What is Oceania's geopolitics

POLITICS I INDO-PACIFIC strategy

A new term haunts the geopolitical discussion: the Indo-Pacific. It connects two oceans - the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. It covers an area from the Maldives to Hawaii, i.e. all of Asia. In the political and strategic discussion, the term did not establish itself and establish itself until the mid-2000s. Japan's then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to the Indian Parliament in August 2007 about “Confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans”. In the following years the term found its way into the political and strategic circles of India, Australia, Japan and the USA. These four states also form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad for short. It was also launched in 2007 and provides for closer military cooperation between the four states.

But it was only after Donald Trump came to power in the US that the term found its way into the strategic papers of the US administration. The beginning of this strategic shift can be dated on November 17, 2017. At that time, Trump announced his vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) at the APEC summit in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. This was followed by strategy papers from the Pentagon in June 2019 (“Indo-Pacific Strategy Report - Prepardness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region”) and from the State Department in November 2019 (“A Free and Open Indo-Pacific - Advancing a Shared Vision”).

The USA has always seen itself as a Pacific power and has increasingly turned to the region under Barack Obama's “Pivot to Asia”. But Trump's swing has a new dimension. "The concept of the" Free and Open Indo-Pacific "aims to contain China," judge Felix Heiduk and Gudrun Wacker in a study. So you have to see the American FOIP concept in the context of the American-Chinese rivalry. The US wants to form an anti-China coalition of the willing - from India to Australia / New Zealand to Japan and Korea. "In Beijing, the Indo-Pacific is primarily understood as a US-led containment strategy directed against China," said Heiduk and Wacker.

And what does Europe have to do with it? Much. Because: "The EU and its member states are facing increasing pressure from Washington to directly or indirectly commit to the Indo-Pacific", write Heiduk and Wacker. France under the world politician Macron was the first European country to react to pressure from the Americans. The French government has already published two papers. First in May 2019 it was the Ministry of Defense (“France and Security in the Indo-Pacific”), then in August 2019 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“French Strategy in the Indo-Pacific”).

And now the federal government too. On September 2, the cabinet passed the "Guidelines on the Indo-Pacific". Subtitle: "Germany-Europe-Asia - Shaping the 21st century together". Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the foreword: "More than anywhere else, the shaping of the international order of tomorrow will be decided in the Indo-Pacific."

What does that mean? Send German military to the region? Defense Minister Annegret Kamp-Karrenbauer has already hinted in this direction in her keynote address at the University of the Federal Armed Forces on November 7, 2019 in Munich: "Our partners in the Indo-Pacific region - above all Australia, Japan and South Korea, but also India - feel increasingly harassed by China's claim to power. They want a clear sign of solidarity. "And then she said in the next but one sentence:" It is time for Germany to send out such a sign by showing our presence in the region with our allies. "

Will Germany's freedom no longer be defended in the Hindu Kush (as Defense Minister Peter Struck once put it), but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans?

Info:

The guidelines of the federal government are available here: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/2380514/35e5c739e1c9a5c52b6469cfd1ffc72d/200901-indo-pazifik-leitlinien–1–data.pdf

The French Foreign Ministry's paper in English: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/asia-and-oceania/the-indo-pacific-region-a-priority-for-france/

The Pentagon Report: https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jul/01/2002152311/-1/-1/1/DEPARTMENT-OF-DEFENSE-INDO-PACIFIC-STRATEGY-REPORT-2019.PDF

The US State Department report: https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Free-and-Open-Indo-Pacific-4Nov2019.pdf

The SWP study by Felix Heiduk and Gudrun Wacker gives a good overview of the development of the Indo-Pacific term in the geopolitical discussion: From Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific - meaning, implementation and challenge: https: //www.swp -berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/studien/2020S09_indopazifik.pdf