The U.S. is once again embracing the notion that money talks in geopolitics. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an infrastructure spending plan that’s being framed as an alternative to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. According to Pompeo, the U.S. intends to give $113 million directly to fund digital, energy, and infrastructure connectivity. The plan also gives the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – an agency that helps American businesses invest in risky emerging markets, but which was on the chopping block a year ago – a stay of execution. OPIC will be merged with a branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and its spending cap will be doubled to $60 million.
Until this point, the Trump administration’s oft-touted vision for “a free and open Indo-Pacific” has been bereft of substance. The U.S. has joined India, Australia and Japan in reviving the moribund Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – a loose coalition intended