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World Politics Review: A U.S. Strategic Pivot to Nowhere

Author: Steven Metz
October 9, 2013


"For the United States, Asia is both important and potentially dangerous. It represents 56 percent of global economic output and an equal percentage of total U.S. trade. Five of the world's most powerful militaries are involved there. Four of them have nuclear weapons. The six largest armies belong to Asia-Pacific powers. Three of the five deadliest wars in American history took place in part or wholly in that region."

As American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan wound down and the conflict with al-Qaida shifted away from large-scale, protracted military operations, President Barack Obama announced a major adjustment in American strategy, stating that the United States "will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region."

Today there is growing criticism that this rhetoric has been backed by little substance and that what became popularly known as the "pivot" to Asia is stalled. In part this is due to the persisting political dysfunction in Washington that hinders all serious initiatives, but it also reflects deeper, more intractable strategic factors that offer guideposts on the future evolution of American security.

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