Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Middle Powers and the US Pivot: A Collective Action Problem

Carr, A. ‘Middle Powers and the US pivot: A collective action problem’, Tamkang Journal of International Affairs, 19(2), 53-88, 2015.

The US pivot or rebalance suffers from a substantial collective action problem. While the main debate has been around levels of US effort, the level of allied and partner contributions and ‘buy-in’ has been overlooked, along with diverging regional narratives. This paper examines the response of the middle powers in Asia to US policy and shows that their actions are diverse and often divorced from each other and US ambitions. The paper concludes by arguing that US allies in the region should be concerned about this issue and take the initiative to develop an alternate strategic narrative that better aligns US and regional attitudes. Doing so would help to transfer some of the burden from the US to the region and place the US presence in Asia on a more sustainable long term basis.

Keywords: Middle Powers, United States, Moral Dilemma, Asia, Security

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