Strategic mistakes in the Obama era

By Zhang Jingwei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 14, 2016
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Whether the current president accepts it or not, the post-Obama era has already arrived. He is really in no position to control the situation in the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region and thence the South China Sea. On the one hand, the administration has to prove U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific region through a tough attitude towards China; on the other hand, it is impossible for the United States to have a head-on confrontation with China leading to possible war.

This is a strategic game showing a lack of consideration and its negative effects have brought ferment to the U.S. presidential election. Trump's aversion to Islamic immigrants and a stream of empty rhetoric are like a shadow on American politics and culture cast by Obama's Middle East strategy.

The "big-mouthed" Trump believes the United States should not act as an umbrella for Japan and South Korea any longer, and that these two countries should have nuclear weapons to look after themselves.

Trump's view is also a byproduct of Obama's Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy. American politics have sunk into an unprecedented state of anxiety, self-closure and cowardice in the Middle East. Hence, they shift to the East and South China seas.

Perhaps the United States is worried about the threat of China's influence on its leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. However, isn't it wrong to regard China as its enemy and to focus all its efforts on opposing it? The challenges from Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and IS have proved that the enemies of the United States are not in the East at all. Is it in line with American interests to become entangled with China in the South China Sea on behalf of its allies?

Whether in Europe, the Middle East or the Asia-Pacific region, the purpose of the U.S. strategic layout is to ensure it can keep its world leadership, so as to realize the maximization of its interests.

However, petty tricks in the Obama era have led to disorder in its global strategy, turmoil in the Middle East, friction with European and Gulf allies. Therefore, it's going to be difficult for China-U.S. relations to get out of the "Thucydides trap."

U.S. politics and culture have become deformed. Worse, Trump and Hilary Clinton actually have something in common, both being hostile to China but lacking in strategic thinking. This will create uncertainty in China-U.S. relations in the post-Obama era.

Zhang Jingwei a researcher with the Charhar Institute.

The article was translated by Li Jingrong from an unabridged version published in Chinese.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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