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151 The USA's Shift of Focus to Asia The USA's Shift of Focus to Asia As the “first Pacific President”, Obama shifted the focus of American foreign and security policy to the Asia-Pacific region. He set out the directional decision for the “Asia-Pacific Rebalance” in his programmatic speech in Canberra in November 2011.1 It followed the realization that the US presence had been neglected in some parts of the world. Foreign policy should therefore no longer focus on the Middle East, but rather a balance should be re-established that corresponded to the nature of the US as a Pacific nation. The intended “restoration” 2 of American power encompassed a politico-diplomatic, an economic and a military dimension. It built on the Asian policy of previous governments, but was more clearly geared towards China.3 The military dimension came to the fore because the relocation of military capabilities was intended to make up for what the Obama administration believed was due to a mixture of overestimating American and underestimating Chinese strength was neglected.4 In addition, increased diplomatic efforts are less spectacular than more warships in the Pacific. The change in the wording used to describe this strategy illustrates its different accents - from the pragmatic pivot of the Secretary of State in November 2011 to the mechanistic picture of a major publishing house that followed two months later- ____________________ 1 Mike Allen, “America's first Pacific President ", In: Politico, November 13, 2009; White House, “Remarks by President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” November 17, 2011. 2 “We came into office at a period of very significant diminution of American influence, prestige and power in the world,” [Thomas E. Donilon, Security Advisor 2010–13] asserted in an interview. 'And our principal strategic goal was the restauration of that position.' ”Mann, Obamians, p. 342. 3 The terrorist attacks of 2001 (9/11) prevented the Bush administration from shifting the focus to Asia. Even then, the rise of China was considered a “central geopolitical challenge” in Washington. See Campbell, The Pivot, p. 18. 4 See Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, pp. 2, 9; Campbell, The Pivot, pp. 3f; Manyin, Pivot to the Pacific ?, pp. 15f; Sanger, Confront and Conceal, p. 412. The US's Shift in Focus to Asia 152 to restore a balance (rebalance) to the visionary “Pacific Dream” of Foreign Minister John Kerry.5 The term “pivot” suggested a certain arbitrariness of foreign policy priorities . What was alternately referred to by the State Department as "Asia Pivot" or in the White House as "Asia-Pacific Rebalance" (and led to the accusation of confusion) 6 was, however, a directional decision that was in the continuity of the decisions of previous presidents from both political parties . It is based on the firm belief of the foreign policy elite that a benevolent leadership role and supremacy of the USA is the only hope for the world, otherwise there is a risk of a return to a destabilizing rivalry between the great powers. In this logic of liberal hegemony, global stability is best served if the United States of America remains the dominant, militarily superior superpower.7 However, this does not depend solely on the will of the US elite, but on whether other states regain confidence in the See the USA as the leading power. With his speech in Canberra in November 2011, President Obama wanted above all to reassure his allies in Asia, troubled by China's rise, that the United States would be involved in the Pacific on a long-term basis and to a greater extent than before. Obama formulated three priorities, namely security, prosperity and dignity.8 Secretary of State Clinton also put security first of six points for the implementation of a strategy in which primarily bilateral alliances ____________________ 5 Cf. Manyin, Pivot to the Pacific ?, p. 9f; John Kerry, “Remarks on a 21st Century Pacific Partnership,” Tokyo: Tokyo Institute of Technology, April 15, 2013; U.S. Department of Defense, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities of 21st Century Defense, Washington, DC: DoD, January 2012, p. 2. 6 Cf. Campbell, The Pivot, p. 29f; Michael Green / Kathleen Hicks / Mark Cancian, Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025. Capabilities, Presence, and Partnerships. An Independent Review of U.S. Defense Strategy in the Asia-Pacific, Washington, DC: CSIS, January 2016, p. 195. 7 “Clear majorities in every U.S. elite category believed that global stability is best served by American dominance (that is, 'the US remaining the leading superpower'). "Swaine et al., US-China Security Perceptions Survey, p. 25. See Ivo Daalder," Despite what Trump and Clinton say, Americans want the US to be a global leader ”, in: Washington Post Blogs, October 13, 2016; Peter Rudolf, Liberal Hegemony and Foreign Policy under Barack Obama, Berlin: SWP, August 2016 (SWP-Aktuell 56/2016), p. 1f. 8 White House, “Remarks by President Obama to the Australian Parliament”, November 17, 2011. The US's shift in focus to Asia 153 should be strengthened.9 To this end, it traveled to East Asia more frequently than its predecessors (and twice as often as Condoleezza Rice with 36 visits) .10 However, when strengthening security alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines and the deepening of partnerships such as with Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, the balance between necessary support and cautious encouragement must be maintained: On the one hand, allies and partners should be encouraged to make their own efforts to