Why Asia Wants America

Why Asia Wants America


I met this month with a business delegation from Malaysia, and one of them said to me: “Senator McCain, when we look at America these days, you seem totally dysfunctional. Your political system seems incapable of making the basic decisions to fix your fiscal problems and project resolve to the world.” And by the way, he said, “some in Asia are citing these failings to undermine the confidence that your friends still have in you.” I couldn’t disagree with him.

This is an enormous problem. And it raises doubts about our commitment in the Asia-Pacific region. While it’s wrong to speak of a “pivot” to Asia, the idea that we must rebalance U.S. foreign policy with an increasing emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region is undoubtedly correct. The core challenge we face is how to make this rebalancing effort meaningful, because at the moment, amid all of our political and fiscal problems, we run the risk of over-promising and under-delivering on our renewed commitment across the Pacific.

It’s difficult to overstate the gravity of the choices before us right now. We face immediate decisions that will determine the vector of American power in the Asia-Pacific region – diplomatically, economically, and militarily – for decades to come. We have to get our bearings right. If we fail, we’ll drift off course and fall behind. However, if we get these big decisions right, we can create the enduring conditions to expand the supply of American power, to strengthen American leadership, and to secure America’s national interests across the Pacific.

After all, while the context in Asia is changing, U.S. interests in Asia have not. We still seek the same objectives we always have: the ability to prevent, deter, and if necessary, prevail in a conflict; the defense of U.S. allies; the extension of free trade, free markets, free navigation, and free commons in air, sea, space, and now cyber. And above all, the maintenance of a balance of power that fosters the peaceful expansion of human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the many other values that we share with increasing numbers of Asian citizens.

None of these interests is directed against any other country, including China. The continued peaceful development of China is in our interest. We reject the notion that the United States wants to contain China or that we seek a new Cold War in Asia, where countries are forced to choose between the United States and China.

In short, the question we must answer is: Can we in the United States make the big strategic decisions right now that will position us for long-term success in Asia?

One of those big decisions pertains to trade. It’s often said that the business of Asia is business, but when it comes to trade, the United States has been sitting on the sidelines, and Asia is sprinting forward without us. After four years, this administration still hasn’t concluded or ratified a single free trade agreement of its own making. It took them until last year just to pass the FTAs with Korea, Colombia, and Panama that the Bush administration had concluded. Meanwhile, since 2003, China has secured nine FTAs in Asia and Latin America alone. It’s negotiating five more, and it has four others under consideration.

And it isn’t just China. The Japanese prime minister announced this month that he wants Japan to begin negotiations on a free trade area with China and South Korea. India is now negotiating an FTA with the European Union. And yet, we won’t even conclude a narrower Bilateral Investment Treaty with India, let alone a full FTA, as we should. As of last year, one report found that Asian countries had concluded or were negotiating nearly 300 trade agreements – none of which included the United States of America. The launch of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has brightened this picture a bit, but a deal may be years off – if it happens at all.

Instead, we should be moving forward with a bilateral trade agenda, starting with India and Taiwan. We should also move more aggressively on a multilateral track. The Trans-Pacific Partnership splits the ASEAN countries. We either need to bring all of the ASEAN countries into the Trans-Pacific Partnership or push for a formal U.S.-ASEAN free trade agreement. The bottom line is that U.S. long-term strategic and economic success requires an ambitious trade strategy in Asia.

A second decision with enormous implications is our regional force posture. We all share the same goals – strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance, while maintaining our strategic commitments in the Asia-Pacific region through a robust presence of forward-deployed military forces. Like many of you, however, some of us on the Senate Armed Services Committee were critical of the previous plan to realign U.S. forces on Okinawa and Guam, which had become totally unaffordable. The costs of the Guam move alone had doubled in seven years to more than $20 billion.

