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Offshore balancing avoids blowback but still maintains U.S. primacy

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Offshore balancing avoids blowback but still maintains U.S. primacy

Stephen M. Walt, academic dean and the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, 2005, “ In the National Interest http://www.bostonreview.net/BR30.1/walt.phpthe) SM

The final option is offshore balancing, which has been America’s traditional grand strategy. In this strategy, the United States deploys its power abroad only when there are direct threats to vital American interests. Offshore balancing assumes that only a few areas of the globe are of strategic importance to the United States (that is, worth fighting and dying for). Specifically, the vital areas are the regions where there are substantial concentrations of power and wealth or critical natural resources: Europe, industrialized Asia, and the Persian Gulf. Offshore balancing further recognizes that the United States does not need to control these areas directly; it merely needs to ensure that they do not fall under the control of a hostile great power and especially not under the control of a so-called peer competitor. To prevent rival great powers from doing this, offshore balancing prefers to rely primarily on local actors to uphold the regional balance of power. Under this strategy, the United States would intervene with its own forces only when regional powers are unable to uphold the balance of power on their own. Most importantly, offshore balancing is not isolationist. The United States would still be actively engaged around the world, through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the WTO and through close ties with specific regional allies. But it would no longer keep large numbers of troops overseas solely for the purpose of “maintaining stability,” and it would not try to use American military power to impose democracy on other countries or disarm potential proliferators. Offshore balancing does not preclude using power for humanitarian ends—to halt or prevent genocide or mass murder—but the United States would do so only when it was confident it could prevent these horrors at an acceptable cost. (By limiting military commitments overseas, however, an offshore-balancing strategy would make it easier for the United States to intervene in cases of mass murder or genocide.) The United States would still be prepared to use force when it was directly threatened—as it was when the Taliban allowed al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan—and would be prepared to help other governments deal with terrorists that also threaten the United States. Over time, a strategy of offshore balancing would make it less likely that the United States would face the hatred of radicals like bin Laden, and would thus make it less likely that the United States would have to intervene in far-flung places where it is not welcome. Offshore balancing is the ideal grand strategy for an era of American primacy. It husbands the power upon which this primacy rests and minimizes the fear that this power provokes. By setting clear priorities and emphasizing reliance on regional allies, it reduces the danger of being drawn into unnecessary conflicts and encourages other states to do more for us. Equally important, it takes advantage of America’s favorable geopolitical position and exploits the tendency for regional powers to worry more about each other than about the United States. But it is not a passive strategy and does not preclude using the full range of America’s power to advance its core interests.
Offshore Balancing Good – Challengers
Challengers threaten US global security interests – offshore balancing is the only way to sustainably check regional powers.

Layne 2009 [Christopher, Assoc. Prof. George HW Bush School of Gov't and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, research fellow with the Center on Peace and Liberty @ the Independent Institute, “America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived,” in Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 5–25 | VP]
Some will ask, why is there a need to rethink America’s strategy of primacy? After all, that strategy resulted directly in the creation of a post-World War II international economic system – described variously as one based on interdependence or globalisation – that has brought unprecedented prosperity to the US, Europe, and East Asia. During the Cold War, America’s strategy allowed the US to prevail decisively against the Soviet Union, thereby ushering in an era of unchallenged American dominance – an era in which it has become commonplace to compare the US to the Roman Empire at its zenith. For sure, power counts in international politics, and what possibly could be wrong with a strategy that aims to maintain American primacy? Over the past decade or so, leading neorealist scholars of US security policy have answered this question succinctly: primacy has a boomerang effect that makes the US less – not more – secure.2

Primacy’s neorealist critics have outlined an alternative grand strategy that increasingly resonates with the American public: offshore balancing.3 Its proponents believe that offshore balancing can do a better job than primacy of enhancing American security and matching US foreign policy objectives with the resources available to support them. The driving factor behind offshore balancing is its proponents’ recognition that the US has a ‘hegemony’ problem. America’s strategy of primacy increases US vulnerability to a geopolitical backlash – whether in the guise of countervailing great power coalitions, or terrorist attacks – and alienates public opinion in large swaths of the globe, including Europe and the Middle East.

