A change of era… and of strategy. Having left Afghanistan where it has been bogged down for twenty years, the United States can now turn to East Asia, where it wants to counter the rise of China, now its number one priority.
Refocus on strategic competition with China
A sign of the American strategic turn, which wants to free itself from the war on terrorism to refocus on strategic competition with China and Russia, Vice-President Kamala Harris went to Asia in the midst of the crisis in Kabul, while thousands of Afghans stormed the airport in an attempt to flee the Taliban.
She accused Beijing of “undermining the international order based on law and (of) threatening the sovereignty of nations” with its claims on the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The tour was seen as an effort by the US administration to reassure worried Asian allies that the departure from Afghanistan would precipitate the fall of the government in Kabul.
But for Ryan Hass of the Brookings Institution, recent events in Kabul should not have a lasting impact on the credibility of the United States in Asia. “The reputation of the United States is based on common interests with its partners in the region to counter the rise of China and to preserve the long period of peace which has allowed the rapid economic development of the region”, explains this specialist in Asia.
“America’s growing focus on events in Asia will instead open up new opportunities for the United States and its partners in the region to deepen their cooperation on common interests,” he told AFP. .
– Advance his pawns –
An opinion shared by the elected Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the Committee on the Armed Forces of the House of Representatives. Asked Tuesday about the risk of seeing China invade Taiwan or Russia attacking Ukraine, emboldened by the image of weakness given by the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the influential elected Democrat Adam Smith was unconvinced.
Some believe that the calculations of China and Russia “have changed simply because we have withdrawn 2,500 troops from Afghanistan,” Adam Smith told a Brookings Institution virtual conference. ” I do not believe that “.
“There are a lot of other reasons why Russia or China might think they can be aggressive in some parts of the world,” he added. I don’t think that the fact that we are no longer detained in Afghanistan is part of it ”.
What attitude will China adopt towards the Taliban?
For Derek Grossman, a former Pentagon official now an expert at the Rand Corporation, China could however be tempted to advance its pawns in Afghanistan, now that the United States is gone. It is “unlikely that China will wait long before recognizing” the Taliban regime, said Rand analyst.
“China, as a new world power in competition with the United States, probably wants to show its unique way of handling the international situation which tends – often by simple reflex – to be the opposite of Washington’s approach,” he said. he added in a recent note. In addition, “recognizing an Afghanistan led by the Taliban would contribute to the idea that it is Beijing, and no longer Washington, which decides the future of the region,” he adds.