US: Prioritizing 'Asia First' Sparks Controversy Over European Allies

April 6, 2024

The future direction of US grand strategy remains uncertain.
apan's Self-Defense Forces 1st Airborne Brigade conducts descent training on January 8, 2023, at Camp Narashino training area, in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, Japan, in which Airborne Commanders forn US, UK and AUS participate. Photo by Anadolu Images.


n a recent commentary piece published on Newsweek, the ongoing debate surrounding U.S. grand strategy has been reignited, with analysts and policymakers divided over the implications of adopting an “Asia First” approach at the expense of European alliances.

The commentary, penned by Paul Cormarie, delves into the emerging concept of “selective isolationism,” where the United States would strategically isolate itself from certain regions while prioritizing others. Specifically, the “Asia First” approach advocates redirecting resources and energy towards geopolitical efforts in Asia, citing the growing threat posed by the People’s Republic of China.

Cormarie argues against this approach, highlighting the already diminished U.S. military presence in Europe compared to the Cold War era. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining strong alliances with European partners through organizations like NATO, especially in the face of potential Russian aggression. Cormarie contends that isolating European interests in favor of Asia could strain U.S. relationships with allies across both regions.

Lack of resources?

Moreover, he challenges the notion that the United States lacks the resources to maintain a robust presence in both Europe and Asia. He points out that current defense spending in the Indo-Pacific region far exceeds that in Europe, suggesting that any perceived imbalance is not due to over-investment in European security.

The commentary also touches on the recent conflict in Ukraine and its implications for U.S. foreign policy. While acknowledging the need to support allies like Taiwan, Cormarie argues against prioritizing one region over another, warning of the potential negative repercussions on U.S. credibility and global stability.

Cormarie asserts that selectively isolating regions could undermine U.S. alliances and exacerbate tensions with adversaries like China. He advocates for a more balanced approach that maintains U.S. commitments to allies in both Europe and Asia, arguing that such engagement is crucial for navigating complex geopolitical challenges and promoting stability worldwide.

The commentary has sparked debate among policymakers and analysts, with proponents and critics alike weighing in on the merits of the “Asia First” strategy and its implications for U.S. global leadership. As the discussion continues, the future direction of U.S. grand strategy remains uncertain, with important implications for international relations and security dynamics around the world.

Source: RAND

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