As the latest issue of the Pacific Forum’s Comparative Connections journal suggests, the success of the US’s realignment to Asia will certainly depend on its rapport with China. And yet, a lot has changed since Hillary Clinton’s article first popularized the ‘pivot to Asia’ idea. (See America’s Pacific Century.) That’s why Richard Weitz’s recent visit to the Center for Security Studies (CSS) was a fortuitous one. It provided us with the opportunity to ask him three questions about this major shift in US foreign policy.
Long Live the Pivot?
In light of a number of high-profile changes within the second Obama administration, and given the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East, we first asked Dr Weitz whether the appetite and enthusiasm once shown for the pivot idea still existed in Washington.
When then-Secretary of State Clinton published her article, she identified six key ‘pillars’ that would guide the Obama administration’s geopolitical thinking in the Asia-Pacific region. With these ‘lines of action’ firmly in mind, we next asked Dr Weitz how much progress the US has actually made in promoting and developing them across the region.
Future (Not So) Tense
Finally, heightened US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region will certainly have its risks. North Korea’s volatile behavior, territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and other ‘hot button’ issues immediately come to mind. That some of these problems will place Washington at odds with Beijing goes without saying, but just how acrimonious will these collisions of interests actually be? In answering this final question, Dr Weitz proved himself to be an optimist. He’s confident that aggressive forms of confrontation between the two countries are not in the offing, at least in the short-term.
Richard Weitz is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where he contributes to various defense projects.
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