What a Second Term Might Mean for Obama’s Asia Policy
Last November President Obama laid out a new vision for American foreign policy – a shift in focus toward Asia. Speaking to the Australian Parliament in Canberra, the president said:
“With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress. As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision – as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”
The president spoke of stronger military ties and economic partnerships in the Asia Pacific. He said the US will promote civil societies and the advancement of the rights of all people in places like Burma. He talked about combating piracy and extremism in Indonesia.
The president – as well as administration officials – have taken to referring to this new strategy as a “pivot” toward Asia.
Bhaskar Chakravorti, a senior associate dean at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, said this pivot was unavoidable.
“A pivot towards Asia is centered on the 800-pound, or the 1600-pound gorilla in the room, which is China. And the question about China has to do with how do we both compete with and collaborate with, and help and get help from China all at the same time?”