The centre of international gravity is shifting toward East Asia, explains The Diplomat's Elbridge Colby. With China rising, Washington must focus its economic and security policies there, not the Middle East.
Political sentiment in the United States seems to be turning against the interventions and nation-building projects that have characterized US foreign policy in recent years. The revulsion at the cost and size of government, including the cost of expensive wars in the Middle East, has been amply demonstrated during the debt ceiling drama of recent weeks.
President Barack Obama has spoken of the need to nation-build at home rather than in Afghanistan, while most Republican presidential contenders showed an aversion to the Libyan operation and an unending expansive role in Afghanistan during their first primary debate in New Hampshire. Congressional grumbling is growing against further doubling-down in Afghanistan and the meandering intervention in Libya.
This is very much to the good. At times over the past two decades, US foreign policy has lost its moorings in distinguishing the vital from the desirable, with the result that conceptions of US security and humanitarian interests have become so expansive as to be seen to obligate preventive war against rogue states, coercive intervention against recalcitrant dictators, and inordinately ambitious efforts at forcibly modernizing backward societies – with baleful results. If this disorienting fever is subsiding in favour of a return to the more restrictive war-making and intervention criteria typified by the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine, then there's cause for satisfaction.