美國的 Pivot = 轉進 -- BBC
Russia and China eye role in Afghanistan and Pakistan
BBC – Asia News, 06/06/12
With the United States and Nato set to leave Afghanistan over the next two years, power in the region is shifting. Writer Ahmed Rashid reports on Russia and China's attempts to capitalise on the decline of American influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As United States troops prepare to leave Afghanistan in 2014, a major regional shift is underway.
With the prospect of a decline in US influence in the region in sight, Russia and China are reaching out to Pakistan and Afghanistan in a bid to improve economic ties and to secure their southern borders against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.
The presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari, are in Beijing this week for the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is led by China and Russia.
With the US set to leave Afghanistan and bad relations between Islamabad and Washington DC continuing to fester, the SCO has taken on a new lease of life.
China and Afghanistan will sign a strategic agreement at the SCO, elevating their relationship as China shops for raw material and oil exploration contracts in mineral-rich Afghanistan. China has already secured some oil and copper mining concessions.
Until now, China has carried out few development projects in Afghanistan and is unlikely to help fund the country's army and police, as the US would like.
But all that could change once the Americans leave. Xu Feihong, China's ambassador to Kabul says that ''China is the most reliable friend of Afghanistan".
Likewise Russia, both through the SCO and bilaterally, is willing to offer major help to Afghanistan such as improving the Salang Tunnel highway, the critical link road between Kabul and the north which the Soviets built in the 1970s.
After years of poor relations, Russia has also taken a major initiative with Pakistan.
Moscow sent its special representative and long-time regional expert Zamir Kabulov to Islamabad to suss out what the Pakistanis want and offer economic help, such as refurbishing Pakistan's one and only steel mill, built with Russian help in the 1970s.
China is already Pakistan's closest and most reliable ally.
In early June, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Islamabad and pledged to stand by Pakistan in its tensions with the Americans.
He pleased the government by echoing Pakistan's refrain that the world should recognize Pakistan's ''huge sacrifices'' in the war on terror and help safeguard its sovereignty, rather than question Pakistan's intentions as the US has done recently.
If Pakistan can take steps against home grown extremism it will do much to convince Russia and China that it deserves help to move out of the American orbit.”
Moreover, China is hoping to exploit Afghanistan's mineral resources once the war is over and knows that Pakistan could play a crucial role. It could well hire Pakistani companies as junior partners in its mineral explorations.
Until now, Mr Zardari has been looking to China to help bail him out of Pakistan's severe economic mess but China never gives cash, loans, budgetary support, development funds or humanitarian funds to other countries like Western governments do.
Instead, it carries out major projects that help the recipient but provide strategic spin offs for China too.
Despite his words of support, officials say Mr Yang also warned Pakistan's leaders not to break with the US and to avoid taking hardline positions regarding the US and Nato in Afghanistan.
For the past seven months, Pakistan has refused to reopen the main route for Nato supplies that runs from Karachi to the Afghan border. Talks with the US on the issue have so far failed.
Both China and Russia will be happy to see US troops leave Afghanistan, but they are equally worried about the Taliban and other extremist groups penetrating Xinjiang province in southern China and the Central Asian republics, whose national security is very much in the hands of Russia.
China is deeply concerned by the long-running crisis in Pakistan, fearing that it may lead to a strengthening of Islamic fundamentalism.
Beijing is worried that any threat to Pakistan from internal insurgency or secessionist movements would only bolster its regional rival India.
So, for the first time ever China has held high-level discussions with US officials that have focused on the crisis in Pakistan and how both countries could nudge Pakistani leaders to do the right thing.
The US is also asking the Chinese help persuade the Pakistani military to be more helpful in Afghanistan and end the sanctuaries the Taliban enjoy.
Both the Chinese and Russians are worried about the threat posed by the Taliban and al-Qaeda themselves.
In an unprecedented move, over the past six months Chinese officials issued three strong statements rebuking Pakistan for not reining in Uighur extremists who are training with Pakistani extremist groups and fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Uighurs are Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang province and some are involved in an independence struggle against China.
Pakistan's military rushed to try and detain the Uighur militants. According to diplomats at the United Nations, China has been quietly telling the Pakistan military that it must end havens for all militant groups on its soil - a message that has been publicly taken up by Nato.
Russia also makes no bones about the fact that it sees Pakistan as harbouring Central Asian militant groups such as the Islamic Movement for Uzbekistan and Islamic Jihad.
These groups - which have been based in Pakistan's tribal areas - are now trying to enter Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from their new bases in northern Afghanistan. Diplomats at the UN say they are being aided and abetted by militant Pakistani groups based, including Lashkar e-Toiba.
Russia's envoy Zamir Kabulov, who has long experience with the Pakistani military's backing of Islamic fundamentalist groups (he served in the Soviet embassy in Kabul in the 1980s), raised this issue with the Pakistani government.
Russia sees itself as the guardian of the Central Asian republics and although it is anxious to see an end to US bases in that region, its resumption of the sole security role in Central Asia will depend on how Pakistan deals with such extremist groups.
If Pakistan can take steps against home-grown extremism, it will do much to convince Russia and China that it deserves help to move out of the American orbit.
But with the long-running political and economic meltdown in Pakistan, there is little chance that the government can act soon.
Nevertheless, a shift in the tectonic plates in the region is taking place. Pakistan and Afghanistan can either take quick advantage of these changes or revert back into chaos.
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2012年六月我轉貼了一篇BBC的報導 -- Russia and China eye role in Afghanistan and Pakistan (請見本欄開欄文)。我用《美國的 Pivot = 轉進》做中文標題。大約一星期後，我寫了一篇短評：
昨天看到Feffer教授的大作 -- 《「轉向」？我看是「撤退」》(請見本欄)，「拍拍自己肩膀」的想法油然而起。
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「轉向」？ 我看是「撤退」 - J. Feffer
Pacific Pivot? More Like Retreat
John Feffer, 01/29/14
In a future update of The Devil's Dictionary, the famed Ambrose Bierce dissection of the linguistic hypocrisies of modern life, a single word will accompany the entry for "Pacific pivot": retreat.
