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A “Forward Deployed” U.S. Foreign Policy Focus

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has just embarked on a 13 day mission to Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia. The travel mirrors an interesting shift in U.S. foreign policy strategy under the current administration. During the George W. Bush Presidency, White House foreign policy discussions were narrowly focused on the global war on terror, national security and conflict management, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan with occasional forays into the civil war in Sudan. Now, however, as the U.S. slowly draws down its military engagements in the Near East and South Asia, we are seeing President Barack Obama’s Administration broaden and intensify its foreign policy engagement. The current Administration emphasizes the importance of security, diplomacy, economic development, trade and institutional relationships.

Since the earliest days of his presidency, President Obama, has publicly stated that Congressional ratification of the Korean FTA, potentially the first FTA for the U.S. with a North Asian country is a high priority for the White House in the next Congress. The President will reiterate this message himself in a few weeks when he visits South Korea, India, Indonesia and Japan.

The President’s enhanced foreign policy approach is very apparent in Secretary Clinton’s Asia agenda. The Secretary’s visit will include discussions on defense issues, trade, and economic relationships. Many of these interactions will address innovative ways to work cooperatively with Asian countries to hasten the recovery of the global economy through increased trade, investment and expanded U.S. exports to Asia. According to Assistant Secretary of State, Kurt Campbell,

"It's a very complicated and, frankly, lengthy trip. . .at every stop, the Secretary will highlight both political and economic interactions, a desire to promote U.S. exports and see a more forward engagement on economic matters."

The Secretary’s travel clearly advances the Obama administration’s “forward deployed” strategy to aid US interaction with a region that is important to our country’s security, diplomatic and economic interests. Secretary Clinton’s efforts represent a positive repositioning of America’s leading role in promoting stability, international cooperation and prosperity.
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