Wednesday September 26, 2018
Home U.S.A. Will America’...

Will America’s commitment to economic growth and security in Asia-Pacific Region survive another Presidency?

US presidential campaigns have raised questions on the ability of US to follow through on promises to deeply engage the Asia-Pacific.

0
//
147
US Presidential Candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Wikimedia
Republish
Reprint

Rhetoric on the U.S. presidential campaign trail has raised alarms in the Asia-Pacific region and cast doubt about America’s future in an area seen as critical to the nation’s future prosperity and security.

The caustic, tawdry and personal nature of the election has also left many nations in the region questioning the ability of the United States to follow through on promises to deeply engage the Asia-Pacific.

“It has really undermined the faith and the convictions that many regional actors have about the viability of American commitments [and] the stability of our own democracy,” said Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution’s Center for East Asia Policy Studies.

Both former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama worked to open diplomatic, security and economic channels in a bid to cement America as a leader in the Asia-Pacific, and experts say continuing U.S. leadership will help counter China’s growing power and influence.

US must ‘tap into’ Asia-Pacific

At a time when other regions like the Middle East are commanding vast amounts of U.S. attention and resources, America has sought to tap into the dynamic economic potential of the Asia-Pacific countries and establish order, to mitigate current and emerging security threats.

North Korea has ramped up nuclear and missile tests in the Korean Peninsula, tensions have mounted over China’s territorial claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea, and the new president of longtime ally the Philippines has vowed to “break up with America” and turn to China and Russia.

This combination of Sept. 3, 2016 photos provided by the Philippine Government shows what it says are surveillance pictures of Chinese coast guard ships and barges at the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
This combination of Sept. 3, 2016 photos provided by the Philippine Government shows what it says are surveillance pictures of Chinese coast guard ships and barges at the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

However, statements by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have eroded hopes for a greater U.S. role in the region.

There is “fear and loathing” in the Asia Pacific about a potential Trump presidency, said Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. This feeling, Manning added, comes even though there is “not enough coherence to Trump’s comments” to discern his foreign policy.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

Clinton, Trump both oppose TPP

While Clinton is expected to continue the Obama administration’s strategic re-balance, she has been emphatic in her rejection of its economic cornerstone – the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Without an economic commitment in the region like TPP, U.S. credibility is lost, experts say.

Trade has been a key issue in the presidential campaign, with many Americans in both parties blaming such deals for lost jobs.

Trump has vehemently assailed the trade pact as a job-killing agreement.

During an economic address two months ago in Warren, Michigan, Clinton said of TPP: “I oppose it now. I’ll oppose it after the election and I’ll oppose it as president.” She had previously expressed support for the trade partnership.

The TPP, signed by 12 Pacific-rim nations, must be ratified by Congress, but it faces tough opposition by lawmakers from both major parties.

FILE - Demonstrators rally for fair trade at the Capitol in Washington.
Demonstrators rally for fair trade at the Capitol in Washington.

Clinton seeks ‘flexibility’

“I think in several of her more recent statements, [Clinton] seems to be trying to create a bit more space, a bit more flexibility,” Pollack of the Brookings Institution noted.

An adviser on Asian issues who worked with Clinton at the State Department gave a similarly nuanced description of her position during a discussion at the Korea Economic Institute in Washington.

“She cannot accept the trade agreement, TPP, as it’s currently being negotiated,” said Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under Clinton. “At the same time, she also recognizes that some form of commercial engagement will be necessary going forward.”

On the security front, Trump has alarmed allies by suggesting he might walk away from a treaty obligation to protect them unless they contribute more to NATO.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Trump cynical about alliances

During an August rally in Des Moines, Iowa, he expressed frustration about Japan, one of America’s closest allies. He told supporters Japan cannot help if the U.S. is attacked because its constitution bars overseas military action.

“If we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to do nothing,” Trump said. “They can stay at home, watching Sony television, right?”

“He fundamentally doesn’t seem to understand alliances,” Manning suggested. Alluding to a popular American television drama about organized crime, he said of Trump, “He has a kind of Sopranos view of the world: they have to pay us protection money.”

The U.S. depends on its Asia-Pacific allies to maintain a security presence to guard against potential threats from nations such as North Korea and China. Japan pays $1.6 billion a year in host-nation support for U.S. military operations in Japan, and South Korea pays almost $1 billion for the same reason.

Trump “has not displayed any understanding of the whole post Cold War, rules-based order that U.S. leadership has been essential in enforcing,” Manning contends. “Even though he sounds like he is trying to be tough, [his position] is essentially an abdication of American leadership.”

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

South Korean Marines and U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force based Okinawa, Japan, take positions near Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.
South Korean Marines and U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force based Okinawa, Japan, take positions near Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.

Responsibilities to American workers

Trump adviser Peter Hoekstra, a former U.S. congressman, says his candidate recognizes the U.S. must invest in its role as a global leader, but “there are responsibilities to American taxpayers and American workers.”

“It’s time to go back and start from ground zero and do a full assessment of what our strategy needs to be to confront the challenges that are out there,” Hoekstra said during the discussion at the Korea Economic Institute. “It doesn’t mean to … challenge the relationships or the friendships that we have in Asia.”

On dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat, the Trump adviser said all options are open, and called for a reassessment of U.S. policy on North Korea.

Both Clinton’s adviser Kurt Campbell and Trump’s Hoekstra predicted continuing tensions between the U.S. and China.

Whoever is the next president, Pollack said, U.S. engagement should move forward in the Asia-Pacific region, given its economic, security and diplomatic importance around the world.

“It’s inconceivable to me,” the Brookings Institution analyst said, “that any American president will, in fact, try to detach the United States from the region.” (VOA)

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Google Absent; Facebook, Twitter Testify on Captiol Hill

Later Wednesday, Twitter's Dorsey was headed to a House committee hearing focused on Republican complaints that social media companies have shown evidence of bias against conservatives.

0
U.S. Senate
The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, Sept. 3, 2018.

Facebook and Twitter executives insisted at a Senate hearing Wednesday that they were aggressively trying to identify foreign actors who wanted to inflict damage on the U.S. before the November midterm elections.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told the Senate Intelligence Committee her company was “now blocking millions of attempts to register false accounts each and every day” and was “making progress on fake news.”

She said the company’s recent efforts were “starting to pay off” but added, “We cannot stop interference by ourselves.”

Capitol hill, google
An empty chair reserved for Google’s parent Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive, is seen as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

Sandberg said Facebook was “working with outside experts, industry partners and governments, including law enforcement, to share information about threats and prevent abuse” to avert further interference in American elections.

Social media companies are under pressure over foreign meddling in U.S. elections, the spread of disinformation, privacy and censorship. Congress has criticized social media companies during the past year as it became clear they were on the front lines during Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections and beyond.

Special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians earlier this year on charges stemming from plans to disrupt the 2016 election by creating bogus accounts that circulated divisive issues on social media. The indicted Russians are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency.

Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said that his company was “unprepared and ill-equipped” for the foreign influence campaigns but that it had intensified its efforts to eliminate phony accounts to prevent “hostile foreign influence.”

“We’re identifying and challenging 8 million to 10 million suspicious accounts every week, and we’re thwarting over a half-million accounts from logging into Twitter every single day,” he said.

Dorsey also said Twitter was continuing to find accounts that might be linked to the Russians, noting that 3,843 accounts had been suspended and that the company had seen recent activity.

Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., refused to send its top executive to Wednesday’s hearing, prompting sharp words from some senators for Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, suggested the company might have bailed because it was “arrogant,” while Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, expressed outrage about the absence.

 

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner said at the hearing that social media giants “were caught flat-footed by the brazen attacks on our election” and expressed doubt that the companies were adequately confronting the problem.

“I’m skeptical that, ultimately, you’ll be able to truly address this challenge on your own,” Warner said. “Congress is going to have to take action here.”

Despite such skepticism from lawmakers, a key U.S. military official said Wednesday that he was encouraged by the actions companies like Facebook and Twitter had taken in advance of the midterm elections.

“This is where social media companies can impose a cost against our adversaries,” U.S. Cyber Command’s General Paul Nakasone told a security conference in Washington. “This is an ability that I think, uniquely, they are stepping up to.”

Nakasone, who also heads the National Security Agency, also said he was not prepared to give up on companies that have been hesitant to take action, calling continued engagement critical.

“We can’t run from it. We can’t hide from it,” he said, warning that adversaries like Russia and even nonstate actors “continue to have an ability to up their game.”

 

Capitol hill, fb
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

 

While Congress has forced social media companies during the past year to focus more on the Russian interference issue, it took several months last year for Facebook and Twitter to acknowledge they had been manipulated.

Many social media companies have made policy changes that caught and banned numerous malicious accounts during the past year. But free services that find out as much about users as possible remain unchanged, prompting critics to say social media companies will continue to contend with bad actors manipulating their systems unless they change.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in a Washington Post opinion piece on Tuesday that his company found out too late in 2016 there were “foreign actors running coordinated campaigns to interfere with America’s democratic process.”

He said the company had since made improvements, such as “finding and removing fake accounts” and misinformation.

But Zuckerberg warned that Facebook and other social media companies faced “sophisticated, well-funded adversaries who are getting smarter over time, too. It’s an arms race, and it will take the combined forces of the U.S. private and public sectors to protect America’s democracy from outside interference.”

Over the past year, three-fourths of all Facebook users have adjusted their privacy settings, taken weeks-long breaks from the platform or deleted Facebook apps from their cellphones, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

The survey was conducted May 19-June 11, after revelations that the former consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had gathered data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.

 

Capitol hill, fbCapitol hill, fb
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

 

House hearing

Later Wednesday, Twitter’s Dorsey was headed to a House committee hearing focused on Republican complaints that social media companies have shown evidence of bias against conservatives. In testimony released before that hearing, Dorsey denied that Twitter uses political ideology to make decisions.

Also Read: Twitter Bans Alex Jones For Violating Its Policy

Some Republicans have contended that Twitter is “shadow banning” some in their party because of the ways search results have appeared. Twitter has rejected the assertions.

Dorsey was the lone invitee to the House hearing. While all three tech companies have been accused of being biased against conservatives, the more public-facing nature of Twitter has made it an easier target. (VOA)