Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Archive 2012

​Previous Conferences


A Fundamental Geostrategic Shift?

Consequences of US rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific region for regional and global security policy


International relations scholars and analysts alike have been discussing the coming of an Asian Century for decades, predicting a shift of the centre of gravity from Transatlantic to Asia-Pacific. Until

last year, however, the notion remained contested, despite the new economic dynamics unfolding in the Asia-Pacific region at the turn of the twenty-first century.

With last year’s strategy statements from US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, there is a renewed and pressing sense of a fundamental strategic shift in international relations and global governance. And while in earlier debates the emphasis was often put on economic dynamics, this latest adjustment of US policy clearly demonstrates a geostrategic move with, potentially, very significant implications for security policy at the national, regional and global levels. In light of recent armaments dynamics and territorial disputes in the wider Asia-Pacific region, the US Defence Review in January 2012 explicitly stated:

»Accordingly, while the US military will continue t contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. Our relationships with Asian allies and key partners are critical to the future stability and growth of the region.«

Source: 2012 Strategic Guidance for the Department of Defence

Aim of the Conference

Against this background, FES wishes to assess the significance of this supposed shift for global peace and security governance. 

Primarily we want to reflect on the origin and depth of this latest dynamic in the United States and assess the consequences for traditional alliances (namely, Europe and the wider Transatlantic world), as well as for the supposed new centre of geostrategic gravity in th Asia-Pacific region. Germany’s current role and responsibilities in this regard will be given special attention.

In addition to this, we also want to look beyond the supposed old and new centres of gravity and discuss the consequences and interdependencies of a fundamental geostrategic shift for other region as well, in order to provide a more comprehensive picture for our partners in Germany and around the world. 

Finally, we want to introduce a critical non-mainstream perspective on the supposed geostrategic shift: Critical Geopolitics will help us to frame this crucial debate in a way that reflects on the limitations and pitfalls of the strong geostrategic and geopolitical narratives that influence foreign policy decision-making.


Download program as PDF

Conference Reports & Blog

The Other China, comment by Judy Dempsey for

Pazifik anstatt Atlantik? Zur asiatisch-pazifischen Ergänzung der US Sicherheitspolitik, report by Julian Junk for (in German)

Report by Niels Annen and Marius Müller-Hennig

Conference blog featuring reports on various sessions


Preliminary Video Intervention by Dr. John Agnew, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles

Video Interview on Climate Change with Kevin Rudd, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister of Australia (2007-2010)

Related Official Documents & Statements

Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament, November 17, 2011

Foreign Policy Article by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, November 2011

US Department of Defense Strategic Guidance 2012

Shangri-La Security Dialogue, speech by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Saturday, June 02, 2012

Related Publications

Is US Security Policy »Pivoting« from the Atlantic to Asia-Pacific? A Critical Geopolitical Perspective, FES Perspective by John Agnew

»Presence with a Purpose« The Reorientation of US Security Policy, the Rise of China and Its Consequences for the Role of the United States in Europe, FES International Policy Analysis