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Shivmitra Mishra asked: What does it mean to be a ‘resident power’ in a region, for e.g., US is a resident power in the Asia-Pacific?

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  • S. Kalyanaraman replies: A resident power is one that does not own territory or have a territorial presence in a particular region of the world, but is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with in the international politics of that region. This 'presence' in a region of an extra-regional power is not simply a function of its geopolitical interests in the region but more importantly its forward deployment of military forces in the territories of its allies in the region and/or in the high seas abutting that region on a regular basis. It is this forward physical presence and location of its military capabilities in a region, and the diplomatic interests that these military capabilities ultimately seek to protect and promote, which makes an extra-regional power a resident power in that region.

    There is a great deal of uncertainty about the territorial extent of the Asia-Pacific region. Some view it as encompassing all of South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania. Others expand it further to include countries in the Americas that have coasts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. But whichever of these definitions of the Asia-Pacific’s territorial extent we choose, the United States is not simply a resident power but is actually a territorial state in this region. Including the Pacific coast of the United States within the Asia-Pacific automatically makes it a territorial state in this region. Even if we take the more limited definition of Asia-Pacific's territorial extent, the United States still becomes a territorial state given that it enjoys sovereignty over islands such as Guam and Hawaii.

    If we are to talk about the United States as a resident power, then it would be more appropriate to refer to it as a resident power only in the Asian or the European continent.

    Posted on January 05, 2016