Ash Carter’s Asia Plans

The nomination of Ashton Carter to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rumored to be in part due to Hagel’s objections to the White House plan for the Islamic State and the Middle East. But Carter’s true impact may actually be felt most in the Pacific, where he has a record worth examining as U.S. security efforts expand to new, inclusive partnerships.

Carter knows the Obama administration’s intentions for the pivot to Asia. He gave a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year where he echoed the oft-repeated talking point that the pivot was primarily an economic matter with security repercussions. The economic focus on Asia is timely; just last week, the International Monetary Fund announced that China had surpassed the United States as the largest economy in the world. As China continues its astonishing economic growth, its influence expands not just in the Pacific but to long-entrenched economic interests in Africa. These economic interests will almost certainly translate into political influence over trading partners as China seeks to reshape the foundations of the international system to reflect its growing portfolio.

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