An Innovative Trans-Pacific Strategy: Integrating Latin America-Caribbean into the Asian-Pacific

  • Colonel Daniel S. Morgan

China’s expanding influence into the LAC region along with growing Asia-Pacific and LAC relationships present challenges to the U.S.. The complexity of the relationships between LAC and Asia-Pacific governments, to include China, suggest the U.S. rebalancing to Asia strategy is inadequate to address the cross-regional impacts. This paper explains political, economic, and military impacts and proposes a broader Pacific solution that links LAC into the U.S.’ Asia rebalancing strategy. The political relationships between LAC and Chinese governments can undermine U.S. values of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and international norms. China’s soft power through economic statecraft increases their influence by providing trade and investment alternatives other than U.S. options. Increased cross-regional trade flows are also creating integrated supply chains. Last, Chinese arms sales, training exercises, and military education exchanges provide revenue and support their military modernization in Asia. These factors create one integrated problem, not two separate ones. Without a broader Pacific strategic option, the U.S. regional approach to the Asia-Pacific will result in reduced access to markets and future strategic risk to U.S. influence in both regions.