We’ve called for a national debate on the so-called Asia pivot announced at the start of this year, and it appears we’re starting to get one. The New York Times has a brief article summarizing a study commissioned by Senators Carl Levin, Jim Webb, and John McCain.
The main criticism found in the report seems to be that the specifics of the pivot have not been spelled out in enough detail to guarantee adequate support from Congress, especially in the current tight fiscal environment. From the senators’ comments on the report:
While we are still reviewing this 110-page report and its classified annex, we note that CSIS raises a number of issues that are worthy of further consideration. For example, CSIS concluded that “DOD has not adequately articulated the strategy behind its force posture planning nor aligned the strategy with resources in a way that reflects current budget realities.” This is particularly important as support for the resourcing of major overseas initiatives, in the current fiscal environment, will depend to a significant extent on a clear articulation of U.S. strategic imperatives and the manner in which the investments address them. We agree with CSIS’s emphasis on the need for DOD to articulate the strategy behind its force-posture planning more clearly. Congress must also be confident that the DOD force planning and realignment proposals are realistic, workable, and affordable.
Via Meadia doesn’t have access to the top secret annex. Nor have we reviewed the 110 pages, though we will. We encourage our readers interested in what is arguably the most important strategic shift for America since the end of the Cold War to do so as well.
There’s one thing we’d stress, though. If we are thinking about our new Asia strategy only in terms of what the Pentagon can do, we aren’t thinking clearly. American grand strategy involves the whole effort of America’s complicated, many-sided society and the synthesis of capitalism, democracy, faith and liberal values that makes us who we are. American grand strategy involves trade, cultural exchange, connections among religious believers, political activism and many other dimensions.
Military preparedness and military strength have to be part of our national grand strategy, but that strength is formidable not simply in itself but because of the society from which it proceeds. Our military posture in Asia and the resources we put behind it must reflect and enable the larger policy and vision with which the United States approaches the Pacific Century. A uniquely strong military presence remains key to America’s global position, but it is our goal to attract the great and emerging societies of Asia into the liberal world order we seek rather than to overawe them through military might.
Much remains to be debated and discussed as the United States thinks through the consequences of the shifts in world power now taking place. It would be helpful if the two presidential candidates would take a little time off from bashing one another and share their thoughts on America’s new strategic challenges with the voters.