Balancing International Demands

The US must continue its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific because of its increasing global economic and security importance, but it cannot ignore the challenges and historic ties in Europe and the Middle East, two foreign policy experts said on Tuesday. The challenge for the next President will be allocating US resources across the spectrum of international demands. “I would argue we are more engaged in Europe and the Middle East than ever before,” said Derek Chollett, a former assistant defense secretary for international affairs. “But there are limits to what the US can do. … It’s not about American withdrawal, but about managing what we have.” Speaking at the same Carnegie Endowment forum, Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said he heard “the resources question a lot,” when the rebalance was announced, primarily about the military. “The real challenge is not the magnitude of the effort, but the direction. … We have spent too much on ground forces,” while the future requirement “will be expeditionary forces—the Navy and Air Force.” Campbell also urged a shift from an historic “China-centered” approach in Asia to one where “China is part of a broader focus.” (For more on USAF operations in the Pacific read Don’t Call it a Comeback from the July 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)