Offshore balancing is based on the assumption that the most vital US interests are preventing the emergence of a dominant power in Europe and East Asia – a ‘Eurasian hegemon’and forestalling the emergence of a regional (‘oil’) hegemon in the Middle East. Only a Eurasian hegemon could pose an existential threat to the US. A regional hegemon in the Middle East could imperil the flow of oil upon which the US economy, and the economies of the advanced industrial states depend. As an offshore balancer, the US would rely on the tried and true dynamics of the balance of power to thwart any states with hegemonic ambitions. An offshore balancing strategy would permit the US to withdraw its ground forces from Eurasia (including the Middle East) and assume an over-the-horizon military posture. If – and only if – regional power balances look to be failing would the US re-insert its troops into Eurasia. Offshore balancing contrasts sharply with primacy because primacists fear a world with independent, multiple poles of power. Primacy is based on the belief that it is better for the US to defend its allies and clients than to have them defend themselves. Offshore balancers, on the other hand, believe for an insular great power like the US, the best strategy is to rely on a balance of power approach that devolves to other states the costs and risks of their defense.

Offshore balancing is a realist strategy because it eschews the ideological crusading on behalf of democracy that is endemic to Wilsonianism, defines US interests in terms of what is vital rather than simply desirable, balances ends and means, and is based on prudence and self-restraint in the conduct of US strategy. Most of all it is a strategy that fits within the broad realist tradition because it recognises the difference between, on one hand, what the sociologist Max Weber called the ethic of conviction and, on the other hand, the ethic of responsibility. In foreign policymaking the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and policies must be judged on their consequences, not on the intentions that underlie them. The Bush administration’s disastrous policies in Iraq and the Middle East are a much needed reminder that this is a test Wilsonianism too often fails.
Offshore Balancing Good – Counterbalancing
Offshore balancing neutralizes potential balancing coalitions – they’ll fight each other before they consider balancing against a detached power.

Layne 2009 [Christopher, Assoc. Prof. George HW Bush School of Gov't and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, research fellow with the Center on Peace and Liberty @ the Independent Institute, “America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived,” in Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 5–25 | VP]
Heretofore, proponents of offshore balancing have seen the strategy primarily as a means of shifting the costs and risks of opposing rising Eurasian, or regional, hegemons from the US to other states. Offshore balancing seeks to capitalise on the inherent strategic advantages that insular great powers possess. First, they can rely on regional power balances to contain rising powers.8 Second, if it should become necessary for them to become involved, because they are protected by geography and their own military capabilities they can stand on the sidelines and wait for the most opportune moment to decide when, and on which side, to intervene. Moreover, by taking advantage of the freedom of action that allows them to enter conflicts later rather than sooner, they can extract the maximum concessions from their alliance partners as their price for entering a conflict. However, beyond these traditional advantages of insularity, offshore balancing does – or can – have a wedge strategy dimension.

Wedge strategies are the grand strategic equivalent of what the great baseball executive Branch Rickey called ‘addition by subtraction’. A Timothy W. Crawford has pointed out, when discussing power relations among great powers, most security studies scholars focus on ‘addition’. Hence, they pay great attention to balancing behaviour – both internal and external – as a means by which great powers seek to increase their relative power. However, although often neglected, wedge strategies are way of accomplishing the same objective – increasing the state’s relative power – by a very different means: by subtracting potential opponents from the ranks of its adversaries.9 That is, wedge strategies are ‘a policy to increase a state’s relative power over external threats, by preventing the grouping or causing the dispersal of threatening alliances’.10 Great powers can improve their relative power position not only by forming coalitions and/or building up their own military capabilities, but also by preventing other states that might be inclined to align against them from doing so, or by persuading an actual or potential ally of an adversary to drop out of the alliance and assume a posture of neutrality.11 Another aspect of wedge strategies is that they can, if used successfully, prevent others from taking balancing actions directed at the state.

