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Staying In Step: The US Pivot and UK Strategic Choices

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In 2011, the Obama administration announced that the United States needed to make a strategic pivot in its foreign policy, in which it would downsize the U.S. presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan over the next decade and turn attention to the Asia-Pacific region. The decision to pursue such a strategy was mainly driven by perceptions of a growing triumphalist attitude in the leadership of a rising China and evidence that Chinese leaders would leverage their newfound power to play a much greater role in influencing events in the Asia-Pacific region. This strategic decision is complicated by the fact that the United States is trying to make this switch at a time when it is beset by a range of domestic challenges -- not the least, strained finances. The question posed by the traditional allies of the United States in Europe, and elsewhere, is just how the new Asian strategy will affect U.S. commitments in the rest of the world as it redeploys finite and reduced resources to meet new challenges. The declaration of a U.S. pivot to Asia poses some compelling challenges, particularly for the United Kingdom UK, which has increasingly adopted a position on world affairs almost entirely driven by its close relationship with the United States. The UK has formally declared that its pre-eminent defence and security relationship is with the US. Whether the relationship between the two countries is actually special, or is just one of many bilateral partnerships between the United States and its allies, the UK has taken on the job of transatlantic bridge between the North American and European members of NATO. It has supported the United States wholeheartedly -- even when that support has resulted in significant impacts on international legitimacy and wider support. The shift of U.S. focus eastward poses a significant challenge for the UK if it is to retain influence upon the United States and, thereby, maintain its current position as a world power.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Geography
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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