The second Obama administration is keen to achieve positive outcomes with its "rebalancing toward Asia" policy but its ability to deliver remains questionable, analysts told a seminar yesterday.
The previous and current Obama administrations have underscored the importance of the US revitalising its Asian alliances, particularly with Asean and Thailand, Charles Salmon, a foreign policy adviser at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies (APCSS), said.
But the US had also reassured other parts of the world that the rebalancing act would not undercut security commitments elsewhere, he told the "Asia Pacific Security in the Next Decades: The US Rebalancing towards Asia" seminar. The forum was jointly organised by the APCSS and Chulalongkorn University's Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS).
"It is the re-recognition of the Asia Pacific and continued engagement that is good for Thailand and other alliances, for example, supporting the region in building up regional architecture like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)," Mr Salmon said.
The TPP is a free trade pact that some see as part of the so-called Asia "pivot" aimed at reaffirming US power in the face of China's economic rise.
John Brandon, director of the Asia Foundation's International Relations Programme, said the US had a strong commitment to the rebalancing policy but its ability to deliver was questionable.
Asean leaders had sensed that the US had consistently been absent in the region since 2009, he said.
Ongoing integration within Asean, particularly the emergence of small- and medium-sized enterprises, was a potential area for US recalibration, Mr Brandon, who is based in Washington, said. He noted, however, that US education programmes such as the Fulbright scholarship were declining due to budget restrictions.
US financial constraints would pose a major challenge to its ability to "rebalance" in the region, he said.
Robert Fitts, director of the American Studies Programme at ISIS, said that once the new Chinese leadership completely consolidates its power in the coming years, Beijing's stronger voice and assertiveness in the region would become challenging for Washington.
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