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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The US Navy and the Pivot: Less Means Less -- Given resource constraints, the U.S. Navy may need to execute a pivot of its own -- By William Kyle, The Diplomat

The US Navy and the Pivot: Less Means LessFive years of Obama administration foreign policy are in the history books as the world continues to move beyond the era of the Global War on Terror. While the jury is still out regarding the ultimate impact of his post-GWOT redirection of American foreign policy, U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiatives since 2011 have clearly been designed to steer American policy in a profoundly Pacific direction. This shift has direct consequences for the U. S. Navy in the so-called “Pacific Century.”

In fact, this new direction leaves the U.S. Navy in the unenviable position of being at the vanguard of a “Pacific Pivot” while facing potentially dramatic reductions in force structure and modernization budgets. However, it is not clear that the Pacific “pivot” strategy actually requires a dramatic, Cold War-like increase in American naval presence for success—rather, it may be enough for the U.S. Navy to implement its own structural pivot to better match American foreign policy goals with resources.

In the wake of the GWOT and 2008 financial crisis, many assessments predicted the end of America’s “unipolar moment,” spurring the Obama administration to announce a new foreign policy direction in 2011. Fighting popular perceptions of previous regional neglect, Obama stressed that the United States was permanently turning its principal attention towards Asia. In November 2011, this new Asia policy directive got its own catchphrase when then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton published an article in Foreign Policy magazine titled “America’s Pacific Century,” emphasizing both the current and future importance of Asia and America’s desired role in the region. Thus was born the American “pivot” to the Pacific.

More than two years after Clinton first outlined that broad policy, there are many indicators that the strategy is more than just another step in a U.S.-China arms race. Since announcing the pivot, emphasis has been placed on involvement in regional multilateralism and economic integration through pursuit of initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional free trade agreement, accession to the East Asia Summit, and establishment of a permanent mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The administration continues to play up regional involvement to convey the message that the United States intends to remain an integral Pacific power. Although security policy does constitute a key component of the unfolding, multifaceted Pacific strategy, the very limited security initiatives implemented or proposed to date do not appear to be the policy centerpiece. In reality, the “pivot” is (thus far) more of a rhetorical statement of American interest in the preservation of the American-led status quo, backed up with regional initiatives that do not require or include a significant redistribution of hard power assets. Even so, this new emphasis on the Pacific theater has significant repercussions for the U.S. Navy, in an era of diminishing resources and unpropitious regional trends.

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