Barack Obama smiles as he attends a town hall meeting with members of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
America’s economic and strategic future rests in Asia. Home to half the world’s population and the three largest economies in the world, the Asia-Pacific region is ground zero for growth in the global economy. President Obama understands this well, and is visiting Asia this week to strengthen the bonds between America and its Asian allies.
And yet, America’s ambitious strategy to reassert itself as a Pacific power—its so-called “rebalance” to Asia—is hardly completed. As David Sanger reports in the New York Times, seven years into the rebalance, “Asian nations are deeply skeptical about how much they can rely on Washington’s commitment and staying power in the region.”
First, conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was delayed. Recall, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was to be a central pillar of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. The deal was originally supposed to be concluded in 2012; however, negotiations stretched all the way into late 2015. Consequently, the TPP’s prospects are thinning under the corrosive politics of the 2016 election. To be clear, a failure to pass the TPP would have serious strategic consequences for America’s role in Asia.
Another hurdle to the rebalance has been that America’s foreign policy energies have been focused elsewhere. In the period that the Obama administration hoped to shift its attention to Asia, the United States was forced to continually respond to economic and security crises in the Middle East and Europe.
The result is that America's rebalance to Asia is in trouble. For the United States, this could mean a significant economic and strategic opportunity lost. For Asia, an absent America could spell more political, economic, and military instability in the region.
This week's selected reads examine the challenges inherent in American leadership in the Pacific, and highlights some of the pitfalls that may further derail US efforts to rebalance to Asia.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion in blog posts are the sole responsibility of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council.
POLITICO’s Ryan Heath joins Deep Dish to explain the lessons the United States can learn from countries that are further ahead in the COVID-19 infection timeline.
With borders now closed and countries like Italy in an increasingly restrictive nation-wide lockdown under the threat of the novel coronavirus, Europe is facing a crisis likely unparalleled since the end of World War II. This compounds an already disruptive year, following the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and increasingly calls into question the continued relevance of the political and economic bloc.
As COVID-19 spreads around the world, non-resident senior fellow on global cities Robert Muggah shares his insights into the spread and impact of pandemics, why they are becoming more common, and how cities can help minimize threats now and into the future.
The Midwest is caught in the painful shift from one economy to another, and its divided fortunes show this. It is a split between winners and losers, between well-educated city dwellers and the left behind, angry denizens of the old economy. All this has big impacts that are economic and social – and political.
While the political importance of the American Midwest in 2020 is clear, the region of 70 million people is all too often written off as an economic has-been and a cultural backwater. The truth is a different, more complicated story.
Yemen's years-long war pits Iran-backed Houthis against a coalition of Saudi-led forces seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government, and the United States is involved as well.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn joins Deep Dish to explain the Trump administration’s plan in war-torn Syria.
It is too early to conclude that the epidemic will shake the Communist Party’s grip. Once the “people’s war” has defeated the epidemic, the authoritarian regime may turn out to have become even more powerful. But this crisis has made a few things clear. It illustrates how cities are increasingly important actors in addressing pressing global challenges. It also exemplifies how central-local government relations can shape a country’s response to major epidemic outbreaks.
Mira Rapp-Hooper and Ivo Daalder discuss the state of US alliances at a moment when new concerns are flaring up from the Philippines and East Asia to Europe.
After a decade and a half as German chancellor, Angela Merkel has said she will step down in 2021. In the latest #AskIvo, Council President Ivo Daalder looks at three big issues rising to the surface in German politics on the eve of her departure.
For years, violence and crime have led to poor living conditions in the country and mass emigration. Rosa Anaya joins Deep Dish to discuss her work rehabilitating inmates and gang members in El Salvador.
Do Chicagoans truly understand the important role the US Navy plays around the world and the increasing challenges to its previously unimpeded supremacy of the seas?
Global Cities Fellow and ACLS/Mellon Public Fellow Samuel Kling reflects on experiencing transportation in Korea's largest city, renowned for its Metro and Cheonggye Freeway removal.
Anthony F. Pipa and Catherine P. Sheehy discuss how much of the remarkable work on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals is happening at the sub-national level, by cities, local governments, and the private sector.
America spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, and the Department of Defense oversees some 1.3 million military personnel. But is it all necessary?