It might seem a strange way to characterize the Obama administration's energetic attempt to reorient its foreign and military policy toward Asia. After all, the president's team has insisted that the Pacific pivot will be a forceful reassertion of American power in a strategic part of the world and a deliberate reassurance to our allies that we have their backs vis-à-vis China.
Indeed, sometimes the pivot seems like little less than a panacea for all that ails U.S. foreign policy. Upset about the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan? Then just light out for more pacific waters. Worried that our adversaries are all melting away and the Pentagon has lost its raison d'être? Then how about going toe to toe with China, the only conceivable future superpower on the horizon these days. And if you're concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, then the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the regional free-trade deal Washington is trying to negotiate, might be just the shot in the arm that U.S. corporations crave.
In reality, however, the "strategic rebalancing" the Obama administration has been promoting as a mid-course correction to its foreign policy remains strong on rhetoric and remarkably weak on content. Think of it as a clever fiction for whose promotion many audiences are willing to suspend their disbelief. After all, in the upcoming era of Pentagon belt-tightening and domestic public backlash, Washington is likely to find it difficult to move any significant extra resources into Asia. Even the TPP is an acknowledgment of how much economic ground in the region has been lost to China.
There's also the longer arc of history to consider. The U.S. retreat from Asia has been underway since the 1970s, although this "strategic movement to the rear" -- as the famous military euphemism goes -- has been neither rapid nor accompanied by "mission accomplished" photo ops.
The administration's much-vaunted pivot looks ever more like a divot -- a swing, a miss, and a hole in the ground rather than anything approaching a hole-in-one.
The Slowly Shrinking Footprint
During the Cold War, the United States fought more battles and shed more blood in Asia than anywhere else on Earth. From 1950 to 1953, under a U.N. flag, U.S. forces struggled for control of the Korean peninsula, ending up without a peace treaty and with a stalemate at roughly the same dividing line where the war began. At one point, as the Vietnam War expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. troop levels in Asia swelled to more than 800,000.
Since the disastrous end of that war, however, Washington has been very slowly and fitfully retreating from the region. U.S. military personnel there have by now dropped under 100,000. The low point was arguably during the George W. Bush years when the U.S. military sank into the quicksand of Iraq and Afghanistan, and critics began to accuse his administration of "losing Asia" to a rising China.
Looking at the numbers, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that Washington's attention had indeed drifted from the Pacific. Consider Korea. Peace has hardly broken out on the peninsula. In fact, the North's nuclear weapons and the South's extensive military modernization have only had the effect of heightening tensions.
The United States, however, has repeatedly reduced both the size and the significance of its forces in South Korea in a process of punctuated devolution. On three occasions over the last 45 years, Washington has unilaterally withdrawn forces from the peninsula -- each time over the objections of the South Korean government. There were nearly 70,000 U.S. troops in South Korea in the early 1970s when the Nixon administration first recalled an entire division of 20,000 troops. Later, the Carter administration, initially keen to withdraw all U.S. forces, settled for another limited reduction. In 1991, in response to the collapse of Communism in much of the world (but not North Korea), the George H.W. Bush administration unilaterally withdrew tactical nuclear weapons from the peninsula.
In the twenty-first century, the U.S. military footprint shrank yet again from approximately 37,000 troops to the current level of 28,500, this time thanks to negotiations between Washington and Seoul. (A small contingent of 800 troops has just been dispatched to South Korea to send a signal of U.S. "resolve" to the North, but it's only for a nine-month rotation.) In addition, the American troops near the de-militarized zone that separates north from south, long meant as a "tripwire" that would ensure U.S. involvement in any future war between the two countries, are being relocated further south. However, Pentagon officials have recently hinted at leaving behind a residual force. The two countries are still negotiating the transfer of what, six decades after the Korean War ended, is still referred to as "wartime operational control," a long overdue step. The reduction of forces has been accompanied by the closure and consolidation of U.S. bases, including the massive Yongsan garrison in the middle of the South Korean capital, Seoul. It will revert entirely to Korean control over the next few years.
It's not just Korea where the U.S. "footprint" is shrinking. A quieter set of redeployments has reduced U.S. ground forces in Japan, too, from approximately 46,000 personnel in 1990 to the 38,000-strong contingent today. Even larger changes are underway.
In 2000, on a visit to Okinawa, Japan's southern-most prefecture, President Bill Clinton promised to shrink the staggering American military footprint on that island. At the time, Okinawans were furious over a series of murders and rapes committed by U.S. soldiers as well as military-related accidents that had claimed Okinawan lives and health threats from various kinds of pollution generated by more than 30 U.S. bases. Ever since, Washington has been pursuing a plan to close the Futenma Marine Air Force Base -- an old facility dangerously located in the middle of a modern city -- and build a replacement elsewhere on the island. That plan also involves the relocation of 9,000 Marines from the island to U.S. bases elsewhere in the Pacific. If it goes forward, U.S. forces in Japan will be reduced by up to 25%.
Elsewhere in Asia, under pressure from local activists, the United States closed two military bases in the Philippines in 1991, withdrawing nearly 15,000 personnel from the country and replacing a permanent basing arrangement with a more modest "visiting forces agreement." In recent years, Washington has negotiated "cooperation agreements" with various countries in the region, including its former foe Vietnam, but hasn't built any significant new bases. Aside from forces in Japan and South Korea, and personnel aboard ships and submarines, the U.S. military presence in the rest of the region is negligible.
Of course, a reduction of personnel and the closure of bases are not necessarily indicators of retreat. After all, the Pentagon has been focusing on a transition to a more flexible fighting posture, deemphasizing fixed positions in favor of lighter rapid-response units. Meanwhile, the modernization of U.S. forces has meant that its firepower has increased even if its Pacific footprint has decreased. In addition, the United States has emphasized Special Operations forces deployments as part of anti-terror operations in places like the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, while pushing ahead with several tiers of ballistic missile defense in the region. All of these policies preceded the pivot.
Nonetheless, the trend line since the 1970s is clear enough. Even as their capabilities were being upgraded, U.S. forces were also slowly moving to an over-the-horizon posture in Asia, with bases in Guam and Hawaii gaining importance as those in Korea and Japan were quietly downgraded. As it has given up ground, Washington has also pressured its allies to pay more to support its forces based on their territories, buy ever more expensive American weapons systems, and build up their own militaries. As it once sought to "Vietnamize" and "Iraqize" the military forces in countries from which it was withdrawing troops, the United States has been engaged in its own slow-motion "Asianization" of the Pacific.
The Non-Existent Pivot
The Pacific pivot has been billed as a way to halt this drift and reinforce the U.S. position as a player in Asia. So far, however, this highly touted "rebalancing" has essentially been a shell game, involving not a substantial build-up, but a shifting around of American forces in Asia.
This shell game has involved, among other elements, the contingent of 18,000 Marines at that base in Futenma. For more than 15 years, Washington and Tokyo have failed to come to an agreement on closing the decrepit base and building a replacement facility. The vast majority of Okinawans still reject any new base construction, which would damage the area's fragile ecosystem. In addition, the island already houses more than 70% of all U.S. bases in Japan, and its residents are tired of the collateral damage that U.S. service personnel inflict on host communities.
Sooner or later, about 5,000 of those Marines are to be transferred to an expanded facility on the U.S. island of Guam, a huge construction project underwritten by the Japanese government. Another 2,700 are slated to go to Hawaii. Up to 2,500 will rotate through an expanded Royal Australian Air Force base in Darwin.
About 8,000 to 10,000 Marines are supposed to remain in Okinawa -- or, at least, Washington and Tokyo would like them to remain there. But that depends on the latest round of negotiations. At the end of December, Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima reversed his position against building a new base, thanks in part to 300 billion yen a year that Tokyo promised to inject into the Okinawan economy over the next eight years.
But it's far from a done deal. In elections this month in the town of Nago, which has jurisdiction over Henoko where the new base is to be built, Mayor Susumu Inamine won a second term after pledging to continue his opposition to the proposed construction. Turnout was high, and so was Inamine's victory margin -- despite a promise from the conservative ruling party to provide an additional 50 billion yen to Nago if residents rejected the incumbent. Civic groups, meanwhile, continue to try to tie the project up in court.
Beyond shuffling Marines around the Pacific, what else does the pivot consist of? Not much. Four new Littoral Combat Ships are being sent to Singapore to beef up patrols in the region. A small-scale gesture to begin with, that experimental vessel, which has experienced serious cost overruns, is a clunker. The first ship to reach Singapore had to return to port after a mere eight hours on the water, the latest in a series of problems that have prompted a congressional inquiry into the program's viability.
The Pentagon has emphasized the importance of a planned readjustment of the balance of the U.S. fleet globally. Currently, the ratio of Pacific to non-Pacific ship deployments is 50-50. In the years to come, that may shift to 60-40 in favor of the Pacific. But ratios don't mean much if the overall size of the U.S. fleet goes south. The Navy recently submitted a plan to build up fleet size from its current 285 ships to 306 over the next 30 years. But that plan is based on the rosiest of imagined future budget allocations: one-third higher than those the service has received over recent decades. A more likely scenario, in an age of belt-tightening, is a reduction of the fleet to 250 ships or fewer as more are decommissioned than added yearly.
In air power, too, the pivot comes up short, given what the United States already deploys in the region. As the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Auslin testified before Congress this past summer, "The U.S. Air Force already rotates F-22s, B-52s, and B-2s throughout the region, primarily in Guam and Okinawa, and there are few more planes that can be sent on a regular basis."
It's true that Washington is pushing its new F-35 jet fighter -- Japan has already promised to buy 28 of them -- but pity our poor allies. The most expensive weapon system in history, the plane has 719 problems, according to a report by the Pentagon's own inspector general. That's a lot of problems for a weapons system that costs nearly $200 million a pop (almost $300 million in some versions).
Much of the Pentagon's future in Asia has been focused on "Air-Sea Battle," a joint Navy-Air Force integrated plan that made its debut in 2010 with the specific aim of denying adversaries (read: China) access to the seas and skies of the region. The Army, finding itself essentially left out, has put forward its own "Pacific Pathways" initiative, which aims to transform a largely land-based force into a maritime expeditionary force, potentially bringing it into direct competition with the Marines.
However, Washington's Pacific allies shouldn't expect much from it. The program is really no more than an effort to stanch the hemorrhaging of Army personnel, already slated for a 10% drop in strength over the next few years -- with signs of more shrinkage ahead. As political scientist Andrew Bacevich writes, "Pacific Pathways envisions relatively small elements milling about the Far East so that whatever happens, whether act of God or act of evil-doers, the service won't be left out."
While the pivot may not add up to much, one thing is certain: it will cost money, even with allied contributions factored in. For instance, the expansion of the Guam base is now priced at $8.6 billion (or more), with only about $3 billion of that picked up by Tokyo. The overall cost for the relocation of the Marines, the Pentagon estimates, is likely to be $12 billion. And even that is undoubtedly a lowball figure, according to the Government Accountability Office, which estimates the move to Guam alone at as much as double that sum. No surprise, then, that the Senate -- in a mood of unusual bipartisan agreement -- has balked at the price tag.
The simple truth is that the Pentagon is no longer going to have the same kind of loot to throw around as it did in the go-go days of the last decade. If merely moving forces around the Pacific costs so much, it's hardly likely that outlays for major new deployments will make it past Congress. And this doesn't even take into account the inevitable tax revolt of the Japanese, Korean, and Australian publics when the bills for their own "contributions" start coming in.
Why Asia, Why Now?
Even if the Pacific pivot is more smoke than firepower, the United States is hardly a paper tiger in Asia. It remains by far the most powerful military actor in the region. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, fighter jets, and nuclear subs all mean that the United States can throw its weight around when necessary.
But perception means a great deal in geopolitics and right now China is winning the perceptions game. Beijing is flush with money and has been using its considerable foreign exchange surpluses to win favor with countries in the region (even as it undercuts some of that good will with its territorial claims and military actions). In 2010, it teamed up with its Southeast Asian neighbors to form a free-trade zone large enough to compete favorably with Europe and North America.
Although China won't have power projection capabilities even remotely comparable to the United States in the foreseeable future, double digit military spending over the last decade has closed the gap with Japan and Korea. Tensions in the region have increased -- over disputed islands between Japan and China, around the potentially oil-rich South China Sea, and in airspace as well after China unilaterally established its own "air defense identification zone" in November that covers the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
China's muscle flexing is about the only thing that could turn the Pacific pivot into something real. Countries that were once ambivalent about the U.S. military presence -- such as Vietnam or the Philippines -- are eagerly putting out the welcome mat for American forces. Japan is using the "China threat" to further water down its "peace constitution" and ratchet up cooperation with the Pentagon. And the United States is eagerly stitching together its various bilateral relationships -- from India to Australia to Korea -- into a cloak of containment to stifle China's rise.
Even without much meat on its bones, the Pacific realignment "works" so far because so many disparate actors find it useful to believe in. For China, it provides a convenient rationale for buying or building new weapons systems to deny the United States complete control over air and sea. For U.S. allies, the pivot offers an additional insurance policy that requires them to pay premiums in the form of building up their own militaries. In the United States, hawks rejoice at a Rambo-like return to Asia, while doves bemoan the inherent militarism of the new policy. The Pentagon sees more basing options; arms manufacturers see more lucrative contracts; other U.S. corporations see greater access to overseas markets through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
However, one major Asian reality has to be taken into account when considering Washington's increased focus on and interest in the Pacific: not since the end of World War II has the United States been able to impose its will on the region. It had to make do with a stalemate in the Korean War; it lost the Vietnam War; and it hasn't been able to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. It can't even stop allies Japan and South Korea from quarrelling over the ownership of a tiny outcropping of rocks that lies midway between the two countries. And the U.S. economic relationship with China -- a codependency grounded in overproduction and overconsumption -- is a brake on U.S. unilateralism in the region.
In an age of economic austerity and policy coordination with China, the Pacific pivot amounts to a complicated dance in which the United States steps backward as we propel our allies forward. It might seem a penny-wise way of sharing the security burden, but the realignment is still woefully expensive. And "Asianizing" the Pacific through arms exports and visiting forces agreements only helps to fuel what has emerged as the most significant arms race in the world today.
The lumbering aircraft carrier known as the United States should be executing a pivot that lives up to its name: a shift from the martial to the pacific. Instead, it's just roiling the waters and leaving instability in its wake.
John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of several books, including Crusade 2.0. His articles can be read on his website. Originally published on TomDispatch.com. Republished with permission.
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巧婦難為無米之炊之美澳協防 - P. Hartcher
Toothless among Asian tigers
What a time for Canberra to cut defence spending, just as the neighbourhood is arming itself to the hilt.
Peter Hartcher, 07/21/12
It was only seven months ago that Barack Obama and Julia Gillard stood together to jubilantly announce a permanent new deployment of US Marines to Darwin.
It was the biggest permanent shift of US forces in peacetime into the Asia-Pacific since the Vietnam War. "The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay," Obama declared to the Australian Parliament.
It was the most visible evidence of US commitment to the security of Australia since World War II.
And it was Australia's emphatic answer to a question that has been debated intensively in its policy community for over a decade - in the event of a crisis between the current superpower and the rising one, which side would Australia choose?
It was also only seven months ago that the US President stood in the Australian Parliament and boldly predicted the downfall of the Chinese Communist Party, to the enthralled applause of government and opposition alike.
It was a heady moment. But when the speechwriters stood down, the budget cutters stepped up.
In the months since, the warm glow of alliance bonhomie has given way to the colder calculations of the defence budgets of both Australia and its great and powerful friend.
Events in Canberra and Washington raise serious questions about the ability of the alliance partners to give effect to their grand pledges to each other.
On the Australian side, it is stunningly clear what's happened. The Gillard government has chosen to reduce Australia's defence effort to its feeblest in 74 years.
The May budget cut the national defence outlay from the equivalent of 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product to 1.56 per cent. This is its smallest since 1938, the year before the outbreak of World War II, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The government announced cuts of $5.5 billion over four years. It was a reduction of 10.5 per cent and the sharpest cutback since the Korean War ended in 1953.
Why? The government was driven by its commitment to return the budget to surplus this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2013.
But in reaching that goal, it cut defence harder than any other portfolio. The government weighed its priorities, and defence came in at the bottom.
There were some sensible elements in the cuts. For instance, one is a delay in payments for delivery of the US Joint Strike Fighter because of American delays in building the planes themselves.
But the Gillard government is not merely conducting prudent housekeeping, as it claims. This is essentially a matter of political choice. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute's Andrew Davies says ''the cuts are very simply budgetary'', though they are veiled in talk of strategy. The cutbacks threaten the central capacity of Australia to defend itself.
Professor Alan Dupont of the University NSW and a former analyst with the Defence Department put it this way: "The best time to invade Australia will be around 2028-30. That's a serious comment.'' Dupont says at the moment it's touch and go whether we will have any subs to deploy because there's been so much delay in the process of starting work on the replacements for the existing submarine fleet, the decrepit Collins-class subs.
Australia has six submarines, but can field only one at any given time, and perhaps two in an emergency. Chronic problems of maintenance and crewing have turned the national fleet into a floating joke.
When the government announced its 2009 plan to modernise defence, Force 2030, it promised 12 new, highly capable submarines to replace the Collins Class. But in the budget this year, Julia Gillard and her Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, said that they were commissioning a fresh study, at a cost of $214 million, to further examine how these might be built.
"We're having more reviews of the submarines announced in 2009,'' says Dupont. ''It begs the question - what's the government been doing for the last three years?''
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute can answer that question. Since 2009, Gillard and Smith have announced defence cuts, deferrals and spending avoided totalling nearly $25 billion, according to ASPI. That's the equivalent of the entire defence budget for a year. ASPI, a government-funded think tank respected for its expertise and credibility, described the defence budget as an "unsustainable mess".
That might be a rational course if the risks to Australia were diminishing. They are not. The Asia-Pacific is in the midst of an arms build-up of historic proportions.
This year, as Australia announced cuts of 10.5 per cent to military spending, China announced an increase of 11 per cent.
China's defence outlays have doubled in the past five years and Indonesia's have trebled. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, Asia is on the cusp of spending more on its militaries than Europe, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London points out.
Dormant territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea are flaring. In the East China Sea, China is challenging Japan. In the South China Sea, Beijing is forcibly asserting its claims to territories also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam.
"China has amassed considerable economic power over the last few years," says Ernest Bower, the south-east Asia expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It believes it has the leverage now, and it's testing it."
In other words, a rising power is seeing what it can get away with.
The South China Sea is highly prospective in oil and gas. On some estimates, it rivals Saudi Arabia as the hydrocarbon centre of the world.
China broadcasts a policy of peace, but opportunistically intimidates, threatens and coerces weaker countries. Its recent standoff with the Philippines over claims to the Scarborough Shoal is the latest illustration. The Philippines sent a naval vessel to confront Chinese fishing boats in contested waters in a standoff that continued until a hurricane intervened.
It's an unequal contest. "When the Chinese do this, they generally have a surface combat group just over the horizon, the big stick," says Mike Green, the top Asia official in the Bush White House. "That's very aggressive."
And the Philippine navy's biggest vessels are a pair of retired US coast guard cutters. "They're so old that my grandfather served on one of them," says Green. "They can barely keep them on the ocean."
It is a time of rising risk of war, even if only by accident. As the Obama White House's top Asia official, Danny Russell, told the Herald this week: "China and the Philippines found themselves in a difficult situation, facing pressure not to back down, and the zero-sum challenge of competing territorial claims threatened to escalate tension."
This created "a scenario of grave concern to all countries in the region". The effect was to "underscore the perennial risk in international affairs that one thing can lead to another".
But despite the mounting tension, Gillard and Smith calculated that they could get away with running down the Australian defence effort, no doubt, because the Australian public was uninterested and the Abbott opposition was inert.
But the US noticed. The Obama administration has raised its concerns with the Gillard government repeatedly, at multiple levels, in recent weeks. A senior official of the Bush administration, not constrained by the niceties of diplomacy, said publicly this week what the Obama officials feel constrained to say privately. ''Australia's defence budget is inadequate,'' said Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state.
"It's about Australia's ability to work as an ally of the US. I would say you've got to look at 2 per cent of GDP,'' which implies an extra $6 billion in spending annually. Planned spending is $24 billion this year. "A large island nation like Australia, rich in resources, needs a robust military capability."
And the Abbott opposition has noticed too. Gillard has given the opposition a tremendous opportunity to exploit. The Coalition has criticised the defence cuts, but sotto voce so far. The opposition is constrained by its own problems in working out a fiscal policy and is considering its options.
But the US itself is cutting defence spending. Under pressure of its burgeoning national debt, the US has announced $500 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Nonetheless, it will still spend a robust 3.5 per cent of GDP on defence this year.
But the pressure on the US defence budget may be only just beginning. When Congress last year was unable to agree on a long-term plan to cut the national debt, it set up a pressure point for itself in the future.
That pressure point is known formally as budget sequestration, but informally it's called the "fiscal cliff". As in, the US will fall off the cliff unless Congress can strike a deal. And the future is the end of this year. You'll be hearing a lot about the fiscal cliff in the five months ahead as the Republicans and Democrats argue furiously about how to avoid it.
If they don't? The inbuilt mechanism already fixed in law prescribed mandatory cuts of $1.4 trillion to spending. Of this, $500 billion is to come from defence.
It would be madness to allow this to happen. The chairman of the Federal Reserve has said that, if it were to fall off the cliff, the US would probably be "knocked back into recession." Somewhere between a million and 2 million Americans would lose their jobs. And the defence implications would be serious.
"It would mean a fundamental re-evaluation," says a Pentagon official with responsibility for Asia policy, Vikram Singh. "It would be extremely painful," he told the Herald this week.
And what are the chances of this madness actually happening? A congressional official who is central to the process said: "The fiscal cliff? We're going to go right over it."
Peter Hartcher is Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor
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美國在中東騎虎難下難以轉進 - N. Gvosdev
The Realist Prism: Putting Out Mideast Fires Will Delay U.S. Asia Pivot
Nikolas Gvosdev, 07/20/12
It looks like the vaunted U.S. pivot to Asia is going to be delayed. The ongoing conflict in Syria and the escalation of tensions with Iran make it highly unlikely that Washington will be able to shift away from its long-held priority focus on the Middle East anytime soon.
