Critical Challenge for the U.S. | The Gap Between U.S. Military and Economic Strategies
Through diplomatic overtures and messaging campaigns, the Biden White House has demonstrated a strong commitment to remain a Pacific power. The first U.S. national security strategy under President Biden is anticipated to put the Indo-Pacific at the forefront of the nation’s foreign policy priorities, as Washington looks to deepen support from allies and like-minded countries to counterbalance China’s dominance in the region and beyond. Efforts to build upon existing partnerships, most notably the Quad, to deal with immediate regional challenges—such as the COVID-19 pandemic – will gain further momentum. Additionally, through new partnerships like AUKUS with established allies Australia and the United Kingdom, the White House has already succeeded in broadening security ties in the Indo-Pacific.
However, when it comes to economic security, new U.S. initiatives that address Asia’s rapidly changing realities have been sorely lacking. The Indo-Pacific is now home to two of the world’s most ambitious trade deals to date, and the United States is not party to either of them. The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement has become the de facto economic roadmap that can unite the politically, economically, and socially diverse Indo-Pacific region. The need to address rules to govern technological developments and strengthen cyber resilience is as pressing as the need to harmonize standards for digital trade, and yet Washington’s voice has been too weak.
U.S. success as a Pacific power will depend as much on taking on economic leadership, and multilateral support for that leadership, as it will on leading from the front as a net security provider. Until it attains the former, it will be hard-pressed to achieve its full potential as a Pacific power.
Three Things to Watch