Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Point of the Pivot

Is the "pivot" to the Pacific over? It started before that policy was announced and it will continue when it is "over."

Is the pivot to Asia and the Pacific over?

The Obama administration’s Pacific rebalance effort — also known as the Pivot to the Pacific — effort is officially dead, according to a top State Department official.

Asked by reporters about the future of the rebalance, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton said Monday that the new administration has its own plan for the region, even if that plan has yet to take shape.

As a move of American air and naval power from Europe to Asia, that was a shift that started with the collapse of the Soviet Union well before the packaged "pivot" unveiled by the Obama administration.

Really, I always assumed that the "pivot" was more useful to disguise a retreat from Europe and more important for the Obama administration, from the Middle East.

Renewed war in the Middle East and in Europe mooted that motivation. Land and air power are certainly needed in Europe and the Middle East again.

Threats are everywhere after 8 years of Obama smart diplomacy. So a new "formulation" makes sense.

The one thing about the pivot that was useful was the signal that it provided to allies and neutrals that China would not chase us from the western Pacific.

Japan has been improving their military and leaning forward more to help us despite their pacifist constitution.

And Japan will help more:

Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

That ship is Izumo, a helicopter carrier called an aviation "destroyer."

The Chinese are unhappy:

"If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China's sovereignty and security... then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.

America and Japan are allies, of course.

So thanks Japan. Their role is no doubt going to be important in a new formulation.