Mr J Keynes
December 24, 2012 at 18:54

No need.  America seems to be committing hara-kiri single-handedly. It will go into a stagflation or in simple English – languish at the bottom of the trough – for a long time to come.  Its debt is to big to overcome for its economy to grow. All its tax revenue will continue to go towards paying off the interests on its borrowed money.  The US dollar will crash some time in second half of next year, mark my words. The game is in play already.
What do you think all these QE 1,2 & 3 is all about?  What do you think the comments by respected "analysts" that the USD will appreciate next year all about?  With all the USD  money swishing and swoshing about,  it is nothing but an enticement for foreigersn to buy USD while America accumulates foreign exchange.  Rest assure whe the USD is high enough, thee will come a tumbling crash catching all the foreigner holding USD, with their pants down, losing billions if not trillions.  If China, Japan, the EU, Russia, and sovereign funds from Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc. are smart, they'd stay away from the honey-trap called USD next year.
See how Washington and Wall Street collaborates to reduce US's debts to foreign countries and make a bundle at the same time while depreciating the USD drastically lower each time in order to bring back its export competitiveness.   Expect their modus operandi to take 10 years to bring down the USD and continue to cheat its debtors of the value of the loans denominated in USD and Wall Street raking in the profits from forex . 

December 24, 2012 at 06:53

 I'd like to wish everyone out there:
Merry Christmas, eh! (Canadian)
Merry Christmas (English)
Joyeux Noël (French)
Fröhliche Weihnachten (German)
Καλά Χριστούγεννα (Greek)
חג מולד שמח (Hebrew)
Gleðileg Jól (Icelandic)
Buon Natale (Italian)
Merii Kurisumasu (Japanese)… Now, read/listen:

My dear Americans.. I am watching this big divide on different threads, diversity of views is a good sign provided that converge ultimately in a year or two but.. BUT remember: in the U.S. WE as mankind have lot of stakes: in nearly all fields of knowledge, research, technology, Medicine, life-saving-treatments, drugs and currency ( has become CORREN$Y) and above all democracy ! In a democracy ( capitalism or Capitali$m), the highest office is not that of the PRESIDENT but that of being a citizen….
Democracy is always a beckoning GOAL; not a safe harbor ! For freedom is an unremitting endeavour, never a final achievement..
What we forget, is the obstinate refusal to learn from the History of agile nations… plz let U.S. be a nation.. innovate solutions with patience and pride.. God forbid; If you fall, where do we go from here.. we are sitting over your shoulders and that is why we can look ahead of you.. 
A scenario: assume, U.S. closes the shop for only 12 months….what will happen in other continents: Old-feudal-wars on currency will start first, and within 24 months, our world will become without nations.. small countries will remain in a jungle.. no law of the land etc…

I Tweeted to Mr. Obama a few days back, I quote : "@BarackObama @nilofer @kickstarter @TEDx @Etsy: U.S.Needs today, people who have "disciplined-schooling "hunting instincts &implementation-bite."
I wish you all to plz focus on RESEARCH where we all have our survival. I wish to know : is there a way that this broken,meager message reaches all of my American friends & brothers ( Sisters, included)..

September 18, 2012 at 21:50

When the US tells 'pivot to Asia', it means to the Asia-Pacific region…thats East Asia and Southeast Asia…
The Middle East and South Asia are old stories.

Imran Abubakar
August 17, 2012 at 01:56

Tell that to China

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
August 14, 2012 at 04:46

The geographical fact that USA is a Pacific power matters.  USA is now trying to reassert herself with some leadership role with ASEAN countries. 

Rahul Singh
July 30, 2012 at 04:04

who says that asia needs america, it is america who is putting efforts to enter asia for their own benefits…. They are trying to improve military relations with india, they are putting everything so that they can replace russia to become biggest military partner with india…. they created naval base in bangladesh to enter south china sea, as there is huge fuel reserve.. 

July 27, 2012 at 11:05

bring jobs from china to america . withdraw all factories from china back to america

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
July 21, 2012 at 08:45

In USA there are voices and politicians echoing such voices that sweat shops in Asia should be eliminated.  That's why Nike and other American brands have monitors in Asia to ensure wages aren't too low and standards  for workers are acceptable.  Compared to other employers from other countries,  American branded buyers are examplary. 

July 11, 2012 at 12:13

Asia has been prosperous because of US. There are numerous factories out source to Asian countries especially China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Outsource business has been very good for their population and increasing their wealth. 
Most of the manufacturing has been set up there that's why Asian wants America. 

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
July 10, 2012 at 02:29

Look at South Korea.  The US has 25.000 soldiers maintaining stability for the country.  Yet at times, south koreans blame USA for separating their country and think that US troops are occupying their country. 

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