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Obama's Pivot
Thailand Gets Cozy with China
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  • Anthony

    Thailand may believe its future lies more with China than the United States. Our abandonment of TPP may be interpreted by many in the region as a “walking away” by some regional governments (perhaps even Thailand). China is geographically at their (Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines) proverbial doorstep and rightfully viewed as rising Pacific Power. So, the behavior in Southeast Asia vis-a-vis China ought not surprise any attentive observer.

  • f1b0nacc1

    You spelled ‘abject failure’ wrong….

  • lukelea

    What would a foreign policy realist say about China’s rise to power in its near neighborhood? Try to stop it at all costs? Bow to the inevitable? Pick and choose carefully?

    • Anthony

      Recognize it as a reality (a power in its neighborhood as we are relative to South America) and act accordingly.

    • Disappeared4x

      Any FP realist would know China’s ingrained view of the Middle Kingdom, to which all other states are tributaries, never equals:
      “…Because the Chinese emperor was considered the ruler of all mankind by virtue of his innate superiority, relations with other states or entities were tributary, rather than state-to-state relations between equals. Traditionally, there was no equivalent of a foreign ministry; foreign relations included such activities as tributary missions to the emperor made by countries seeking trade with China and Chinese military expeditions against neighboring barbarians to keep them outside China’s borders. …”
      [Country-Data used to be called Army Area Manuals – which I remember from the 1990’s -, an excellent Cold War resource for how to understand any nation we might have to occupy]

  • Maddog

    Yet another reason to be thankful Hillary failed to make the grade

    Obama was a hands off President allowing Hillary to be one of the primary crafters of his foreign policy, and at every turn, she proved to be less than up to the task. From the Arab Spring, to the Middle Eastern crises, to the Near East, to Russia, to China, to the South China Sea situation she was only capable of mucking things up, but not crafting functional policy which helped the world, the US, and the related parties move towards an optimal, or even reasonable solution.

    “More evidence that Obama’s vaunted “pivot to Asia” is ending in retreat and confusion. Reuters:

    Thailand and China are in talks about building military production facilities in Thailand, a Thai defense ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, the latest sign of warming relations between China and America’s oldest ally in Asia. […]

    “The defense minister told his Chinese counterpart that we are interested in setting up facilities to repair and maintain the Chinese equipment we currently have in our arsenal,” ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich told Reuters.

    “We will also look to their expertise in producing small arms and other security-related equipment like drones,” he said.

    Thailand has also held talks with Russia about setting up similar production facilities, said Kongcheep, without giving details.

    For Team Obama, a key to the pivot was its linkage with democracy and human rights and international law. The United States was building a coalition of democracies and emerging democracies to stand against China’s defiance of international norms and statutes.

    This is the kind of foreign policy that makes Wilsonian hearts go pitter patter. The trouble is that democracy doesn’t seem to be emerging on schedule in the region. Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Burma aren’t marching to the beat of the Wilsonian drum. As a result, Washington may have to choose—if it still can—between a foreign policy that makes idealistic professors feel soft and fuzzy, and one that deals effectively with the challenge that China poses to regional and global order.

    Obama can be as tolerant of bloodbaths and evil dictators as the sternest of realists; just ask the people of Aleppo how inspired they are by the fierce urgency of his shining ideals. But in Syria, Obama was looking for reasons not to act, and so the cold logic of realism worked for him.

    In Asia, by contrast, the need was to act with greater vigor and forcefulness, not excluding military shows of force. For that kind of action, liberal Democrats like Obama needed to put on the full armor of light. Thus linking American policy to the Law of the Sea Treaty and an alliance of democracies became necessary to the administration.”

    Obama, and Hillary had the propensity to select foreign policy models most likely to fail in nearly every situation. I cannot remember another President so inclined to failure.

    Living here in Portlandia, I am often treated to long literate arguments on foreign policy where amount of nothing more than farcical Unicorn hunts. The beliefs are commonly Chimerical, based mostly in mythology, and fundamental misunderstandings of human nature.

    I like how Mead, the good liberal holds his nose at the Trump potential, and yet realizes that the Obama/Hillary/Kerry era was a disaster, and, yes, the necessary word is “abject” attached to “failure.” For the Obama/Hillary/Kerry era has been nothing if not an abject failure!

    Mark Sherman

  • Thailand was one of the USA’s oldest and closest strategic allies in Southeast Asia, since at least the days of the Cold War. The fact that both it and the Philippines seem to be gravitating towards China does not quite bode well for U.S. interests in the region.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Please, most of the recent moves in Asia are prepositioning for the coming Trump negotiations. The Philippines, Thailand, etc… are all thinking that they’ll get more out of Trump if they have to be lured back into the fold out of China’s sphere of influence. The incompetent Obama Administration is going away, and Trump is going to put pressure on Asian trade with the US.

    He should pay off all foreign holders of US Treasuries, about $6+ Trillion, and end the foreign currency manipulations of our crooked trading partners, like China, and Japan, and many others.

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