Remarks by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg

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Summary

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg closed the 2010 FPI Forum with his remarks on U.S. foreign policy, particularly in regards to three main security issues: stability in the Pacific/East Asian regions, military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the New START Treaty. Steinberg argued that focusing on these areas of national security strategy would require a strong bipartisanship effort.

Steinberg explained that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have been effective in demonstrating U.S. intentions of sustaining or strengthening engagement in the Pacific region and in East Asia. Steinberg stated that their official trips to specific countries have been important examples of core engagement with bilateral partners, but he also argued that involvement in multilateral Asian bodies, like APEC, would be equally as important for U.S. national security. On the topic of North Korea, Steinberg expressed that the U.S. and South Korea needed to determine a common approach in dealing with the regional instability in East Asia. In regards to China, Steinberg emphasized that the Obama administration must be more stringent and clear in its demands and expectations during bilateral cooperation. He stated that the U.S. needs to recognize its differences from China, especially in the realms of democracy and human rights, and find a commonality that would bring positive incentives for further cooperation.

Steinberg also argued for sustained U.S. engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. An effective bipartisanship is required to carry out this engagement because Congress must work together in allocating the necessary funds towards rebuilding programs in both countries. Steinberg explained that the U.S. must give confidence to the Iraqi people in forming an “inclusive government to bring in all major constituencies” for political representation. This reassurance can only be provided through continued U.S presence, which is needed to train police and to strengthen institutions.

Bipartisanship was the central theme of Steinberg’s address, especially when discussing the New START Treaty. Steinberg supported President Obama’s efforts to push the New START through Congress when he stated that this resetting of U.S.-Russian relations would be critical to long term U.S. national security. The treaty provides “predictability, certainty, and understanding” of the Russian nuclear program and allows the U.S. to verify and monitor Russian developments. Steinberg asserted that the New START would not constrain U.S. missile capabilities. This agreement would, in fact, allow the U.S. to sustain its own program and would be important for the modernization of U.S. nuclear capacities and stockpiles. Steinberg concedes that this treaty is very ambitious, but he questions the type of message that the U.S. would be sending by deferring or delaying its ratification.

During his conversation with Foreign Policy Initiative Director Robert Kagan, Steinberg focused on the importance of a strong bipartisanship for the future of U.S. foreign policy. His insight a wide range of topics, from human rights to political economy, in various regions of the world struck the core of this year’s theme—restoring U.S. Leadership of a Democratic World.

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Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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