Selden, 13 – director of the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly AND an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida (ZACHARY, “Balancing Against or Balancing With? The Spectrum of Alignment and the Endurance of American Hegemony,” Security Studies Journal, 08 May 2013, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09636412.2013.786918#.U8b7VI1dVe8)//eek
The purpose of this article, however, is to build on this insight and consider the ramifications for the endurance of American hegemony. What has emerged is a broad spectrum of alignment with the United States rang- ing from “hard” treaty-based alliances to “soft” alignments that contribute to American security goals without a formal treaty obligation. This pattern of alignment with the United States has implications for the endurance of American hegemony because that hegemony is vital to the interests of a wide range of second-tier states. Contributing to its maintenance and extension is therefore a relatively cheap strategy for second-tier states compared to the alternatives of attempting to balance the regional power by building up their own capabilities, forming a regional alliance, or adapting to a system domi- nated by a regional power with demonstrated aggressive intentions. It is also a viable strategy precisely because the United States remains the globally predominant power. Secondary states take actions to extend and preserve American hege- mony through contributions of national military facilities that extend the reach of the US military, direct and indirect financial contributions, and troop contributions to US-led operations. For example, it would be virtually im- possible for the United States to maintain its global strategic reach without military bases in partner countries. American bases, however, are costly to construct and maintain, which leads to an alternative that is far more afford- able: using national facilities of the secondary state. In the case of Singapore, the government constructed a naval facility configured to host US Navy ves- sels. The Changi naval base in Singapore opened in 2004 and is an important port for the US Navy in a particularly strategic region. It was specifically built to hold an American aircraft carrier, and Singapore also hosts four US littoral combat ships on a rotational basis at Changi.21 Another means of taking on some of the costs of American hegemony is by providing direct or indirect financial contributions. Japan provides fi- nancial contributions that help to spread some of the costs of maintaining US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Not only has Japan paid for approxi- mately half of the eight billion dollars it cost to rearrange the presence of US forces in Japan along the lines set forth in the US Global Posture Review,22 it also used its development assistance to pay for military equipment for other US Asian partners.23 Ukraine and Georgia use troop contributions as a means of taking on some of the burden of maintaining American hegemony. Ukraine committed approximately two thousand troops to the US-led coalition in Iraq, the largest single non-NATO contribution. This was not a symbolic contribution: exclud- ing the United States, Ukrainian forces suffered the third highest number of coalition casualties in that conflict.24 Georgia committed 2,000 troops to the coalition in Iraq and approximately 2,400 under US command in Afghanistan. In both cases those contributions represent significant portions of their de- ployable active duty armed forces. In all of these cases the countries in question could have made merely token contributions to US-led missions or minimized their investment in facil- ities that enable the reach of the US military. Instead they took measures and incurred costs that spread the burden of maintaining American hegemony. It is difficult to put a total value on these contributions, but it is certainly true that the maintenance of American hegemony would be more expensive and logistically difficult for the United States without them. As an example, the total troop contributions of the states in this study to the US-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to more than fifteen thousand military personnel, or approximately one US Army division.25 As strained as the US military was in the 2001–2009 period, it would have been under much greater stress without those troop contributions. This alone may not account for the endurance of American hegemony, and there are multiple reasons why American hegemony can be expected to endure regardless of the actions of second-tier states. The fact that the system has endured thus far suggests a certain path dependency.26 Despite the indications of a relative decline in American power, there is no state or combination of states that can (or wants to) challenge the United States.27 Most states can be expected to understand this basic power disparity and would be loath to incur the enmity of the United States, which remains the sole superpower.28 Yet, it is important to note that many second-tier states are not offering token support to the United States, but rather incurring distinct costs to increase their level of alignment with the hegemon. Those increased contributions by second-tier states help to maintain American hegemony.Logically, however, secondary states would only do so if they had confidence that the United States has the will to use military power in the defense of its hegemony. Therefore, a policy that is aimed at preserving American global military capabilities and a demonstrated will- ingness to use those capabilities when necessary may be what drives the international cooperation that will help to sustain American hegemony. It is worth noting in this context that the majority of the non-NATO states that contributed troops to the US-led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan were from the states that surround Russia and China.29 But those states also gave the US diplomatic cover in the run-up to the Iraq war. Both the Philippines and Singapore, for example, sat on the United Nations Security Council in 2003 and offered vocal support of the US position. Neither state had any interest in Iraq, and in the case of the Philippines there was some risk that its support of the war effort would intensify its difficulties with the Muslim-based insurgency in the southern islands. Yet, both the Philippines and Singapore made a point of underscoring the value of the security relationship with the United States. What might cause states in the region to question the utility of offering such support would be a decline in the United States’ capabilities or its willingness to use them in support of its hegemony. Such concerns were exhibited by South Korea in the wake of the Cheohan incident in 2010 in which a South Korean vessel was sunk by North Korean forces. The American response was viewed as weak in South Korea and moving planned US-Korean joint naval exercises closer to Japan in the wake of the incident was seen as giving into Chinese pressure.30 Philippine officials have expressed concern that the United States is not sending strong enough signals that it will back up its ally in its ongoing territorial disputes with China.31 Asian periodicals are peppered with editorials that exhibit concern about US defense spending cuts and the United States’ ability to maintain its presence in the region.32 The Canberra Times notes that in its dispute with the Philippines, China is “testing the effectiveness of America’s bedrock military ties with the region for all to see,” but goes on to states that, “deep cuts in its [the US] defence budget . . . [and] failure to put in place a credible strategy to deter Chinese assertiveness will also have potentially damaging consequences—for the future of US Asia- Pacific alliances and security partnerships, and for American engagement in the region.”33 As an editorial from The Nation (Thailand) notes, if the United States can no longer be relied upon as the guarantor of regional security, it is prudent to conclude that “the region will no longer be a place where only one major power plays a dominant role. Now there will be multiple players in the security landscape; and the region has to be ready.”34 This would mean that Thailand, and other Asian states should increasingly hedge their bets and that security cooperation with the United States would be less beneficial. In other words, why incur risks and costs in supporting American hegemony if the United States’ ability and willingness to maintain it are in doubt? The United States is the globally predominant power and even with recent cuts its military budget remains more than that of Russia, China, and Europe combined.35 But it is international perceptions about the willingness of the United States to use its power that matter most in this context. This is anecdotal evidence and it is a ripe topic for more in-depth re- search, but it has distinct ramifications for American foreign policy. The Philippines and Vietnam, for example, both express concerns about the increased military capabilities of China and its willingness to use them in the Asia-Pacific region.36 Both countries have noted this as the reason for their increased security cooperation with the United States that facilitates the American military presence in their region.37 They do so logically because they believe this will improve their security. Yet, a United States that demon- strates a lack of will to defend its hegemony would not be as valuable a security partner, nor would it be worth risking the enmity of the rising re- gional power by drawing closer to a waning hegemon. Thus a policy of restraint could speed the process of hegemonic decline. The basis of American hegemony has changed somewhat since the end of the Cold War but the change is relatively subtle. During the Cold War, American hegemony was based on the premise of something worse.38 That is, American hegemony could be annoying and troublesome but it was better than the alternative: potential domination by the Soviet Union. In the current environment, there is not a single “something worse”; rather there are multiple “somethings worse” in the form of regional powers. They do not necessarily pose immediate threats to the territorial integrity of their neighbors, but their ability to pressure weaker states for concessions and their repeated demonstrations of aggressive intentions drive their neighbors to build closer ties with the United States. The following section examines how this is producing a wide-range of alignment with the United States and the implications of this trend for the endurance of American hegemony.