May 10, 2014

Middle Powers Can Rescue the International Community

President Barack Obama's recent swing through Asia reaffirmed the importance of alliances and a long-term U.S. policy of rebalancing to Asia. But it failed to halt the perception that international order is increasingly in the hands of regional bullies.

A disturbing trend appears to be gaining momentum. Syria's strongman Assad crossed red-lines by using chemical weapons against his own people. North Korea's drive to acquire nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles is unrelenting, even while official press spews vitriol towards South Korea's democratically elected leader. China's is pursuing tailored coercion in its near seas, including using oil rigs as the new battleships in persistent grey zone contests. the manner in which in announced an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea last November and its refusal to clarify a nine-dashed-line claim covering the vast majority of the South China Sea; whether one contemplates No one has a good answer about what to do with respect to Russia's might-makes-right annexation of the Crimea and subterfuge in supporting insurgency in the rest of Ukraine. Whether one focuses on one or all of these recent developments, it is easy to discern a dangerous pattern of global fragmentation. The international community, though not moribund, is seemingly helpless in its attempt to encourage good behavior and enforce common rules of the road.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the United States championed the creation of a liberal world order. That order focused on access to the global commons, adherence to agreed-upon rules, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Order revived postwar Europe and enabled the Asian tigers, including the miracle on the Han. But as the United States adjusts to relative decline, at least compared with many dynamic economies across the Indo-Pacific region, Washington is no longer in a position to mobilize others around a single approach that reinforces the existing system.

Read the full article on DongA Ilbo's English website.

    • Commentary
    • World Politics Review
    • February 8, 2019
    How China and the U.S. Are Competing for Young Minds in Southeast Asia

    Business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month warned that China has overtaken the United States in the development of artificial intelligence and other emer...

    By Kristine Lee

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • November 15, 2018
    Asia Needs Pence’s Reassurance

    In Asia, anxieties about the United States’ role in an increasingly China-centered world are palpable. While some fear that the United States is retreating from its internatio...

    By Patrick M. Cronin

  • Reports
    • November 13, 2017
    Taming Sea Dragons

    Executive Summary In his 2010 book, titled Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, Robert Kaplan asserted that the Indian Ocean “is at the heart of the wor...

    By Sean Liedman

    • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • September 21, 2016
    China's Artificial Islands Are Bigger (And a Bigger Deal) Than You Think

    Surely you have heard the news — China has been dredging up coral reefs and creating artificial islands in the South China Sea with the purpose of enforcing their claims...

    By CDR Thomas Shugart, USN

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia