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International ordering and great power competition: Lessons from Central Asia

Overseas U.S basing agreements and their under-lying bargains are embedded in a broader ecology of “international orders” and emerging counterorders. In the initial post-Cold War period, when the U.S-led liberal international order was dominant, the United States was able to secure overseas basing rights by integrating host countries within its security network and offering various economic and political goods.

Today, the rise of China and Russia as influential revisionist powers across several regions is complicating and challenging U.S. leadership and its potential basing access in three critical ways.

First, revisionist competitors can politicize and target the overall security framework of a U.S. overseas basing agreement, such as an alliance (NATO), a common defense treaty (the U.S-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security), or a regional security organization (The Australia, New Zealand United States Security Treaty). Revisionist competitors can employ either “brokering” or “wedging” strategies or a combination of both. Brokering involves trying to embed the target country in a new framework of bilateral or regional security cooperation that is controlled by the revisionist power.

For example, the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) presents itself as a NATO-style body guarding against transnational and territorial threats in Eurasia, but the treaty also includes a clause prohibiting members from stationing foreign military troops in the region without the consent of the other treaty members.

Wedging involves undermining support in the target country for security cooperation with the United States by, for example, supporting anti-U.S. political factions, anti-base movements, or base-related disinformation campaigns. Both Russia and China have disseminated anti-U.S. disinformation via social media in an attempt to delegitimize the U.S. overseas bases among local populations — especially the U.S. Black Sea bases hosted by Romania and Bulgaria and the U.S. bases hosted by Japan’s island of Okinawa, respectively.


Source: Brookings

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