Showing posts with label Russia diplomacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia diplomacy. Show all posts

Monday, October 28, 2013

X-Post: Russia’s Pacific Destiny

Source: American Interest 


"By virtue of our unique geography”, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2011 Foreign Policy article, “the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.” Russia, meanwhile, has seen itself as a Euro-Asian country, as Vladimir Putin has argued from the start of his first term in the Kremlin. The American attitude, which in Secretary Clinton’s locution is about as uncontroversial a statement as an American Secretary of State can make, reflects the country’s historic “maritime” vocation. The Russian one reflects the longstanding fascination with the country’s continental scale and reflects its traditional terrestrial focus. It is really no surprise, when you think about it, that during the “space race” Americans fetched their returning astronauts at sea, while Russians did so over land.

Despite these different conceptions of the Pacific, which is now the most dynamic region in the world, both the United States and the Russian Federation have made similar mistakes. The most striking of these has been the equation of the Pacific Rim with Asia and Asians. American and Russian policymakers and experts have commonly spoken of the Asia-Pacific or Asian-Pacific region, respectively. Both groups presuppose that the Pacific Rim cannot even be imagined without the primacy of Asian nations, tacitly agreeing that among them China appears to be a natural leader. The recent and ongoing shift of global wealth toward the Pacific is therefore widely interpreted as a harbinger of the “Asian century.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

America's Pacific Century Pivot - A Pirouette In The Potomac Two-Step?

Following up to an earlier SiFM post titled: "The Re-adjustment Bureau 2.0", illustrated the aspect of Australia's self appointed role in the Pacific region.

A recent Bloomberg article covered the efforts of Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia's respective diplomatic outreach to sovereign South Pacific island nations, a source of chagrin to Australia's Pacific Parliamentary Secretary, Richard Marles, who exclaimed "What this boils down to is Russia taking advantage of very small, pretty vulnerable countries to pursue agendas which have very little to do with the Pacific".

One could much ask Richard Marles the same question, with regards to the reports of US marines that have been sanctioned for garrison in the Northern Territory of Australia, much to the displeasure of many Australians.

China is not a threat but US policy may well be
November 12, 2011

US Marines, perform a formal raising and lowering of the flag.

Lest more die ...US marines at the US embassy in Canberra. Photo: Marina Neil

Is it time to rethink the terms of our insurance policy with the US (''US Marine base for Darwin'', November 11)? Participating in US invasions of a number of countries in the past 50 years has not increased our security or won us friends. Allowing the setting up of an American base in Darwin aimed at China is putting at risk our future prosperity and friendship with that country. In the long term China is far more important to us economically than the US, a country which is now suffering the dire effects of its continuous commitments to overseas wars.

Increasing the number of American bases on Australian soil on the basis of a possible Chinese invasion seems to be driven by a totally wrong-headed fear.

In its entire history, China, unlike the US, has never launched attacks on far-away countries. They have rarely gone to war. Rather they have been carved up and suffered incursions by foreign powers. No wonder they feel they need a stronger army. China has more sense than to waste its national wealth on military excursions. Blind Freddy can see what war does to an economy.

Ironically China is inadvertently supporting the US war effort by propping up the ailing US economy with loans. China has no need to go to war as they have no problem extending their ownership of foreign resources by simply buying them in the market place.

Do we continue to participate in US wars, or do we concentrate on becoming a successful independent country, a country which has the capacity to develop a peace-loving culture based on higher values.

Curtis Levy Birchgrove

Troops in Darwin bad for stability

Not satisfied with Australian troops fighting and dying in US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and before that Vietnam, and having US spy bases on our shores making Australia a target for America's enemies, the US now wants to permanently base its troops in Darwin.

It may have escaped the notice of some in Washington that Australia is not yet a US state. This is a proposition that can only make our region less stable by heightening tensions with China, our major trading partner. For whose benefit? Not Australia's.

Paul Pearce Bronte

Hey, Mr Obama and Ms Gillard, please let us finish the present wars if we can, before we start the next one.

Richard Manuell Frenchs Forest

If Peter Garrett was the defence minister would US forces be given the nod?

Allan Gibson Cherrybrook

Remembrance Day was tarnished by the announcement that US marines are to be based in Darwin.

The government continues to slavishly support the US, by sending troops to the unwinnable war in Afghanistan, opposing Palestine becoming a member of the UN and UNESCO, and now sending a very unfriendly message to our Asia-Pacific neighbours by supporting this increased US military presence.

Michael Fox Pacific Palms

What an announcement on Armistice Day. Will it stop the boats?

Barry Hartshorn Wahroonga

We are in Afghanistan for one reason only and that is the American alliance. This is also why we went into Vietnam and Iraq, and has nothing to do with Afghanistan. If we want the US to help us in our hour of need, we must maintain a profile as a loyal ally deserving of protection. Both the government and the opposition support this approach.

Whether or not you agree with this policy, it is a serious one which should be argued on its merits instead of being obfuscated by pious rhetoric about bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan.

As with any other insurance policy, premiums must be paid regularly so we will follow the Americans into future ventures when they ask us to join them.

Cavan Hogue Umina Beach

Ask the people of Okinawa and other parts of Japan, and of any other Pacific country forced to put up with US troops, about their experience before we agree to accept any marines onto our soil (especially without a similar Aussie base being established on US mainland soil).

They will tell you about the arrogance, then about the prostitution and sleaze, and about the rape of civilian women and girls, and more.

Militarily, we do not need the US anywhere near our country. It attracts danger to us, rather than deter it.

Have some sense, please and allow us our national integrity.

Go home, US military.

Jim Kable Caves Beach

Will American marines based in Australia be subject to Australian laws or will they demand immunity from prosecution for all crimes, including rape and murder, as they have in other countries that they occupy?

John Weiley Broken Head

Read more:

The hardworking folk at the 'foggy bottom' are extensively
building on these existing color coordinated themes- as if perfecting a tricky and death defying dance maneuver with multiple diplomatic partners; the aims of re-calibrating, re-hashing and re-iterating the talking points of the "Pacific century", "pivots" in foreign policy which the U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had broadly outlined in her essay published in Novembers issue of Foreign Policy and subsequently expanded on her Nov. 10th 2011 speech at East-West center, the eve of the Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) summit, held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

It remains to be seen whether this episode of 'dancing with the stars' actually heralds in any concrete and promising results.

(Video of East-West speech posted below)

A columnist  in Strategic Culture online journal portrayed the current and unfolding APEC summit as 'power play'.

The full excerpt of the article:
Asia-Pacific: New Theatre of Power Play
Aurobinda MAHAPATRA (India) | 12.11.2011 | 08:18

The 19th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Hawaiian island of Oahu will certainly throw up new challenges as well as opportunities.

Aurobinda Mahapatra: Strategic Culture Columnist

"The contours of the emerging power play in Asia Pacific will be mainly threefold: trade, strategic alliances and clashes over the values governing nation states… Among the three, the urgent attention will be given to trade [...]
With the shifting of power centre from west to east, the coming years will also witness shifting of strategies and alliances. In this emerging matrix, besides the US, the other global players like Russia, India and China have to play greater roles towards maintaining the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.

The global theatre of power play will shift to the region stretching from the land linking Indian subcontinent to the Pacific rim countries including the Americas with diverse economic potentials, political set ups and strategic ambitions. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at East-West Center in Hawaii, on 10 November 2011, on the eve of the APEC summit serves a prelude to the forthcoming US strategies in the region, which will most likely be received with caution by other countries like India, Russia and China, as there are prospects of clash of interests among the members of the grouping and among other players in the region.

Hilary Clinton defined in very clear terms delineated the rising US interests in the Asia-Pacific region. She called the Asia-Pacific as the ‘pivot point’ and “the world’s strategic and economic centre of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific.” She pointed out, “One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in this region.” She further argued, the US has mostly come out of the burdens imposed on its exchequer by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The international security assistance force is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan within a few years. This leaves, as Clinton reasoned, the US enough leeway and resources to divert from these areas towards Asia-Pacific, which has not been drastically affected by ongoing global churning, caused by financial crises as clearly visible in Europe. The US will be interested to forge new partnership in this region towards strengthening its economy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership with having few members of the region such as Chile, New Zealand, Brunei and Singapore will likely be further strengthened by the joining of the US, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru. During a visit to Tokyo last year in November, President Obama clearly delineated the US approach towards this power hub, and emphasized that his role as ‘the US’ first Pacific President’ will be multi-vectored in coming months. He declared, “The fortunes of America and the Asia-Pacific have become more closely linked than ever.” The last year has witnessed whirlwind tour of the US diplomats and leaders to this region, with the visits of President Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta. This time as well Clinton’s visit will cover a wide array of countries with vast and diverse political set ups in the region such as Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, the last one hosting East Asian summit later this month.

The contours of the emerging power play in Asia Pacific will be mainly threefold: trade, strategic alliances and clashes over the values governing nation states… Among the three, the urgent attention will be given to trade. As the global scenario witnessing scattering of old economic and power centres, with the shifting of economic base towards Asia Pacific, increasing attention will be given to this emerging region, which accounts for world’s 44 per cent of world trade, 40 per cent of global population and about 54 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product. The economic growth of the countries in the region has accounted for 70 per cent of global growth in the past decade. While the Euro zone and also the US are grappling with the financial crises, the Asia Pacific region has witnessed steady growth in all these years. Starting from China down to the countries of Australia, New Zealand, or other countries of southeast Asia like Singapore, and even the countries of South America such as Peru, and other countries of this region as well have not suffered as other parts of the globe particularly in Europe or the US. Hence, in the field of trade, the US objective will be to brace up its relations with the regional countries.
This summit will likely witness the strengthening of Trans-Pacific Partnership, with the US in the lead. The US trade objectives may clash with that of China, which has recently raised its tirade against the trade policies of the US. The Chinese official daily Xinhua of 11 November 2001 while analyzing the positives and negatives of the APEC summit urged the US to withdraw its protectionist policies. It quoted Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua who said, “China hopes the meeting will further promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, push forward economic and technology cooperation, oppose trade protectionism.” The US on the other hand has harped on the point that China must appreciate its currency Yuan in order to have fair trade. The emerging trade matrix will likely see increasing tussle between the US and China in the region.

Another important component of this emerging power play is forging or shaping of alliances. The region is full of diversities, with different powers having different strategic objectives. There are numerous fault lines among the players in the region. China has differences with India on issues of border as well as sea dealings. Few months back China sent an official protest to India in order to not to enter into negotiations with Vietnam to explore energy resources in South China Sea. Similarly, China has differences with other South China Sea littoral countries. India has also evinced a keen interest to play a significant role in the region. This month, Asia Young Leaders Summit is being held in New Delhi, where members from 30 countries of Asia-Pacific region will congregate. While India enjoys good relations with Russia, which in turn has good relations with China, it will be interesting to see how the emerging aspirations of the US will influence these alliances.
The regional alliances like Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Ganga-Mekong Cooperation Project (GMC), Bangladesh India Myanmar Sri Lanka Thailand Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will unlikely remain untouched by the emerging power engagements in this region. Hence, when Clinton during her speech talked about the US interests in the region that spans from ‘the Indian subcontinent to western shores of the Americas,’ it is rather the assertion of emerging US approach in the region. The US has currently about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan and South Korea. There are various contentious issues in the region, ranging from South China Sea to North Korea and many others. China’s insistence on its ‘pacific rise,’ and its policy of ‘harmony and reconciliation,’ will have to go through increasing contestation and rising or breaking or moulding of alliances in the region.

However, the sore point in the emerging matrix will be interrogation of values practiced by nation states. Clinton during her speech said, “We have made very clear our serious concerns about China’s record on human rights.” The whole Asia Pacific region has sheltered different kinds of regimes, with having different kinds of political set ups, which will come under increasing questioning by the US and its allies in coming days. The countries like China, the second largest economy in the world, which has expressed its policy of ‘peaceful rise’ will likely take these statements and policies as unnecessary interference in their internal affairs, while the US will likely use this as a point for drumming support to strengthen and fulfill its objectives in the region. The point that needs emphasis is that the region that is so vast, so diverse, there will be bound to be subtleties in policies and diplomatic maneuvers to reshape the emerging contours of power balance in the region.

With the shifting of power centre from west to east, the coming years will also witness shifting of strategies and alliances. In this emerging matrix, besides the US, the other global players like Russia, India and China have to play greater roles towards maintaining the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.