By Phillip C. Saunders.
About the Author:
Dr. Phillip C. Saunders is Director of the Center
for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs,
Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS),
at the National Defense University and a Distinguished Research
Fellow in the Center for Strategic Research at INSS.
Upon taking office in January 2009, Obama administration officials proclaimed a U.S. “return to Asia.” This pronouncement was backed with more frequent travel to the region by senior officials (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first trip was to Asia) and increased U.S. participation in regional multilateral meetings, culminating in the decision to sign the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and to participate in the East Asia Summit (EAS) at the head-of-state level. The strategic “rebalance to Asia” announced in November 2011 builds on these earlier actions to deepen and institutionalize U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.