Disconnecting from the region
This chapter addresses two central puzzles at the core of international politics. First, what is the relationship between economics and security? To what extent, if at all, does economic interdependence temper security conflicts? Second, to what extent do multilateral institutions mitigate national differences and enhance the prospects for state-to-state cooperation on otherwise contentious issues? It tackles these issues by examining the interactions between the US and the expanding ecosystem of East Asian and Asia-Pacific institutions on both economics and security. Concentrating on the period since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 (GFC), it analyzes the contentions concerning ‘rival regionalisms’ and ‘multilateralism 2.0’ now mushrooming throughout the region. Critical is the competition between institutions nominally promoting cooperation and state-to-state suspicions that continue to handicap regional institutions from redressing the region’s most contentious issues. US policies have seen a radical shift under different presidential administrations, particularly in the post-GFC contrast between policies under Obama and Trump. The chapter closes with an assessment of current developments after one year of the Trump presidency.