Wednesday, May 01, 2002
While the good old Western Alliance continues to decay in the face of demographic implosion, Brussels-style Sovietization and galloping idiotarianism, STRATFOR.com sees a new defensive alliance shaping up in East Asia. The key countries: The U.S., Japan and Australia. Colin Powell suggested integrating America's bilateral treaties with Japan, Australia and South Korea into a single alliance system last July, capable of containing China and handling other regional crises (in, say, Indonesia, or North Korea). Post-September-11, we've had other top foreign policy prorities, but the Australian and Japanese Prime Ministers just met to discuss such an alliance system (among other things). It's possible to see the outlines of a new Asian version of NATO developing in East Asia, involving the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines (now that we're building new bases there), and conceivably Taiwan (if the U.S. ever abandons the one-China policy). All of these countries are democracies, all are strong American allies, and all are profoundly threatened by potential aggression from China.
More generally, you can see the U.S. defense perimeter evolving. NATO was oriented around deterring and, if necessary, repelling a Soviet invasion. Now that Russia is at least as close an American ally as France, that's not a particularly useful structure for collective defense. The key theaters for the future are the Muslim frontier and East Asia. Hence, the key defense alliances for America will be: Japan-Australia-Korea-Taiwan-Philippines versus China, Turkey-India-Israel-Iran (after the revolution) versus the Arabs, with Britain, Russia and India as key bilateral relationships in both conflicts. You can see the defense infrastructure being constructed as we speak: Americans are building bases in Uzbekistan, Georgia and the Philippines. We're giving stronger and stronger encouragement to Japan to take on a military role. Even as we fight al-Qaeda, we're laying the groundwork for a broader restructuring of our defenses.
Europe will always be important of course. But increasingly we'll treat it like we treat Boston or San Francisco. They're part of us, and we'll defend them. But we won't expect them to be helpful in doing so, and we won't pay terribly close heed to what they think about military or foreign policy matters.