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Publisher Description

It has become cliche to refer to the twenty-first century as the Asian Century. Indeed, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said in Kuala Lumpur, "We know that much of the history of the twenty-first century will be written in this region, because it is the center of so many of the world's greatest opportunities and biggest challenges", she was merely restating what most US strategic planners have taken for granted for some time. (1) A more controversial idea related to her statement is whether the rise of Asia means the relative decline of the United States. In this regard, US strategy appears to be focused on the concept that America can continue to rise with Asia. During his first trip to Asia as president, Barrack Obama observed that "the fortunes of America and the Asia Pacific have become more closely linked than ever before", and pointed out that Asia and the United States are not separated by an ocean, but bound by it. (2) Indeed, the United States is a maritime nation, and its prosperity is intrinsically connected to and sustained by active commerce with its partners. The sea lanes to, from, and within Asia carry the bulk of that commerce, and therefore US maritime strategy is focused on sustaining free communication over those waters. During an address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2010, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provided an overview of how the United States sees strategic priorities in Asia within the context of broader US defence priorities. Gates underscored that the United States is a Pacific nation and that it will remain a power in the Asia Pacific. He explained that with sovereign territory and longstanding economic and cultural ties to this region, US security interests and economic well-being are integrally tied to those of Asia. Specifically, he highlighted United States commitment to: free and open commerce; a just international order that emphasizes the rights and responsibilities of nations and fidelity to the rule of law; open access by all to the global commons of sea, air, space, cyberspace; and the principle of resolving conflict without the use of force. (3)

Politics & Current Affairs
August 1
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)

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