The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Win

The President Obama’s foreign policy has resulted in so many mistakes and missteps that it’s wonderful to note a significant foreign policy win. During the past week, President Obama has traveled through Asia, solidifying the work of Hillary Clinton and the DoS diplomats. Walter Russell Mead reports:
The cascade of statements, deployments, agreements and announcements from the United States and its regional associates in the last week has to be one of the most unpleasant shocks for China’s leadership — ever. The US is moving forces to Australia, Australia is selling uranium to India, Japan is stepping up military actions and coordinating more closely with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, Myanmar is slipping out of China’s column and seeking to reintegrate itself into the region, Indonesia and the Philippines are deepening military ties with the the US: and all that in just one week. If that wasn’t enough, a critical mass of the region’s countries have agreed to work out a new trade group that does not include China, while the US, to applause, has proposed that China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors be settled at a forum like the East Asia Summit — rather than in the bilateral talks with its smaller, weaker neighbors that China prefers.

Rarely has a great power been so provoked and affronted. Rarely have so many red lines been crossed. Rarely has so much face been lost, so fast. It was a surprise diplomatic attack, aimed at reversing a decade of chit chat about American decline and disinterest in Asia, aimed also at nipping the myth of “China’s inexorable rise” in the bud.

The timing turned out to be brilliant.

By reasserting itself in China’s domain of influence, the United States (and the President) delivered two messages. First, the purported weakness and lack of support for the U.S. in SE Asia is belied by the week's events. Second, that China is not quite as ascendant as some would believe. Overall, an important win.