This is a rare big picture sobering look of Asia, boiling down the Asian Pivot as nothing more than “bogus” and “propaganda”.
But more practically, unstatedly, the facts are ripe for the reasons why the Pivot will fail.
Recently, there have been more than a few media and governments of many sides breathlessly talking about the hot trending “Asian Pivot” as counter to the rise of China.
US talked, salivating. Japan talked, desperately. Philippines and Vietnam receptively talked.
Aids were promised, gifts seemingly accepted, “cooperation” all around, and around China. What could go wrong??!
Lots, if you dig deep, as John Glaser digged in the article above.
It’s not just the historical grievances either. It’s the impracticality of such “cooperations”, because “freedom loving” people naturally view eager cooperation with suspicion and fear of loss of independence.
Evidence: Philippines had 5 rounds of talk with US already, unable to resolve their differences on the “cooperation” of new US military bases in Philippines.
Why? Sticking point about “how much access” Philippines can get on those US bases.
Basically, Philippines says, “Hey, US. We are giving you bases close to China, so we should get access on those bases too.” US replies, “No Way, Philippines. We can’t have you guys run around on our bases, so close to our secrets.”
Well, that’s when you really find out what “allies” means.
To many, “allies” means sharing every thing. But that’s not what US and Japan meant, because let’s get real, US “share” with Communist Vietnam?? Dream on.
Why NOT? Becareful who you “share” with. That Vietnamese/Filippino General smilingly announcing “cooperation” with US, may secretly decide to sell his “access” to China or Russia, to fatten up his own personal bank accounts. In 2 years time, China may have yet more new lines of shinny ships and planes and drones that look very similar to US designs.
And US and Japan shouldn’t be that stupid. Afterall, if you think China is corrupt, then you don’t know Vietnam or Philippines or India that well.
The problem does come down to what John Glaser eluded to, “self interests”.
Every nation in Asia are fundamentally motivated NOT by “cooperation”, but by “self interests”. That is, they have no real desire to “cooperate”. If it’s not China, they would be fighting each other over the same issues. And if it suited their own self-interests tomorrow, they would “cooperate” with China just as willingly. Japan belongs in that category as well. So does China. So does US.
China at least, does not put up the pretense of “cooperation”. It just stakes claims like every one else.
But if someone really wants to test out their “soft power”, let them go head.
I have no doubt that, some centuries down the line, there will be a new strategic axiom of “Never get into island disputes in Asia.”