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June 2012

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U.S. Interests in Asia
by John McCain, U.S. Senator (R-Ariz.)
Text: http://csis.org/files/attachments/120514_TPP_McCain_Transcript.pdf
Reviewed by David T. Jones

In a presentation to Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies on May 14, Senator John McCain offered a sophisticated tour d’horizon on Asia and U.S. interests in the region.

Underlying his commentary, McCain expressed deep concerned over U.S. citizens’ lack of faith in government—an attitude also affecting foreign observers, prompting them to question our commitments and ability to implement them.

McCain offered two “givens” regarding China: we want its continued peaceful development and “reject the notion that America wants to contain China…”

Specific concerns are:

-- Trade. We are being left behind as Asians negotiate new trading arrangements (currently 300 have been concluded or being negotiated, none of which include us). The “business of Asia is business,” but regarding trade the U.S. is “sitting on the sidelines.”

-- Regional Force Posture. We need a “robust presence of forward-deployed military forces,” but our Okinawa/Guam presence “had become totally unaffordable.” The navy is key for this theater, but we are retiring ships faster than replacing them.

-- Defense Budget. The proposed sequestration reductions would be “a unilateral act of disarmament that would ensure the real decline of U.S. military power.” Unless the president engages, it will be the “worst hollowing-out of our armed forces in recent memory.”

McCain reviewed several diplomatic hot spots. The South China Sea is important not for U.S.-China interests, but because U.S. allies are engaged with China and may seek our support. Burma is a positive development, and McCain believed that with some exceptions U.S. sanctions can be suspended (but not lifted). Further easing will depend on actions by the Burmese leadership, but McCain believes them “sincere about reform.”

McCain noted those seeking sanctuary come to the U.S. Embassy—because we “marry our great power and our democratic values.”bluestar

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