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Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power

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Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power
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  American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power    American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power  Charles Abeyawardena IR6645  –   Asia in World Affairs Dr. Dallao TROY University September 12, 2014  American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power 1   Table of Contents: Introduction 2 Background 3 The Cold War 3 A Brave New World  –   The End of the Cold War 4 Asia Today 5 China 6 What is Retrenchment? 6 Economic Power in the Age of globalization 8 Bilateral Relationships within Asia 9 U.S.  –   Japan Alliance 10 U.S.  –   ROK Alliance 10 U.S.  –   Australia Alliance 11 U.S.  –   India Partnership 12 Other Partner Nations 12 Strategic Positioning of Military Forces 13 Analysis 13 Conclusion 15 References 16  American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power 2   American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power Asia is no longer an exotic destination full of mystery and adventure where westerners can test their mettle, amass a small fortune and tell tales of adventure. Having travelled to a number of Asian countries it’s easy to see how modern and essential Asia has become. Today, Asia is an economic powerhouse. The region accounts for 25% of global gross domestic product (GDP), three of the world’s largest economies, four of the world’s six largest militaries, three of the world’s potential strategic flashpoints (Taiwan, Korea and India/Pakistan) and increasing territorial and resource challenges. All major shipping transiting from the Mediterranean through the Suez Cannel passes through the Malacca Straits to Northeast Asia and the Americas. According to Kaplan, “more than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage and a thir  d of all maritime traffic” (Kaplan, 2014, Pg9 -10) access the Malacca Straits. He also notes that “approximately 60% of Japan’s and Taiwan’s, and two thirds of South Korea’s energy supplies, as well as 80% of China’s crude oil imports” (Kaplan, 2014) trans it the South China Sea. As a maritime nation, the United States is looking to take full advantage of this global shift as a means of maintaining its own economic growth and as such is using all levers of national power (diplomatic, informational, military and economic) to assure its allies and partners access to and the use of the global commons. In recent years the U.S. has signaled its interest to “pivot” to Asia but since the nation has overreached itself in manpower, fighting a global war on terror with limited success, and treasure  –   In 2008 the U.S. and the world experienced an economic recession stronger than normal and in this case very close to the 1929 depression. Now the U.S. has to reassess its strategy behind the pivot. Today it seems that the U.S. is in the process of retrenchment resulting from “structural pressures of the international system” (McDonald and Parent 2011). This paper will attempt to discuss U.S. retrenchment, if it is occurring, and the  American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power 3   Asia-Pacific balance of power, through economic power in an age of increasing globalization; U.S. Alliance / bilateral relationships within Asia; and its strategic force posturing throughout the region. Background Since 1898 the U.S. has been a great powers balancer in Asia. As a great power balancer the U.S. successfully brokered the treaty of Portsmouth ending the Russo-Japanese War. As such President Roosevelt warned the Imperial Powers not to band together against Japan, as they had in 1895 if not the U.S. would take appropriate actions to rectify the situation. (Lim, 2005) From that moment on the U.S. would watch over Japan and protect China’s open markets. Regrettably, the U.S. and Japan did go to war based on the perception that the U.S. was limiting Japan’s ability to maintain its colonial empire by not providing the needed iron ore. Ultimately, World War II was disastrous for the Japanese. The vast Asian empire they had acquired since 1898 (from Korea and China all the way to Indonesia in the south and Burma in the southeast) was reduced to just the Japanese home islands as well as the Senkaku and Ryukyu island chains. Diplomatically, they were reliant on the U.S. to administrate the nation; their military was replaced with a police force and their new constitution specifically limited their defensive abilities; their economy was completely destroyed. The Cold War At the end of World War II the U.S. was the predominant Pacific power occupying Japan and its territories while balancing perceived Soviet expansion. Diplomatically, the U.S. opened ties once again with the Japanese government, and recognized Taiwan as the legitimate Chinese government agreeing to a defense treaty. Negotiated alliances with Australia and eventually  American Retrenchment and the Asia Balance of Power 4   Thailand as a global containment posture against the Soviet Union. Militarily, the U.S. continued to protect Japan, engaged communist forces, on the fringes, in Korea and later in Vietnam and Cambodia all the while protecting a rehabilitating Japan and reassuring its nervous European partners on the fringes of communism that the U.S. would not fail to assist in their defense against communist expansion. Economically, the U.S., as part of the Brenton Wood Accords, open its markets to both Europe and Asia. Over time, as the U.S. grew technologically, lower end jobs were sent overseas in order to help stimulate Asian economies. As the Cold War  progressed, the close ties between the Soviet Union and China began to fray. Noting this split the U.S. approached China in hopes of balancing Soviet power. As part of this balance of Soviet  power the U.S. acknowledged the Chinese Communist government as the true Chinese government abolishing its treaty in support Taiwan. This move helped to isolate the Soviet Union, ultimately leading to its collapse in1989. A Brave New World  –   The end of the Cold War At the end of the Cold War, Ionut Pioescu suggests that U.S. strategy shifted from containment to one of dominant global leadership and universal engagement, and that the U.S. should bear the cost of maintaining that station for as long as it can. (Popescu, 2014) In Asia militarily the region transformed as North Korea developed a nuclear capability, and China and the rest of Asia began to systematically open its markets to the rest of the world. Politically, once again historical, religious and ethnic tensions surfaced, as markets opened new economic rivalries took hold. Today nationalism is resurfacing in Asia as its peoples hope to address past grievances. For example Korea’s grievance with Japan over the use of Korean women as  prostitutes for Japanese soldiers; China and Japan, China and Vietnam, China and the Philippines territorial disputes over islands in the South and East China seas. These past grievances are
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