February 09, 2016

CNAS Launches “Derwin Pereira Southeast Asian Foreign Policy Roundtables”


As President Obama prepares to host ASEAN leaders on February 15 in Sunnylands, California, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) announced the launch of a new project, the Derwin Pereira Southeast Asian Foreign Policy Roundtables. The Roundtables will bring together high-level experts – including current and former government officials – to discuss economic, diplomatic and security issues in Southeast Asia. The ultimate goal of the Roundtables is to provide recommendations for the next administration.
“Southeast Asia is one of the most important regions in the world,” said Derwin Pereira, Founder and CEO of Pereira International and the benefactor of the Roundtable series. “It is vital to the U.S.’ security interests in Asia, is at the forefront of counter-terrorism, and is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world in economic terms. It is vital the next Administration understand how to engage with this region. I’m confident the Derwin Pereira Southeast Asian Foreign Policy Roundtables will provide that understanding.”
Patrick Cronin, Director of the CNAS Asia Pacific Security Program, will lead the Roundtable series. He will produce policy briefs following each of the four meetings. These policy briefs will frame the key issues discussed at each roundtable discussion.
“Southeast Asia is vital to U.S. national security and economic interests,” said Cronin. “Unfortunately, we in Washington tend to overlook it. The Derwin Pereira Southeast Asian Foreign Policy Roundtables will give CNAS the chance to both draw attention to the region and provide a clear sense of how the U.S. should engage with it in the coming years. We are very grateful to Derwin for giving us the opportunity to focus on this critical subject.”

The first Roundtable will be held in late February, following the ASEAN meeting at Sunnylands.

As Southeast Asian economies have risen in global importance, so, too have U.S.-Southeast Asian relations become more important to Washington decision-makers. The George W. Bush administration expanded cooperation in a number of areas, including both trade and counter-terrorism.  And the Obama administration’s policy of rebalancing to Asia places a particular focus on institutionalizing and enhancing relations with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Indeed, the Sunnylands summit in mid-February underscores the value U.S. policy now places in regular, high-level diplomacy with Southeast Asian nations, who collectively are America’s fourth-largest trading partner in the world.

Since establishing the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in 2007, co-founders Kurt Campbell and Michèle Flournoy emphasized the need to develop constructive, bipartisan security, foreign, and trade policies.  Today CNAS is led by Flournoy, the Chief Executive Officer, and President Richard Fontaine, former foreign policy advisor to Senator John McCain.  The CNAS Asia-Pacific Security Program is similarly bipartisan in makeup: it is directed by the Honorable Patrick M. Cronin, who held a senior position in the George W. Bush administration, and Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper, who recently replaced Dr. Ely Ratner after he left CNAS to become a key foreign policy advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden.

As Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the Honorable Kurt M. Campbell was one of the key architects of the U.S. pivot—or rebalance—to the region.  That policy not only sought heightened engagement with the Indo-Pacific region in general, but also stressed the need for enhanced engagement with Southeast Asia in particular.  The Honorable Michèle Flournoy served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and in that capacity played a leading role in the formulation and implementation of U.S. strategy and security engagement with the region.  Campbell, chairman and CEO of The Asia Group LLC, is currently Chairman of the CNAS Board of Directors. 

Derwin Pereira, Founder and CEO of Pereira International, is also an International Council Member of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  He was an award-winning journalist at The Straits Times Singapore, rising to the position of Bureau Chief in Indonesia, then subsequently the United States.  

To find out more about the series, please contact Neal Urwitz at nurwitz@cnas.org or 202-457-9409.