June 11, 2008

Pivot Point: Asia Panel

By Victor Cha

In session five of the conference,  Dr. Campbell presented on CNAS’s new publication iAsia: the Power of Balance, followed by comments from the distinguished panelists: Robert D. Kaplan, CNAS Senior Fellow and writer for the Atlantic; Dr. Victor Cha, D.S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair and Associate Professor at Georgetown University, Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council 2004-7; LTG Karl Eikenberry, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, formerly the Commander of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan (CFC-A); Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, the New York Times, CNAS Writer-in Residence; Mr. Campbell, as the presenter, began by laying out the four insights that form the basis of the report.

Bob Kaplan followed, noting in particular that the report was right in calling for a shift of American strategic focus towards Asia, as both economic and military global power are moving east.  Professor Cha elucidated what he sees as the three strategic imperatives for the next administration, imperatives he feels are “consonant” with the CNAS iAsia report.  Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry arrived fresh from Brussels to contribute both his deep expertise on China and his wealth of experience pertaining to America’s role in Asia.  As the last panelist, LTG Eikenberry expressed his appreciation for the report and its emphasis on the U.S.’s enduring interests in the region.  David Sanger closed the panel by positing an intriguing question for Asia going forward.  We have seen recently that, often at the behest of American leadership, Asian powers can work fairly well on issues of common interest outside of Asia.  What remains to be seen is whether the major players “can start to work as well ‘in-area’” in the Asian Century  and what role the U.S. will play in this.

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