Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 18 March 2017, 05:25 hrs, UTC, Post #144.
Accessed on 18 March 2017, 05:25 hrs, UTC.
Author: Fareed Zakaria.
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Although the formal agenda for April’s meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping hasn’t been announced, foreign policy analysts believe the conference will formalize the official withdrawal of the United States from the international arena and the “passing of the world leadership baton” to the Peoples Republic of China. According to “Washington Post” columnist Fareed Zakaria, Mr. Trump is steadily pulling the United States away from the world political stage, “opening up a space that will be largely filled by the Communist Party of China.”
For those of us accustomed to a steady and often heavy-handed presence of the U.S. in a variety of international crisis points, the growing wave of isolationism promoted by the Trump administration comes as a shock:
“China’s growing diplomatic strength matters. An Asian head of government recently told me that at every regional conference, “Washington sends a couple of diplomats, whereas Beijing sends dozens. The Chinese are there at every committee meeting, and you are not.” The result, he said, is that Beijing is increasingly setting the Asian agenda.
“The Trump administration wants to skimp on U.S. funding for the United Nations. This is music to Chinese ears. Beijing has been trying to gain influence in the global body for years. It has increased its funding for the U.N. across the board and would likely be delighted to pick up the slack as the United States withdraws. As Foreign Policy magazine’s Colum Lynch observes, China has already become the second-largest funder of U.N. peacekeeping and has more peacekeepers than the other four permanent Security Council members combined. Of course, in return for this, China will gain increased influence, from key appointments to shifts in policy throughout the U.N. system.”
“The first major act of the Trump administration was to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that would have opened up long-closed economies such as Japan and Vietnam, but also would have created a bloc that could stand up to China’s increasing domination of trade in Asia. The TPP was, in Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s words, “a litmus test” of U.S. credibility in Asia. With Washington’s withdrawal, even staunchly pro-American allies such as Australia are hedging their bets. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has raised the possibility of China joining the TPP, essentially turning a group that was meant to be a deterrent against China into one more arm of Chinese influence.”
What we will see in a few weeks is a major paradigm shift in world power alignment. While this shift may indeed save the U.S. billions of dollars in the form of unfunded domestic and foreign aid programs, the move is incredibly short-sighted. The Peoples Republic of China will gain significant economic, political, and military leverage in South East Asia without firing a shot at the United States. Combined with Chinese economic investment in Africa, Beijing will become a major power broker throughout the region and perhaps a guarantor of many UN programs now abandoned by the United States. This type of gradual economic expansion will reduce U.S. influence around the world and perhaps shut us out from any key UN decisions. There’s a good possibility that the United States will leave the United Nations in the years ahead. The U.S. has faced this issue before, when the U.S. Senate rejected U.S. membership in the League of Nations shortly after World War I. The consequences of that ill-advised decision helped set the stage for World War II. Is history repeating itself? I surely hope not.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest