In , when the U. China, Korea, and Japan were sources of exotic imports rather than significant exports. Investments in the region were negligible. What lay behind the great leap westward was not a business cabal but a strategic lobby of naval and political expansionists mainly interested in extending the reach of the U.
Entrepreneurs operating in Hawaii, the Philippines, China and the interstices of the dominant European empires vociferously supported the expansion, but they did not constitute the center for U. That center was in New York and oriented far more towards Europe than Asia. Navy became particularly adept at invoking a commercial rationale to promote U. The small island of Guam in the Marianas and the Philippine archipelago were depicted as stepping stones to the riches of China but only to justify their annexation in the face of significant domestic opposition.
Hawaii had been under the control of American planters for over a decade, but it was not until the Spanish — American War of that its strategic importance was fully appreciated. During the war, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was instrumental in projecting U. Chief of the colonizing army that subjugated the country, MacArthur described the Philippines as. Its strategic location is unexcelled by any other position in the globe. The China Sea, which separates it by something like miles from the continent, is nothing more nor less than a safety moat.
It lies on the flank of what might be called several thousand miles of coastline; it is the center of that position. It is therefore relatively better placed than Japan, which is on a flank, and therefore remote from the other extremity; likewise India, on another flank. It affords a means of protecting American interests which with the very least output of physical power has the effect of a commanding position in itself to retard hostile action.
So important was a western Pacific presence for the institutional expansion of the Navy that when key Army officials favored withdrawal from the region in the s, arguing that the Philippines and other Pacific U. This set the stage for the U. Projection of strategic power continued to be the central impetus behind U. Projecting U. In reality, this military network formed an autonomous transnational garrison state. Power projection was the principal determinant of U. The strategic and political priorities were underlined by the fact that the U.
These policies severely disadvantaged U. It was only when the Cold War began to wind down, during the Reagan presidency, that corporate and trade interests began to dominate the U. Pressures for this shift had, of course, been building for years; pressures based on the growing and accurate — perception of both U. It was only in the late s, with the waning of the strategic threat, that the Washington elite allowed U. But whether pushed principally by strategic motives, as in Asia, or by corporate interests, as in Latin America, U. It was an idealism born out of the U.
Anti-colonialism and democracy thus coexisted in often sharp tension with the strategic and economic imperatives of U.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy
The annexation of the Philippines exemplified the American dilemma. The solution was also classically American: the wholesale export of the institutions of U. This functioned successfully to build consensus about imperial expansionism among both Americans and Filipinos.
A wholesale transplant of formal political institutions began shortly after the conquest. By the time of independence in , the Philippine political system was a mirror image of the American, with its presidential leadership, separation of powers, two-party system, and its Lockean emphasis on private property as the foundation of liberty. In the actual exercise of power, the Philippine democratic system was a marriage between the feudal paternalism of the Philippine elite and the Chicago-style machine politics of the s.
Electoral politics was enthusiastically embraced by the regional landed elites; landed elites that the U. These contradictions cause concern in policy circles in many Asian capitals and raise questions about whether the U.
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Some observers once feared that the U. This does not appear to be the case. Many Asian leaders want the United States to maintain its robust, sustained, and balanced presence in Asia, but with policies that are clear, not contradictory. While the U. There was an acknowledgement that although free trade may not be working, tariffs are not believed to be the right remedy to the problem.
America’s Pacific Century – Foreign Policy
Other key points made in the symposium included:. One thing that has remained consistent is that Asia remains a vast, diverse, and complex region full of conflicting trends and differing interpretations. The answer remains to be seen.
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John J. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders. In the security realm, a cooperative resolution of the North Korea nuclear problem via renewed six-party talks, U. Scenario 2: Muddle through. Continued drift towards confrontation and tensions in the East and South China Seas and Sino-Indian ties, limited cooperation on North Korea, interim solution—ending the ICBM and nuclear program, partly dismantled, partly frozen.
Continued economic jousting over trade and technology issues, with the WTO resolving some of them in U. Continued efforts by the U. Indo-Pacific partners deepen consultation with a focus on building capacity for security cooperation to counter-balance China, in some sort of standoff;. Scenario 3: Heightened tensions and confrontation.
This is but one aspect of a Sino-U. Cold War confrontation. Trade dispute hits stock markets and slows growth in the region. After a protracted period, modest steps to partially resolve trade conflict. The latter scenario is a harbinger of a new Cold War-like divide. Miscalculation could trigger conflict with the potential to escalate in each of these situations. The Quad becomes a more active strategic planning forum aimed at countering Chinese anti-access policies and pressing other Asian actors to tilt against China, with very limited success.
This scenario is a harbinger of a fragmenting world order along regional sphere-of-influence lines.
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Crafting a U.S. Policy on Asia
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Be Careful What You Wish For
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Manning, R. The United States needs an Afghanistan exit strategy.