US dilemma in Asia-Pacific

Dost Muhammad Barrech
THE Asia-Pacific region has unique characteristics, having world’s leading economies including China, India, Japan and Southeast Asian countries; the economic growth of the region is remarkable and will increase significantly. It is estimated that by 2020 exports of the Asia-pacific region will reach to 35 percent of the world. The region has become a hub of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The Asia Pacific region contributes 56 percent to the world economy. The region also plays a substantial role for the US economy, representing approximately 54 of the US trade. The US five leading trade partners in top ten are from the Asia. The US policy makers know history of 21st century will be determined in the Asia-Pacific.
Each American president contemplates to have an unprecedented American influence in the region. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” was to expand the American influence in the region, many commentators perceived as a blunder. Obama’s pivot to Asia was based on a false assumption. Prior to him, the Asia-Pacific region was somewhat underestimated by his predecessors and was merely seen in military paradigm. Obama by pulling out the American military troops from the Middle East and stationing them in the Asia-Pacific caused a great deal of chaos for China and overlooked the vulnerabilities of the Middle East.
Stationing nearly 60 percent American troops in Asia revokes cold war mentality of containing the Soviet Union. The security –oriented strategy of Obama without any security reason triggered miscalculation in China. An aggressive attitude of Obama compelled China to move towards military advancement. Deployment of the American troops in an economic region of the world raises many questions about pivot to Asia. For Obama, that might have been pivot to Asia, but for China it was an encirclement of China. Pivot to Asia did not bring fruitful outcomes for Obama, rather made China more aggressive and more assertive, claiming the South China Sea and Senkakus Island. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement built by the US was a ray of hope for a consolidated economy of the region. But ambiguity in Obama’s policy caused skepticism for China. Obama, saying “TPP allows America and not countries like China to write the rules of the road in the 21st century.” China, on the other hand, invited the US to join Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The US did not join the (AIIB) nor did accept the U.K’s joining in the Chinese bandwagon.
Withdrawing from TPP by Trump administration further exacerbates the US relations with Asian-Pacific states and bolsters the Chinese stance to fill the vacuum. An improbable approach of Trump, scrapping the TPP would be a geo-political gain for China.TPP a trade agreement of the US with 12 Asian-pacific economics a sole non-military pillar of Obama administration in the region. Surprisingly, the US champion of neo-liberal economy, based on win-win gain itself violates the doctrine. In Marxist perspective, there would not be a permanent and predominant global power in neo-liberal world order, the fluctuation of world economy guarantees that no power can be taken for granted even prevailing Chinese economic superiority can erode in future.
Trump’s recent to five Asian countries is more American-oriented. Trump in Japan said Japan needed to invest more in the US, and should buy more military equipment and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US. He is exceedingly worried about trade deficit with Japan, being obsessed with so-called “America First” approach and unequivocally said that the existing trade between Washington and Tokyo was unacceptable. Trump, by reducing trade deficit with Japan wants Japan to buy the US weapons. North Korea issue in the region has geo-politics and geo-economics benefits for the US. Fabricating the North Korean issue in China’s periphery is attributed to contain China. While military complex is another genuine reason to compel robust economies such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam to buy the US weapons.
Paradoxically, the US policy to contain China is merely a joke on so-called neo-liberal world and for globalization. The US is one of the leading trade partners of China, having $650 billion trade annually. The US invested 10 times more in China than in India. How can students of international politics believe of the contaminant of China, when the US itself is having $ 650 billion trade with China? allies of the US need to think of an adage of Hennery Kissinger, saying that “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal” the US the biggest beneficiary of Chinese trade stresses upon its allies to contain China is a naïve idea, by all means against the doctrine of globalization and neo-liberalism.
As a matter of fact “the American Politicians are addicted to war”, the world has seen devastation and destruction caused by the US across the world. International politics cannot be seen merely in realism paradigm, there is always a room for other theories. Alexander Wendt, a Social- Constructivist says “anarchy is what states make of it” .The more states embrace the theory of realism, the more likelihood of wars occur. Theory of Realism has caused irreparable damage to the mankind. Trump administration should shun hawkish approach and should accept the emergence of other powers.
— The writer is Research Assistant, Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.
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