2013 FPI Forum: Assessing the Asia Rebalance

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Assessing the Asia Rebalance

H.E. Kim Beazley, Australian Ambassador to the United States

Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces

Mr. Shigeo Yamada, Political Minister, Embassy of Japan

Moderated by Josh Rogin, Senior Correspondent for National Security and Politics, The Daily Beast

What Defense Does America Need?
Rudy deLeon, Center for American Progress and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense
Amb. Eric Edelman, FPI Board Director and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, Center for Naval Analyses and former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer)
Moderator: Bradley Peniston, Editor, Armed Forces Journal - See more at: http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/2013forum#sthash.6JhuIyYH.dpuf

Video  |  Audio  |  Key Quotes  |  Transcript


Key RUSH Quotes

H.E. Kim Beazley on President Obama’s inability to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit (APEC) due to the government shutdown:  “The inability of the president to be present at the APEC summit meetings was very bad.  All the spokesmen of the various countries at the time made certain that they made remarks that were supportive, and said they understood completely why the president was not there.  And, indeed, they did understand completely why the president was not there:  it would be like abandoning his post in a crisis.  He could not do that.  But nevertheless, that having been done, it did raise—privately—questions in their minds both about intentions with regard to the pivot but also the capability.”
H.E. Beazley on America’s role in the Asia-Pacific: “The notion that American commitments in north Asia are anything new is nonsense, of course.  The strongest alliance the U.S. has in the Pacific is with Japan, and arguably—and we would argue it in the case of Australia—the second strongest is the Korean [alliance].  The United States has a immensely sophisticated detailed engagement with the Chinese.  There’s a long longstanding U.S. involvement.  The issue is a Southeast Asian issue.  You have to look to history.  The Nixon Doctrine took the United States out of a great deal of Southeast Asian diplomacy.  And what the Southeast Asians are trying to do now, is work out where the U.S. fits in.  They don’t quite know.  They’re delighted the U.S. is engaged.  They think that’s terrific.  But how the U.S. fits in—they’re like coaxing the U.S. all about time about seeing whether they can get reactions, say, in engagement in the South China Seas, or if they can get a bit of a change in U.S. policy in arms sales, or something like that.  And they don’t really know, because they can’t, as the U.S. is itself is working its way through these issues.”
H.E. Beazley on Asia’s future: “The reality is that the U.S. is engaged.  The reality is that the Asia pivot is understood by American policymakers as critically matching changes in the global distribution of power.  That there, is the economic future of the globe.  There, is America’s prosperity.  There, is America’s opportunity.  But in trade terms and investment terms, and as the Asian middle class expands from something like 20 percent of the world’s middle class to about 60 percent over the next 15 years—so you move from 600 middle class to three billion—that’s a shift that will occur very much to U.S. advantage.  Because currently about Asia’s about exports, then it’ll be about consumption.  And that’ll be simply fantastic for the United States.”
Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) on Asia “rebalance”:  “When I hear anyone talk about the Asia-Pacific ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalance,’ the first thing that I see that’s missing is the capabilities.  I can meet with any general or admiral anywhere, and we’ve got the nomenclature pretty good—we can talk about it, we can write about what it should be, and what it might be.  But if you look, we really have a huge disconnect between the topic itself and actual capabilities that are put there to try to implement that policy, whatever it might ultimately be.”
Rep. Forbes on the defense budget:  “The one issue that wasn’t talk about except in a very small circle and that we kept trying to emphasize but we couldn’t get any traction on, was the impact this whole budget and sequestration on what it’s doing on defense, what’s doing on our capabilities.  And it was very, very difficult to get talk about that, so we had many people talking about Obamacare and other types of things.  My question was this:  How can I cast a vote on a piece of legislation that is going to continue solidifying us down a path, which I know creates a huge national security concern for this country, and I believe sequestration is doing that.”
Rep. Forbes on U.S. defense strategy:  “If I go to the Pentagon, I think one of the things that’s missing today is strategy.  We’re just not seeing the kind of strategy and planning that I think is going to be so crucial for us, whether we have this Asia-Pacific ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalance,’ or in anything else that the Pentagon would do.  And I’d give you just two examples.  We had a hearing just the last couple of weeks, and I asked a top-ranking official, and I said, ‘How do you make procurement decisions, how do our allies make procurement decisions, when really don’t have right now a national defense strategy.  The only thing we have is an 11-page defense guidance.  And the response we got back, which was an appropriate one, is, ‘That’s a very good question.’  They couldn’t answer it.  And the subcomponent of that, that I think we see missing with strategy, is if you look at what they’re getting ready to do with the Office of Net Assessment.  Like that office or not, I think it’s been a catalyst for a lot of strategy in the Pentagon for years, and I’m very, very concerned as we see that either go away or morphed into another entity, that I think we’re going to miss that opportunity for strategy.”
Mr. Shigeo Yamada on America’s presence in the Asia-Pacific: “Japan, of course, together with most of the Asian countries, fully supports the U.S. rebalancing policy to Asia, because the United States has played an indispensable role in the decades in regional stability and economic development.  And as the region now faces a series of historic changes and challenges, the robust presence and strong commitment of the United States is even more important to ensure the region—the Asia-Pacific region—remains to be the most vibrant region of the world.  So, Asia needs U.S. presence, and welcomes U.S. presence.”
Mr. Yamada on the importance of continued U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific: “However, when we, the Asian countries, talk about U.S. rebalancing policy, we tend to ask what the United States will do for us with this rebalancing policy.  But, as I said, we have to remember, it is us, the Asian countries, who want to see the United States fully engaged and showing strong commitment to the region.  And if that is the case, the question we should be asking is not, ‘What America will do for us?’  The question should be, ‘What together we can do for the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region’?  And on this point the Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese government is fully committed to working together with the United States as we are trying to achieve our shared goal of peace, stability, and prosperity of the region.”
Mr. Yamada on U.S.-Japan relations: “Prime Minister Abe, immediately after he took the office, made the very difficult decision on the economic front to join the TPP negotiations.  And now Japan and the United States, together with Australia, are working at the forefront of the negotiation toward the common goal of achieving a comprehensive, high-standard trade agreement by the end of the year.  And on the security side, the prime minister of Japan is very much committed to working with the United States.  And recently we have a very historic ‘2+2’ meeting in Japan, and the joint statement of that ‘2+2’ meeting declared that the United States and Japan resolve to be full partners in a more balanced and effective alliance, in which our two countries can jointly rise to meet the regional challenges of the 21st century.”



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