Renaming Asia to ‘Indo-Pacific’ Won’t Change the Reality That USA Does Not Belong There
Trump admin can upgrade the Washington Newspeak but can't make the US and China equally at home in Asia
As the mainstream media has aptly noticed the Trump administration has introduced a new geographic term. Where before US officials would deem the “Asia-Pacific” is now the “Indo-Pacific“.
The reason for this change is the same as the reason why Asia (or more specifically East Asia) was renamed to “Asia-Pacific” by the Americans in 1980s and the 1990s in the first place. To massage geography.
Being able to speak about Asia without actually using the term “Asia” the US hopes to confuse the issue of who actually belongs there. “Indo-Pacific” calls to mind far fewer, and much different associations, than does “Asia”.
Explaining the finer points of Newspeak in 1984 George Orwell put it thus:
The words COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL, for instance, call up a composite
picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx,
and the Paris Commune.
The word COMINTERN, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly-knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or a table.
COMINTERN is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily.
Washington speaking of its national and security interests in Asia automatically raises the question of why should the United States of America have important interests in another continent an ocean away in the first place.
Speaking of its interest in a hegemony in the “Indo-Pacific”, however obscures this issue. Because it is a term nobody actually uses it comes with few connotations beyond the obvious — India and the Pacific Ocean — thus obscuring the reality the US and Asian countries are not, and can not be, equally at home in that part of the world.
Even the dissident South China Morning Post correctly notes the hope of Washington’s new rhetorical invention is that the public will forget China lies smack down in the middle of this “Indo-Pacific” region.
Just like the point of renaming East Asia to “Asia-Pacific” decades ago was about suggesting that not only Asian countries, but also Australia, and perhaps even the US which borders the Pacific, somehow belonged here.