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PacNet #53A – America’s Role in Asia: A Convergence of Views

In its second term, the Bush administration needs to pay more attention to Asia in general and Southeast Asia in particular. Most importantly, while Asians need to recognize the importance of the war on terrorism to Washington in the post-Sept. 11 world, so too does Washington need to understand that a seemingly unidimensional approach toward Southeast Asia – frequently characterized as Washington’s continued “hectoring” on terrorism issues – detracts from the accomplishment of other key objectives shared by Washington and the majority of East Asian nations: the promotion of open markets, democracy, and the rule of law; the need to address root cases of instability; human security concerns, such as the spread of HIV/AIDS, SARS, bird flu, etc.; the desire for safe and secure sea lanes; and the need to stem the flow of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – an effort that has gained a sense of urgency over fears that such weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists.