Where Great Powers Meet By David Shambaugh
Book/Novel Author: David Shambaugh
Book/Novel Title: Where Great Powers Meet
Summary & Review
After the end of the Cold War, it seemed as if Southeast Asia would remain a geopolitically stable region within the American-led order for the foreseeable future. In the last two decades, however, the re-emergence of China as a major great power has called into question the geopolitical future of the region and raised the specter of renewed great power competition.As the eminent China scholar David Shambaugh explains in Where Great Powers Meet, the United States and China are engaged in a broad-gauged and global competition for power. While this competition ranges across the entire world, it is centered in Asia. In this book, Shambaugh focuses on the critical sub-region of Southeast Asia. The United States and China constantly vie for position and influence across this enormously significant area–and the outcome of this contest will do much to determine whether Asia leaves the American orbit after seven decades and falls into a new Chinese sphere of influence. Just as importantly, to the extent that there is a global “power transition” occurring from the US to China, the fate of Southeast Asia will be a good indicator. Presently, both powers bring important assets to bear in their competition. The United States continues to possess a depth and breadth of security ties, soft power, and direct investment across the region that empirically outweigh China’s. For its part, China has more diplomatic influence, much greater trade, and geographic proximity. In assessing the likelihood of a regional power transition, Shambaugh examines how ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its member states maneuver and the degree to which they align with one or the other power.
Being on the deck of an American aircraft carrier is an awe-inspiring experience. In a different way, so too is witnessing a land reclamation construction project as far as the eye can see. These two experiences that I had within a month during 2017 encapsulated and brought home to me the respective differences between the United States and China in Southeast Asia.I first visited the Changi Naval Base in Singapore and went aboard the massive aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (Fig. 0.1)—the 101,300-ton Nimitz-class flag-ship of Carrier Strike Group 1 of the US Third Fleet (home-ported in San Diego but part of the Pacific Fleet).With its accompanying carrier battle group of guided missile destroyers, cruisers, submarines, and supply ships, the Carl Vinson had docked at Changi following back-to-back exercises near North Korea in the Sea of Japan and Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea—sending powerful deterrent signals in each case. Walking the massive deck of the supercarrier past an array of F-18 Super Hornet fighters, anti-submarine warfare planes, electronic attack and early warning aircraft, and helicopters, with more planes and lethal munitions below deck (Fig. 0.2), and speaking with the dedicated sea and air men and women onboard was a moving and memorable experience. The carrier visit was a potent reminder of America’s unrivaled military power—which has been projected throughout East Asia and the western Pacific for more than seven decades. Quietly but firmly, every day of the year, the US Navy and other military forces contribute to securing and stabilizing this dynamic and strategically important region of the world, supporting America’s five allies and many partners in the region, and giving daily credence to the century-long presence of the United States as an Asian and Pacificpower.
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