Australian think-tank warns of fading US military power in Asia

A shifting balance of power . . . 

The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney released a reportMonday arguing that the U.S. no longer possesses military primacy in the Indo-Pacific region and that its capacity to sustain the balance of power is becoming increasingly uncertain. The report highlights that the continued U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and defence budget constraints, combined with China’s successful military reforms, have undermined the U.S.’s ability to effectively project its power in Asia. This assessment will surely exacerbate the already existing concerns that the U.S. may not be as willing as before to defend its allies in the event of a conflict.

The end of US military supremacy in Asia?

Over the past few years, many studies have hinted that the military superiority enjoyed by the U.S. in Asia is slowly coming to an end. For example, the last edition of the Asia Power Index hinted that although the U.S. remains the pre-eminent power in Asia, China is rapidly closing the gap. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2018 National Defense Strategy highlighted that U.S. forces’ competitive edge has eroded and called for a refocusing of those forces toward Asia. The document indicated that preparing for great power competition in Asia should be the “highest priority and primary focus of its national security” for the U.S.

Canada and the security architecture in Asia . . .

Canada has been criticized for prioritizing the pursuit of trade and other economic opportunities in Asia without contributing significantly to the regional security architecture. The recent report from Australia highlights the need for all regional stakeholders, including Canada, to rethink their strategy in the region and to prioritize one of collective defence through the reform of alliances. In recent years, Canada has increased its participation in the region’s security, as shown by its participation in Operation NEON. But if Ottawa wishes to maximize its economic interests in Asia, it may have to do more to contribute to the region’s long-term stability and security.