The Pivot to the Pacific, and More from CRS

03.30.12 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The growing emphasis on Asia as a focus of U.S. national security planning, known as the “pivot to the Pacific,” is discussed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

“Underlying the ‘pivot’ is a conviction that the center of gravity for U.S. foreign policy, national security, and economic interests is being realigned and shifting towards Asia, and that U.S. strategy and priorities need to be adjusted accordingly,” the CRS report says. “For many observers, it is imperative that the United States give more emphasis to the Asia-Pacific. Indeed, for years, many countries in the region have encouraged the United States to step up its activity to provide a balance to China’s rising influence.”

“There are a number of risks to the ‘pivot,’ however. In an era of constrained U.S. defense resources, an increased U.S. military emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region might result in a reduction in U.S. military capacity in other parts of the world. Another budgetary consideration is that plans to restructure U.S. military deployments in Asia and minimize cuts in the Navy may run up against more restrictive funding constraints than plans yet assume.”

“Additionally,” the report says, “the perception among many that the ‘rebalancing’ is targeted against China could strengthen the hand of Chinese hard-liners. Such an impression could also potentially make it more difficult for the United States to gain China’s cooperation on a range of issues. Additionally, the prominence the Obama Administration has given to the initiative has raised the costs to the United States if it or successor administrations fail to follow through on public pledges made, particularly in the military realm.”

Congress is fully entitled to review the emerging policy, which is predicated on congressional action and cooperation, the CRS report said.

“Given that one purpose of the ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalancing’ toward the Asia-Pacific is to deepen U.S. credibility in the region at a time of fiscal constraint, Congress’s oversight and appropriations roles, as well as its approval authority over free trade agreements, will help determine to what extent the Administration’s plans are implemented and how various trade-offs are managed.”

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration’s ‘Rebalancing’ Toward Asia, March 28, 2012.

Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has declined to make directly available to the public include the following.

Burma’s April Parliamentary By-Elections, March 28, 2012

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments, March 29, 2012

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations, March 26, 2012