An American strategy for Southeast Asia



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Event Transcript

Michael Mazza: An American Strategy for Southeast

Event Summary

On Tuesday, AEI’s Michael Mazza hosted an event celebrating the release of his report, “An American Strategy for Southeast Asia.” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver delivered a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion led by AEI’s Dan Blumenthal.

Assistant Secretary Schriver opened with an overview of the United States’ strategy in the Indo-Pacific region and how the Department of Defense’s efforts were crucial to a “free and open” region. Mr. Mazza then relayed the findings of his report, discussing the importance of an open, peaceful, and prosperous Southeast Asia that demonstrates good governance. He highlighted ongoing security challenges in Southeast Asia, focusing on challenges in the South China Sea. While the panelists all agreed that a US trade agenda in the region is important, Mr. Blumenthal noted that, ultimately, the United States will need to compete with Chinese influence in the region.

— Annie Kowalewski

Event Description

In the wake of the “trade war” with China and drama on the Korean Peninsula, Southeast Asia often escapes notice. But this vital corner of the world cannot become a sideshow. Certainly, Southeast Asia’s tremendous economic and strategic potential is not lost on China, which has tried to bring the region under its influence. And Chinese aggression is only the start; terrorism and democratic backsliding also threaten the region. The need for strong partnerships in Southeast Asia has never been greater.

Join AEI for the release of Michael Mazza’s report, “An American Strategy for Southeast Asia.” Mr. Mazza will be joined by a panel of experts and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver, who will discuss how the US can implement a new vision for a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


12:15 PM

12:30 PM
Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs

12:50 PM

1:00 PM
Panel discussion

Cara Abercrombie, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Walter Lohman, Heritage Foundation
Michael Mazza, AEI

Dan Blumenthal, AEI

2:00 PM

2:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Annie Kowalewski at [email protected], 202.862.4885.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Cara Abercrombie is a visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s South Asia Program, on temporary assignment from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She focuses on US security interests in Asia, particularly opportunities for greater US-India defense cooperation. Ms. Abercrombie is a career member of the US government’s Senior Executive Service, with more than a decade of service in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. At the Defense Department, she has worked predominantly on Asia policy, most recently serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia. She has also served as principal director for East Asia policy, South Asia director, and senior India country director. From 2013 to 2014, Ms. Abercrombie was special assistant to the secretary of defense for national security policy. Before entering government, she worked to support civil society organizations and political party development in Eurasia with the National Democratic Institute.

Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at AEI, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. He has both served in and advised the US government on China issues for over a decade. From 2001 to 2004, he served as senior director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the Department of Defense. He served as a commissioner on the congressionally mandated US-China Economic and Security Review Commission from 2006 to 2012 and was vice chairman in 2007. He has also served as the John A. van Beuren Chair Distinguished Visiting Professor at the US Naval War College. Mr. Blumenthal has authored hundreds of articles in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and The National Interest. He is also the coauthor of “An Awkward Embrace: The United States and China in the 21st Century” (AEI Press, 2012) and coeditor of “Strategy in Asia: The Past, Present, and Future of Regional Strategy” (Stanford University Press, 2014).

Walter Lohman is director of The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. He is a policy expert focused principally on Southeast Asia but also on broader Asia policy, including relations with America’s allies in Japan, South Korea, and Australia. He joined Heritage in 2006 as senior research fellow for Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand and was promoted to director the following spring. He also is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he leads graduate seminars on American foreign policy interests in Southeast Asia and the role of Congress in Asia policy. Mr. Lohman previously served for four years as senior vice president and executive director of the US-ASEAN Business Council. In 2002, he served as a senior professional Republican staffer advising Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) on issues affecting East Asia. From 1991 to 1996, Mr. Lohman was a policy aide to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), advising him on foreign policy, trade, and defense issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.

Michael Mazza is a visiting fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the AEI, where he analyzes US defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese military modernization, cross–Taiwan Strait relations, and Korean Peninsula security. A regular writer for the AEIdeas blog, he is also the program manager of AEI’s annual Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy.

Randall Schriver is assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs. Before his appointment, Mr. Schriver was one of five founding partners of Armitage International, a consulting firm that specializes in international business development and strategies. He was also CEO and president of the Project 2049 Institute, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to the study of security trend lines in Asia. Previously, Mr. Schriver served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. He was responsible for China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. From 2001 to 2003, he served as chief of staff and senior policy adviser to the deputy secretary of state. From 1994 to 1998, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including as the senior official responsible for the day-to-day management of US bilateral relations with China’s People’s Liberation Army and bilateral security and military relationships with Taiwan. Before his civilian service, he served as an active-duty Navy intelligence officer from 1989 to 1991, including a deployment in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He then served in the Navy Reserve for nine years, including as special assistant to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and an attaché at the US embassies in Beijing and Ulaanbaatar. Mr. Schriver has won numerous military and civilian awards from the US government. While at the State Department, he was presented with the Order of the Propitious Clouds by the president of Taiwan for service promoting US-Taiwan relations. Mr. Schriver received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Williams College and a master of arts degree from Harvard University.

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