A shout out to Confucius is necessary because he gets at the heart of the problem with U.S. East Asia policy today: “When the names are not correct, language does not match the truth of things.”
What began as a “pivot” several years ago is now a “rebalance.” Yet it is neither. And since the U.S. government doesn’t appear to have the resources to pay for its new Asia policy, the final result will not likely correspond to the initial vision.
In the attempt to explain what “it” is — which remains more an attempt to explain what “it” is not — Washington has succeeded in making clear that the Navy wants lots of cool new stuff. Beyond that, American policy in East Asia remains confused at best. On a country-by-country level, different “desks” at the State Department may appear to have a handle on what practitioners are doing. But such efforts — especially regarding China and Japan — are now openly at cross-purposes. Specifically, the vibrant China envisaged in U.S. policy is on a collision course with the more self-reliant Japan likewise championed, while Korea falls into the gap.READ MORE