“Strategic reassurance” or “preemptive surrender”?

We’ve written with some frequency about President Obama’s misguided policy towards Russia, which Robert Kagan and Dan Blumenthal aptly describe as “trying to accommodate Moscow’s sense of global entitlement.” In practice, as Kagan and Blumenthal point out, this has meant “ignoring the continued presence of Russian forces on Georgian territory, negotiating arms-control agreements that Moscow needs more than Washington does, and acquiescing to Russian objections to new NATO installations in former Warsaw Pact countries.” Not surprisingly, these actions have generated grave concerns for those unfortunate enough to live in Russia’s shadow.
Blumenthal and Kagan go on to show how Obama’s policy towards China is proceeding along the same lines. This policy, which has been called “strategic reassurance,” attempts to “convince the Chinese that the United States has no intention of containing their rising power.” It might better be called “preemptive weakness,” which is likely to be the prelude to some form of preemptive surrender.
As is the case with our corresponding approach to Russia, Obama’s China policy is making our allies — in this case India and Japan, in particular — nervous. Obama may proclaim that the era of great-power competiton is over and that, in his words, the pursuit of power “must no longer be seen as a zero sum game.” But India, Japan and (I suspect) virtually every other nation in world understands that this is nonsense.
Frankly, I doubt that even Obama is foolish enough to believe that great-power competition is a thing of the past. More likely, Obama is invoking this ivory-tower conceit as a pretext for essentially opting out of the competition, perhaps on the theory that America, through its past “misdeeds,” has forfeited the right to compete.

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