A Conversation Starts on the Asia Pivot
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  • Mrs. Davis

    Shift? What shift? Galrahn nails this one.

    Look closely and note that by 2017 the great pivot to Asia strategy being touted by Secretary Panetta will be the massive increase in naval forces of – four Littoral Combat Ships and two Joint High Speed Vessels. It is one thing to try not to provoke China into an arms race, but when this is the massive maritime shift towards the Pacific touted at the political level as national defense strategy, one has to wonder what our allies are truly thinking about our empty words policy.

    This pivot would better be described as a pirouette. A move Rahm Emmanuel has mastered.

  • Anthony

    The Asia pivot, if one infers from your Quick Take, involves a comprehensive plan of action; a plan considering U.S. means utilized for an mutually beneficial Asian engagement – a broad spectrum of socio-politico activities enhanced by pentagon/DOD (military).

    “American grand strategy involves the whole effort of America’s complicated, many-sided society and the synthesis of capitalism, democracy, faith, and liberal values that make us who we are. American grand strategy involves trade, cultural exchange, connections among religious believers, political activism and many other dimensions.” The aforementioned capsulizes what ought to be heart of Asian pivot within sphere of international politics as U.S re-evaluates its Pacific interests.

  • thibaud

    Excellent post. As usual, when Mead sticks to FP, esp in parts east, he soars.

    This is especially interesting:

    “American grand strategy involves trade, cultural exchange, connections among religious believers, political activism and many other dimensions”

    During the Cold War, citizen exchanges and federal government support for European trade unions, intellectuals, artists etc was hugely important to our effort.

    We need a similar “soft power” effort today, focused on emerging powers which aren’t terribly friendly to the US and which don’t already have huge expat communities in this country. Turkey and Indonesia should be at the top of the list.

  • Corlyss

    “Via Meadia doesn’t have access to the top secret annex.”

    David Sanger will report on it with the week.

  • Lea Luke

    re: “If we are thinking about our new Asia strategy only in terms of what the Pentagon can do, we aren’t thinking clearly. American grand strategy involves the whole effort of America’s complicated, many-sided society and the synthesis of capitalism, democracy, faith and liberal values that makes us who we are. American grand strategy involves trade, cultural exchange, connections among religious believers, political activism and many other dimensions.”

    Including the happiness of the American people.

  • thibaud

    The most important conversation now re the Asia Pivot is the one that needs to happen within the GOP.

    Which faction will prevail: the Grover Norquist/Ron Paul starve-the-beast isolationist wing?

    Or the sane nationalists such as John McCain who recognize the need for a vigorous federal government that can fund adequately a robust forward presence in Asia?

    Remember that Grover Norquist, the inspiration for Ryan’s ridiculous plan, is the nut who vows to cut government spending “in half and then shrink it again to where we were at the turn of the century,” before evil Teddy Roosevelt began his destruction of liberty and the American Way.

    While Ryan _talks_ a good game about supporting the military, in reality, as the CBO’s dispassionate analysis pointed out, his numbers leave nothing on the table for a serious military that can project global power, including in the Asian theater. Specifically, Ryan’s path would leave no more than 3.75% of GDP for ALL non-SS, non-health related federal spending – including but going far beyond the military.

    For the GOP to be taken seriously on the Asia Pivot, its worthies need to put Norquist back in his rubber room and walk back the absurd Ryan/Tea Party plan.

    Will they?

  • Jim.

    @Mrs. Davis-

    We’re supposed to be happy that the Pentagon hasn’t decided to cut one or more carrier groups.

    What I want to see is treatment of our Entitlement State that reflects our current budget realities. Our defense budget is a third of the price of our Entitlement State; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are less than a tenth the price of our Entitlement State.

    Unless we reduce Entitlement spending, we’re going to be abandoning allies to the whims of totalitarian nations. The math just doesn’t work out any other way.

  • thibaud

    “We’re supposed to be happy that the Pentagon hasn’t decided to cut one or more carrier groups.”

    I’m very happy that there are intelligent conservatives who see the need for a well-funded military that can project force globally.

    This is why we need tax reform, including much higher taxes on the likes of Mitt Romney. Probably worth exploring a VAT as well, maybe a carbon tax. Can’t be a superpower on the cheap, folks.

    Thanks, btw, to Mrs Davis for the excellent link.

    Fascinating to read “Cdr Salamander’s” intelligent, respectful and still brutally honest, ongoing online discussion with Undersecretary of the Navy Robert Work.

  • Jim.

    @thibaud-

    Shaving a few percent off our Entitlement State would improve our nation’s finances as much as re-imposing Clinton-era tax levels on people earning more than $250k/yr.

    Raising taxes on the rich won’t solve our problems, and imposing high enough broad-based taxes to close our budget deficit would cause more problems than it would solve.

    Democracies are was born when taxpayers tell the head of state “no, you can’t have any more of our money”, and democracies commit suicide when the majority discovers they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

    That’s the difference between the “tax more” and “spend less” solutions.

  • Jim.

    In either case, I think we can put Kennedy’s worries of “imperial overstretch” to bed in the case of America; if we go broke, it will be because of our Entitlement State, not because of our military.

  • thibaud

    Jim – you should read Francis Fukuyama’s wise post about the need for what he calls “strong-state conservatism.”

    Fukuyama: “… strong-state conservatism [implies] continuing investments in US military power and engagement in the world to maintain a balance of power favourable to American interests. …

    “Recovery of a Hamiltonian-Rooseveltian conservatism would require junking a lot of the ideas that have animated the right since the rise of Ronald Reagan, such as the willingness to tolerate deficits as long as this meant lower taxes.

    “Hamilton foresaw that a centralised state would be necessary to create a national market, and an economy based on manufacturing. Roosevelt understood that the industrial economy had unleashed forces that needed to be tamed.

    “They saw national power as a tool to achieve their ends, something to be nurtured and built rather than demonised as something to be drowned in a bathtub….”

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