Hagel pens op-ed: US is committed to Asia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made clear in an op-ed Tuesday morning that the U.S. would continue to maintain its role in the Asia-Pacific amid skepticism about the president’s “Asia Pivot.” 

America’s military presence in the region has allowed security and prosperity to flourish throughout the region for decades, and would continue to promote greater security and prosperity in the region, Hagel said in the Wall Street Journal op-ed he penned with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.  

ADVERTISEMENT
“These efforts are particularly important because the Asia-Pacific region is confronting historical animosities and disputes that fuel tensions, increase uncertainty and risk wider conflict,” the two secretaries wrote. 

Disagreements that begin with sovereignty concerns could cause a “ripple effect of negative consequences that range from wasted resources and delayed private investment to miscalculation and conflict,” they wrote, a reference to territorial disputes in the region, including between Japan and China over a group of islands in the East China Sea that both claim. 

Hagel and Pritzker said regional nations should work together to establish fair rules of the road in the security and economic realms, work together on humanitarian disasters and build partnerships. 

The U.S. will continue to work closely with allies on defense systems and military interoperability, they added. Although U.S. exports of military or military-related items to China are not permitted, the U.S. “will continue to encourage exports of high-tech commercial items to China for civilian purposes.” 

“As part of the Obama administration's comprehensive strategy for rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific, the Departments of Defense and Commerce will intensify our dialogue with regional leaders and pursue innovative ways to collaborate,” Hagel and Pritzker wrote. 

“The Asia-Pacific's dynamic growth cannot be taken for granted. Security, stability and prosperity require constant attention, a commitment to shared principles, and the combined efforts of the United States and all Asia-Pacific nations. When nations work together for the benefit of all their people, everything is possible,” they said.