(KIYOSHI OTA/AFP/Getty Images)
After the Pivot
The Outlines of Trump’s Asia Strategy

The President’s Asian trip sketched out a smart approach to containing North Korea, competing with China, and rebuilding trust with allies. Now comes the time to fill in the blanks.

Published on: November 17, 2017
Daniel Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
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  • SeaAyeA

    We will see. Fairly disappointing from the appearance. Rightfully so, progressives and conservatives alike are putting together montages, like this, and hitting Trump over the head with them. It’s pretty effective. This is the kind of stuff that will hurt Trump badly.

  • ken_lov

    Despite the snide comments in the post about Obama, there’s no evidence Trump is doing anything very different. Attempts to contain China by means of a cooperative network of nations from Japan to Pakistan have been underway for years. They tend to ignore the fact that countries in the region have interests of their own – China for example is Australia’s biggest trading partner – and will be increasingly reluctant to be drawn into rivalry between Beijing and Washington when they have no reason to do so.

    Washington’s greatest challenge is likely to be to sustain support from its own people for continuing to dominate the region, at great expense and increasing risk, when it’s not even clear why this serves any vital US interest.

  • D4x

    It is refreshing to read a serious analysis of POTUS and First Lady Trump’s significant, and well-planned Asia trip, including acknowledgement of his Presidential social skills. Well done Daniel Blumenthal, for such a morsel at TAI. More please.

    11 10 2017 Trump speaks with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern,

    Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, and Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau on the sidelines at APEC, DaNang, Vietnam.

    Considering the unprecedented displays of respect to the Trumps by China’s President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan,

    it was hardly the time for criticisms on human rights. Each of the three State Dinners in four nights was wonderful to read about
    in the Asian press. The Republic of Korea publicized the menu, and gift, for their State Dinner in Seoul on Nov. 7:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2267c008031d85a6e970bbfd1b249166132f661f443b58905d407e54aeb61237.jpg (Yonhap)

    “On the back of the spoons and chopsticks, called “notsujeo” in Korean, the phrase “we go together” was engraved,

    along with the visit’s date — “2017.11.7.” The inscriptions were to represent the close relations between the leaders and the strong alliance between their countries, the office said.

    The stone bowls, or “dolsot” in Korean, are a symbolic gift given to those who have accomplished remarkable achievements,

    according to the office.” http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20171107000976

    Regarding the Quad: the USA needs to champion India’s accession to APEC;

    and add Bangladesh to the Quad+plus list, as State has already laid that groundwork.

    A strong, positive USA-Russia relationship in The Arctic Council is a good way to keep China from bullying Russia,

    which they are already doing in Siberia. China needs that Russian-provided Arctic sea lane to Europe.

    The USA, Canada, and the Scandinavians all want to normalize how Russia ‘handles’ the Arctic.

    The only thing missing is a catchy acronym, one of NATO and APEC’s enduring strengths.

    Depriving us of ‘SQuad’, Singapore seems to prefer strong bilaterals, based on the considerable agenda,

    and prep talks with the dean of Asia, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong on Oct. 24: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/24/joint-statement-united-states-america-and-republic-singapore

    If only someone with a platform would do an analysis of the TeamTrump bilateral team approach to these White House
    bilaterals. Has any POTUS ever had so many working lunches? 10 24 2017 Team Singapore working lunch with Team USA.

    Brookings Tanvi Madanhas a well link-annotated history of the Quad:
    The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the ‘Quad’ Tanvi Madan November 16, 2017
    […]The quadrilateral dialogue had an antecedent — the Tsunami Core Group in 2004-05, through which officials from the four countries
    coordinated the response to the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. […]

    Abe and Modi have a willing partner with Trump, who certainly knew how to seize the moment with those WH bilaterals.
    Australia was agonizing, in their press, over whether to embrace the Quad. I wonder how Trump got them onboard at ASEAN.
    Turnbull must want something more than a hat: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/33e8ad290f320cd82c65612edde55777001f51ceadc17d73b4c2de6dfdc94fb9.jpg
    11 05 2017 Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater baseball cap was PM Abe’s gift.
    Trump was captain of his high school varsity baseball team. 1st base, batted. 300, scouted by the Phillies and Red Sox.

    • Psalms13626

      That’s a fantastic cap. I gotta give Trump credit. He is doing his utmost to make me as wealthy as possible by pumping the economy. Strong growing economy cures many ills. it is a material social good. Go President Trump!!!

  • jstrong365

    The author mentioned the President’s vision for Asia 11 times. The President’s personal skills are formidable. However that is not policy.
    The only policy difference seems to be an abrogation of multi-lateral free trade agreements. On this front, the President promised much better agreements. His first foray into this field regarding NAFTA is not going well.

    Other than that, it is status quo. He reaffirmed our commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea. A position held by every administration since the 50’s. He is continuing freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Seas, just like his predecessors.

    The author states the importance of diplomacy in resolving these crises. Here, the President has made his views clear. The State Department is a problem and its activities don’t matter. Diplomacy is not a tool of foreign policy. Twitter is.

    Finally, we have the dream of a 355 ship Navy. The budget deficit for 2017 is going to be 666 Billion dollars. Congress is about to pass tax legislation that will add another 150 Billion to the deficit every year for the next 10 years. You can make an argument for increasing the military budget. Then tax the American people for its procurement. We have been fighting wars in 10 countries over the last 14 years. We haven’t paid a dime. Just add it to the National Debt. Helluva way to run a country.

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