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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs