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Obama’s Asian Tour Is A Difficult Mission

Obama with the South Korean president, Park Geun-Hye.

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According to Josef Braml, the think tank German Society for Foreign Policy, the U.S. president should be very tactful in his brief tour of Asia, although it does not have much room to maneuver.

The U.S. president, Barack Obama, began his tour of four Asian countries-Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines-ensuring that the White House has nothing against China expands its influence, but also insisting that this expansion should not be consummated at the expense of Washington’s allies in the Pacific Ocean. With those words, the U.S. president sought to reassure those who will be your hosts for a week.

Beijing branded a “myopic” to the United States for trying to “cage” the giant of Asia, but Obama has responded with diplomacy far-maybe could use a harsher tone to persuade North Korea not to conduct another nuclear-to pruena not cause jumps in a region already burdened voltage. DW spoke with Josef Braml of the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP), about the challenges that this Asian tour he holds the strong man of Washington.

Deutsche Welle: How difficult is Obama’s diplomatic mission, which began on Wednesday (23/04/2013) in Tokyo?

Josef Braml of the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP).

Josef Braml: Obama Asian tour is a difficult mission. It is a delicate task that is complicated by the crisis in Ukraine. Asians are waiting; want to see if the U.S. is able to honor its commitments when he promises to protect their partners. Washington and Kiev signed an agreement providing for the delivery of atomic arsenal Ukrainian-time when the Soviet Union still existed, in exchange for the United States guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine. If America cannot meet this obligation, Asians wonder what value has the American for Asia.

United States has a complex relationship with Japan and South Korea because there are many tensions between the two Asian countries. How Obama can be positioned so that none of them feel disadvantaged?

The stakes seem a game of Mikado. On the one hand, the U.S. interest that Japan and South Korea are well understood, which is difficult to achieve. On the other, despite their differences, Japan and South Korea have common interests that conflict with certain interests of Washington. For example, monetary and foreign exchange. In this regard, Japan and South Korea are aligned with China because neither Tokyo nor Seoul wants to continue accumulating its cash reserves predominantly in U.S. dollars.

I.e., Japan and South Korea no longer want to buy huge amounts of U.S. debt bonds and that is bad for America because those purchases are what allow sustain the standard of living of its people and its sovereign debt fund. What is Tokyo and Seoul want to leave their financial reserves in its own economic space. Japan and South Korea are increasingly oriented towards China also in commercial matters. However, the Japanese and South Koreans expect Americans to protect them, and that has its price.

U.S. will try to attract Japan and South Korea to the economic sphere through the Strategic Agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership, and simultaneously seek to leave out China. I doubt that Washington reach that goal because even within the United States there is great resistance to the free trade pact.

Although China is important to the United States, that country is not on the list of states Obama will visit. What message do you send to the White House to exclude China from the Asian tour of the president?

I think the strongest signal is directed to countries hoping U.S. protection. However, Washington and Beijing must negotiate and reach agreements because the United States depends on China. Do not forget that the vast U.S. debt is largely financed by China. That means that in reality, we have a strong mutual dependence. It’s good to look beyond issues such as security policies to understand that the welfare of the United States is closely linked to the welfare of China. So the U.S. does not suit them to take a provocative stance towards Beijing.

A China must have bothered the fact that Obama will assure Japan that the United States would ensure compliance with the provisions of the 1960 security treaty, on the one hand, and the treaty included the Senkaku or Diaoyutai islands. What effects can have that claim Obama on Sino-US relations?

In this case there have been conflicting interpretations. I believe that Beijing knows how independently acting United States and China’s own vulnerability. Both sides are doomed to be understood somehow. And, in my view, that fact outweighs the small quarrels environment.

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