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As the United States begins to shift its focus and resources to Asia, regional states are paying close attention to U. By Dewi Fortuna Anwar February 26, 2013 Analyses of the United States’ rebalancing effort toward Asia (also known as the U. “pivot”) under President Barack Obama have mostly focused on China. While the United States was preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and gave scant attention to affairs in the Asia-Pacific region throughout the George W. Dewi Fortuna Anwar provides an Indonesian perspective on the U. rebalancing strategy in this NBR Commentary, analyzing regional dynamics and describing Indonesia’s expectations and concerns.
Indonesia, like other members of ASEAN, strongly believes that the best way to ensure that China’s policy toward the region is friendly is by convincing Beijing that it has a direct strategic interest in Southeast Asian security and prosperity.
At the same time, however, uncertainty about the future remains.
President Yudhoyono first proposed in November 2008 that Jakarta and Washington sign a comprehensive partnership to broaden and deepen relations between the two countries, which was quickly endorsed by the new Obama administration. rebalancing toward Asia, some in Indonesia have raised concerns that Washington has placed too much emphasis on the military dimension of this strategy.
The Comprehensive Partnership Agreement was signed during President Obama’s first visit to Indonesia in November 2010, which probably marked the highest point in bilateral relations. The announcement of the rotational basing of 2,500 U. marines in Darwin, Australia, was initially met with sharp criticism from the Indonesian foreign minister, who feared that such a move could lead to counterreaction and the heightening of regional tension.
For its part, Washington at the time indicated little interest in this important development in the Asia-Pacific region.
As a result, until November 2011, when President Obama attended the EAS for the first time, the U. president only met with fellow Asia-Pacific leaders during the annual APEC leaders’ summit and retreat.
Through the rebalancing policy, Washington is seen as trying to recapture lost ground, as well as reaffirming to allies, friends, and adversaries alike that the United States is a Pacific power with inalienable strategic interests and rights in the Asia-Pacific region. Bush administration, China transformed its relations with countries in Southeast Asia and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Within this strategy, Southeast Asia is considered to be a subregion of particular interest. Through a well-conceived charm offensive, which began in the late 1990s when it provided assistance to countries suffering from the Asian financial crisis, China assiduously courted ASEAN and improved bilateral relations with key members.
With the “dynamic equilibrium” ideology in mind, and to complete the circle of powers within the EAS, Jakarta also strongly pushed for widening membership to include the United States and Russia.
Indonesia thus warmly welcomed the Obama administration’s decision to rebalance U. policy toward Asia and give higher priority to relations with ASEAN, signified in part by Washington’s accession to the TAC.