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
CommentarySharper: America's Alliances and Partnerships
Cooperation with allies and partners is vital for achieving U.S. foreign policy goals, especially with respect to global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the sprea...
By Carisa Nietsche, Jeff Cirillo, Chris Estep & Cole Stevens
ReportsRenew, Elevate, Modernize: A Blueprint for a 21st-Century U.S.-ROK Alliance Strategy
The U.S.-South Korean alliance has the potential to play a central role in bolstering a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond....
By Kristine Lee, Joshua Fitt & Coby Goldberg
CommentaryA Divided Washington Is (Sort of) United on China
The two parties might be divided on almost everything else, but their legislative agendas for China have a lot in common....
By Jordan Schneider & Coby Goldberg
VideoJoshua Fitt Discusses U.S.-China Relations on i24 News
On November 8, 2020, Joshua Fitt, a Research Associate with the CNAS Asia-Pacific Security Program, appeared on i24 News to discuss the potential implications of the 2020 pres...
By Joshua Fitt