(From the National Interest)
By Richard Javad Heydarian
Throughout the past decade, the United States, in the view of most Asians, has gone from acting like an overbearing hegemon to being an enfeebled superpower. For the first time since the end of World War II, America’s primacy in Asia can no longer be taken for granted, especially as an ascendant China rapidly dominates the region’s economic sphere, while aggressively chipping away at American naval supremacy in the Western Pacific. On the one hand, this tectonic shift in the regional geopolitical landscape is part of what pundits like Fareed Zakaria call the “rise of the rest” phenomenon. Amid rapid economic growth and industrialization, gigantic Asian nations like China are beginning to reconstitute their place in the world order. Quite naturally, there will have to be some readjustments in the pecking order.
Yet China’s growing assertiveness is also a reflection of America’s own predicament. The Great Recession of 2008 hasn’t only undermined the economic foundations of America’s power, but it has also been accompanied by a perilous polarization in American politics, which reached a fever pitch in 2013. Senator Ted Cruz orchestrated the shutdown of the nation’s capital amid an ideological squabble over fiscal policy. President Obama, who has been keen on re-balancing America’s foreign policy to Asia, had to nix a series of high-profile summits and state visits in Asia. Read more