Biden will inherit healthy Indo-Pacific alliances

Biden will inherit healthy Indo-Pacific alliances

New president won’t have to work too hard to repair US partnerships

A popular refrain from the incoming Biden administration is that U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific have been atrophying under the past four years of Trump administration mismanagement.

Antony Blinken, nominated to become Secretary of State, said last July, “We need to rally our allies and partners instead of alienating them” to deal with China. President-elect Joe Biden lamented that President Donald Trump has “belittled, undermined, and in some cases abandoned U.S. allies and partners.”

To be sure, Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his trade war threats have done little to ingratiate Washington in the region. His questioning of whether Japan and South Korea are paying enough to make the alliances worthwhile is worrisome. There are certainly other examples that can be raised.

On the whole, however, the Biden administration might be surprised to discover that U.S. alliances and partnerships are in good shape — the result of a growing Indo-Pacific consensus on the existential economic and security threat China poses. These regional jitters frequently benefit Washington, and in many cases, it is becoming the partner of choice, suggesting the Biden administration will not have to work too hard to repair U.S. alliances and partnerships.