The U.S.-Singapore partnership: A critical element of U.S. engagement and stability in the Asia-Pacific

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) as they meet in Singapore May 30, 2014. Hagel is in Singapore to attend the 13th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue. REUTERS/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool (SINGAPORE - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS) - RTR3RHH1
Editor's note:

The following paper is part of the Brookings Order from Chaos series Alliances & partnerships: U.S. commitments in the Asia-Pacific, in which contributing scholars offer their analyses of the various U.S. alliances and security partnerships, along with the diverse economic, diplomatic, and security challenges that impact those critical commitments.

The partnership between Singapore and the United States supports U.S. presence in the region. This promotes regional stability and growth, as well as the United States’ ability to protect its strategic and economic interests. Past and present U.S. administrations have recognized the value of Singapore as a reliable partner, and as a country that punches above its weight in the security, economic and diplomatic realms. The foundations have been laid for further enhancing relations. The onus is now on the next administration to build on it.

Strengthening U.S.-Singapore relations go beyond taking steps directly related to bilateral ties. The United States must also show itself adept at handling relations with China whilst maintaining a strong support for international law; ratify the TPP and cultivate further economic ties with the region; and demonstrate ethnic and religious sensitivity so that Singapore’s partnership with the United States does not put it in a difficult position in respect of its own populace or its neighbors.

The next administration must take early steps to signal sustained commitment to the region. The United States must guard against the temptation to withdraw unto itself or risk seeing its standing in the world greatly, and possibly irreparably, diminished.