Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Zones of Interest
Tufts University professor Daniel Drezner, speaking at the second day of the Naval War College’s Current Strategy Forum, advises the United States to “retrench, revive, and reassure.” The U.S. should pare back on its commitments and engagement, to focus on those areas of the world most vital to American interests, to concentrate on rebuilding its domestic economy, and to retain its overall predominance in the G-20.
But retrench where? (Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, speaking after Drezner, listed Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific Rim, itself still a wide range of territory.)
Asia, the Middle East and Europe were constantly on the agenda here at the CSF. Tellingly, neither Latin America nor Africa received much attention. If the coming years are to be years of strategic retrenchment, it seems that the proposal to redefine the Atlantic community to the south—to concentrate on integrating the human and resource capital of the Western Hemisphere, Europe and West Africa, is likely to receive short shrift.
Is that the right strategic course, however? I worry about expending U.S. energy and effort in playing the “Great Game” in Central Asia—where the rivalries and competing interests of Russia, China, India, Europe and other Asian powers is likely to keep an “open door” in place without direct, first-order U.S. involvement anyway—while continuing to neglect opportunities in our own immediate backyard.