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
CommentaryWhen and Why China Might—or Might Not—Attack Taiwan
Washington should continue to emphasize to Beijing the costs of aggression and the value of the status quo for China, the region, and the world...
By Jacob Stokes
VideoWhy China’s eventual aims with Taiwan could have a major global financial and economic impact
On CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange, Martijn Rasser discusses the rise in tensions between China and Taiwan, potential responses by the U.S. and G-7 countries, and whether Beijing co...
By Martijn Rasser
CommentaryChina and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence
Any effort to address either Russia’s or China’s destabilizing behavior must now account for the two countries’ deepening partnership....
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & David Shullman
PodcastU.S. and Allied Withdrawal from Afghanistan, with Federica Mogherini and Lisa Curtis
What does President Biden’s decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan mean for American allies? Federica Mogherini and Lisa Curtis join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim To...
By Carisa Nietsche, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Federica Mogherini & Lisa Curtis