‘Asia Pivot’ Looks Like US Policy to Control Asia


The US government has been reorienting its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region. It is popularly called the “strategic pivot” or “Asia pivot” or “rebalancing.” From this policy perspective, the US is building extensive diplomatic, economic and defense ties with the region. In spite all rhetoric about the key tenets of the pivot, the main thrust is on ensuring US military domination over the Asian region. One can easily draw this conclusion, not only from the current policy moves of the US, but also from the fact that the US military had been deployed in more than 150 countries around the world.

The growing military ties of the US with many countries in Asia are causing great concern among the people. The increasing militarization has become a major threat to peace and security of the region. Already the war in Iraq and Afghanistan had done enormous damage to the stability of the region. The US military interventions were the basic cause for the emergence of numerous terrorist groups in the region. Now, the continuous — violence of the terrorist groups is seriously affecting the peoples’ normal life in many parts of Asia.

Under the pretext of the so-called communist threat from the erstwhile Soviet Union, the West Asian region (The Middle East) became one of the most strategic areas for the US and, for this reason, the US deployed a number of military bases in several countries in this region. But with the fall of the Soviet Union, the US did not reduce the number of military bases; instead, the US expanded its number.

Gradually, during the past few decades, the region was completely controlled by the US with military bases firmly established in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and in all over West Asia.

The real objectives of the US military bases in the region are to maintain international hegemony, ensuring the security and integrity of the Israeli regime, ensuring its export of energy from this region to various parts of the world, etc.

The US policy of Asian pivot required alliances with many countries in Asia. The US has redoubled its efforts to engage with its allies to form strategic partnership. Under the President Obama’s stewardship, the US-Japanese alliance strengthened and, for this purpose, the US worked closely with both Democratic Party and Liberal Democratic Party governments.

The US-South Korean military alliance has been becoming increasingly global in nature with bilateral defense cooperation extending across the world, from Southeast Asia to Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden. The US-Filipino relationship was maintained in the name of “regional security concerns” including “maritime security.”

The US’s ties with Thailand were its oldest alliance in Asia and an agreement was signed to expand US-Thai cooperation. The US and India strengthened their strategic dialogue on East Asian issues.

Military threats and competitive atmosphere in the region forced the governments to increase their defense budgets, at the cost of severe cuts in poverty alleviation, education and health care, which are the pressing needs of the people in Asia. According to an analysis released by IHS Jane’s Defense Budgets (www.ihs.com/jdb), defense spending was increasing in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2016, and is expected to rise to almost $180 billion by 2020. Defense budgets in the Middle East are forecast to reach much higher level by 2019, despite their fiscal concerns and a lower oil price.

Craig Caffrey, from IHS Jane’s Defense Budgets, said: “An unstable strategic environment has seen defense spending in the Middle East rise as a share of GDP since 2008.” Citing the policy of the US pivots towards Asia as reason for this increasing defense spending, he said that “a more proactive stance from states in the Middle East, and defense budgets are likely to rise in the five-year outlook.”

The statistics from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute illustrated vividly how arms manufacturers of big corporations were reaping huge profits over the increase in defense spending. India was the important weapons importers and accounted for some 15% of worldwide arms imports from 2010 to 2014. Five of the 10 biggest arms importers were from Asia, including China (5%), Pakistan (4%), South Korea (3%), and Singapore (3%). The military expenditure of India was steadily increasing, with spending at $50 billion or 2.4% of GDP, an increase of 39% between 2005 and 2014.The military expenditures were increased with the simultaneous decline in the budgetary allocations for the human development.

Recently, the Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed between the US and India. The Indian Left opposed it, since it would “allow the US air force and navy to use Indian naval and air bases for logistics support, refueling and services on a regular basis and let the US armed forces to utilize Indian military bases while conducting military operations in third countries.” The US is actively engaged in clinching such kind of agreements for military oriented cooperation in Asia. Due to these US machinations, Asia has become more and more militarized zone, endangering the survival of millions of lives in the continent.

Asia pivot policy is nothing but an escalation of arms race and militarization of the Asia-Pacific region. The peoples’ resistance is also growing against such dreadful policies across Asia.

N. Gunasekaran is a political activist and writer based in Chennai, India.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2016


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