By Erik Wasson - 04/17/14 11:15 AM EDT
Obama Asia re-balance in trouble, Dems warn
President Obama’s effort to refocus U.S. attention to the Asia-Pacific is falling short, a new report by the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warns. [Read the report.]
The report, which comes days before President Obama journeys to the region, outlines specific steps the administration should take to make good on its “rebalance” commitment.
“Despite progress in some areas, implementation of the rebalance thus far has been uneven, creating the risk that the rebalance may well end up as less than the sum of its parts,” Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) warned in a letter accompanying the report.
Tensions with China are escalating, as evidenced by the damning Treasury currency report this week while key allies Japan and South Korea are experiencing their worst relations in decades.
“The United States has successfully moved forward with the initial phases of implementing the military aspects of the rebalance. But given the broader strategic and policy goals, it is essential that the non-military elements also move forward with equal speed and weight,” the majority staff report finds. “An ‘unbalanced’ or under-resourced approach to the rebalance threatens to undermine the goals of the policy and, consequently, the prospects for greater prosperity.”
The committee recommends focusing on getting China to obey international norms and to synchronizing diplomacy and military activities better.
It says the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs should be beefed up, and more resources should be put behind human rights institutions. The report warns that Republican budget plans to slash agency funding would be counterproductive.
The success of the Asia rebalance, along with the legacy of the Russia reset could figure prominently if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides, as expected, to run for president in 2016.