One of the many foreign policy challenges that U.S. President Barack Obama now faces is the need to show nations in Asia that his much-heralded “pivot” to focus greater U.S. attention on them is a real policy and not just rhetoric.
Obama suffered a setback in efforts to build stronger ties with Asian nations after he was forced to cancel an important trip to the region in October to focus on ending the partial government shutdown and averting default on the national debt.
The U.S. president’s absence from critical multi-national meetings and state visits to Malaysia and the Philippines raised predictable questions about the strength of America’s commitment to the region.
Obama realizes the trip was important. “I should have been there,” he said at a news conference after announcing he had to stay in Washington to deal with Congress. “It’s almost like me … not showing up to my own party. I think it creates a sense of concern on the part of other leaders.”
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This op-ed was first published in International Business Times on Nov. 4, 2013
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