While not generally conceived of as a wedge strategy, offshore balancing is a way that an insular great power can neutralise threats to its security. By acting as an offshore balancer, an insular great power can accomplish two vital grand strategic tasks. First, because its would-be adversaries invariably live in dangerous neighbourhoods, by truly being ‘offshore’ and non-threatening, an insular great power can deflect the focus of other states’ security policies away from itself. Simply put, if an offshore power stands on the sidelines, other great powers will compete against each other, not against it. It can thus enhance its security simply because the dynamics of balance-of-power politics invariably will draw would-be competitors in other regions into rivalries with each other. The fact that non-insular states must worry constantly about possible threats from nearby neighbours is a factor that historically has worked to increase the relative power position of insular states. Thus, as Paul Kennedy notes, after 1815 a major reason that Britain’s interests were not challenged by an overwhelming coalition was due to ‘the preoccupation of virtually all European statesman with continental power politics’ because it ‘was the moves of their neighbors, not the usually discreet workings of British sea power, which interested them’.12

Of course, to capitalise on this dynamic, an insular great power must adopt a non-threatening posture toward other regions, and not pursue hegemonic (or imperial) ambitions in those regions. It was, after all, not simply geography and naval power that enabled Britain to be a successful offshore balancer until World War I. A critical factor underpinning the success of its offshore balancing strategy was that Britain had no positive geopolitical, territorial, or ideological aspirations on the continent that would have provoked a countervailing coalition against it. Rather, England had only a negative interest in Europe: ensuring that no great power gained continental hegemony.

England’s historic policy toward Europe also suggests another way that offshore balancing can function as a wedge strategy. One of the best ways a great power can avoid provoking the hostility – and counter-balancing efforts – of others is not to give them any reason to feel threatened.13 Insularity allows offshore great powers to choose policies of detachment. And policies of detachment, in turn, reduce the risk that others will view it as a dangerous rival. In other words, if one of the objects of wedge strategies is to prevent threatening alliances from forming, one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is for a state to mind its own business and not give others reason to feel menaced by it. Insular great powers have the luxury of reducing threats to themselves by not intruding into the affairs of great powers in other regions.

The US, of course, has not acted as an offshore balancer. Rather, for more than sixty years it consciously has sought extra-regional hegemony in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.14 Rather than acting as a ‘wedge’ strategy, American primacy – especially now that the Cold War has ended – now threatens to act more like a kind of glue that unifies other states, and, increasingly, non-state actors like Al- Qaeda, in resistance to America’s expansive geopolitical and ideological ambitions. The operational differences between the strategies of primacy and offshore balancing can be illustrated by examining how each would deal with the most pressing foreign policy issue facing the US today: the Middle East.

Offshore Balancing Good – Iran
Offshore balancing allows diplomatic relations with Iran – even if negotiations break down, there’s no propensity for violence.

Layne 2009 [Christopher, Assoc. Prof. George HW Bush School of Gov't and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, research fellow with the Center on Peace and Liberty @ the Independent Institute, “America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived,” in Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 5–25 | VP]

As an offshore balancer, rather than confronting Iran militarily over its nuclear programme and its regional ambitions, the US would follow a two-tracked strategy of deterrence and diplomacy. Diplomatically, the US should try to negotiate an arrangement with Iran that exchanges meaningful security guarantees, diplomatic recognition, and normal economic relations for a verifiable cessation of Tehran’s nuclear weapons programme. Given the deep mutual distrust between Washington and Tehran, and domestic political constraints in both the US and Iran, it is an open question whether such a deal can be struck. If it cannot, however, rather than attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities – or tacitly facilitating an Israeli attack on them – the US should be prepared to live with a nuclear armed Iran just as it did with China in the 1960s, when China was seen as far more dangerous a rogue state than Iran is today.23