improve their security under the US promise of protection. However, this should not degenerate into aggressive behavior towards China, as this could unwittingly involve the United States in a military conflict.11 The aim was not to prepare for a conflict with China, but to create the conditions for successful conflict prevention. An expression of the foreign policy orientation towards Asia was the stronger diplomatic engagement of the USA in the multilateral institutions of the Asia-Pacific area, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the "East Asia Summit" (EAS). Foreign Minister Rice had already initiated the engagement in ASEAN, but at the time it was perceived as insufficient in Southeast Asia. Now, with Clinton, a US Secretary of State visited the ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta for the first time in February 2009, thereby confirming the intention to end the US “diplomatic absence” 12 in the area. In addition, the ASEAN basic treaty (Treaty of Amity and Cooperation) was signed and US government representatives took part in the ASEAN meetings, such as the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM), whose extended format “ADMM Plus” 13 was the starting point for a System of collective security. In addition to an effective regional security architecture, democratic values ​​such as ____________________ 9 should be part of the “Asia Pivot”, secondly, partnerships with emerging powers (“including China”), thirdly to participate in regional multilateral institutions, fourthly, to expand trade and investment, fifthly create a broad military presence; and sixth, promote democracy and human rights. See Clinton, America’s Pacific Century. 10 Manyin, Pivot to the Pacific ?, pp. 16f. 11 Cf. Berteau et al., Assessing the Asia-Pacific Rebalance, p. 18. 12 According to the Secretary General of ASEAN, quoted in Campbell, The Pivot, p. 19. 13 “ADMM Plus” means Australia, China, India, Japan , New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, USA. The US's shift in focus to Asia 154 compliance with human rights and international law principles (such as the “freedom of navigation”) are promoted.14 In addition to political and diplomatic engagement, business and trade form a further dimension. They are both the cause and the instrument of the shift in focus. As the fastest growing economic region in the world, Asia is critical to the success of President Obama's national export initiative.15 To this end, he was able to build on progress made under his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. These had normalized trade relations and made it possible for China, Taiwan and Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization. Clinton started the "New Pacific Community Initiative" in 1993, emphasizing the importance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). He also began negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore, which were successfully concluded under Bush. Bush signed a similar agreement with Australia, initiated FTA negotiations with South Korea, and launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The free trade agreement concluded under Obama with South Korea and the TPP are therefore part of the continuity of American foreign trade policy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement was significantly advanced by the Obama administration, with the help of which economic power factors were to be bundled and the rules of the world economy to be laid down for further years on the American model. In this way, the security policy could have been flanked and the export economy of the USA could have been supported in equal measure.16 However, the ____________________ 14 Cf. Manyin, Pivot to the Pacific ?, pp. 17–20. 15 "As the world's fastest-growing region - and home to more than half the global economy - the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that's creating jobs and opportunity for the American people." White House, "Remarks by President Obama to the Australian Parliament ”, November 17, 2011. 16 If successful, the TPP could have become the “engine of change” by binding member states to the USA through preferential market access (and thus counteracting the pull of the Chinese market) and by persuading China to join. See Hanns Günther Hilpert, Asia-Pacific Free Trade Talks before the finish. Setting the course in the interplay of forces around regional markets, multilateral rules and geopolitical leadership, Berlin: SWP, December 2014 (SWP-Aktuell 75/2014). The US's shift in focus to Asia155 is coming under domestic political pressure17 and threatened to lead to a further failure of American foreign trade policy, especially since the government had not been able to prevent the Chinese initiative of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a counterweight to the western-dominated world financial structure. A failure of the TPP agreement signed in February 201618 would be a serious setback for US policy on Asia. Because TPP should act as an “economic glue” 19 in order to bind like-minded countries to itself and to create long-term stability through a consolidated position of power in the Asia-Pacific region. This - from the point of view of the Obama administration - positive effect of the TPP agreement could have been reinforced by China's later accession, which would have forced the country to undertake internal reforms in the spirit of liberal approaches and accelerated its integration into the western regulatory framework. The military dimension of the shift in focus to Asia was defined in a new directive (Defense Strategic Guidance, DSG) of the Ministry of Defense. Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta presented it to the Pentagon on January 5, 2012. Under the programmatic title "Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities of 21st Century Defense ”, the link between economic and security interests in the Indo-Pacific region was emphasized and the resulting need for a“ rebalance ”was emphasized.20 The following initial conditions both enabled and required the shift in focus: The situation in Europe was quiet and the combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan neared the end. In contrast, a regional power had emerged on the opposite Pacific coast that challenged the decades of American domination in an area in which the United States had substantial economic and security interests. The future conflicts of relevance for Washington would ____________________ 17 In June 2015, Congress denied the government the power (Trade Promotion Authority) to make concessions to the negotiating partners. 18 signatories to the agreement were Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam as well as the USA. 19 According to the former Japanese ambassador to the USA, Ichiro Fujisaki, in Jonathan Soble, "Failure of Obama's Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Could Hurt U.S. Influence in Asia ", in: NYT, June 16, 2015. 20 U.S. Department of Defense, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership, p. 2. The USA's shift in focus to Asia 156 likely to be carried out in Asia, not in Europe.21 Two aspects were particularly emphasized in the guideline, namely relations with allies and partners in Asia and the corresponding balance between our own military Skills and those of the partners (to share costs and responsibility) .22 Strengthening alliances and partnerships meant for the USA both relief and strengthening of its own. Panetta explained the shift in focus to Asia to high-ranking decision-makers in the region at the “Shangri-La Dialog” 2012 in Singapore. In addition to the alliance with South Korea, he emphasized the alliance with Japan, which is a cornerstone of regional security. In addition to joint training and operations, the cooperation included the further development of missile defense and new fields of cooperation in space and cyber space. In addition, the American presence in the Indo-Pacific region should be strengthened, the cooperation with Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore should be intensified and the relations with Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Vietnam as well as New Zealand should be further expanded. In addition to being present in Japan and South Korea, US Marines and aircraft were to be stationed in Australia on a rotation basis. In the context of American power projection, Panetta emphasized that growing technological capabilities are just as important as the number of armed forces in assessing the full extent of US security engagement. Over a period of five years, older US warships were to be replaced by more than 40 modern ships, and the number and scope of exercises in the Pacific were to be increased. By 2020, 60 percent of the fleet should be stationed in the Pacific and investments should be made in new and improved weapons systems. At the same time, innovative deployment concepts such as ____________________ 21 “The threats are in Asia.” Andrew W. Marshall / James G. Roche, Asia 2025, Washington, DC: DoD, 1999, p. 49. See Kai Liao, “The Pentagon and the Pivot “, in: Survival, 55 (June – July 2013) 3, p. 101; Leon Panetta, Worthy Fights. A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, New York: Penguin, 2014, p. 383; Gary J. Schmitt, Challenges to the US Rebalance to Asia, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, November 2014, p. 7. 22 In addition, ten primary missions of the armed forces were highlighted in accordance with the national security strategy, including the ability to project power in third place under A2 / AD conditions. U.S. Department of Defense, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership, pp. 3, 4–6. The maritime component of American security policy 157 “Air-Sea Battle” developed in order to be able to meet the specific challenges in this area.23 The global leadership role requires remaining active in regions of national interest such as the Middle East and establishing alliances such as NATO 24 However, while the North Atlantic alliance has built up a relatively well-functioning interoperability in Europe over decades so that armed forces organized and equipped differently can work together, this cannot be said in Asia. There, bilateral agreements point the way. The USA must therefore endeavor to ensure that very different partners such as Japan, South Korea and Australia can operate together. This requires corresponding regulations for the exchange of militarily relevant information (as is being sought between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington). Joint military exercises are also required. However, since these are very expensive, the USA had to cancel some of them in 2013, which caused considerable unrest among allies and made the will to implement the “rebalance” appear questionable.25 The maritime component of American security policy As the greatest strength of the USA as a sea power and decisive for theirs Influence in the Asia-Pacific region applies to their diversity, which includes political, societal, commercial and cultural as well as institutional elements.The broad foreign policy engagement stands in contrast ____________________ 23 Leon Panetta, The US Rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific, Singapore: Shangri-La Dialogue, 2012