pacific, but that filling in the details is going to take time.”

    The Obama Administration doesn’t plan anything; they have been dragged into a greater focus on Asia by our allies in Asia. The Asians have done this to counter balance a growing Chinese threat. We know this wasn’t a planned exercise because there aren’t any new free trade agreements, or treaties, or military buildup. All that has happened is whatever kind of things our allies in Asia could force the Obama Administration to agree to. This article mentions the dragging of the US into fights being picked with China by our Asian allies, without recognizing that China is the aggressor all over Asia and the one picking all the fights. China is belligerent and all the other Asians are scared of them, they aren’t picking fights with them, they are just defending themselves from a bully and praying that America has got their backs.

  • Norman Roberts

    Do we face a threat in the Asia-Pacicic theater that would require a major naval counter force? I don’t see it, not for the next few decades anyway. Our focus should be on economics, and that means trade. It is a far greater damper on Chinese or Russian military adventurism than a couple of new aircraft carriers would be.

  • Brendan Doran

    These countries need to be told if they want our help spend an equal amount of GDP on Defense – 4%.

    You do realize the last great Entente led to WWI right?

    And you have NO STOMACH for war. Nor does Jacksonian America trust you enough anymore to keep sending their sons and daughters to die vainly in Progressive Social Experiments – see Iraq, Afghanistan.

    Your reach far exceeds your grasp. Withdraw.

  • Brendan Doran

    However if you wish to continue with RISK, a true Hegemonic Strategy places the client states and their Auxiliary Forces out front, with our Core Forces closer to the Center, giving us deployable and disposable Force.

    So again as an Economy of Force measure we need to find our Anatolia [Core geography] and have our forces Naval and otherwise there stationed. Our clients deal with local low and intermediate threats, we sortie as necessary.

  • thibaud

    @10 – “Your reach far exceeds your grasp. Withdraw”

    Who is “You”?

    It sounds very much as if you’re addressing Congress/POTUS/DoD.

    Again, is there a _non-sarcastic_, credible “Jacksonian” strategy for serious engagement with the three major theaters in the world today?

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