Kit King Hau
What Were the Key Considerations Driving the United States’ Pivot to Asia?
Abstract
The Pivot to Asia was strategy announced in the autumn of 2011 by the Obama administration. The Pivot was constituted by various elements: increased multilateral diplomatic engagement, economic initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP), and new military planning. This article argues that the strategy was driven by geostrategic concerns regarding the Asia-Pacific region, considerations of maintaining the United States’ historical role as a global leader in international affairs, and long-term economic security concerns. The Pivot was a grand strategy that combined engagement with dissuasion: encouraging the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to be a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in global politics, while discouraging it from disrupting the current status quo. However, the Pivot policy was more than a reaction to the PRC’s rise. It was a strategy that aimed to secure the United States’ standing in a future world where the US might have to share its powers with other new players. The Pivot strategy attempted to secure the US’ standing in the world by establishing and maintaining norms in trade, military, and diplomacy that would allow the US to maintain its leadership role. To conclude, the article questions whether the US reaching out to form partnership with countries based on completely different values might diminish its soft power, that is the power of its liberal values, in the long run.
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