US maintains strong focus on Asia-Pacific

In his commentary, Dr William Choong raised important questions about the shape of the regional order in the coming decades ("US and TPP: Losing balance in the rebalance"; Monday).

But he also wrote: "As Mr Aaron Connelly of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute argues, dysfunction and neglect plague Washington's Asia-Pacific policy. While his predecessor, Mrs Hillary Clinton, spent much time in Asia, Mr John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has focused his efforts in the Middle East and Europe."

In fact, in a paper published last month, I argued that the United States' strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific has been characterised by a steady and thoughtful increase in time, energy and resources devoted to the region.

Indeed, it has been successful because it has been institutionalised past the point where the interests of individual members of President Barack Obama's Cabinet are a key factor.

Nevertheless, Mr Kerry has continued Mrs Clinton's unblemished attendance record at key meetings hosted by Asean.

The subtitle of my recent paper, Dysfunction And Neglect, applies only to the policy environment in the US Congress, which has continued to focus greater attention on other regions of the world.

Aaron L. Connelly

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'US maintains strong focus on Asia-Pacific'. Print Edition | Subscribe