Launch in external player
With President Obama off to Tokyo next week to kickoff his first trip to Asia as president, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is hosting a public forum today to discuss the administration’s policy options and challenges in the region.
The event – which will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note from 12:15pm – 2:00pm – features Carnegie Endowment experts Douglas Paal, Michael Pettis, Taiya Smith, and Michael Swaine.
The complexities facing President Obama in Asia are underestimated. Japan has been a taken for granted ally — and is now under new political management as the Democratic Party of Japan walloped the LDP in August elections. The new Prime Minister has mentioned but not outlined specifics about a call for a new “East Asian Community” that seems for the moment as if it would include China but exclude the United States. There are lots of suspicions on the Obama team about Hatoyama’s intent. There are issues related to US military basing arrangements that are stressful and Japan’s evolving role on global security and economic matters looks confusing to some.
China too and its increasingly intimate relationship with America’s core policy course on global economic matters, climate change policy, and statecraft with problem nations like North Korea and Iran are also key.
Human rights issues in Burma hang over Obama’s agenda. And addressing the identity needs and relative independence of Southeast Asian nations who both worry about and simultaneously embrace China’s rise also needs presidential attention — which is an increasingly scarce commodity given other domestic and international problems on the plate.
Obama needs to convince Asia that it matters in the roster of his and America’s priorities — even though the US is distracted in so many other directions. This session should be an interesting primer on those who want to study how Obama might walk that tightrope.
It is interesting to note that most still see the next century as an “Asian Century” but America is stumbling over itself to be involved just about everywhere else than there.
Hopefully President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton will change that impression.
— Steve Clemons