Every American president since Harry Truman has announced a doctrine reflecting the priorities of each White House occupant. In his State of the Union address to Congress in February 2013, Barack Obama set out his priorities. Globally, Obama intends to put the United States at the head of two giant economic blocks – the Transatlantic and Trans-Pacific Partnerships. This should ensure Washington’s leadership in a polycentric system of international relations.
Simultaneously, Obama – who is trying to put an end to a “decade of wars” unleashed by his predecessor George Bush Jr. – faces the task of beating an orderly retreat from the international arena without letting it turn into a panicked flight. This scheme has become a key component of the “Obama doctrine”. It is based on the concept of a “smart force”, which emphasizes non-military means for securing U.S. influence in a multi-polar world.
The U.S. share of global GDP has shrunk from 23 to 18 percent over the past decade, while the share of mainland China has risen from 10 to 15 percent. Unless the Chinese economic development model hits an impasse, China will catch up with the U.S. in terms of GDP as soon as this decade, and will become twice as big on an exchange-rate basis by the middle of this century.
The U.S. president’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has admitted that the White House had decided that a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could help the U.S. to remedy the situation. It’s on this basis that Washington is planning to set up a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region.
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