019_Global12_InSight_2013

Global 13

Global Insight2013 President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with Xi Jinping in his former capacity as the vice-president of China little justification for a substantial shift towards a US Navy ramp- real emergent threats impacted by growing populations, consump- up. More US ships patrolling already controversial waters, be they tion and carbon emissions – that of climate change, global health in the South China Sea or near the Diaoyu-Senkaku islands, will pandemics and food security. This is hardly on America’s radar. not help resolve intracontinental land and sea disputes, nor will it When it’s off the agenda of the Oval Office, it similarly falls from advance America’s interests or allies. every other nation’s radar, with the possible exception of the Euro- There is suspicion in Washington that this ‘pivot to Asia’ was pean Union, which continues to lead on climate change. merely a financial gift to the Navy since it hadn’t seen funding This couldn’t be more relevant as we consider the security pri- increases on a par with other armed forces. Defence contractors, orities of the next four years. More ships and drones won’t get us already flush with cash from a cowed Congress, now have new closer to a more secure America, not when so much of the world is getting hotter, poorer, more crowded, and when resources are America, more than ever before, must bunker-busting bombs is money wasted on a superfluous politicalgetting scarcer. Hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent on find a way to partner with China on the game, driven by defence contractors in search of a new dollar, the emergent threats impacted by growing latest of which has clearly come from the Asia pivot.To tackle the most grave and serious security threats requires that populations, consumption and carbon everyone is at the table – and that includes China and the most an- tagonistic of Middle East adversaries – to discuss how we’re going emissions - that of climate change, global to feed a growing 7 billion person population, keep the planet cool health pandemics and food security easy spread of global pandemics. This must be our focus, not someenough to avoid climate catastrophe, and ensure that we avoid the payoff to ship- or-drone-making contractors, nor a political pan- frontiers to fund, retrofit and profiteer from. The American pub- der to the latest fear-mongering media campaign. Whether Obama lic is wary of more ground and air forces going into Afghanistan takes the high road here depends not solely on the depths of his and Iraq, but their appetite for other means of warfare, including conscience but also on the public’s proclivity to push for something drones, is not yet exhausted. mightier than the sword. We are at that juncture now; let’s hope the Instead of moving Asia disputes and trans-Pacific relations to- non-political play wins the day. wards trade and legal structures that are more comprehensive and international in nature, the USA, in its pivot, shows how unim- aginative and Cold War it remains in its thinking. There is no new Michael Shank is adjunct faculty at George Mason University’s School innovation or multilateralism here. This is unfortunate. The USA, for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Senior Fellow at the French more than ever before, must find a way to partner with China on the American Global Forum globalfirst quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l19


Global 13
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