Four Reasons Not to Pivot to Europe
Image Credit: The White House (Flickr)

Four Reasons Not to Pivot to Europe


You get the sense frustration has been mounting in Europe-first precincts. Teeth are gnashed and garments rended in direct proportion to the policy energy Asia consumes in Washington. In particular, the Obama administration's pivot to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean has occasioned no end of fretful commentary.

Consequently, the news that the United States and the European Union will commence negotiating a transatlantic free-trade zone gave vent to rapturous commentary. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who oversaw the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Staff from 2009-2011, hailed "The Coming Atlantic Century," appropriating the title of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2011 Foreign Policy essay announcing the Asia pivot. Writing in The New Republic, Brookings Institution scholar William Galston greeted "Obama's Pivot to Europe" while urging readers to "forget China." And so forth. Catharsis is good! Yet the euphoria is largely misplaced.

There are four problems with a putative Europe pivot:

March 2, 2013 at 14:10

Ladies & Gentlemen of the United States of America:

Beware China.  Embrace Europe.  Otherwise America is entering its final chapter as a great power.  The US Administration and its corporate leadership must embrace Europe, but especially western and western-leaning Europe, and encourage & support Western-mindedness in Russia.  Europe and the US share strong roots of cultural, linguistic, philisophical, historical, traditional, legal, and economic harmony.  But eh USA should also embrace Japan and South Korea, as they have been shaped by the Post-WWII American occupation and since then have consistently adopted strategies to embrace partnerships with the USA.  China in contrsst merely exploits every international relationship it forms — no matter the damage to its would be partners; where national interests are concerned, China's policy makers as well as its businessmen are myopic and fixated on the exclusive interests of China to the expense of the rest of the planet; and cooperation is most often merely a tool to trick their opponents into being passive.  In fairness, all nations exploit to some extent their relationship for their own interests.  The USA would be wise to exploit the deeply running commonalities with Europe ahead of all else, for mutual benefit; the economic and security strategic interdependancies outweigh anything that the Pacific has to offer.  The Pacific poffers mainly threats, especially in terms of econmomic competition and resource competition.  China seeks to globally monopolize labour intense manufacturing, which is killing the US economic base.  China seeks to monopolize fossil fuel and rare earth reserves, which is undermining US energy & resource strategic interests.  China seeks to bankrupt Japan in order to render them irrelevant to US economic & security interests in the eyes of Administration strategists, so that they can expand their territories unchallenged by the USA or UN Security Council (thus Peking's protest at "outsideers" or "irrelevant countries" being involved in regional disputes with Japan, Vietnam, and the Phillipines.  The Middle Kingdom seeks to enjoy regional hegemony territorially, but they seek to dominate the entire world in many other ways.  Their rapant persuit of resources in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the fishing seas of all oceans is indicative of things to come.  They do not make agreements except to lull their competitors and adversaries into complacency so that they can continue surreptitiously to persue their national strategies unhindered.

Beware China.  Embrace Europe.  Oh, and by the way, pass a budget agreement so that you can turn your attention to the strategic interests of your nation.

American endurance as a great power — even as a relevant power — is at stake.  America must embrace Europe, otherwise China will bury the lot of us.


Ivan Yurevna
March 1, 2013 at 02:34

Russian?  Nyet.  Amerikan CIA troll?  Da.

February 28, 2013 at 03:20

Yes Europe needs defences, but only enough to meet its strategic objectives. Its objectives are access to trade routes, materials and energy resources. It can get these through power projection into the maritime regions of the Arctic, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean as well as the land regions of Northern Africa, the greater Middle East and the Caucasus. Around 2% of collective GDP more efficiently spent should be enough for this, particularly given that the major shortfalls in Libya and Mali (ISTAR, strategic lift and aerial refueling) have solutions coming online within the next few years.


Agreed, Chinese expansion into Africa affects European interests, but this expansion is not military in nature and does not justify a military response, and unlike the US Europe can undergo joint resource operations with China without threatening core interests. China may develop military bases in the region but Europe already has some. China may conduct espionage and cyber warfare against Europeans but you are being naïve if you believe we're not doing the same to them.


In a war between the US and China Europe would probably declare a trade embargo on China. It would only get militarily involved if China achieved dramatic successes that threatened regional breakout or attacked Europe directly. This is unlikely given the power of China's likely foes and the lessons learnt from German and Japanese attacks on the neutral US in WW1 and WW2. You also underestimate the challenges to Europe of its fragmentation, poor demographics and collective sovereignty and legitimacy problems. These don't make Europe weak but they do make it brittle and will require time to resolve.


February 28, 2013 at 00:05

The EU does need defenses. Mali is just the latest reason. Al Qaeda must be opposed wherever they are found. China is seeking to displace the US and the EU in Asia but also in Africa. Anyone thinking they can hunker down and let others do the hard work is sorely mistaken. If the EU wants to enjoy the benefits of a free world it must work to ensure it remains that way. What would the EU do in a war btw. the US and China? There would be no way the EU could remain neutral. That is just a fantasy. You might as well start pulling your weight before your reputation suffers anymore. Weakness is provocative and will entice the worst actors to take advantage. China is targeting the EU with their cyber campaign just as they have done with every other country. Are you going to sit back and give China the reins to your country? If they are able to steal the latest technology and control the power stations what do you think they will do with that capability? The EU has as much at stake in the world as the US. Its high time the EU got serious about defending themselves.

February 27, 2013 at 22:18

The Corleone analogy is very useful. Pick up a copy of Mario Puzo’s novel and replace all references to burning Italian American businesses with burning Japanese businesses in China, and change the words olive oil to simply read oil.

February 27, 2013 at 21:22

no, i'm not japanese

i'm russian, and i clearly understand the what the chinese threat means – take away siberia from russia, senkaku islands (chinese maps up until the '70s showed it as a japanese territory) from japan, feed the nasty north korean pet regime, make taiwan communist, take away islands from phillpines, and poison the atmosphere by pollution

fukushima was nothing that big actually (just a bad pr and fear mongering by ill wishers and anti-japanese elements), but it was "on the the surface", but who knows, giving the lack of transparency within china's regime, how much radioactive dirt coming from shabby chinese powerplants


during ww2 japan did nothing that much brutal in china compared to what english did in the 19th century (and all that stuff like "nankin" is just a big HOAX: how could there be more victims than the whole population?) – and who will compensate all copyright infingement of japanese intellectual property by chinese?

chinese parents allow their children to defecate publicly (even in airplanes), they shout, spit, and think only about their "face" – on contrary, japanese are polite, tidy and have cleanliness in high esteem – so who should really be called  "animals"?

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