Of course, hard-line US neoconservatives reject this approach and argue that a nuclear-armed Iran would have three bad consequences: there could be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East; Iran might supply nuclear weapons to terrorists; and Tehran could use its nuclear weapons to blackmail other states in the region, or to engage in aggression. Each of these scenarios, however, is improbable.24 A nuclear Iran will not touch off a proliferation snowball in the Middle East. Israel, of course, already is a nuclear power. The other three states that might be tempted to go for a nuclear weapons capability are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. However, each of these states would be under strong pressure not to do so, and Saudi Arabia lacks the industrial and engineering capabilities to develop nuclear weapons indigenously. Notwithstanding the Bush administration’s hyperbolic rhetoric, Iran is not going to give nuclear weapons to terrorists. This is not to deny Tehran’s close links to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. However, there are good reasons that states – even those that have ties to terrorists – draw the line at giving them nuclear weapons (or other WMD): if the terrorists were to use these weapons against the US or its allies, the weapons could be traced back to the donor state, which would be at risk of annihilation by an American retaliatory strike.25 Iran’s leaders have too much at stake to run this risk. Even if one believes the administration’s claims that rogue state leaders are indifferent to the fate of their populations, they do care very much about the survival of their regimes, which means that they can be deterred.

For the same reason, Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons will not invest Tehran with options to attack, or intimidate its neighbours. Israel’s security with respect to Iran is guaranteed by its own formidable nuclear deterrent capabilities. By the same token, just as it did in Europe during the Cold War, the US can extend its own deterrence umbrella to protect its clients in the region – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey. American security guarantees not only will dissuade Iran from acting recklessly, but also restrain proliferation by negating the incentives for states like Saudi Arabia and Turkey to acquire their own nuclear weapons. Given the overwhelming US advantage in both nuclear and conventional military capabilities, Iran is not going to risk national suicide by challenging America’s security commitments in the region. In short, while a nuclear-armed Iran hardly is desirable, neither is it ‘intolerable’, because it could be contained and deterred successfully by the US.
Offshore Balancing Good – Iraq
Entanglement in Iraq makes war more probable – offshore balancing ensures durable stability.

