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The pivot to Asia is over, suggested Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, on the eve of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first visit to Asia on March 14, 2017.1 This statement, though expected, begs many questions: Is this just a repeal of the bumper sticker “Strategic Rebalance,” typical of administration change? If so, what is its replacement? Moreover, if this change is just in name but not in substance, will President Donald Trump stay the course? If not, what will be Trump’s policy toward the Asia-Pacific? What should be the new focus and priorities? In short, given the enduring U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific, what should be a sound and forward-looking U.S. strategy toward this region? This research project began with two questions on the future of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific: Was it the right thing to do, and have we done it right? Given the enormous expected growth in the region and thus the expected impacts in the world, the answer to the first question is a resounding yes. The answer to the second question is less clear. On the one hand, there have been several successes, not the least of which was the public pronouncement of the Obama administration’s directive to pivot attention to the region and increase significant travel and engagement in the region by former President Obama and his senior officials. On the other hand, there have been limited effects in world affairs and murky plans for future U.S. endeavors in the region, complicated by growing financial and political challenges inside the United States. Perhaps the best answer to the second question is that there was a great start with xiv an unclear follow-up. With the Trump administration now guiding U.S. foreign policy, it is time to move forward from the rebalance to a revitalized strategy and approach to the Asia-Pacific for the third decade of the 21st century

Publication Date

2-2018

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Defense and Security Studies | International and Area Studies | Leadership Studies | Military and Veterans Studies | Other International and Area Studies | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Politics and Social Change

Avoiding the Trap: US Strategy and Policy for Competing in the Asia-Pacific Beyond the Rebalance

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