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Taking on Water: International Order in the Pacific and American Leadership

This article written by Dr. Paul Coyer was published by Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy, Winter 2016, Issue 2.

One of the many areas of the globe in which the current international order is being challenged is in the Asia-Pacific, where a quickly rising, aggressive, and revisionist China is attempting to remake the regional order and to replace American leadership with its own (while working to chip away at American dominance over the global order, as well). The success China has had in coercively altering the status quo in the South China Sea, and the difficulty China’s neighbors have experienced in halting such Chinese activity, highlight the fact that the United States needs to make more effective use of its superior national power—its superior soft power, economic and political influence, military strength, and perhaps most importantly its vast network of allies and friends throughout the region (in contradistinction to China, which is essentially ally-less in the Pacific)—to blunt the Chinese drive in the Pacific and to strengthen a status quo under serious threat. An Asia in which the United States cedes leadership to China will, in the absence of major changes within China, gradually become less encouraging of liberal democratic values, less protective of citizenship rights, and less conducive to human freedom and flourishing.