As President Obama concludes his final months in office, what will be his legacy in the Asia-Pacific? In this podcast, Paul Haenle and Michael Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council under former president George W. Bush, assess the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia" and what policy approaches the next administration could adapt to address ongoing regional issues, such as maritime disputes in the South China Sea and the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons program.
Green commented on Obama’s eleventh and final trip to Asia in September 2016, noting that while the President’s travel was intended to serve as a capstone to his rebalance policy to the region, many of the policy objectives achieved during the visit were overshadowed in the press coverage by unexpected incidents. Green gave the president high marks for his engagement with Southeast Asia but said that great power relations, such as with China, Japan and South Korea, were being passed on to the next U.S. administration on uneven footings. Finally, Green was pessimistic that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a key component of Obama’s Asia policy legacy, would be ratified by the U.S. Congress during Obama’s lame-duck session. He noted that this failure would be a blow to U.S. credibility in the Asia-Pacific region.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
Michael Green is a senior vice president for Asia and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and chair in modern and contemporary Japanese politics and foreign policy at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He previously served as the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council under former president George W. Bush.