Primacy and Leadership in East Asia
Edited by Michael Heazle and Andrew O’Neil
Chapter 4: Networked security in a changing Asia: the value of alliances in uncertainty
Over the course of 2016, leading US government officials endorsed a ‘networked security’ concept for American alliances in Asia, encouraging the formation of multilateral ties amongst long-standing US security allies, including Australia and Japan. The concept was premised on some fundamental realities about Asia in the twenty-first century: relative power is shifting in China’s favour, the United States and its partners are resource constrained, but the power distribution within alliances is more symmetric than in the past. US primacy is eroding in relative terms, but it nonetheless retains regional advantages, and China is not yet poised to replace it. Donald Trump’s astonishing election as President of the United States has, counter-intuitively, only bolstered the case for security networking. American primacy under Trump may be less predictable and less effective than it has been in the past, but this damage to American regional hegemony is not necessarily permanent. As American partners craft their own strategies at this uncertain time, security networking can allow them to safeguard their interests in pragmatic and flexible ways.
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