President Trump’s upcoming five-country Asian tour takes place amid deepening worries about security trends across the region. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs menace American allies and the homeland itself. China’s combination of ambition and improving military capabilities threatens to upend the balance of power. Add to these concerns the trafficking of narcotics, maritime piracy, increased cyberattacks and the need to respond to large-scale natural disasters. The demand for U.S. attention and resources in Asia is increasing—just as U.S. defense spending has been falling in recent years.
America thus faces a dilemma. It wishes to preserve an Asian balance of power, reinforce the rules-based regional order, avoid conflict and maintain stable economic relations with China—all at the same time, and all at acceptable cost. Yet, the previously privileged position of the United States in the region is under new pressure. A congressionally-mandated review of U.S. defense strategy in the Pacific last year concluded: “Actions by countries in the region routinely challenge the credibility of U.S. security commitments, and U.S. capability development is not keeping pace with challenges by potential competitors, resulting in the regional balance of military power shifting against the United States.”
Read the full op-ed in The National Interest.
More from CNAS
CommentaryIn Myanmar, A Rare Glimmer of Hope for Indian Regional Policy
In the barren, high altitude Himalayan region between China and India, a clash on June 15 left twenty Indian soldiers dead. Nationalists on both sides called for demonstration...
By Coby Goldberg
CommentaryThe U.S.-China confrontation is not another Cold War. It’s something new.
With U.S.-China relations in free fall, the Trump administration’s chief arms control negotiator recently proclaimed that "we know how to win these races and we know how to sp...
By Richard Fontaine & Ely Ratner
CommentaryThrones Wreathed in Shadow: Tacitus and the Psychology of Authoritarianism
On May 10, 1626, Sir John Eliot — an English parliamentarian and statesman — delivered a blistering speech to the House of Commons. One of the finest orators of his day, Eliot...
By Iskander Rehman
CommentaryThe U.S. greenlighting annexation is a greenlight for China’s abuses
Across the sea from America, a leader who has been in power for more than a decade is laying the groundwork for a land grab. His military was always capable of imposing its wi...
By Coby Goldberg