The confrontation of grand strategies and the world in transition (Part 1)

Politicians and thinkers have called the ۲۱st century America's Pacific century or Asia's century and millennium, and China's era or the post-American transition period, in which the United States as a great power along with the rising power of China are the main players in the international political scene. Due to the importance of regionalism, medium and middle powers also play a role in different regions.
8 July 2023
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Mohammad Kh.Azad

 Politicians and thinkers have called the 21st century America's Pacific century or Asia's century and millennium, and China's era or the post-American transition period, in which the United States as a great power along with the rising power of China are the main players in the international political scene. Due to the importance of regionalism, medium and middle powers also play a role in different regions.

In this regard, according to the new strategic environment in the world with the features of globalization, information revolution, complex interdependence, distribution of power among non-state actors, and shifting of power, we are faced with relative economic decline and superior military power of the United States and the rise of China with relative economic power and military as two great world powers. The important thing is that no country will be the hegemonic power until 2030, and we are witnessing the rise of other countries as well.

Great powers and other powers have drawn and announced their grand strategy by explaining this strategic environment. Grand strategy is the conceptual road map and macro policymaking and seeks to combine, integrate and integrate the goals, methods, and tools of national power in line with politics, security, and national interests and purposeful change of the existing order between two or more intelligent phenomena or external threats. Conventional strategy is more focused on a specific tool, such as military strategy, but the grand strategy uses diplomatic, intelligence, military, and economic tools, and its horizon is beyond the war and focuses on the period of peace. The grand strategy does not require hegemony but rather leadership and is not simply a simple adaptation to new strategic conditions or environments. Rather, it seeks a fundamental change effectively by leading from within and not from behind, with actors on the world stage.

 America; pivot to Asia

The grand strategy of pivoting to Asia or rebalancing America was designed in 2011 by then-United States President Obama with the efforts of Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell. In this strategy, the main attention was drawn from the Middle East to East Asia, and the United States started balancing with the aim of managing China's rise as a threat, a great power, and a strategic competitor. In the upstream American documents during Obama's presidency, the competition with China was mentioned as a threat, and at the end of his term, it was drawn into the strategic competition of great powers. In the era of Trump and Biden, the American presidents, the threat of China as a strategic rival, and the issue of Taiwan, which was more emphasized on the South China Sea during the Obama era, became more intense.

Considering that there are many powers in the contemporary world and due to the rise of China, the balance of traditional powers was in trouble. Therefore, the reform of bilateral alliances through the concert or agreement of allies and partners to shape China's behavior with 21st-century networking and in addition to the traditional wheel-spoke pattern, allies and partners were linked together. In this way, China, which wants to maintain the status quo and is seeking revision, will benefit from this balance, and in case of opposition, it will have to pay for it. The strategy of cooperation and competition and passing Thucydides' trap was mentioned in the form of power transfer, which without its management, will lead to a hegemonic war. This strategy has been followed in the last three terms of American presidents. Regarding the method of implementing the grand strategy, in addition to the balance of power, America has paid attention to the issue of leadership (acquiring ability with the help of others) and rejecting hegemony (acting alone) or empire because with the relative decline of the American economy (20% of the world economy), the function of Kindleberger's hegemonic stability theory, which was used for the prosperous period of America, gave its place to the leadership and theory of liberal realism of Joseph Nye in the context of power distribution and power transfer. In America's grand strategy, the simultaneous implementation of cooperation and competition, and not containment and confrontation, is called intelligent, strategic, and principled leadership.

In the field of tools, all power tools have been used. In political and diplomatic leverage, a network of 270 American embassies and consulates transferred part of their employees from other parts of the world to Asia. The security-military leverage within the framework of the comprehensive and principled security network of Asia-Pacific with the link of allies and partners in order to create regional security in tripartite, bilateral, and tripartite forms managed by the countries of the region and regional multilateral security institutions centered on ASEAN. In this multi-layer network of allies and partners are brought together with the help of hard power or agile and advanced military force through extended deterrence and, at the same time, cooperation with China in the framework of cooperation-competition through strategic military-military and economic with the goal to developing a common vision and identify specific areas of cooperation and ultimately to promote tools to reduce the risks of conflict through bilateral and multilateral initiatives. One of the recent actions of the United States was the establishment of the Quad or network security talks between the United States, Japan, Australia, and India (covering the Indo-Pacific Oceans) with the aim of increasing connectivity and maritime security with the allocation of one and a half billion dollars. ACAS is also a tripartite security agreement with the participation of Australia, England, and the United States. In 2021, it was enacted to arm Australian submarines with nuclear propulsion to counter China's missile power and further strengthen the extended deterrence against China.

In economic leverage, the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative was formed with allies and partners, and regional institutions with the aim of regional convergence and increasing the economic power of the United States and the integration of China into the ruled global economy whose complementary tool was the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the participation of Europeans. This plan established its links in the three continents of Asia, Europe, and Latin America, the former comprising 40% and the latter more than 60% of global trade. At the same time, bilateral cooperation with China was pursued through the Joint Trade-Commercial Commission. During the Trump era, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was not pursued, and the military economy development model was followed, with companies pivoting to America instead of operating abroad. Due to the importance of this agreement, Japan followed it without the United States so that the Chinese would not draw the trade rules of the region and the world in their favor. In the Biden era, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was again put on the agenda with the new name Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in May 2022. In the continuation of this plan, the role of the islands of Oceania is important, especially since America considers itself a Pacific power. Therefore, due to the intense economic activities of the Chinese in this region in the field of trade and investment, the Biden administration has followed a common and unifying view of the Pacific Islands by installing a representative of the United States and connecting it to ASEAN, Quad and other international organizations. Also, Global Infrastructure and Investment Initiative was established by Group 7 in order to finance projects in developing countries, with evaluation and certification by America, Japan, and Australia with a capital of 60 billion dollars. This plan is proposed against the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Bank of the China One Belt One Road. 

Mohammad Kh.Azad, senior expert at the Institute for Political and International Studies

 (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)


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