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2018 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

1. Introduction: Obama’s ‘Pivot’ to Asia and Air–Sea Battle

Abstract

The first chapter outlines the book’s overarching arguments, rationale, and contribution to the broader discourse pertaining to contemporary United States–China security relations. It begins with a background and context section that elucidates the genesis, criticisms, and strategic objectives underlying the Obama administration’s signature ‘pivot’ (or rebalance) to Asia policy. Next, it introduces the military and defense dimensions of the ‘pivot’ (notably the Air–Sea Battle concept), which received an outsized amount of attention from both scholarly and policy-making communities. Specifically, this chapter highlights the ways in which the ‘pivot’ unnecessarily (and even inadvertently) antagonized Beijing and worsened United States–China relations. The chapter ends with a brief section detailing how the book’s chapters are structured and sequenced.

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Footnotes
1
The Asia-Pacific region includes Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania—or the geographical area between China, Japan, and Australia.
 
2
The ‘security dilemma’ is an international relations theoretical concept, and refers to a situation in which actions by a state intended to increase its ‘security’ (e.g. enhancing military power and alliance-building) can lead other states to respond with similar measures that can cause increased tensions that result in conflict and war, even when neither side desires it. This concept, in particular, contextualized with Sino–American security relations will be elaborated upon in Chap. 2.
 
3
Clinton, H. (2011). America’s pacific century. Foreign Policy, 11 October 2011. Available at: http://​foreignpolicy.​com/​2011/​10/​11/​americas-pacific-century/​ (Accessed: 20 May 2012); Obama, B. (2011). Remarks by President Obama to the Australian parliament. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 17 November 2011. Available at: https://​obamawhitehouse.​archives.​gov/​the-press-office/​2011/​11/​17/​remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament (Accessed: 12 May 2012).
 
4
Donilon, T. (2011). America is back in the pacific and will uphold the rules. The Financial Times, 27 November 2011. Available at: https://​www.​ft.​com/​content/​4f3febac-1761-11e1-b00e-00144feabdc0 (Accessed: 10 May 2012).
 
5
Obama, B. (2011). Remarks by President Obama to the Australian parliament. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 17 November 2011. Available at: https://​obamawhitehouse.​archives.​gov/​the-press-office/​2011/​11/​17/​remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament (Accessed: 12 May 2012).
 
6
Clinton, H. (2011). America’s pacific century. Foreign Policy, 11 October 2011. Available at: http://​foreignpolicy.​com/​2011/​10/​11/​americas-pacific-century/​ (Accessed: 20 May 2012).
 
7
O’Rourke, R., Manyin, M., Daggett, S., Dolven, B., Lawrence, S., Martin, M., & Vaughn, B. (2012). Pivot to the pacific? The Obama administration’s “balancing” toward Asia (March). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1–2.
 
8
Since the early 2000s, China’s has become increasingly integrated and engaged with the global economy and affairs: for example China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, its joint establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the same year, and more recently, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the announcement of ‘The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’ (also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative), and the related Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) proposed in 2013, and establishment of the Silk Road Fund in 2014—designed in part as a geopolitical gambit to counter the economic-trade pillar of the ‘pivot’ symbolized by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
 
9
By 2012, China’s annual defense budget equaled those of the United Kingdom and Russia combined, which in subsequent years continued to increase by approximately 10 percent annually. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The SIPRI military expenditure database. Available at: https://​www.​sipri.​org/​databases/​milex (Accessed: 21 May 2017).
 
10
In Obama’s second administration, renewed demands of Iranian nuclear-diplomacy, a rapidly deteriorating civil war in Syria, and ongoing operations in Afghanistan continued to consume a significant proportion of Washington’s resources, attention, and political capital.
 
11
Donilon, T. (2013). National security adviser to President Obama discusses U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific region in 2013. Asia Society, 11 March 2013. Available at: http://​asiasociety.​org/​new-york/​complete-transcript-thomas-donilon-asia-society-new-york (Accessed: 21 April 2017).
 
12
O’Rourke, R., Manyin, M., Daggett, S., Dolven, B., Lawrence, S., Martin, M., & Vaughn, B. (2012). Pivot to the pacific? The Obama administration’s “balancing” toward Asia (March). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1–2.
 
13
For discussion on the United States’ role in Asia, see Feigenbaum, E.A. (2011). Strengthening the United States’ role in Asia. Council on Foreign Relations, 16 November 2011. Available at: https://​www.​cfr.​org/​interview/​strengthening-us-role-asia (Accessed: 14 May 2017).
 
14
Silove, N. (2016). The pivot before the pivot: U.S. strategy to preserve the power balance in Asia. International Security, 40(4), 45–88.
 
15
In response to the view held by many Southeast Asian leaders that the United States had neglected the region, the Obama administration in its first term noticeably upgraded its engagement with regional multilateral institutions, that is ASEAN and EAS.
 
16
For example, during the Bush era, U.S. forces in South Korea were reduced by 40 percent, which subsequently reversed during the Obama presidency. Ross, R.S. (November/December 2012). The problem with the pivot: Obama’s new Asia policy is unnecessary and counterproductive. Foreign Affairs, November/December 2012. Available at: https://​www.​foreignaffairs.​com/​articles/​asia/​2012-11-01/​problem-pivot (Accessed: 24 May 2015).
 
17
Zoellick, R.B. (2013). U.S., China and Thucydides. The National Interest, July–August 2013. Available at: http://​nationalinterest​.​org/​article/​us-china-thucydides-8642 (Accessed: 21 May 2015).
 
18
For a contrarian view that argues the Obama administration successfully struck this balance, see Bader, J. (2013). Obama and China’s rise: An insider’s account of America’s Asia strategy. NY: Brookings Institution Press.
 
