The policy gap in the Indo-Pacific

Members of the Quad summit from left, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga walk to the East Room of the White House on Sept. 24. (Evan Vucci/AP)

THE WASHINGTON POST – January 12, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EST

By Daniel W. Drezner – Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor to PostEverything.

There is a clear way for the United States to pursue an Indo-Pacific strategy. The only problem is that it is a political non-starter.

The Biden administration has made no bones about its desire to prioritize the Indo-Pacific region in its grand strategy. The Biden team has tried to reduce the U.S. footprint in areas deemed less vital (Afghanistan, the Middle East more generally) so as to bolster efforts in areas deemed more vital (Europe, the Indo-Pacific).

President Biden’s foreign policy team has also tried to distinguish its approach from the previous administration. Whereas Donald Trump’s approach was to fight friends and rivals alike, Biden has attempted to reaffirm strong ties with allies and partners. This reallocation of diplomatic effort was at the root of the Biden team’s buildup of the Quad and AUKUS.

As security measures go, these are solid moves. But as anyone who has spent any time studying the region will tell you, in the Indo-Pacific, economic policy is foreign policy. The entire region has benefited from China’s rise from impoverished state to consumer and producer behemoth. Talk to regional experts and they will tell you the same thing: The appetite for anything that goes beyond hedging China is minimal. There is no populist blowback to globalization across the Pacific Rim, just an ongoing embrace of commercial diplomacy. For the United States to entice any regional actor to pressure China on issues ranging from human rights to the South China Sea, there has to be economic incentives to do so.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE : The policy gap in the Indo-Pacific – The Washington Post


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