Asia, the Americas, and U.S. Strategy for a New Century

Speaking to a crowd of over 200 during the national conference of the World Affairs Councils of America in Washington, D.C. this morning, Deputy Secretary Bill Burns focused on the U.S. strategic pivot towards Asia and the tremendous opportunities the United States is working to seize in the broader Pacific region -- spanning from India to the western coast of the Americas. He highlighted how, in many respects, the Asia-Pacific will be the most significant part of the world for American interests for many decades to come. He challenged the audience "to think of those increasingly interconnected regions as an integrated whole... with commonalities beyond geographic proximity."

Drawing on his recent visits to Japan, China, Mexico, and South America, Burns observed that mutually reinforcing strategic and economic relationships with partners in Asia and the Americas will be central to our future success, highlighting that "these are places with booming middle classes where U.S. businesses can tap new markets and reach new consumers to drive the U.S. economic recovery forward."

In addition to Asia's well-known economic transformation, Burns highlighted the remarkable progress Latin America has made in consolidating democracy, lifting citizens out of poverty, and growing as a global commercial and energy marketplace.

He observed that our partnerships in the Western Hemisphere "are vital to our economic recovery and competitiveness; vital to our ability to solve the transnational challenges that no country can solve on its own; and vital to our efforts to promote and consolidate democracy and human rights globally."

Burns looked to the APEC leaders' meeting and North American Leaders Summit in Hawaii next week, as well as President Obama's participation in the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum later this month, as key opportunities to drive our agenda forward and strengthen the trans-Pacific architecture. He noted that our challenge is not to contain rising powers in Asia and Latin America but to lead them and in doing so ensure "that the Pacific century ahead will also be an American century."

Burns closed by stressing the importance of investing in U.S. leadership, noting that "any attempt to cut that small investment will not make a dent in our deficit, but will certainly make a dent in our leadership. And that is what we cannot afford."

You can read a transcript of the Deputy's remarks here.



Ashim C.
November 5, 2011

Ashim C. in India writes:

Mr. Bill Burn's speech rightly emphasises the importance of the entire Asia Pacific region,in which he significantly included India too, for leadership of United States in 21st century. Certainly, the his thoughts reflect the vision of US as to how it would go about in strenthening and further imvigorating it's relationship with countries in the region. Possibly, the vision is inspired by one concern - JOOOOBs for Americans to stabilise and quicken the pace of economic recovery. President Obama's G20 statements said this loud and clear.

In Asia there are glorious success stories of Japan & South Korea. Former is a country, which have recovered from the ruins after second world to emerge as world's third largest economy in which, admittedly US-Japan post war friendship of more than 60 years has combined with ingenuity of Japanese. However, there is also the example of US-Pak relation, which is marked by high tides points of CENTO, later collaboration as a response to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and now a new level in the same relationship where US has to discover OBL in Peshawar and eliminate him, tell Pakistan it can have snakes in it's backyard and expect it will only bite the neighbour. While US Pak relations have evolved the way it has, Pakistan have not improved the way Japan and Korea and some other countries in region have. Does this contrast in the situation in Pakistan have anything to do with inconsistencies in US approach towards Pakistan? The answer is obvious.

Coming to China, good US relations with China can work wonders for US and world economy. However, from the content and tenor of Mr. Burn's speech as also of few of the questions that were asked, it seems that China seems to have replaced in 21st century Soviet Russia of cold war era though it is believed cold war has ended. This is the real challenge. One's sense is the authoritarian regime of Communist China has it's own internal compulsions - which again is the compulsion of keeping it's economy growing and keeping it's huge population employed and happily engaged - therefore, it will continue to agressively assert it's supremacy in Asia and pose as a challenger to USA without budging. Mr. Burn, with the advantage of information about ground realities in China, would know better but one, as an India and also an Asian, shudders at the thought of - God forbid- inconsistencies in US China policy going making Sino-US relations go into the US-Pak relationship mould. These negetive thoughts notwithstanding, one is hopeful that US vision of a new economic and strategic architecture shall take concrete shape soon enough in silk route, integration of SAARC, ASEAN with US, Japan India and all other SAARC countries contributing significantly to the process. There is need to sell the Japanese and South Korean experiences in particular before the people of whole of South Asia. This possibly has to begin with identification and prioritisation of difficulties and needs of people at grass root level of these countries, which will not only benefit them visibly but also strengthen and restore the credibility of political class there, who necessarily have to be partners in this vision.

Indiana, USA
November 7, 2011

Amanda in Indiana writes:

This is a good read for me. Thank you for posting this useful information.

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 4, 2011


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more