On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama finished his four-country Asia trip. The trip was evenly divided between Northeast Asia (Japan and South Korea) and Southeast Asia (Malaysia and the Philippines). With the exception of a new 10-year bilateral defense cooperation deal with the Philippines, the visits were uneventful. The attention within the United States for the Asia trip was also comparatively low. While Obama was in Asia, the crisis in Ukraine continues to dominate international news.
The uneventfulness and lack of attention within the United States is indicative of the challenges that the Obama administration has not only in its “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region, but more broadly in its foreign policy. Simply put, it was indicative of how the Obama administration, perceived to be politically weakened at home and abroad, has been reactive and may be limited in its capacity to lead.
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