Assessing the Asia-Pacific Rebalance

Three years have passed since President Barack Obama laid the groundwork for the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Support for the rebalance strategy is substantial, but questions remain about its implementation. As China’s power grows and its assertiveness in regional disputes increases, U.S. allies and partners continue to rely on the United States to help reinforce regional security. In this increasingly tense environment, it is critical that regional allies, partners, and competitors recognize and acknowledge that the United States is a Pacific power with the ability to carry out its rebalance strategy.

This report evaluates both public statements and visible implementation of the U.S. rebalance strategy, as viewed not only from Washington but from regional capitals as well. The report is not intended to provide a broad assessment of the entire Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy but rather concentrates on the security-focused elements of the rebalance. A central finding is the consistent support among rebalance proponents for the importance of modernizing U.S. relationships, presence, and capabilities in the Asia Pacific. Not only are these elements being prioritized in Washington, they are also being watched by foreign leaders, especially those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who are looking for indications of U.S. intent and capability to carry out its rebalance strategy.

David J. Berteau

Zack Cooper