When the Asia pivot was first floated by the Obama administration in 2009, it was based on a series of strategic assessments about the likely future of the Middle East. There was guarded optimism that a combination of effective sanctions and deft diplomacy could produce a workable deal on the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. disengagement from Iraq was proceeding on schedule, and confidence was high that a surge in Afghanistan might similarly put that country on a positive trajectory allowing for the U.S. to successfully terminate its combat mission there. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ unequivocal pronouncement that any future U.S. leader who proposed a massive military intervention in the region should have “his head examined” seemed to indicate that once Iraq and Afghanistan were tidied up, the United States wouldn’t be “coming ashore” anywhere else anytime soon. And the smart Washington money was on a series of next-generation leadership transitions -- among them Gamal Mubarak in Egypt and Seif-al-Islam Gadhafi in Libya -- leading to political and economic reforms.
Many of those assumptions have been upset by the events of the past year. The Arab Spring deposed a number of familiar and predictable faces, while installing previously unknown ones, such as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. In so doing, it has introduced a great deal of uncertainty into the politics of the region as to whether successor governments will continue to support the American security agenda, undermining part of the assumption on which the U.S. pivot to Asia was based: namely, the assessment that the U.S. could continue to count on the strong support of key states such as Egypt. And while the United States remains committed to turning over security responsibilities to the Afghan government in 2014, no one expects a rapid American disengagement from Afghanistan to follow.
As the fighting continues in Syria -- with the government of President Bashar al-Assad unable to crush the uprising and its control over the country as a whole slipping away, as highlighted by Wednesday’s bombing in Damascus -- the prospect of any sort of managed transition to resolve the crisis erodes. A fracturing of Syria along ethno-sectarian lines, in turn, imperils other fragile states, such as Iraq and Lebanon, and opens up two distinct but unwelcome possibilities: Yugoslav-style conflicts as groups seek to create compact statelets, creating further unrest and instability; or the need for a large-scale peacekeeping intervention to separate warring factions and hold countries together. Neither option is attractive to the Obama administration in an election year dominated by concerns about America’s own economic future.
And while Iran denies responsibility for the bombing Wednesday in Bulgaria that targeted Israeli tourists, the attack -- along with the deployment of U.S. naval forces to the Persian Gulf and the failure of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers to reach even the outlines of an agreement -- makes it highly unlikely that a diplomatic grand bargain that wraps up all the outstanding issues between Iran and the United States is in the cards. While Washington’s preference is still for using sanctions to exert more pressure on the Islamic Republic to modify its behavior, the possibility of a more direct confrontation between Iran and the United States cannot be ruled out.
Indeed, the twin possibilities of an impending meltdown in Syria and an open clash with Iran mean that the United States must be prepared for new large-scale engagements in the Middle East, notwithstanding the apparent validation of the approach taken in Libya, where a relatively low-cost intervention deposed Moammar Gadhafi and has seemingly empowered a moderate coalition to take power. Already, some in Washington are advocating that the United States take advantage of the situation in Syria to redraw the political map of the Middle East. By this logic, helping to administer a final blow to the Baathist regime in Syria would simultaneously sever Iran’s ability to connect to its allies in Lebanon and its proxies in the Palestinian territories, thereby creating the conditions that will bring the Islamic Republic itself crumbling down.
But if this happens, the United States cannot manage the subsequent transition by relying on drones and a few special forces units while otherwise leading from behind. As much as Washington might want to get out of the business of being intimately involved in the political and security arrangements of the Middle East, which requires dedicating a large proportion of the nation’s focus and military might, events are conspiring to suck the United States back in. President Barack Obama ran for office in 2008 promising to wrap up American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Iran and Syria, not East Asia, may be where American attention will be focused next.
One cannot help but wonder, therefore, if the reluctance of China and Russia to back Washington’s preferred approach on Syria and Iran -- both to force the Assad regime out and start the process of political transition in Syria and to implement crippling sanctions that would collapse the economy in Iran -- is based on an assessment that drawing out the Middle East endgame prevents the United States from focusing its full attention on Asia. Certainly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s timetable for getting his vaunted Eurasian Union off the ground is geared to expectations that U.S. involvement in the greater Middle East will continue for the next several years. And China’s ability to exercise pressure to block the mention of territorial disputes in the South China Sea in the final communiqué of the ASEAN summit last week suggests that for now, at least, Beijing continues to see the American pivot as more rhetorical than real.
When first announced in 2009, the pivot to Asia was predicated on the assumption that the United States would be able to focus more on Asia by extracting itself from the Middle East. This, then, is the premier challenge that either a second-term Obama administration or a first-term Romney administration must grapple with: how, under conditions of growing scarcity, to resource and sustain a credible Asia pivot, even as the United States remains deeply engaged in the Middle East.
Nikolas K. Gvosdev is the former editor of the National Interest and a frequent foreign policy commentator in both the print and broadcast media. He is currently on the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the Navy or the U.S. government. His weekly WPR column, The Realist Prism, appears every Friday.
President Barack Obama works on his statement concerning the situation in Libya with, from left, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes, in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011.
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最近(06/08/12)我轉貼了一篇BBC的報導 -- Russia and China eye role in Afghanistan and Pakistan (請見開欄文)。我用《美國的 Pivot = 轉進》做中文標題。「轉進」自然是替「撤退」這個動作擦脂抹粉的「用詞」。隔了兩天，我看到Chanda的評論(2)；再隔了兩天，我又看到Gokhale的大作(3)。他們兩位都是印度人，想來不會站在「中國」的「立場」或「角度」發言；其內容也就有一定程度的(相對)客觀性。讓我對「轉進」一詞的用法感到很得意。這個詮釋不是「神來之筆」，它有「邏輯」和「現實」做根據；我做些解釋。
如Chanda的評論指出，自去年11月後，美國一連串的宣示和「動作」，把Asia Pivot政策玩得跟真的一樣。Chanda卻以”untenable” (「站不住腳」)來替這個政策「定性」。請參考該文中他列舉的「論點」。Gokhale則以”snub”(「不甩」或「不當回事兒」)來描述印度國防部部長對此政策的反應。
Asia Pivot頂多是East Asia Pivot。把East Asia說成Asia，在邏輯上叫做「以偏概全」的謬誤。實際上就是美軍從亞洲的第一道防線轉進或撤退到東亞這個第二道防線。
如我一再指出，中、美兩國領導人不但打得火熱，而且還上了床。兩國政府官員之間，打情罵俏或lover’s quarrel難免，但寄望兩國軍方起實質衝突，則不免不識實務或時務之譏。在美國一連串「象徵性」動作後，中國領導人除了友情或客串演出外，有惡言相向嗎？就我所知，沒有！有「象徵性」的「大動作」嗎？就我所知，沒有(Auslin 2011)！這個現象或沒大事發生的現象，一方面說明了中、美之間本來沒有真正的敵意，Asia Pivot只是個銀樣蠟槍頭；另一方面，它也旁證中國領導人大權在握，能夠以國事和世局為重，不必為了美國政府虛晃一槍而刻意的去「安撫」國內「鷹派」或「民族主義派」。當然，它也間接支持了我以上的分析。
1. “pivot” 一詞的解釋：
Pivot, the point of rotation in a lever system
More generally, the center point of any rotational system
“I want to introduce the concept of the pivot, the idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they've learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. …”
2. 請見本欄 -- 《印度人看美國的Asia Pivot - N. Chanda》(US pivot towards Asia is untenable)。標題中“untenable”一詞的解釋：
a. Being such that defense or maintenance is impossible: an untenable position.
b. Being such that occupation or habitation is impossible: untenable quarters.
3. 請見本欄 -- 《何以印度不肯隨美國起舞 - N. Gokhale》(Why India Snubbed U.S.)。標題中“snub”一詞的解釋：
a. to treat with disdain or contempt, especially by ignoring.
b. to check or reject with a sharp rebuke or remark.
4. 每個社會中都有信奉沙文主義的群體。我不知道白人至上團體的成員在美國社會中的比例，有沒有台獨基本教義派的成員在台灣社會中多，但其狂熱度或不理性程度則遠超過後者。美國右派智庫American Enterprise Institute在介紹該智庫學者Auslin的評論時，就說道：
“If 2011 was the year of screwing up the Middle East and South Asia, 2012 will be the year the White House turns its hand to screwing up Asia.“
* Clinton, H. 2011, America's Pacific Century, Foreign Policy, NOVEMBER 2011, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/11/americas_pacific_century?page=full
* Auslin, M. 2011, Asian anxiety, The New York Times, http://www.aei.org/article/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/asia/asian-anxiety/
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何以印度不肯隨美國起舞 - N. Gokhale
Why India Snubbed U.S.
Nitin Gokhale, The Diplomat, 06/12/12
The U.S. might hope for a closer military and strategic alliance with India. But don’t expect New Delhi to get excited about the proposal.
If he felt any disappointment at not achieving any substantial breakthrough in talks with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta didn’t show it publicly. On a swing through Asia that started with Singapore’s annual Shangri-La Dialogue, Panetta had hoped to bring the Indian defense establishment on board for a rebalancing strategy that many believe is aimed squarely at China.
But it wasn’t to be.
Antony, known as a particularly cautious policymaker, reportedly told Panetta politely but firmly that India doesn’t wish to be seen as a U.S. alliance partner as it embarks on its Asia-Pacific strategy. His comments came within days of Panetta’s announcement in Singapore that the United States intended, by 2020, to have 60 percent of its naval fleet based in the Asia-Pacific even as it looks to build new alliances in the region.
Speaking to an audience of strategic thinkers, defense officials, diplomats and journalists at one of the biggest events on the annual Asia defense calendar, Panetta stated that the “United States military…will be smaller, it will be leaner, but it will be agile and flexible, quickly deployable, and will employ cutting edge technology in the future.
“While the U.S. military will remain a global force for security and stability,” he added the United States “will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region. We will also maintain our presence throughout the world. We will do it with innovative rotational deployments that emphasize creation of new partnerships and new alliances.”
Yet while New Delhi has been open to increasing bilateral engagement with Washington – and does in fact undertake a number of joint exercises across the three defense services – the establishment in India is still wary of any military alliance, or even a formal partnership with the United States.
Why? It’s partly because India doesn’t want to upset China, its main competitor in Asia, by openly embracing the United States.However, more fundamentally, Indian lawmakers and politicians continue to have reservations over the United States itself, doubts born largely from India’s perception of the past half a century that Washington has tended to side with India’s arch rival, Pakistan.
Antony, who last month became India’s longest serving defense minister, has been especially careful not to publicly cozy up to Washington. Indeed, he has often instructed ministry officials to downplay joint bilateral exercises with the United States, resisted signing deals tied to weapons systems weapons, and he has consistently told officials that India believes any U.S. disputes should be dealt with bilaterally.
As a result, even as India has agreed to scale up training for Afghanistan’s armed forces, it has refused to openly back the U.S. lines on the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. Although India is aware (and wary) of China’s increasing assertiveness in both expanses of water, it prefers to work with smaller countries in the region – such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia – as well as China to resolve regional tensions.
Antony raised exactly these issues at Shangri-La. “As countries seek to bolster their capabilities to respond to perceived challenges in the maritime domain, there also arises a need to avoid conflict and build consensus,” he said. “In this connection, keeping in view the issues that have arisen with regard to the South China Sea, India has welcomed the efforts of the parties concerned in engaging in discussion, and the recently agreed guidelines on the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties between China and ASEAN. We hope that the issues will be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.”
