After ten years of talk, Washington must act, Co-Director Zack Cooper and Adam P. Liff argue in Foreign Affairs.
This fall marks ten years since the Obama administration rolled out its famous “rebalance to Asia.” Standing before the Australian Parliament in 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that the United States was “turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region.”
Even at the time, American officials were clearly mindful of the widespread concerns about U.S. commitment to the region and skepticism that they would fulfill their sweeping promises. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton penned a widely read article in which she made the case that in the coming decade, the United States needed to pivot away from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and instead bolster its investment in the Asia-Pacific region. “In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make—and keep—credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action,” she wrote. “The answer is: We can, and we will.”
Ten years and two administrations later, it is clear that the United States has fallen short.