When President Obama came to office in January 2009, some hailed him as the first Asia-Pacific president, given his upbringing in Hawaii. Indeed, during his first term, President Obama emphasized a U.S. “rebalance toward Asia” in word and action, traveling extensively within the region in 2011. However, with a full set of domestic policy demands and with major developments in other regions of the world – most notably the Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – the sustainability of the administration’s policy shift toward Asia has been called into question.
On March 6, as President Obama prepares for his next scheduled trip to Asia, the Brookings Institution webcasted remarks from former U.S. National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, focusing on the state of U.S.-Asia relations and the genesis and execution of the U.S. rebalance toward Asia. Donilon, who served as U.S. national security adviser from 2010 to 2013 and was a key architect of the rebalance policy, outlined the Obama administration’s shift toward Asia and how that policy might play out in the remaining years of the Obama presidency.
Brookings Board of Trustees Chairman John L. Thornton provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. Mr. Donilon took audience questions.
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