February 15, 2017

Trump's Pivot to Asian Allies Begins

By Richard Fontaine

In most respects, the White House meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fairly routine. The two leaders lauded each other and the alliance that binds their countries. They issued a joint statement pledging joint action in security, on economics and other issues. And then, after their Oval Office talks, the American president and the Japanese prime minister jetted off for a weekend of golf in Florida.

All this is typical fare by the standards of summit diplomacy, and that in itself was remarkable given the uncertainty around Washington’s approach to Asia. The president made no reference to his campaign-era portrayal of Japan as a free-riding trade competitor—or to his previous demands that the alliance change shape dramatically. Given Japan’s role as the pillar of American strategy in northeast Asia, the silence (until North Korea’s unwelcome disruption) was happily deafening.

This first visit from an Asian ally may augur something more unexpected still: the mainstreaming of Trump’s approach to American relations with the Asia-Pacific.

Read the full article at The National Interest.

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