Monday, January 27, 2014

Out of the Frying Pan

President Obama pivoted to Asia and the Pacific more to disguise a retreat from the Middle East than to really focus on the problems of Asia, it is clear. What foreign policy geniuses told the White House that the Asia-Pacific theater is the quiet portion of the globe?

I think we do need to emphasize the Pacific at this point. Europe is safer from external threats (with Brussels a bigger threat to freedom) and the Middle East is much better than it was in 2001 (although we could still blow our gains). So I'm not arguing against this Obama administration focus (as long as Europe and the Middle East aren't ignored).

But it really does seem as if the president's team thought this pivot was an easy way to avoid conflict for the rest of his time in office. Instead of a quiet front, we've pivoted into the fire. "Obama’s Asia rebalance turns into headache as China, Japan relations spiral down":

China and Japan are not talking any more, and the United States is hardly being listened to.

A dispute over a remote chain of islands in the East China Sea has spiraled into an increasingly dangerous standoff between Beijing and Tokyo in the last few weeks, deeply complicating President Obama’s attempts to forge closer partnerships in the region.

Add in China's South China Sea annexation attempt, China's desire to take Taiwan against their wishes, North Korea's instability and nuclear ambitions, India-China tensions, and the fact that the region includes the Asian provinces of Putin's paranoid republic, and we're in for a struggle with stakes higher than the Middle East we pivoted away from.

Out of the frying pan, and into the fire, as the expression goes.

And this belief of "officials" and "experts" from that headache article is just a stupid view:

U.S. officials and experts say conflict between the Asian powers remains unlikely, with both sides keen to preserve economic ties, and neither likely to emerge as a clear winner.

Thinking economics trumps passions on the question of war is just whistling past the graveyard, as Japanese Prime Minister Abe tried to say.

There are always new problems to face overseas. That's just how the world works. Even if it is inconvenient to the Obama administration's domestic agenda.