19
See Campbell, K.M. (2016). The pivot—The future of American statecraft in Asia. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group; Campbell, K.M., & Ratner, E. (2014). Far Eastern promises: Why Washington should focus on Asia. Foreign Affairs, 93(3), 106–116.
 
20
Obama, B. (2011). Remarks by President Obama to the Australian parliament. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 17 November 2011. Available at: https://​obamawhitehouse.​archives.​gov/​the-press-office/​2011/​11/​17/​remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament (Accessed: 12 May 2012).
 
21
Panetta, L.E. (2012). Shangri-La security dialogue—Delivered by secretary of defense Leon E. Panetta, Shangri-La hotel, Singapore. U.S. Department of Defense, Press Operations, 2 June 2012. Available at: http://​archive.​defense.​gov/​Speeches/​Speech.​aspx?​SpeechID=​1681 (Accessed: 23 May 2015).
 
22
Following the 2010 U.S. DoD Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), there is evidence of some budgetary prioritization of the U.S. Navy and Air Force—and a relative reduction in the proportion of funding allocated to the U.S. Army. Silove, N. (2016). The pivot before the pivot: U.S. strategy to preserve the power balance in Asia. International Security, 40(4), 45–88.
 
23
O’Rourke, R., Manyin, M., Daggett, S., Dolven, B., Lawrence, S., Martin, M., & Vaughn, B. (2012). Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama administration’s “balancing” toward Asia (March). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 11–12.
 
24
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense (January 2012). Sustaining U.S. global leadership for the 21st century defense. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 2.
 
25
Johnston, A.I. (2013). How new and assertive is China’s new assertiveness? International Security, 37(4), 7–48.
 
26
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2011). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 1.
 
27
Ibid., 27.
 
28
Anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) forces are designed by an adversary to complicate the efforts of an outside military power (in this case the United States) to conduct military operations into a ‘contested zone’. The Chinese A2/AD challenge in the Asia-Pacific and U.S. responses will be discussed in more detail in the four case study chapters in this book.
 
29
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2010). Quadrennial defense review report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense. Other initiatives included the ‘Third Offset Strategy’ announced in late 2014 by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, and designed to maintain U.S. military-technological primacy against emerging threats—especially Chinese A2/AD conventional capabilities.
 
30
Chinese officials, scholars, and policy experts responded to the ‘pivot’ with growing criticism. One official opined that U.S. military exercises and buttressing U.S. alliances in the region were not conducive to regional peace and stability. Other unofficial responses warned that the ‘pivot’ risked ushering in a new era of ‘geopolitical confrontation’ and ‘zero-sum competition’. Green, M., & Cooper, Z. (2014). Revitalizing the rebalance: How to keep U.S. focus on Asia. The Washington Quarterly, 37(4), 25–46.
 
31
For example, Ross, R.S. (2012). The problem with the pivot: Obama’s new Asia policy is unnecessary and counterproductive. Foreign Affairs, 91(6), 70–82.
 
32
O’Rourke, R. et al. (2012). Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s “Balancing” Toward Asia. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC, 8–9.
 
33
For example, since 2011 China virtually gave up its efforts to use its influence over North Korea to cajole Pyongyang to terminate or freeze its nuclear program. China also withdrew from its support of the six-party talks to deal with North Korea’s evolving nuclear capability. In the case of Iran, having voted for five UN resolutions supporting the imposition of sanctions against Tehran, in 2012, Beijing threatened to veto sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
 
34
China is the United States’ second largest trading partner, its third largest export market, the largest holder of U.S. treasury debt, and a major trading partner for U.S. allies in Asia. Lieberthal, K., & Wang, J. (2012). Addressing U.S.-China Strategic Distrust. Brookings, John L. Thornton China Center Monograph Series.
 
35
Silove, N. (2016). The pivot before the pivot: U.S. strategy to preserve the power balance in Asia. International Security, 40(4), 45–47.
 
36
A critical issue is whether the longer-term procurement plans which flow from the ‘pivot’ strategy are sufficient to support planned defense expenditure (especially U.S. Naval) in the Pacific and globally. Additionally, the Budget Control Act of 2011 would entail significant reductions in defense spending—including delays and termination of planned investments. However, given the lengthy lead times associated with the development and deployment of major weapons systems, it is very difficult for analysts to determine which specific systems originally conceived in the context of the ‘pivot’ were canceled due to budgetary pressures. Harold, S.W. (2015). Is the pivot doomed? The resilience of America’s strategic ‘rebalance’. The Washington Quarterly, 37(4), 85–99.
 
37
For example, China’s 2014 declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea over islands administered by Japan—and speculation of similar plans for the South China Sea—was widely interpreted as an attempt by Beijing to alter the regional status quo. Campbell, K.M., & Ratner, E. (2014). Far Easter promises: Why Washington should focus on Asia. Foreign Affairs, May/June 2014. Available at: https://​www.​foreignaffairs.​com/​articles/​east-asia/​2014-04-18/​far-eastern-promises (Accessed: 22 May 2016).
 
38
For example, Ross, R.S. (November/December 2012). The problem with the pivot: Obama’s new Asia policy is unnecessary and counterproductive. Foreign Affairs, November/December 2012. Available at: https://​www.​foreignaffairs.​com/​articles/​asia/​2012-11-01/​problem-pivot (Accessed: 24 May 2015); Harold, S.W. (2015). Is the pivot doomed? The resilience of America’s strategic ‘rebalance’. The Washington Quarterly, 37(4), 85–99.
 
Metadata
Title
Introduction: Obama’s ‘Pivot’ to Asia and Air–Sea Battle
Author
James Johnson
Copyright Year
2018
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75838-1_1

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