Washington: Some of the most experienced Asian and US foreign policy experts want the new US president to give urgent attention to Asia amid waning US influence and a shifting power balance in the region.
Asian experts warned in candid reports compiled by US-based Asia Foundation that although United States has been a regional power in Asia since the end of World War II, there is now growing uncertainty about the relevance of its power, given current regional dynamics.
“Gradually emerging is a multilateral Asian architecture based on a series of increasingly shared norms around interstate relations and security,” said former South Korean foreign minister Han Sung-Joo, Singapore envoy Tommy Koh and ex-India’s National Security Advisory Board member C. Raja Mohan.
They compiled the report after chairing workshops in the region that sought feedback on US policies in Asia. The American experts, on the other hand, wanted the successor of current President George W. Bush to pay “urgent attention” to Asia.
“Size matters and they have it,” said former US Under Secretary of State Michael Armacost and ex-Assistant Secretary of State J. Stapleton Roy.
Asia is major contributor to global exports and savings pool
Asia is home to more than half the world’s population and six of the 10 largest countries, produces more than 30% of global exports and controls a much larger share of the world’s savings pool, they said.
While the United States has been preoccupied with the situation in the Middle East, “the Asian balance has been shifting quietly, if inexorably, in the direction of others, they said. “China, Japan, India, and Russia are casting a longer shadow.”
In addition, they said, it was in Asia that the interests of the great powers intersect most directly, and the most consequential emerging powers -- China and India -- are located.
US policy on Asia needs to find greater political backing
US policy to Asia has scarcely been mentioned by Democratic candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain during the US presidential election campaign, and the region east of Afghanistan has not been on their travel itineraries.
American experts wanted a new US strategy to counterterrorism in the Middle East and South Asia that neither overshadows nor underrates a host of other foreign policy challenges.
They also called on the United States to promote respect for democracy and human rights by providing an example for others to emulate -- by keeping American doors open to Asians who seek access to US colleges and universities and by strengthening military education and training programmes.