Wednesday, August 10, 2022, 21:07 (GMT+7)

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 08:37 (GMT+7)
A snapshot of the amendments to the U.S defence policies toward Indo-Pacific region

After the release of the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance”, the U.S made important amendments to national defence and security in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance their status and impact in the region. Those amendments and their next step are drawing international attention.

Since President Joe Biden came to power, his administration has encountered numerous domestic and international difficulties and challenges. Domestically, despite the domination of the Democratic Party in the U.S Congress, the internal division has not been addressed yet. Externally, due to being mired in Afghanistan and obliged to disperse resources, America is unable to concentrate on dealing with top rivals namely Russia and China as well as tackle the issues concerning Iran and North Korea. Besides, non-traditional security challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, etc. require the country’s attention. To regain the status and prestige of America as well as claim its status as a global superpower, Biden’s administration has given prominence to foreign policies which were presented in the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance” (released in March 2021) and President Joe Biden’s speech delivered to the U.N General Assembly. Regarding the military, Washington would use military forces responsibly as the final resort. However, the U.S possesses the leading military power on the globe, so its amendments to national defence and security have a considerable impact on development strategies of multiple nations and regions across the globe including the Indo-Pacific region.

The top priority of the U.S

Since WWII, Europe – the Atlantic Ocean has been a prioritised region of the U.S in terms of defence, security, and foreign affairs. This stems from the fact that the two world wars and the Cold War all originated in Europe. However, after the Cold War, the U.S shifted its priority to Asia to acclimatise to significant changes in this continent; the former U.S Secretary of State - Henry Kissinger – once stated that turning toward Europe but America was stepping backward to Asia before the end of the Cold War. As his term began, President Joe Biden considered Indo-Pacific the top priority of foreign affairs with the policy of investing more resources for their intervention. That is evident in the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance”. Besides, the Indo-Pacific strategy released in February 2022 reaffirmed the policy on increasing its military presence in the region, and the 2022 Defence Appropriations Act ratified the budget for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative at 7.1 billion USD which is 4 billion USD higher than the similar one in Europe.

Indo-Pacific is given top priority by the U.S since this has been the most “dynamically developing” region with a fast-growing market across the globe, especially in the presence of the world’s leading economies. Countries in this region have benefited from globalisation for economic development; numerous countries have stood this chance and China emerges as an epitome. China has achieved miraculous development and become the world’s top superpower as well as an important and reliable economic partner of multiple countries including the U.S. The powerful rise of China has also turned this country into America’s biggest competitor in various fields. In the 2021 annual report on the state of national defence and security, the U.S admitted that China’s military capacities far outweighed the previous forecasts. Thus, the Biden administration has to concentrate on dealing with risks to defend its status as the top superpower. “Peace through strength” is the motto that the U.S advocates to increase its military power to create a comprehensive influence in the region. Accordingly, Washington keeps on maintaining a large defence budget; the 2023 defence budget requested by the Pentagon reaches 773 billion USD, which increases by 30 billion USD compared to the previous year. Additionally, the U.S has accelerated its military modernisation; importance is put on developing novel fields namely space science and cyberspace. According to the U.S Department of Defence, in 2022, this country will spend a large amount of money on upgrading nuclear weapons storage, developing supersonic weapons, missile approach warning systems, etc. the above-mentioned activities not only protect the country from threats but also adapt to military trend of major countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Several key amendments

Although the National Security Strategy and National Defence Strategy have not been released, the U.S recently made some major moves in the Indo-Pacific region as follows:

1. Promoting relationships with allies and partners in the region. The U.S has abandoned “axis and spokes” model to switch to “principled network” model and focused on like-minded countries, encouraged allies and partners to share security responsibility, costs, and military burdens instead of putting pressure like the previous administrations. This explains why America – Japan and America – South Korea reached immediate agreement on sharing the costs to maintain the U.S military presence in these countries after Joe Biden took office. The U.S has also promoted defence relationships with Australia and the UK through AUKUS, especially the cooperation with Australia in long-range missile technology and sharing of nuclear submarine production technology. Besides, Washington has also held a summit for the “Quad”, carried out Malabar exercise (in August 2021 with the participation of the Quad countries, etc. At the same time, the U.S also increases its military presence throughout the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to the bases in South Korea and Japan, the U.S has convinced the Philippines to restore Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) so that the U.S will be allowed to use two important bases namely Subic and Clark. The Biden administration has also completed the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to concentrate resources for the Indo-Pacific region, typically the regular presence of 2-4 aircraft carriers in the region. The East Sea has witnessed a decline in the “freedom of navigation” operations compared to the previous terms but a rise in exercises and patrols. In the context of the Ukraine crisis, the U.S military presence in the region leaves a strong message to opponents.

Furthermore, the U.S has also promoted defence cooperation and provided weapons to countries in several areas such as the cooperation with India in unmanned aerial vehicles, artificial intelligence, and cyber security. In particular, the U.S has also signed an agreement on the supply of weapons including 36 F-15 fighter jets with ammunitions and communication systems, which value at roughly 14 billion USD for Indonesia.

2. Strengthening its deterrence against leading rivals but not excluding “cooperation if possible”. In the 2022 defence budget request, the U.S affirm that China is a pivotal strategic rival and an increasing challenge. Thus, Washington has kept on consolidating and promoting its military presence in “island chains” in the Indo-Pacific region, investing 982 million USD to protect the military base in Guam from external threats, improving its capacity in space science, nuclear and cyberspace to deal with major countries. Additionally, the U.S has also invested in South Pacific region in the context of China and Solomon implementing security agreements. The Biden administration has attempted to rearrange the defence supply chain to mitigate the dependence on China.

However, despite the intense and comprehensive competition with China, the U.S still seeks to accelerate high-level dialogues mechanism and contacts to manage conflicts and prevent the corruption of the relationship. Two countries continue cooperating to deal with global issues such as climate change, North Korea, Iran, etc. At the 26th U.N conference on climate change, the U.S and China reached a consensus about this issue.

3. Attaching importance to regional multilateral mechanisms, especially in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The important policies issued by the Biden administration all stress the central role of ASEAN and the regional mechanisms led by ASEAN. That President Joe Biden participated in ASEAN – US Summit and East Asian Summit (in October 2021) marked the return of presidential summits which had been postponed since 2017. At the ASEAN summit, the U.S stated to provide 102 million USD to help countries in ASEAN recover after the Covid-19 pandemic, react to climate change, boost economic growth, and develop human resources. The U.S also actively accelerated the organisation of ASEAN – U.S Special Summit while devoting resources to the Ukraine crisis.

According to experts, the amendments to defence policy of the U.S toward the Indo-Pacific region, along with the increase of military presence in this region may result in an intense arms race. Engagements, especially sovereignty disputes over seas and islands, in all likelihood, will lead to conflicts if countries do not control the situation well. If this happens, the interests and stability of countries, especially those in the region and superpower involved. Thus, controlling and tackling crises in regions in general and the Indo-Pacific region in particular are the responsibility and pressing matter of countries including superpowers. For that reason, it is hoped that regardless of the intense competition, the Indo-Pacific region will remain peaceful, stable, and developed in the forthcoming time.

MY CHAU

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Life and career of comrade Vo Chi Cong were closely connected with our Party and people’s glorious historical events in the 20th century. He was a role model as a communist. With his noble qualities, he was an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh. He expressed his absolute loyalty to our revolution’s goal and ideal, while dedicating himself to our Party and people’s revolutionary cause.