Promises and perils
Prashanth Parameswaran

Introduction Southeast Asia has traditionally occupied a marginal role in US foreign policy in general and US Asia policy in particular, and American commitment to the region has remained quite ambivalent since the end of the Cold War. But during his time in office, US President Barack Obama raised the level of US attention given to Southeast Asia and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a level not seen since the end of the Vietnam War. 1 Seeing Southeast Asia and ASEAN as vital to preserving what it referred to as the rules

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Open Access (free)
An endangered legacy
Matteo Dian

Introduction This chapter will discuss the legacy of the Obama administration of 2009–17 for US–Japan relations. It will highlight elements of change and continuity that characterised the Obama years in the realms of security and economic policy, as well as the significance of historical memory and the processes of reconciliation between the two countries. It will also discuss policy shifts promoted by the administration of President Donald Trump at around the halfway mark of his 2017–21 presidential term in office. The Trump presidency, it is argued, has

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Christopher K. Colley and Sumit Gunguly

opportunities, to policies based on strategic hedging and the balance of power in the international order. This chapter specifically examines the relationship under the two Obama administrations and the first two years of the Trump administration. It argues that the overriding driver of Indo-US relations during this period was the mutual desire to hedge against the rise of China. Additionally, however, there were other factors influencing ties, chief among these economic considerations. As will be demonstrated, the focus on China and increasing trade links between the United

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Bruce Cumings

Introduction President Barack Obama’s historic “Pivot” to Asia, formally announced in late 2011, would come to have little appreciable effect on US policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), other than a dramatic uptick in Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons development programme. Obama’s “strategic patience” towards Pyongyang failed to halt or slow its development of weapons of mass destruction, but it did manage to initiate greater levels of Sino-US cooperation over sanctioning the regime, the introduction of more US resources and weapons to

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Washington’s painful search for a credible China policy
Börje Ljunggren

Introduction In 2018, one-time members of the Obama administration – Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, and former Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, Ely Ratner – noted that, since the end of the Second World War ‘[t]‌he United States has always had an outsized sense of its ability to determine China’s course. Again and again, its ambitions have come up short.’ Today, they argued, ‘the starting point for a better approach is a new degree of humility about the United States’ ability to

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Atul Bhardwaj

Introduction The return of the United States to the Indo-Pacific is one of the most significant elements of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy. He ordered a bold alteration of course, in the midst of an economic storm, to save the crumbling maritime empire against continental China’s advancing influence. As will be shown, this occurred as part of Obama’s efforts to rejuvenate the United States’ Asia Pacific presence, a strategy his successor Donald Trump built on throughout the relabelled Indo-Pacific. Even so, the United States has long

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Exception, not transformation
Malcolm Cook

Introduction The Obama administration was the first to put ASEAN at the centre of its Asia diplomacy. Gaining membership to the ASEAN-created and ASEAN-led East Asia Summit (EAS), achieved in 2011, was deemed a particularly important milestone. It is quite possible that the Obama administration may well become the only American administration to prioritise the EAS to such an extent. Up until the time of writing in early 2019, the Trump administration from 2017 reverted to a more typical US approach to Asia focused on Northeast Asia, bilateral relations and

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Autopilot, neglect or worse?
Nick Bisley

Introduction Donald Trump’s 2016 election threatened a revolution in US Asia policy. Since the early years of the Cold War, the United States has been a constant presence in the region’s security setting. 1 American military power has been the pre-eminent force in the region, organised through a series of bilateral alliances and quasi-alliance guarantees. This presence was part of the larger US Cold War grand strategy in which Washington sought to ensure a favourable strategic balance in Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. 2 Although the Obama

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Robert Sutter

Introduction As both candidate and throughout his first two years as president to early 2019, Donald Trump employed unilateral actions and flamboyant posturing in upending the strong commitment to positive diplomacy and political engagement of regional governments and organisations of the previous administrations of Barack Obama. Two years into his presidential term, Trump remained avowedly unpredictable as he junked related policy transparency, carefully measured responses, and avoidance of dramatic action, linkage or spill-over among competing interests

in The United States in the Indo-Pacific
Obama’s Legacy and the Trump Transition

This edited volume explores the political, economic and security legacies former US President Barack Obama leaves across Asia and the Pacific, following two terms in office between 2009 and 2017. The aim is to advance our understanding of Obama’s style, influence and impact by interrogating the nature and contours of US engagement throughout the region, and the footprint he leaves behind. Moreover, it is to inform upon the endurance of, and prospects for, the legacies Obama leaves in a region increasingly reimaged in Washington as the Indo-Pacific. Contributors to the volume examine these questions in early 2019, at around the halfway point of the 2017–2021 Presidency of Donald Trump, as his administration opens a new and potentially divergent chapter of American internationalism. The volume uniquely explores the contours and dimensions of US relations and interactions with key Indo-Pacific states including China, India, Japan, North Korea and Australia; multilateral institutions and organisations such the East Asia Summit and ASEAN; and salient issue areas such as regional security, politics and diplomacy, and the economy. It does so with contributions from high-profile scholars and policy practitioners, including Michael Mastanduno, Bruce Cumings, Maryanne Kelton, Robert Sutter and Sumit Ganguly. The volume will be of interest to students and scholars of the international relations of Asia and the Pacific, broadly defined; US foreign policy and global engagement; the record and legacies of former President Barack Obama; and the foreign policies of the administration of President Donald Trump.