The recent appearance of Obama in the Asean Summit in Bali and his pronouncement of a new strategy for American dominance in the Asia Pacific Region is a reminder that the Americans have not accepted the geopolitical changes in the 21st Century. The US is still living in the era of post WW2 when everything is about American supremacy, America Number One, and US foreign policies is all about power, military superiority, confrontation, subversion, military intervention, military alliances and war to settle cross national disputes. The US and its empire, American hegemony for the last 60 odd years, are gradually being eroded by the primacy of economic growth instead of military power.
For the last few decades, American continues on its path of being the Number One military super power and spent most of its valuable financial resources to maintain that position while China on the other hand devotes its main effort in economic development and growth. The presumed power today of China being a super power is more economic than military. China has not engaged in any major warfare since the Korean War. The Americans on the other hand have been in continuous warfare ever since. It is still engaged in several wars, to uphold its image as the Number One military power, unchallenged.
The preoccupation with its world dominance and empire is best seen in its adversarial policies of building military alliances, intervention, wars and enforcing sanctions or coercions in all corners of the globe against any country that does not toe the line. From the encirclement of the Soviet bloc of countries it is now embarking on a new phase of containment of China, which is basically an emerging economic giant. China is in no haste to overtake the Americans in becoming the Number One military power for years to come. It is pure foolishness to maintain a naval fleet of several aircraft carriers and military bases across the world as the financial cost is phenomenal. Any attempt to be near what the Americans are doing will bankrupt China in no time like its is bankrupting the Americans in double quick time.
But China is sure in posing a serious challenge to America as an economic power house. And the days when China overtakes America as the biggest economy is just around the corner. For sure, being an economic super power will not make China poorer but richer and a better quality of life for the Chinese people.
So what is America’s strategy to meet the Chinese challenge to becoming the biggest economy? More military alliances, more resources and finances in the military fields, more adversarial and confrontational policies, and all of everything to maintain American hegemony, while pointing at China for being more assertive, and Chinese hegemony when there is none.
The East Asian and South East Asian countries will now be forced to take on a more confrontational position against China, on the side of the Americans. The Trans Pacific Partnership was a disguise for another military alliance against China with Australia as the key partner in the making. Japan and South Korea are likely to follow suit as semi colonies of the Empire.
Would Asean countries be drawn into this American set piece and become the frontline to the American strategy of protecting the American home land and fighting a war in other people’s territories? There is no mistake that any conflict will be in the East China Sea or the South China Sea and involving the littoral states in the region.
The Philippines and Vietnam have some reasons to want to be part of the alliance to confront China and grab a piece of the South China Sea. Would the rest of the Asean states be willing to be pawns on the American chess boards and be played, be traded or sacrificed for the American interest? What will likely be the end game?
In the American calculation, they only think America and presume that the leaders of Asean will be unthinking and will simply go along with the American agenda at their behest. Have the Asean states grown up from the days of colonialism and want to be truly independent states and not be embroiled by big power rivalry when the price to pay is their own independence and freedom to drive their own national policies? Would Asean be abandoned or subsumed by the TPP and all its effort to build a non aligned neutral regional organisation go to waste? That’s what the Americans are saying. Asean can be history.
A New World Order could be in the making when military conflict and supremacy is no longer relevant, when wars between big powers are just too destructive to be conceivable. Only madness and mad men will still be thinking of conducting war as an extention to failed diplomacy.
The New World Order could be one where every state would grow and prosper economically for the betterment of their people without military conflict. The balance of military power today is such that no one country can get away with a military conflict without getting themselves into a state of comatose. The emergence of China, Russia, India and probably other regional powers would allow the smaller states more room to navigate free of the big power politics if they choose to be. It is an opportunity for more trade and economic diplomacy than building military alliances and adopting confrontational policies that could lead to an irreparable war of a scale untold in history.
No country can bear the loss and destruction of a modern 21st Century warfare. Vietnam War was bad, with a major part of the country obliterated. But that was miniscule compare to what could happen when the big powers unleash the full might of their fire power. The thought of Australia with it few million inhabitants as a player in a major war is foolish thinking. It is not even worth a pawn in the chess board of the super powers.
Would the New World Order have a chance to succeed, or would WW2 mentality and diplomacy take precedence and a more devastating war takes its place? Whither is Asean with the Trans Pacific Partnership? Would Asean want to be counted in as a pawn in the TPP to serve American interest foremost?