NEO – Is the US Losing its Geopolitical Edge in Asia?

The Spin-meisters are pitching China as the invisible enemy - a new version of the Iran nuclear threat to con us with.
The Spin-meisters are pitching China as the invisible enemy – a new version of the Iran nuclear threat to con us with.

US is Losing its Geopolitical Edge in Asia

… by  Salman Rafi Sheikh,    … with  New Eastern Outlook,  Moscow


This is the big one
This is the big one

[ Editor’s note: We have more today, folks, on America’s “Whack a mole” foreign policy, where when we starting pulling out of one big mess we created, we simply shift over to starting a new one. Isn’t that special?

American media gave Obama pretty much a free ride on the cool reception that our Asian allies gave him.

It seems Asians are not so eager to be the new cannon fodder in America’s continued quest to not feel at peace until they have subdued anyone on the planet able to defend themselves. This is literally our new defense policy.

Left out of all the trip reporting is any mention of Japan’s nuclear arsenal, all disassembled weapons we are told, but ready to be put to work if the need arose… but not a first strike threat like someone else we know on the planet.

Japan also has huge rocket launchers that can put bus-size payloads up. Once nukes are in orbit you don’t need ICBMs to launch them and give you warning.

But with the nuclear plant devastation, the switch back to carbon-based electrical, and a house-of-cards economy like ours, they will need a magician to come up with the funding to do anything substantial.

Japan is re-militarizing and the tea leaves say that reducing the US base footprint might be in the works. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s flank card for this was posing the Philippines as a back up base.

Either way, most of Asia seems to realize that America is not coming there to spread freedom and democracy, but to find new pickings. Is that an unfair prejudice, or just an astute observation?

We have a foreign policy based on complete subterfuge, not only for the intended targets to be scalped, but for the American people who are fed a conveyor belt of garbage to deter them from posing any credible opposition.

Don’t bother asking Capitol Hill or the White House who the policy makers are. They don’t want you to know. They are pretty sure you wouldn’t like it, and I tend to agree… Jim W. Dean ]


–  First published  May 9, 2014  –


Is the US losing its ability to 'influence friends'?
Is the US losing its ability to ‘influence friends’?

The ambitious US “pivot” to Asia is not working the way it would have wanted it to. Not only is America facing strong competition and resistance from potential ‘enemy’ states, but its own so-called ‘allies’ have also started to become a source of trouble rather than comfort.

In his latest visit to Asia, President Obama failed to secure the US’ vital objectives which were otherwise of crucial significance for strengthening his ties with its erstwhile ‘allies’ in South and East Asia, especially in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and geo-political upheavals in Europe (Ukraine crisis) and the Middle East.

Timing of the tour, in the wake of these crucial geo-political circumstances, was therefore of critical significance. And the tour, if it had been ‘successful’, would have helped the US in tightening geo-strategic circle around China and Russia.

The US’ “Asia Pivot”, which is supposed to run parallel to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, stumbled across a number of serious setbacks when President Obama failed to secure certain vital deals with its ‘key’ allies in South-East Asia.

Apart from issuing statements of solidarity, the visit did not bring forth any meaningful advance for the US.  President Obama had hoped to use his visit to sign a trade agreement with Japan, which otherwise would have been a critical step towards strengthening the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the agreement really had no chance, because of a stiff resistance from within Japan and the local government’s failure to convince its public of the ‘utility’ of such an agreement.

This fact is an indication that people are gradually becoming aware of the way the US exploits inter-state disputes to further its own hegemonic agenda. This became clear when, in his attempts to elicit a positive response from Japan on finalizing the trade agreement, President Obama had to mention Japan’s confrontation with China over a clump of Islands in the East China Sea.

U.S Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel  at Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters
U.S Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters

This is not the first time the US has deliberately tried to capitalize on inter-state tensions in the region.

For example, during Hagel’s last trip to Japan and China, he drew a direct, but yet unnatural, parallel between Crimea’s legal annexation with Russia’s case in Crimea and China’s territorial disputes with its neighbours in the East and the South China Sea.

His attempts were aimed at paving the way for the President’s visit to Japan, by provoking an artificial environment of hostility between China and Japan.

However, the net result of President Obama’s tour and that of earlier tours has been an alliance clearly on a weaker footing than it was earlier and very much vulnerable to geopolitical frailties.

Announcing the failure to finalize and sign the agreement, Akira Amari, a Japanese state minister in charge of the trade talks for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, said in Tokyo that “several issues” between the US and Japan were still unresolved. “We made significant progress, but our positions are still far apart,” Amari told reporters.

It would be a mistake to interpret these “several issues” as merely economical. The disagreement has a lot to do with Japan’s resurgence in the Pacific, and attempts to reduce dependence on the US.

It must be taken into account that Abe’s government in Japan has increased the Japanese military budget for the first time in a decade, established a US-style national security council, re-oriented military strategy to the country’s southern island chain opposite the Chinese mainland, and begun to revive Japan’s military power, which is a problem for the US; for, it will not only reduce Japan’s dependence on the US, but cause a serious cut in the US’ military presence in the region.

It is for this reason that the US, previewing Japan’s reluctance to host a huge number of the US forces in future, has been attempting to secure new deals with weaker states, such as the Philippines, to increase its military presence there

Will China and the US continue the pretend game?
Will China and the US continue the pretend game?

Thus the original purpose of this agreement is to keep Japan dependent upon the US for both economic and military agendas.

As a former US national security adviser, Tom Donilon, wrote in Washington Post, the Trans-Pacific agreement is actually meant to solidify the US leadership in Asia and to put the US “at the center of a project” that would “govern the global economy for the next century.”

But, contrary to the US ambitions, Abe’s government is trying to exploit the opportunity to remilitarize and mount its own diplomatic offensive in Southeast Asia.

The US failure to achieve its objectives in Asia becomes even more obvious when we look at the fast expanding military power of China, which did not push the regional allied states. In other words, China’s growing power, both economic and military, is itself fast becoming a factor pushing the US to its limits in Asia.

Although the US naval supremacy is, generally speaking, still intact in the Pacific, China’s aggressive military expansion over the past two decades — its defense budget grew more than 12 percent this year alone — calls into question the long-term balance of powers in the Pacific.

In last year alone, China commissioned 17 new warships, more than any other state in the whole world. It also aims to have  four aircraft carriers by 2020 and has already developed a considerable fleet of nuclear submarines. In the next few decades, China’s ability to project naval power will extend deep into the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Do the East Asian states still consider China as an ‘enemy’ state, while the relations between them continue to stay far from what one could call  “friendly”? If this is not true, then why are the US’ ‘democratic’ allies facing more and more obstacles in signing local military and economic agreements? The underline cause must be the growing trade relations between some of local states and China.

For example, an annual trade between India and China reached a record $ 74 billion in 2011, when China became India’s largest trading partner. Similarly, by 2015, bilateral trading between China and the ASEAN, will double, growing from $231 billion to $500 billion, and that would make China the ASEAN’s biggest trading partner.

And, as far as trade relations between China and Japan are concerned, they have been directly trading their currencies, the Yen and the Yuan, on the inter-bank foreign exchange markets in Tokyo and Shanghai in a bid to strengthen bilateral trade and investment between the world’s second- and third-largest economies.

Both countries are skipping the dollar in transactions, intending to reduce their dependence on the US dollar and on the US monetary authorities’ influence on the Asian economy. In other words, Japan, an ‘ally’ of the US, has directly been aiding China’s goal of undercutting the US influence in the region.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Editing: Jim W. Dean and Erica P. Wissinger




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Jim W. Dean was an active editor on VT from 2010-2022.  He was involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews.