President Obama’s rebalance or pivot to the Pacific is struggling.
There have been some successes. Ever-loyal Australia signed up to US marines in Darwin and there may be more ‘cooperation’ to come!. There have been new US military agreements with the Philippines and Vietnam.
But there have been some important downsides, particularly as China has responded to what it sees as intrusion in to its historic area of influence.
Most significantly, President Obama’s proposed twelve-member Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, which deliberately excluded China, is in peril and will probably fail.
Despite US opposition , Australia, Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Philippines and South Korea agreed to join the China initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in recognition of Chinese growing economic clout.
Since the pivot was announced, North Korea has conducted an unprecedented three nuclear tests and 72 kinetic and missile tests. Seeing the fate of other tyrants like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, the North Korean clique have decided that the best way to avoid US attacks is to develop nuclear weapons.
Japan used to be the US anchor alliance partner in North Asia. But the ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Abe, is taking Japan on a new and dangerous course.
NATO sanctions are pushing Russia towards a rapprochement with China. For the first time, the Chinese and Russian navies have just commenced joint exercises in the South China Sea.
President Duterte of the Philippines has ordered US Special Forces out of the Southern Philippines. As the key country in dispute with China over the South China Sea, he may be manoeuvering to cut a deal with China on the issue. See ‘John Menadue. The Philippines – President Duterte, the crack down on crime and the dispute with China over the South China Sea’
In the Pacific there are very strong Chinese communities in many countries going back decades and even centuries. They will want to see good relations with China.
But the ever reliable Australia follows the US, right or wrong. Our entrapment proceeds apace.