Layne 2009 [Christopher, Assoc. Prof. George HW Bush School of Gov't and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, research fellow with the Center on Peace and Liberty @ the Independent Institute, “America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived,” in Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 5–25 | VP]
The Bush administration has advanced three major reasons why the US cannot afford to leave Iraq without first attaining ‘victory’. First, withdrawing from Iraq will increase the terrorist threat to the American homeland. Second, a US defeat in Iraq will be a victory for Iran. Third, if the US fails to stabilise Iraq, the chaos there could ‘spill-over’ and trigger a wider conflict in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. These arguments do withstand close examination, however.
President George W. Bush repeatedly characterised Iraq as the ‘central front’ in the so-called war on terrorism, and argued that ‘if we fail there [Iraq], the enemy will follow us here’.26 In his view, the conflict in Iraq ‘is not civil war; it is pure evil’. Claiming that ‘we have an obligation to protect ourselves from that evil’, Bush said US policy in Iraq boiled down to one thing: ‘We’re after Al-Qaeda’.27 The administration’s claims, however, were disingenuous: American withdrawal from Iraq would not increase the terrorist threat to the American homeland. First, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has only tenuous links to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organisation. Second, AQI has an extremely ambivalent relationship with the indigenous Sunni insurgents. The Sunni insurgents resent AQI because it uses foreign jihadists to conduct suicide bombings, and because it indiscriminately attacks civilian targets. To the extent AQI and the other Sunni insurgents groups collaborate, it is their common hostility to the American occupation that binds them. If US troops were to withdraw, it is likely that the other Sunni insurgents would try to drive AQI out of Iraq (while also contesting the Shiites for political supremacy). Indeed, the major reason violence in Iraq has subsided since late 2006 is not because of the ‘surge’ of US combat forces, but rather because large segments of the Sunni population (including former insurgents) turned against AQI.
For these reasons, most US intelligence officials and outside experts have rejected the argument that an American withdrawal would result in Iraq becoming a base for operations against the US.28 Moreover, bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda does not need bases in Iraq in order to launch operations against the US because it already has a sanctuary in the region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier that it is using to reconstitute its capabilities.29 Indeed, in July 2007 in a National Intelligence Estimate on the terrorist threat to the US, and in Congressional testimony, senior US intelligence officials warned that Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of this safe haven to train its operatives and plan new attacks.30 If the US really is worried about Al-Qaeda striking the US, instead of focusing on Iraq its strategic efforts should be concentrated on defeating the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and – even more – getting Pakistan to crack-down on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces operating in Waziristan and the Northwest Frontier province – not on Iraq.31
The contention that American withdrawal from Iraq would enhance Iranian power in the Persian Gulf is simultaneously both true and misleading. Foreign policy experts widely agree that Iran has been the biggest winner in the Iraq War.32 By invading Iraq and pursuing regime change there, the Bush administration set the table for the expansion of Iran’s power and regional influence. The US invasion of Iraq upset the prevailing geopolitical equilibrium in the region. Until March 2003, the balance of power in the Persian Gulf between Iraq and Iran prevented either from establishing regional dominance, but by toppling Saddam Hussein the US rendered Iraq incapable of acting as a viable counterpoise to Iranian power. The administration’s policy also upset the domestic balance of power within Iraq, which redounded to Tehran’s benefit. The democratisation policy adopted by the administration empowered Iraq’s long-suppressed Shiite majority. Predictably, the political ascendancy of Iraq’s Shiites worked to Iran’s advantage because of these close personal relations between leading Shiite leaders and Iranian clerics, and the religious bonds between the Shiite populations in both countries. Deepening economic ties between the two countries have enabled Tehran to consolidate its influence in Iraq.33 During the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, most American foreign policy analysts foresaw that Iran would be the main beneficiary of the administration’s Iraq policy. Only the Bush administration and its neoconservative cheerleaders were oblivious to the probable consequences of their policies. Now – short of war, of course – it is too late to arrest Iranian’s growing power in the region. The damage already has been done.
The argument that US withdrawal from Iraq would result in wider regional instability cannot be dismissed out of hand. If US troops leave Iraq, bad things indeed could happen: violence in Iraq could worsen and, in addition to the bloodshed, Iraq refugees could flee to neighbouring countries with de-stabilising consequences. Other nations in the region could be tempted to intervene in a re-intensified Iraqi civil war that causes Iraq to fracture along ethnic and sectarian fault lines. Indeed, Saudi Arabia already has indicated that in this case it would come to the aid of the Iraqi Sunnis, and Turkey has conducted attacks on PPK insurgents who are using bases in the Kurdish area of Iran to conduct attacks inside Turkey. In short, the Middle East could become even bloodier and more unstable. It is by no means certain that this will be the outcome, however. Iraq’s major neighbours – Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – have competing interests to be sure, but they also share one common interest: none of them wants to see the Iraqi state disintegrate. Moreover, the US also has leverage – military, economic, and political – that it can use to dissuade Iraq’s neighbours from involving themselves openly in Iraq’s civil war following an American pull-out.
Offshore Balancing Good – Afghanistan
Offshore balancing key to Afghanistan instability.

Pape 2009 (Robert A., Prof. Poli. Sci. @ UChicago, former Prof. Int'l Relations @ Dartmouth, “To Beat the Taliban, Fight From Afar,” October 14, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/opinion/15pape.html?_r=1)
AS President Obama and his national security team confer this week to consider strategies for Afghanistan, one point seems clear: our current military forces cannot win the war. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander there, has asked for 40,000 or more additional United States troops, which many are calling an ambitious new course. In truth, it is not new and it is not bold enough.

America will best serve its interests in Afghanistan and the region by shifting to a new strategy of off-shore balancing, which relies on air and naval power from a distance, while also working with local security forces on the ground. The reason for this becomes clear when one examines the rise of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

General McChrystal’s own report explains that American and NATO military forces themselves are a major cause of the deteriorating situation, for two reasons. First, Western forces have become increasingly viewed as foreign occupiers; as the report puts it, “over-reliance on firepower and force protection have severely damaged the International Security Assistance Force’s legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.”

Second, the central government led by America’s chosen leader, Hamid Karzai, is thoroughly corrupt and viewed as illegitimate: “Local Afghan communities are unable to hold local officials accountable through either direct elections or judicial processes, especially when those individuals are protected by senior government officials.”

