28 January 2017

Trump and strategic change in Asia

By: William T Tow

As Donald Trump’s administration comes to power in Washington, the postwar security policy of the US is undergoing a monumental transition. The new president’s campaign rhetoric strongly intimated that under his self-proclaimed ‘America first’ posture, traditional American strategy and alliance politics would undergo a major change.

His approach to dealing with allies and adversaries will be based less on their traditional roles in US foreign policy and more on how he and his foreign and security policy team view other countries’ willingness to adjust their own policies to conform with a markedly different set of US economic and strategic priorities.

This paper looks at North Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and region-wide concerns. It concludes while Trump postulates an ‘America first’ posture, that hardly represents an ‘Asia last’ prescription. Above all else, Trump’s history is shaped by his reputation in the business world for hard but fluid bargaining to derive optimal results for interest-based objectives.

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