Sputnik: What do you make of this proposed funding for spending $1.5 billion in the Pacific to maintain US dominance?
Pandey: First thing is that we still don’t know the details how this money is going to be spent. Who are the countries that are going to benefit and in what ways they will benefit. Of course in the Pacific East Asia Japan and South Korea are the main US allies so definitely they are very much into the US scheme of things.
But apart from them, in South East Asia in recent times, the US has been trying to build partnerships with an array of countries, including Vietnam, and some of the other ASEAN nations, with whom the US has traditionally enjoyed very close partnership.
But in what way this $1.5 billion is going to be spent we do not know. We do know that after becoming President Donald Trump initially showed not much enthusiasm for Obama’s pivot to Asia Pacific policy or for Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both, in certain ways, have been abandoned.
Trump has instead focused on building bilateral ties and alliances with countries of Asia Pacific, with East-Asian countries and South-East Asian and South- Asian countries, including India. So we will have to wait to know, first of all, whether this money is actually sanctioned by the Congress, initially by the Senate where it has been initiated and then by the Congress. And then how it is going to be spent we really do not know. Whether this would be for military purposes or non-military, we do not know.
Militarily we do know that Trump has tried to augment, to increase defense spending by almost 54 billion dollars for 2018 compared to 2017. We also know that he has tried to increase the number of active troops from about half a million to more than that, about 10% increase he proposes. Similarly, the maritime and naval forces also he intends to devote more money to. So we will have to wait and see how it works out. How it is operationalized. Who are the countries that are going to be involved in this new initiative, we still do not know.
The views and opinions expressed by Sanjay Kumar Pandey are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.