Unfortunately, these political facts dovetail strongly with developments on the battlefield in the last few years. In 2001, the United States toppled the Taliban and kicked Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan with just a few thousand of its own troops, primarily through the combination of American air power and local ground forces from the Northern Alliance. Then, for the next several years, the United States and NATO modestly increased their footprint to about 20,000 troops, mainly limiting the mission to guarding Kabul, the capital. Up until 2004, there was little terrorism in Afghanistan and little sense that things were deteriorating.

Then, in 2005, the United States and NATO began to systematically extend their military presence across Afghanistan. The goals were to defeat the tiny insurgency that did exist at the time, eradicate poppy crops and encourage local support for the central government. Western forces were deployed in all major regions, including the Pashtun areas in the south and east, and today have ballooned to more than 100,000 troops.

As Western occupation grew, the use of the two most worrisome forms of terrorism in Afghanistan — suicide attacks and homemade bombs — escalated in parallel. There were no recorded suicide attacks in Afghanistan before 2001. According to data I have collected, in the immediate aftermath of America’s conquest, the nation experienced only a small number: none in 2002, two in 2003, five in 2004 and nine in 2005.

But in 2006, suicide attacks began to increase by an order of magnitude — with 97 in 2006, 142 in 2007, 148 in 2008 and more than 60 in the first half of 2009. Moreover, the overwhelming percentage of the suicide attacks (80 percent) has been against United States and allied troops or their bases rather than Afghan civilians, and nearly all (95 percent) carried out by Afghans.

The pattern for other terrorist attacks is almost the same. The most deadly involve roadside bombs that detonate on contact or are set off by remote control. Although these weapons were a relatively minor nuisance in the early years of the occupation, with 782 attacks in 2005, their use has shot up since — to 1,739 in 2006, nearly 2,000 in 2007 and more than 3,200 last year. Again, these attacks have for the most part been carried out against Western combat forces, not Afghan targets.

The picture is clear: the more Western troops we have sent to Afghanistan, the more the local residents have viewed themselves as under foreign occupation, leading to a rise in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. (We see this pattern pretty much any time an “outside” armed force has tried to pacify a region, from the West Bank to Kashmir to Sri Lanka.)

So as General McChrystal looks to change course in Afghanistan, the priority should be not to send more soldiers but to end the sense of the United States and its allies as foreign occupiers. Our purpose in Afghanistan is to prevent future attacks like 9/11, which requires stopping the rise of a new generation of anti-American terrorists, particularly suicide terrorists, who are super-predators able to kill large numbers of innocent people.

What motivates suicide attackers, however, is not the existence of a terrorist sanctuary, but the presence of foreign forces on territory they prize. So it’s little surprise that Western forces in Afghanistan have provided a key rallying point for the insurgency, playing a central role in the Taliban’s recruitment campaign and propaganda, which threaten not only our troops there but also our homeland.

The presence of our troops also works against the stability of the central government, as it can rely on Western protection rather than work harder for popular support.

Fortunately, the United States does not need to station large ground forces in Afghanistan to keep it from being a significant safe haven for Al Qaeda or any other anti-American terrorists. This can be achieved by a strategy that relies on over-the-horizon air, naval and rapidly deployable ground forces, combined with training and equipping local groups to oppose the Taliban. No matter what happens in Afghanistan, the United States is going to maintain a strong air and naval presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean for many years, and these forces are well suited to attacking terrorist leaders and camps in conjunction with local militias — just as they did against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2001.

The United States has a strong history of working with local groups, particularly the Tajiks and Uzbeks of the old Northern Alliance, who would ensure that the Taliban does not recapture Kabul and the northern and western regions of Afghanistan. And should more substantial threats arise, our offshore forces and allies would buy time and protect space for Western ground forces to return.

Further, the United States and its allies have made some efforts to lead Pashtun tribal militias in the southern and eastern areas to abandon their support for the Taliban and, if not switch to America’s side, to at least stay neutral. For instance, the largest British gains in the southwest came from winning the support of Mullah Salam, a former Taliban commander who is the district governor of Musa Qala.

