- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Strategic Asia: Continuing Success with Continuing Risks

Ashley J. Tellis


This chapter overviews the themes and conclusions of the volume, both highlighting how key international trends are affecting Asia and drawing implications for U.S. policy.

Main Argument:

Power in the international system continues to shift to Asia from the West, spurred by the superior growth of Asia’s major economies. This growth is not uniform, however, and is causing a new struggle for strategic alignments among Asian states and with the U.S. While Asia’s rise has brought new opportunities, it has also created challenges, including increased energy demand and environmental damage. Economic growth has allowed Asian states to invest more in modern military capabilities, which could threaten U.S. hegemony and regional stability. Economic growth has not democratized Asia’s authoritarian states, raising concerns about the long-term prospects for continental peace and stability. By virtue of its economic, military, and political ties to the region, the U.S. will remain indispensable to the balance of power in Asia in the years to come.

Policy Implications:

  • Despite the steady emergence of new centers of power in Asia, the U.S. will remain the only country with truly “comprehensive national power,” implying the continuance of American hegemony.
  • The U.S. will continue to be the predominant military power in Asia and an integral part of the region’s economic success as a source of technology and innovation, as a market for exports, and as an investment destination, while remaining the provider of choice for key public goods.
  • To maintain its position in the long term, the U.S. must renew the domestic foundations of its power, strengthen its partnerships with Asian friends and allies, and deepen its military superiority through greater investment and innovation.