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Thu Feb 21, 2013, 09:20 AM

Bello: Washington Debates the Pivot to Asia

Washington Debates the Pivot to Asia
By Walden Bello

Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Over the last two years, the Obama administration has executed what the president has termed the “Pivot to Asia” strategy, whereby the United States’ global military force posture is being reconfigured to focus on the Asia-Pacific region as Washington’s central front.

Movement has been rapid, with Washington expanding its naval exercises with Japan, sending marines to Australia, conducting military exercises in the Philippines with its allies, and supporting the negotiating positions of the Philippines and Vietnam on the dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, or what Filipinos now call the West Philippine Sea. Sixty percent of the U.S. Navy’s strength has been deployed to the Western Pacific.

Containment of China is the aim of the Pivot strategy, which has drawn criticism from liberal critics of the policy like Robert Ross, a professor of Political Science at Boston University and a China expert. Writing in the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs, Ross acknowledges that China’s actions in the South China Sea—including claiming the whole area as Chinese territorial waters—come across as aggressive. However, the Pivot, he claims, is based on “a fundamental misreading of China’s leadership,” which Ross says is now given to “appeasing an increasingly nationalist public with symbolic gestures of force.”

Washington’s military withdrawal from Asia is overdue. Instead of normalizing relations between China and its neighbors, the U.S. presence has long prevented the emergence of mature post-Cold War relations among them. Left to themselves, China’s neighbors will be forced cooperate to come up with ways of dealing with the challenge posed by China. One must not forget that China’s foreign policy is the product of over two centuries of Western intervention, a history that is shared by other countries in the region.One must not underestimate the capacity of China and its neighbors to work out a new regional order that does a better job of promoting peace, harmony, and respect for sovereignty than the current regime of U.S. military hegemony.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/washington-debates-the-pivot-to-asia-by-walden-bello

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