On May 1, 2019, National Interest published an article that questioned the importance of the Middle East to broader strategic interests of the United States. The author concludes that this region is small but politically explosive. Still U.S. global interests demands a shift to the Indo-Pacific region. Excerpts below:

People with long memories may believe that the United States is dependent on Middle East oil, but in reality, the oil crises of the 1970s were an aberration. Throughout most of its history, the United States has been an oil exporter…And over the last two decades, the United States has developed more effective ways to combat terrorism than with large-scale military operations.

…America’s political leadership should be looking to shift resources to those areas of the world where they are most needed to promote the country’s interests. Top of the list for a beef-up is the Indo-Pacific region.

The Pacific Ocean has been strategically important for American commerce since the early nineteenth century. It has been a virtual American lake since the Spanish-American War of 1898.

But the Pacific is a big lake, and costly to patrol. Moreover, there are many security hot spots along its shores. Russia’s Pacific fleet is busy modernizing its ballistic missile submarines. North Korea’s unpredictable Kim Jong-un is armed to the teeth and playing a never-ending game of nuclear brinksmanship. Indonesia and the Philippines need help fighting low-level Islamist insurgencies. And then there’s China.

As a global challenger to American national interests, no other country comes close to China. China repeatedly protests, harasses and threatens U.S. Navy ships operating off its coasts. It has built and militarized several artificial islands in the South China Sea in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which it is a signatory. And it has begun to systematically challenge the legitimacy of the rule of law in international and commercial relations more broadly.

The Pacific is the heart of America’s new economy. The then-Senator (and later Secretary of State) John Seward foresaw in 1852 that “the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theatre of events in the World’s great Hereafter.” More than a century and a half later, the Pacific has been fully integrated into American economic networks…

An American pivot in Asia, from Western Asia…to eastern Asia… makes economic and political sense. The ties that bind the United States to democracies like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…will ultimately prove strong..More importantly, the American national interest is much more closely bound up with the Indo-Pacific region than with the Middle East. As technology advances…America’s footprint in Asia should shift east, from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region.

Comment: The basic argument in the May 1 article is sound. The West and its American hegemon is facing the perhaps strongest challenge ever. More military strength is indeed needed in the Pacific but the Middle East still demands attention. The Iranian theocratic empire is threatening Israel and the stability of the region.

In the Far East Western allies need to provide more resources for the protection of the sea-lanes from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. Under Xi Jinping the hawks have the upper hand. The policy since the 1990s has been not to alert the West from its complacency in the regard to China’s rise. To achieve victory China has indeed been patient. It has concentrated not on military strength but on the economy. Behind the benign surface has been an iron will to depose the United States as global hegemon. Without the United States in the lead the West’s influence in the world would quickly disappear. The Chinese leaders have had the use of a highly developed metrics for measuring power status using algorithms. Meanwhile in the West the use of National Power Assessment has been neglected.

China managed 19 years ago to achieve trade normalization. From the beginning the intention was not to accept the provisions of the World Trade Organization. When normalization was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2000 the minority of 197 in the House that voted no was correct in judging China and so were the 17 senators voting no.

The All-Under-Heaven System provides the classical Chinese view of global domination. The establishment of Tianxia is described as a Chinese-led empire that values order over freedom, ethics over law, and elite governance over democracy and human rights. What really is the Chinese intention when taking over in 2049 can be studied in the records of the Tiananmen Square massacre of freedom fighters in 1989.

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