Asian Alliances in the 21st Century
Asia will become the epicenter of geopolitical activity in the 21st century and the budding U.S.-China security rivalry, conditioned by deep economic interdependence, will shape the region’s future. The United States has played a major role in this ongoing geopolitical shift. Washington’s post-World War II Asia policy enabled a majority of Asian nations to economically develop and transition from closed to relatively open and stable societies. Asian countries achieved these goals by embracing the “liberal order,” characterized by democratic capitalism, built and maintained by the United States.
While these achievements are foremost the result of Asian efforts, U.S. policy deserves credit on three counts. First, U.S. military forces have both commanded the global commons—which includes the sea, air, space, and cyberspace—allowing for rapid and decisive power projection in the distant Asia-Pacific theater, 2 and have been forward deployed in Asia, providing the security umbrella under which Asian nations could develop. Second, the U.S.-led economic and normative order was open and widely accepted by many nations. Finally, when necessary, American presidents applied pressure on Asian leaders to move away from dictatorship and political decay toward political development and democracy.