News / USA

Q&A: Impact of Obama's Decision to Skip Asia Summit

FILE - President Barack Obama waves from Air Force One as he departs West Palm Beach, where he spent the Presidents Day weekend playing golf.
FILE - President Barack Obama waves from Air Force One as he departs West Palm Beach, where he spent the Presidents Day weekend playing golf.
The White House has announced that U.S. President Barack Obama is canceling his plans to travel to Asia for diplomatic visits and an APEC summit because of the government shutdown. VOA's Marissa Melton spoke to White House correspondent Dan Robinson about what that means for the United States' relationship with its Asian allies.
 
Q: First of all, what does this cancellation mean in a practical sense, and then in a symbolic sense?
 
A: Well, this is a big deal for a U.S. president, especially one who has emphasized the importance of the Asia/Pacific region, not only at APEC but at other forums like ASEAN, the East Asia summit under the rubric of ASEAN. A big deal for a U.S. president to miss two APEC summits two years in a row.  As you know, President Obama was not able to go to the APEC summit in Vladivostok last year because of the U.S. presidential election campaign. This is bound to raise further questions in Asia among those who are questioning U.S. commitment not only to the strategic pivot but to the whole regional focus or rebalancing of U.S. economic interests in the region.
 
Q: We haven’t even had a president visit Malaysia in a couple of decades, isn't that right?
 
A: That’s right. Earlier, before the announcement that the rest of the trip would be canceled, the White House announced that President Obama would not be going to Malaysia. That would have been the first visit by a U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson way back in 1966. Also cancelled was the stop in the Philippines. President Obama has said he looks forward to making those visits at some point during his second term, but clearly this is going to put a lot of pressure, there’s no doubt that Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Hagel, who have been traveling in the region, can carry the weight for the United States, but again this is very important for the U.S. president to attend not only the APEC summit but also the east Asia summit and meetings with ASEAN.
 
Q: Is this cancellation about the cost of the trip, or about putting pressure on Republicans here at home?
 
A: Well, absolutely, and you saw this in the White House statement, blaming “the Republican shutdown,” what the White House calls the Republican shutdown of the U.S. government. The White House has made the point that East Asia, the Asia-Pacific region, is so important for U.S. jobs, for the U.S. economy, and here you have this dilemma that exists in Washington where the government remains shut down and President Obama has been in such a quandary with Republicans on Capitol Hill. The analysts that I’ve spoken to over the last few weeks in reporting this story leading up to this cancellation say there have been serious questions beginning at least a year ago about the U.S. budget sequestration and the fact that the United States couldn't get a budget done and concerns about the U.S. maintaining security relationships. Now, the U.S. military strategic pivot is moving forward, analysts say, but again there are these nagging questions about whether the full U.S. government has been engaged or can be engaged in this Asia rebalance.
 
Q: How likely is it that this cancellation will have an effect on the standoff between the Republicans, the Democrats and the White House?
 
A:   Personally, from my observations, I don’t think this is going to have much of an effect. One of the things some of these analysts noted was that the members of Congress who used to be very, very engaged and concerned about our relationships with the Asia Pacific -- Senator Jim Webb, for example, Joe Lieberman - many of the lawmakers are no longer in Congress. So the impact of the president having to miss such a trip is probably going to be reduced, although there'll clearly be some concern. The real question is, how Obama will be able to recover from this and, in the next year or so, make it clear to Asian allies and partners that the United States is definitely committed, at least for the second term that Obama has in the White House.
 
Q: Is a rescheduled visit enough to make it up to the Asian countries he’s having to cancel on right now, or will he need to go an extra mile to reestablish the relationship with them?
 
A: He will have to go the extra distance. For some who have suggested for example that he make a specific, lead a trip to the Asia Pacific, to lead a group of business CEO’s and go with them to the region, to kind of reinforce the United States’ determination to remain engaged.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid