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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid