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The NATO Summit: What Happened to Obamaâs Pivot From Europe to Asia?

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
May 20, 2012
Daily Beast


There is a foreign-policy god. And it is she who must deserve thanks for halting the Obama administration's incantations about "pivoting" from Europe to Asia. The recent silence on this shift came about not just because the G8 meeting of major economic powers was scheduled for last week at Camp David, and that most of the eight were European. It wasn't that the NATO summit was set for Chicago for Saturday and Sunday, and that most alliance members were also European. Nor has the Obama team altered its plans to move some U.S. security resources from an unthreatened Europe to an uncertain Asia; of course that has to be done.

Enlightenment was advanced when administration leaders realized they had gratuitously offended European allies and gratuitously provided Beijing's hawks with ammunition to argue that America was formally and openly instituting a policy of containing China. The Obama team's minds were surely jolted when so many privately expressed unhappiness about the provocative public pivot. Beyond all these considerations, I'd like to believe there was a deeper reason for silencing the idea. I'd like to believe that the recently and now oft proclaimed geniuses of administration foreign policy saw the light: Europe Plus, i.e., Europe along with Japan, Australia, Canada, and Israel, should—on the merits—remain the rock of U.S. national-security strategy.

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