Early this year the United States started what it calls the Afghanistan Social Outreach Program, offering monthly stipends to tribal and local leaders in exchange for their cooperation against the Taliban insurgency. The program is financed at too low a level — approximately $20 million a year — to compete with alternatives that the Taliban can offer like protection for poppy cultivation that is worth some $3 billion a year.

One reason we can expect a strategy of local empowerment to work is that this is precisely how the Taliban is gaining support. As General McChrystal’s report explains, there is little ideological loyalty between the local Pashtuns and the Taliban, so the terrorists gain local support by capitalizing on “vast unemployment by empowering the young and disenfranchised through cash payments, weapons, and prestige.” We’ll have to be more creative and rely on larger economic and political carrots to win over the hearts and minds of the Pashtuns.

Changing strategy does not mean that the United States can withdraw all its military power from Afghanistan immediately. As we are now seeing in Iraq, changing to an approach that relies less on ground power and more on working with local actors takes time. But it is the best strategy for Afghanistan. Otherwise we will continue to be seen and mistrusted as an occupying power, and the war will be lost.
Offshore Balancing Good – Middle East
Primacy catalyzes counterbalancing and makes terrorism and Middle East war inevitable – only an offshore balancing strategy solves.

Layne 2009 [Christopher, Assoc. Prof. George HW Bush School of Gov't and Public Service @ Texas A&M U, research fellow with the Center on Peace and Liberty @ the Independent Institute, “America’s Middle East grand strategy after Iraq: the moment for offshore balancing has arrived,” in Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 5–25 | VP]
Offshore balancing and the Middle East

The US has reached a watershed in Iraq and the Middle East. Washington needs to revamp its overall regional grand strategy because the current strategy is in shambles. Although the security situation in Iraq has improved since late 2006, the nation remains extremely fragile politically and its future is problematic. On the other hand, things are unravelling in Afghanistan, where the insurgency led by the revitalised Taliban is spreading. The US and Iran remain on a collision course over Tehran’s nuclear weapons programme – and its larger regional ambitions. Moreover, the summer 2006 fighting in Lebanon weakened US Middle Eastern policy in four ways. First, it enhanced Iran’s regional clout. Second, it intensified anti-American public opinion in the Middle East. Third, it fuelled a populist Islamic groundswell in the region that threatens to undermine America’s key Middle East allies: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Fourth, American policy in the Middle East has increased the terrorist threat to the US.

The Bush administration’s Middle East policy was a classic example of an anti-wedge ‘strategy’. Rather than preventing the coalescence of forces hostile to the US, or deflecting their attention from the US, the Bush strategy has had the effect of unifying diverse groups against American interests. Instead of viewing them as discrete conflicts, the Bush administration regarded the conflict in Iraq, the ‘war on terror’, unrest in Gaza and the West Bank, turmoil in Lebanon, and the confrontation with Iran as part of a single enterprise. This tendency to aggregate opponents rather than to peel them off was first evidenced in January 2002 when President Bush linked Iran and Iraq – and North Korea – as part of an ‘axis of evil’.

Similarly, although Syria and Iran long have had an ambivalent relationship, the administration grouped them together rather than trying to split them apart. Bush also lumped together Sunni Islamic radical groups like Al-Qaeda and Hamas and Shiite fundamentalists like Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq, the Iranian regime, and Hezbollah – and regarded them as a single, unitary menace. As Bush put it, ‘The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.’15 Bush’s comments manifested a vast ignorance of the cleavages in the Islamic world. Even worse, his policy of treating Sunni and Shiite radicals as a single threat may have acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a ‘glue strategy’ – that instead of dividing or neutralising opponents of the US, unified them and created threats that either would not otherwise exist, or would be much less potent.

