3:34 PM, Oct 25, 2011 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
Thus, by the time President Obama steps to the plate in November, one swing of the bat won’t save the game. There’s very little practical difference between “reset” and retreat. Indeed, “pivot” sounds like George McClellan’s “change of base” rationale for withdrawal from Richmond in 1862.
But just as the road to Richmond went through Vicksburg and Atlanta, so the path to an American “Pacific century” may wind indirectly through places like the greater Middle East, Africa, and even Latin America. Beyond the failure to back up a shift in policy focus with sufficient military resources, Obama’s reset misses the essential quality of American strategy making: it’s a global whole, not an aggregation of regional interests. The wise men of the Obama administration most resemble a kids’ soccer team, all following the bouncing ball without regard to overall positioning.
By contrast, it’s the Chinese who appear to be thinking a few moves ahead, looking not only to recover Taiwan or dominate the “first island chain” or engineering a Chinese “Pacific century” but to become a great power in a globalized world. No one would argue that the United States does not need to buttress its position and military presence in the Asia-Pacific. But even if it proves possible to do so within the constraints of a reduced defense establishment – and the cuts in prospect will be most ruinous to the few weapons modernization programs not yet terminated by the Obama administration – it is unlikely to produce a net grand strategic gain.
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