The role of the U.S. for the Energy Security in Asia (part 2)

We continue with another series of posts concerning Energy Security. The one you are about to read is the second part of the the previous one posted analysing the role of the U.S. for the Energy Security in Asia.

Control of the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz: American Leadership

Historically, the US has alliances with Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, etc., being strategic partners allow them to maintain some control of the region. Some evidence of the north american presence, interest and importance in Asia, is perceived by the deployment of troops in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans: for instance, the Pacific Command ( commonly known as PACOM and located in Hawaii) or the Defense Agreements Initiative that began in the 50s and remains in force (U.S. – Philippines 1952; Republic of Korea-United States Mutual Defense Treaty 1954; Treaty Mutual U.S. – Japan 1960, etc.).

It has approximately 225 military basis spread over different areas across the Pacific Ocean (7 naval bases in Japan; 1 base in South Korea; in Diego Garcia; Singapore; Indonesia, etc.), with 7 aircrafts (as in the Yokusuka zone) with the main objective of promoting free access to communication lines and free transit through them, while preventing China from blocking the access to maritime communication lines through the Spratly Islands, and so it must be done through «soft-power » means.

The U.S. has opened a naval base in Darwin, Australia. Aproximately, around 2500 marines will be transferred to the australian base. This move is giving the US the oportunity to increase its presence in the region, apart from the already 30,000 troops stationed in Japan; 28,000 in South Korea and 38,000 in Hawaii. According to the data available from the Deparment of Defense the figures show around 22,000 marines which are stationed in East Asia Pacific region since 2011. The number of marines in this area increased by 80%. Nevertheless, considering this ambitious goal, plus the result of the economic crisis, the U.S. has debt problems to maintain their spectacular military deployment.

Despite its remarkable military presence, the U.S. is trying to keep a low profile in South Asia. The reason behind the moderate maneuvers is none other than the serious domestic problems that Pakistan is currently facing, which could lead to a political disintegration, and could result in the use of nuclear weapons by radical Muslim groups. Afghanistan could follow this example and turn toward a radical Islamic authority. All the more reason for the U.S.  to keep its troops in the region.

U.S.A intends to reaffirm the role of India as a stable ally in the region, since Pakistan will try to approach China, which would present a scenario with two power alliances competing for the control of the region which would affect the safety of the maritime lines of communications in the Indian Ocean.

India has held negotiations with China, concerning for cooperation in the energy field, without losing sight of the Sino-Pakistani rapprochement first, and the Indian-American on the other, which could result in a power struggle with complicated ramifications in Asia. Everything evolves around the importance of  energy: oil, gas and nuclear technology.

United States has been cautious in its particular «War Against Jihadism» and has not jeopardized the oil route that passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and from which many countries in the region depend .

On the other hand, it is the Strait of Malacca,  where Singapore gains strategic importance as the base for controlling the strait. This corridor is still the main transit for oil vessels that head to China and Japan from the Persian Gulf. U.S. warships stationed in the Gulf region also have to go through this strait. Singapore needs the U.S. as protective of their sovereignty and guarantor of the stability of its waters.

***

Thank you for reading this post. There are going to be a few more articles about the american role on the matter. Stay tune and see you in my next post.

* Sources of information:

– Spoor, Max. “Asia y la economía mundial “Caminando con dos piernas (desiguales)”” –Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals, núm. 89-90, p. 45-62. [http://www.cidob.org/ca/content/download/23750/274347/file/03_MAX+SPOOR.pdf]
– McCain, John (2012, 22 de mayo). “Why Asia wants America” TheDiplomat.com: [http://thediplomat.com/2012/05/22/why-asia-wants-america]
– Global Security Forum 2012: Unconventional Oil and Gas: Reshaping Energy Markets.Wednesday, April 11, 2012. [http://csis.org/event/global-security-forum-2012-unconventional-oil-and-gas-reshaping-energy-markets]
– Navigating the Geopolitics of the South China Sea. April 11, 2012.[http://csis.org/multimedia/audio-navigating-geopolitics-south-china-sea]

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