What if the "Pacific Shift" Didn't Happen?

Discussion in 'U.S. Strategic Affairs' started by Pathfinder, Oct 1, 2016.

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    In 2011 President Obama announced that the US would make the Asia-Pacific Region its top military priority thus shifting focus away from USEUCOM and USCENTCOM. By shifting our forces farther east we havn't seen any clear result, and maybe thats a good thing because no serious conflicts have happened in that region even though tensions are high. In Europe however we saw an emerging Russia that has expanded its territory and is increasingly aggresive towards many eastern european states. In the middle east we saw the disintegration of Iraq and Syria and the emergence of ISIL.

    How would world events have played out if the US didn't shift east? Would Russia have annexed Crimea? Could ISIL's emergence have been prevented? If the US didn't shift east what would China be doing today? Would they have taken Taiwan?
     
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  2. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    I posit Japan would be nuclear armed. The US nuclear umbrella and the addition of additional forces in East Asia was the hedge that prevented Japan from rearming itself with offensive munitions. Without the US, or with a US military that is less committed in the region, Japan losses the justification to continue its pacifist stance towards an increasingly aggressive China and increasingly erratic North Korea. Russia is also becoming a greater player in East Asian waters and the North Pacific and though Japan and Russia have cordial relations, they also have points of contention:

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    I do not believe the US could have stopped the spread of ISIS. It was Iraq's incompetence that lead to their formation following the US invasion in 2003. During the time the US was in active combat, militancy was down and dropping. Once the US took a backseat role and let the Iraqis form a government, govern themselves and police their own affairs the sectarian tensions that gave rise to ISIS, formally known as AQI, came to a boil.

    If the US took a more active roll once ISIS began to show its teeth, then maybe. But that was after a draw down in the US commitment to Iraqi security. After years in Iraq and Afghanistan, did the US have the appetite to undo its excuse to leave, when the Iraq government refused to continue to have US troops in Iraqi soil? Would the US have invaded again to prevent the spread of ISIS in the region?

    I doubt it and they don't have the appetite today either.

    In Ukraine, Russia would have been a belligerent regardless of what the US did in Europe, just as they did in Georgia. Ukraine is too far removed from Europe proper and NATO guarantees don't extend to it, just like Georgia. At best the US would have committed more forces to East and North Europe and stepped up training and arming of Ukraine, which consequently, is what they did following the Russian invasion.

    I don't expect the US would be stupid enough to intervene overtly. And I don't expect Putin to have batted an eye one way or another with the US already occupied in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

    On China... there was never anything the US could have done regardless. If the region gets hot, the US will diplomatically and economically punish China, but it wont risk a confrontation for Taiwan's sake. Japan yes. Taiwan no. Even with a rise in the number and sophistication of US forces in East Asia, I doubt they really want to come to blows with China for any reason, but are prepared to.

    If the US didn't pivot I think we'd see a radically different conversation in Japan about rearmament without the more firm US commitment to the region, and even with the US upping its presence, many don't see the US as having gone far enough. Europe is having these discussions too.

    But I largely don't see China or Russia or ISIS being effected in the same way as I do Japan. Two are too large for the US to contain effectively and their interests don't match the security concerns of the US. ISIS could be stopped, but the political will wasn't there in the late 2000s and it isn't there now either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
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  3. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    I agree Japan would definitely become more aggressive and the Pacifists in Japan wouldn't really have an argument against Abe for turning up the heat against China. Japan has the capability to go Nuclear but I don't think they would because the US is still in the region guaranteeing them against nuclear threats.

    In Ukraine we saw a pro EU-US revolution while the US had already drawn down forces there. I agree though even if we had the whole US military in Europe we wouldn't have done anything in Ukraine, thus the troop reduction had no effect.
     
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