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‘Uncle Sam, are you friend or foe?’: China

According to Tsuneo Watanabe (2014) of the Tokyo Foundation, U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis China has quietly shifted from cooperative engagement to risk hedging, the brainchild of longtime director of the Office of Net Assessment in the Department of Defense (DoD) Andrew W. Marshall. Indeed, risk hedging is openly embraced by the Obama administration, with notable acolytes of Marshall including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell. Such a hedging policy applied to China, explains Watanabe (2014), quoting the DoD’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, would involve “a balanced approach, one that seeks cooperation but also creates prudent hedges against the possibility that cooperative approaches by themselves may fail to preclude future conflict.” (para. 14) Although Watanabe (2014) admits the DoD’s next Quadrennial Defense Review, published in 2010, says the U.S. should avoid thinking of China as a potential adversary requiring containment, he notes that the same report explicitly advocates a more aggressive counteraction of Chinese military expansion. Read the rest of this entry

Taking Sides without Taking Sides is Taking Sides, a Definite No-No!

On Oct. 4, 2013, in a move some might consider surprising for its breach of convention, which dictates that no two government officials listed in the presidential line of succession should be abroad at the same place at the same time, secretaries of state and defense John Kerry and Chuck Hagel (respectively, 4th and 6th in line to the presidency) met with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, to convey the U.S.’s unwavering dedication to its long-standing security alliance with Japan.  If, however, this meeting, the latest in a series of diplomatic exchanges meant to demonstrate to Japan and its neighbors the U.S.’s commitment to a highly sensationalized ‘pivot’ towards Asia, was intended to empower the U.S. to reassert itself in the region, President Obama will be sorely disappointed.  This meeting will serve only to antagonize Japan’s neighbors, for, by blithely encouraging Japan to strengthen its military, the U.S. only reveals itself unable to correctly interpret the sociopolitical situation in the Far East. Read the rest of this entry

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