Citing the budget imbroglio in Washington, the White House announced this morning that President Obama had canceled part of his trip to Asia. Scheduled stops in the Philippines and Malaysia have been nixed, and administration officials have intimated that the president's attendance at the APEC and Asean meetings remains an open question.
If you haven't had a chance to read it, here's the statement from the White House: "Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shut-down. Because they are on the back end of the president's upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning. Unlike the APEC and East Asia Summits, these trips can also be rescheduled, and President Obama looks forward to visiting Malaysia and the Philippines later in his term."
Quick reactions from AEI's foreign and defense policy scholars below:
- "President Obama should get ready for serious questions about America's global leadership after his Syria about-face and the government shutdown. Just showing up, touted by the Obama Administration as a change from the Bush years, is no longer enough for an Asia anxiously watching what crisis will next hit America. Nor will assuring allies that it's business as usual-they know that's not the case." -Michael Auslin, AEI resident scholar and former Yale professor
- "There is unlikely to be any useful economic discussion at these meetings; they are purely diplomatic events occasionally masquerading as something more. The president might brief his counterparts on progress toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that assumes there is meaningful progress to report." -Derek Scissors, AEI resident scholar and adjunct professor at George Washington University
- "The most important thing about the president's upcoming Asia trip is that it is being pre-shortened, under the pressure of domestic political considerations. From a commander-in-chief who has been broadcasting worldwide weakness of late, this is another unwelcome signal-both to our allies and to our adversaries." -Nicholas Eberstadt, AEI resident scholar and senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research
- "It's been nearly two years since the administration began to signal its intent to ‘pivot' to Asia. But this was predicated on ‘getting out' of Middle East entanglements. So far, the president has accomplished neither goal." -Gary Schmitt, AEI resident scholar and former executive director of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
- "Congress's inability to even keep the federal government open for business may have other countries wondering whether the United States can effectively implement policies beyond its borders. But the president is responsible for allowing the shutdown to derail US strategic efforts in Asia. Considering the president's penchant for half-measures in the realm of foreign policy, it's little wonder he has decided to cancel half of his trip to the region-and arguably the more important half at that." -Michael Mazza, AEI research fellow and program manager of AEI's Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy
- "So far, Obama's ‘pivot' to Asia can be summed up in three letters: MIA. Southeast Asia in particular, where the president spent part of his childhood (in Indonesia), has reason to feel neglected. Instead of countering aggressive Chinese diplomacy in the region, Obama is presiding over arguably the fastest dilution of American influence since the end of the Vietnam war." -Sadanand Dhume, AEI resident fellow and Wall Street Journal columnist