November 13, 2013

CNAS Expert: Viability of U.S. Military Rebalance to Asia Depends on Sustainable Political Relationships

As the United States puts the “pivot” to Asia into practice, a new report by Dr. Ely Ratner, Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), lays out a strategy to ensure that “efforts to develop new presence and access arrangements” throughout Southeast Asia are politically sustainable in the region. In Resident Power: Building a Politically Sustainable U.S. Military Presence in Southeast Asia and Australia, Dr. Ratner notes that, while strategic threats may open the door for the United States to deepen existing security ties and help foster new ones, their long-term viability rests on “conducive political environments in partner countries.” Dr. Ratner’s report “provides the first comprehensive strategy for building a politically sustainable force posture in Southeast Asia and Australia.”
Download Resident Power: Building a Politically Sustainable U.S. Military Presence in Southeast Asia and Australia.
Dr. Ratner argues that U.S. military initiatives should support and be integrated with three broader objectives in U.S. foreign policy in the region:

  • Strengthening bilateral military and defense partnerships
  • Building comprehensive bilateral relationships, including diplomatic and economic ties
  • Advancing U.S. regional strategy and multilateral cooperation

While recognizing that there is no “perfect recipe” to ensure the political sustainability of existing and future arrangements, Dr. Ratner also offers recommendations on a way forward for U.S. policy in the region, including articulation of an official strategy on the U.S. rebalancing to Asia by the White House and close coordination between the Defense and State Departments with the Asian counterparts to devise explicit strategic visions for bilateral security cooperation that contributes to official and public perceptions of mutually-beneficial partnerships.