America's Asia Pivot - A Return to Realism?

Sean Kay
Content Type
Working Paper
Centre for International Peace and Security Studies
This working paper demonstrates that the announced "pivot" to Asia by the United States represents a major break with twenty years of liberal and neoconservative priorities in American foreign policy. The pivot to Asia reflects a return to realist thinking in terms of America's international goals. The paper also shows that this shift is difficult to achieve due to existing priorities in other regions and domestic policy dynamics. The paper begins with a brief explanation of the traditions of idealism and realism in American foreign policy. The analysis then explains the various dynamics necessary to implement the "pivot" to Asia and shows the major constraints on implementing this new approach. The conclusion shows that emerging priorities suggest both a need and capacity for a realist alignment of American foreign policy. However, institutionalized constraints risk undermining America's ability to adjust to a new set of twenty-first century global economic and security interests.
Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Emerging Markets
Political Geography
United States, China, East Asia