The Pivot Policy of President Obama’s administration is a significant foreign policy initiative that sets a firm tone for the future of Obama’s presidential term. Enacted in 2010, the Pivot Policy seeks to rebalance the United States towards Asia, through increased diplomatic, economic, and strategic investment. In a Foreign Policy piece from November 2011, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton writes that pivoting towards Asia will be “one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade”.
The Pivot Policy calls for “forward-deployed” diplomacy, or, the continued efforts to dispatch all units of US diplomatic force. These include highest-ranking officials, development experts, interagency teams, and permanent assets placed in all corners of the Asia- Pacific region in an effort to keep up with the ever-shifting power dynamics present in Asia. The Obama administration will implement this plan for intensified diplomatic presence through six lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances, deepening working relationships with emerging powers, including China, engaging with regional multilateral institutions, expanding trade and investment, forging a broad-based military presence, and advancing democracy and human rights.
US treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Austria, the Philippines, and Thailand all have gained increased importance in the age of the Pivot Policy. The Obama administration hopes to sustain these long-held alliances, while making them strong enough to withstand the pressures of a changing geopolitical climate. In addition, former secretary Clinton’s “pivot” article explicitly references China and US-Chinese relations. She writes that China represents “one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage”. Nevertheless, Clinton explains that the US hopes to ameliorate and strengthen its partnership with China through increased involvement in the region. For example, the two countries now conduct a Strategic and Economic dialogue, talks bringing together dozens of agencies from both sides to discuss our most pressing bilateral issues, from security to energy to human rights. A main priority has been to identify and expand areas of common interest. The Obama administration hopes the talks will allow the US to work with China to build mutual trust, and to encourage China’s active efforts in global problem-solving.