President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy will be defined by his attempt to rebalance American strategic priorities to Asia. Despite losing momentum last year, the President’s stated intention is to leave behind a nation more at peace and far better poised to engage the dynamic Asia-Pacific region than it was before he entered the White House in 2009.
After winding down U.S. participation in two protracted ground wars while announcing a “pivot” to Asia during his first term, the President’s strategy appeared to meander during his fifth year in office. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had stepped down to contemplate seeking the presidency in 2016. That meant the loss of the main champion of rebalancing, given that her 2011 Foreign Policy magazine article entitled, “America’s Pacific Century,” remained the most comprehensive explanation of the pivot. Her replacement, John Kerry, was immediately engulfed in Middle East diplomacy. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons and other types of brutal force on his own people, while Iran had provided a new opening for nuclear negotiations. Those developments demanded attention. Moreover, Secretary Kerry was seized with trying to revive an Arab-Israeli peace process.
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