According to Defense Ministry sources, Antony’s plain talk, both in Singapore and in bilateral talks with Panetta, was a disappointment to Panetta and U.S. efforts to weave together an “anti-China” alliance. But Panetta apparently hid his disappointment well at a talk delivered immediately after conversations with Antony at the Indian Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a government-funded, New Delhi-based think tank. Indeed, despite the setback, Panetta tried to stay upbeat.
“I believe our relationship can and should become more strategic, more practical, and more collaborative,” Panetta said. “Our defense policy exchanges are now regular, candid, and invaluable. Our partnership is practical because we take concrete steps through military exercises and exchanges to improve our ability to operate together and with other nations to meet a range of challenges. And our defense relationship is growing ever more collaborative as we seek to do more advanced research and development, share new technologies, and enter into joint production of defense articles.”
Still, although Panetta didn’t say so explicitly, accompanying U.S. officials told their Indian counterparts that they are looking to move beyond a transactional relationship between the two countries as far as weapons and platforms are concerned. India, which recently became the world’s largest weapons importer, is in the process of buying U.S. arms worth more than $8 billion dollars over the next two years. However, India is also eyeing high technology, dual-use items. If such deals can be achieved, it would mark a notable shift in the U.S. from the late 1990s, when many Indian entities found themselves sanctioned following India’s twin nuclear tests.
With the changing geo-political environment, and the impending U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan, Washington sees India as a critical partner in ensuring stability and security in Asia, including over cyber and space security, which are seen as potentially major areas of collaboration. This view is backed by two IDSA scholars, Ajey Lele and Cherian Samuel, who argued in a commentary on Panetta’s visit that there are a number of potential areas of military collaboration on space and cyber security, including satellite navigation. They noted that the Indian Space Research Organisation has an ongoing GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) project that’s expected to yield major benefits for the civil aviation sector.
“Since the currently used GPS does not guarantee the availability of precision services during conflict situations, it is important for India to invest in space assets…India and the United States could work on compatibility and interoperability aspects of both these systems,” they wrote.
Washington can be expected to continue to push New Delhi to accept a role as a lynchpin in a U.S.-led security architecture in Asia. But for now, at least, India will at best be a very reluctant ally.
Nitin Gokhale is Defence & Strategic Affairs Editor with Indian broadcaster, NDTV 24×7.
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印度人看美國的Asia Pivot - N. Chanda
US pivot towards Asia is untenable
Nayan Chanda, The Times of India, 06/09/12
With US defence secretary Leon Panetta's high-profile visit to Asia, the slowly building tensions between the US and China reached a new level this week. Panetta's announcement that 60% of US naval assets would be deployed in Asia by 2020, his visit to Vietnam's fabled Cam Ranh Bay and his meetings with India's defence leadership were intended to signal to China the seriousness of America's commitment to the region. For all its symbolism, though, the main impact of Panetta's visit may simply be to annoy China. The reality of the US budget crisis and dysfunctional politics in Washington is unlikely to reassure the region. Meanwhile, the ballyhooed return of the US to Cam Ranh Bay may be less than meets the eye.
Ever since 2010 when China began flexing its muscle the US, through a number of diplomatic and symbolic military steps, has taken to signalling Beijing not to believe the talk of American decline. In July 2010, secretary of state Hillary Clinton showed up in Hanoi, China's historic rival, to tell Chinese and Asean diplomats that the US was back. This was followed by President Obama's visit in November last year to Australia, where 2,500 marines will soon be deployed to ensure Asian security. Clinton's ice-breaker visit to Beijing's long-time ally Myanmar, and the US's strategic consultations with its old ally the Philippines following its spat with China, were other signals. Panetta's maiden visit to India to promote New Delhi as playing "a decisive role in shaping the security and prosperity of the 21st century" too has an unmistakable subtext of countering China.
The overall message Panetta brought to Asia is that the so-called US "pivot to Asia" is not an empty promise. At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue -- defence ministers' meeting in Singapore -- he announced the planned boost to US naval presence in Asia to 60% -- including six carriers -- of the entire fleet by 2020. He offered the usual boilerplate assurances that the increase had nothing to do with China, but the Chinese were not buying it. Beijing kept its senior military officers away from the meeting and pooh-poohed the claim that China was not the target of America's military expansion.
While China was annoyed, those in Asia Panetta sought to offer protection wondered if the US would have the means to carry out its projects. Panetta reassured the Singapore audience that the Pentagon did have funds in the five-year budget plan to meet its targets. But the toxic political feud between the Republican and Democratic parties, which has brought the US to the precipice of a financial disaster and caused the S&P downgrade, raises serious doubts. Under current law, the legislators' failure to agree on deficit reduction would trigger automatic cuts of $600 billion in defence allocation for the next 10 years -- this could happen by the beginning of 2013.
Moreover, China is not alone in its wariness about US plans to boost its presence in Asia. Other regional economies are too closely tied to China to risk Beijing's wrath by taking sides in a big power conflict -- even if only by providing access and services to the US navy. Even Vietnam, which wants to show off its growing warm relations with the US, nevertheless, chooses to wink at China over its shoulder. To reassure China that it is not in bed with the Americans, Hanoi strenuously insists that its defence cooperation is in the civilian and humanitarian domain. Even though Cam Ranh Bay is known as a massive former American air-naval base, Vietnam points out that only non-combatant US navy vessels are allowed to call at the civilian side of the port for servicing. Of course, after long insisting on protecting its sovereignty, Vietnam did allow Soviet aircraft and ships to base in Cam Ranh Bay after the Chinese invasion of 1979. Vietnam could similarly change its policy towards the US navy in the event of open hostilities with China.
But Hanoi knows that the huge US base did not prevent the Americans from losing the Vietnam war or, for that matter, the Soviet successors to the base did nothing to protect Vietnam against China. After the television light on Panetta's symbolic visit fades the region will still have to deal with a powerful China, relying mainly on its own strength.
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