The ‘enemy within the gates’: the key to American politics

US political factions seem to have moved beyond seeing each other as legitimate competitors in a democratic marketplace of ideas. The other side is perceived as the holder of totally unacceptable moral, economic, and political ideas and values, and only their total overthrow will suffice. Each side sees the other as the “enemy inside the gates”. Can the divisions in America be resolved in a pluralistic compromise?

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US Secretary of State Blinken tells NATO it’s not an ‘us-or-them’ choice with China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed NATO members in Brussels on Wednesday 24 March 2021 calling on them to work with the US to counter China. However in a shift of tone from that of recent weeks, he also said that the US “won’t force allies into an ‘us-or-them’ choice with China,” and acknowledged that the US knows “that our allies have complex relationships with China that won’t always align perfectly”.

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A China strategy to reunite America’s allies (Chatham House)

China already has significant geopolitical and economic clout in Asia and beyond – especially through the Belt and Road Initiative, its massive investment program in global infrastructure, and commercial development. Economic decoupling is not in the offing; China is far too integrated into the global economy. So is there a “China strategy” that would reunite the US and its democratic partners?

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US-Japan alliance: experts point to America’s strategic reliance on Japan in Asia

Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, long time pillars of the Washington national security policy elite, are the lead authors of a new report from CSIS on the US-Japan alliance, with a suggested “new agenda for the challenges and opportunities on the horizon”. It is deeply refreshing to see them acknowledge, albeit somewhat wistfully, that there is no going back to US hegemony. To exercise influence the US will have to partner with other states.

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The US-Japan alliance in 2020: an equal alliance with a global agenda (Armitage-Nye)

Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye have led a team to produce a new “bipartisan Armitage-Nye” report on the state of the US-Japan alliance, seen as critical to addressing both regional and global challenges. On the question of China and US strategy in Asia, the report is both entirely predictable and refreshingly surprising.

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The US role in the world: a new normal

President Trump has pursued a different vision of the US’s role in the world – one which has had an undeniable impact on relations with allies and competitors alike, and has reshaped perceptions of the US as a global actor. A robust debate over its future global role has ensued. US allies like Australia should be paying close attention, because whether or not Trump wins re-election, the US will not be able to resume some quasi-mythical past role, and the world will need to adjust to a new normal.

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An alliance of democracies: with the US or for the US?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an “a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies”. By bringing together its European and Asian allies under American leadership, the US hopes to bring them into line with its own China strategy. But an “alliance of democracies” would not really be an alliance with the US – it would be an alliance for the US, to further the American interest, to which the interests of its allies would inevitably end up being subordinated.

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