In the Middle East, an offshore balancing strategy would break sharply with the Bush administration’s approach to the Middle East. As an offshore balancer, the US would redefine its regional interests, reduce its military role, and adopt a new regional diplomatic posture. It would seek to dampen the terrorist threat by removing the on-the ground US military presence in the region, and to quell rampant anti- Americanism in the Islamic world by pushing hard for a resolution of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. The strategy would also avoid further destabilisation of the Middle East by abandoning the project of regional democratic transformation. Finally, as an offshore balancer, Washington would seek a diplomatic accommodation of its differences with Iran.
Offshore Balancing Good – East Asia
Offshore balancing necessary to stabilize East Asia.
Gholz, Press, and Sapolsky 1997 [Eugene and Darryl G., PhD candidates – Dept. Poli. Sci. @ MIT, Harvey M., Prof. Public Policy and Organization @ MIT, “Come Home, America, The Strategy of Restraint in the Face of Temptation,” International Security, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Spring, 1997), pp. 5-48 | VP]
American foreign policy in Asia, too, has been captured by Cold War alliances, although in this region the formal institutions are less developed than the European NATO structure. The United States has already pulled out of its largest overseas bases, the facilities at Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines, but has reinvigorated the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and reaffirmed the “tripwire” deployment in Korea. Indeed, one of the principal architects of the Clinton administration’s Asia strategy, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., has suggested that the United States remain engaged in the Pacific Rim with the specific intent of slowly developing formal institutions of regional integration. We argue, however, that this forward presence in Asia has lost its Cold War security rationale, exposes American soldiers to risk, costs Americans money, and artificially reduces the defense burden on America’s leading economic competitors, helping them compete against U.S. companies.

As in Europe, the United States currently has about 100,000 military personnel stationed in Asia, all of whom should be brought home and demobilized. The United States should end its commitments to Japan and South Korea, cease military cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), withdraw from the Australia, New Zealand, United States Pact (ANZUS), and terminate the implicit guarantee to Taiwan, giving those nations new incentives to take care of themselves.

No Asian ally of the United States faces an overwhelming conventional threat. It requires astounding assumptions about the relative fighting strength of North and South Korean soldiers to develop a military balance requirement for U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula. South Korea may want to improve its defenses further to replace capabilities that the United States is expected to supply – e.g., build a larger air force – but it is difficult to understand how a country with twice the population and twenty times the economic power of its primary competitor, not to mention a substantial technological lead, cannot find the resources to defend itself.

Current U.S. strategy implicitly assumes that America must remain engaged because of the Asian countries’ failure to balance against Chinese strength. But Japan and Taiwan, the two plausible targets for Chinese aggression, are more than capable of defending themselves from conventional attack. Both enjoy the geographic advantage of being islands. The surrounding oceans ensure a defense dominance that could only be overcome with enormous material or technological advantages.

Offshore Balancing Good – China
Offshore balancing key to maintain influence in Asia as China rises.
Nexon 2009 [Daniel H., Asst. Prof. Dept. Gov't. and the School of Foreign Service @ Georgetown U, "The Balance of Power in the Balance," Vol 61, No 2, April, MUSE | VP]
Even more than the states of South Asia, Evelyn Goh’s survey of the Southeast Asian world suggests a strong and unwavering demand for the right kind of U.S. presence and engagement with the region. Given the area’s proximity to a rising China—which attracts even as it unsettles—Southeast Asian dependence on the United States for deterrence and reassurance is likely to remain high, irrespective of what Washington’s other failings might be. Goh emphasizes, however, that although the region would welcome renewed, but not overbearing, U.S. attention, key regional states are nonetheless focused on diversifying their “strategic dependencies” to include increased engagement with China. Their aim is to enmesh China while reaching out to other major regional actors, such as Japan and India, in an effort to balance the growth of Chinese influence. Mindful of the recent successes of Chinese diplomacy, this Southeast Asian interest in diversification is likely to increase further and though the regional states benefit from a strong offshore U.S. military presence, their ability to transparently support U.S. policies, especially when controversial, is nonetheless limited by the large Muslim populations that reside in many of these states. The best recipe for continuing U.S. success in Southeast Asia, Goh concludes, consists of maintaining a strong offshore military presence capable of maintaining hegemonic order should this be threatened, without either pursuing the “outright containment of China” or leveling burdensome demands in the individual bilateral relationships with key states, while continuing to participate in regional institutions.

Offshore Balancing Good – Avoids anti- American resentment
Offshore balancing avoids anti-American backlash and reassures allies of U.S. commitment

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