There’s a brand new dance and we do know its name:
After two years of dithering and drift in the Pacific, the Obama administration is now trying to give substance to its noted “pivot to Asia.” The White House’s problem simply put: Symbols and gestures do not amount to substance, no matter how many trips Michele Obama or John Kerry make to Beijing.
Secretary of Defense Hagel huddled with Southeast Asian counterparts in Hawaii before setting out over the weekend for Tokyo and Beijing. Later this month, President Obama will visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines to make up for a tour of the region he canceled last year when the government shutdown grounded him.
This is the pivot in action. It is hard to see how it will amount to much.
That’s Patrick Smith in today’s Fiscal Times, and you might want to read the whole thing.
The Asia Pivot was announced boldly and acted on… not-so-boldly. It was the Syria Red Line of geopolitical grand re-strategizing. But look at Ukraine’s slow-motion disintegration under Russian pressure. And with that going on, the rest of Eastern Europe is suddenly feeling more 19th Century than 21st, no matter how passé the White House insists that might be. So at this point, even an actual and meaningful Asia Pivot would look like a panicked Administration insistence on following their old script.
The West in general and the US in particular is deep into Reaction Mode, and this isn’t the sort of bold leadership required if we’re going to get out of it.