The Straits Times
Published on Dec 05, 2012

A commitment to cooperate with, not contain, China: Obama administration


Despite persistent budget woes and pressing crises such as Iran's nuclear quest, the Obama administration considers Asia the No. 1 priority among all its foreign policy priorities, said Ms Michele Flournoy, its former Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

"Some people have questioned whether the US has the staying power to underwrite this commitment and I would simply paraphrase Mark Twain and say that rumours of our untimely demise are premature," Ms Flournoy told The Straits Times in an interview on Dec 5 ahead of her public talk in Singapore under the aegies of the think-tank the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

She is here on a six-day visit as the 38th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow and has met, among others, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

Ms Flournoy, 51, who is among the four candidates tipped to be the US's new Secretary of Defence, helped craft the administration's policy on shifting its attention to Asia from 2008, or what it calls "rebalancing" or the pivot. That pivot, she insisted, was ultimately to safeguard the US' economic future, which lies largely in the region.