The Asia Pivot & European Security & Defense Policy

November 7, 2013

I recently delivered a speech at the International Institute of European Affairs in Dublin, Ireland. You can  listen to it here or watch it here.  The focus is on the implications of America’s “pivot” to Asia for U.S. foreign and national security policy broadly, and for Europe and the Middle East specifically.  In the talk I expand on an argument made in a forthcoming book that America is “returning to realism” in its foreign policy priorities after two decades of dominance of the liberal and neoconservative consensus in Washington, D.C.  In the talk, I argue that the pivot is a logical shift in US priorities but that it will only succeed if it is done well in Asia employing a range of cooperative tools and hedging via military influence;  if America can successfully realign and handover lead responsibility for non-collective defense missions in Europe via NATO, America’s role around the Persian Gulf is significantly narrowed and peripheral wars like Syria are avoided, and if America invests in the domestic sources of its power to make the United States more competitive for the long-haul.  The concept is right and consistent with a return to a more traditional balance between realism and idealist visions of America’s role in the world – but that failure in any one of these key elements risks undermining this fundamental and essential policy shift.  If America cannot deliver on its announced strategy – which requires substantially realigning budgets and deeply entrenched thinking in Washington, D.C., then the pivot will be at risk, ceding major gains to future competitors.

Have a listen!


Sean Kay, Ph.D. is Director of the Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs, and also Robson Professor of Politics and International Studies Chair at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the author of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace.


Photo Credit: Dainis Matisons and Yanni Koutsomitis