The next U.S. administration needs a clear strategic vision for Asia befitting the region’s status as the new global “center of gravity.” In a new policy brief, Asia—Shaping The Future Carnegie China Program Director Douglas H. Paal presents key steps the United States should take to advance its interests in “rising Asia.”

 Recommendations for the next U.S. president:

  • Decide early on clear U.S. strategic objectives in the region, and signal to China where constructive cooperation will lead.
  • Appoint a high-level advocate for Asia, a clear signal to the region of its importance.
  • Prioritize the bewildering alphabet of organizations and venues to achieve those objectives. Consider inviting China and India to join the G8.
  • Anticipate greater Chinese and Indian military and trade capabilities by developing new multilateral security and economic arrangements in the region.
  • Avoid coalitions based on common values or democracy. Asia is too diverse and complicated for them to succeed.
  • Ditch the “war on terror” rhetoric, which has proved divisive and counterproductive.

Paal concludes:

“In sum, the new American administration should prepare before taking office and in the immediate aftermath to address this discrete set of issues involving the Asia-Pacific region, some big and bold, others small but telling policy adjustments. Experience has shown that it would not be wise to repeat the Clinton and George W. Bush mistakes of supporting any policy but their predecessors’. Clinton’s “anything but Bush” approach to China and Bush’s “anything but Clinton” approach to North Korea have both been costly. Whether it wins one term or two, the life of any new administration will be short in retrospect. And the time for creativity and policy innovation is much shorter yet.”

About the Author
Douglas H. Paal is the director of the Carnegie China Program based in Washington and Beijing. He served as the director of the American Institute in Taiwan from April 2002 to January. Paal was the special assistant to President George H. W. Bush for National Security Affairs and senior director for Asian Affairs on the National Security Council, where he had also served during the Reagan administration.