After the Rebalance to Asia
For five years now, Washington has been debating the value of the Obama Administration’s rebalance to Asia. Questions have arisen over how it was formulated and rolled out, how well it is resourced, whether it too heavily weighted toward military matters, and whether the new attention is sufficiently distributed throughout the region. Experts and stakeholders in the policy have tried to sort out and explain China’s role, Taiwan’s role, the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional organizations. Washington has spent an inordinate amount of time on the implications of the terminology itself, “pivot” or “rebalance.” In short, the “rebalance” has been very carefully considered from virtually every angle. Now, in the midst of a political season in which Americans are debating their nation’s role in the world, it is time to take stock and start looking beyond the rebalance to the time when a new Administration will take ownership of Asia policy.
Recommendations for how the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific can be sustained include building more ships, following through on all the current pieces of the rebalance, maintaining and expanding participation in regional diplomatic initiatives, maintaining a constructive relationship with China, consistent support for Taiwan, and returning to a normal relationship with Thailand.