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Although some of America's highest-ranking officials have underscored the importance of deepening economic and military ties with Asia-Pacific nations, their rhetoric has largely fallen flat in light of budgetary realities. On Tuesday, Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) showed his commitment to and understanding of US security issues in Asia during a conversation at AEI.
AEI's Michael Auslin began the discussion by asking Rep. Forbes to explain the importance of the US rebalance to Asia. Rep. Forbes responded that although he applauds the Obama administration's decision to place Asia at the center of US strategic policy, it is time to follow through on the rebalance rhetoric. As US allies look on, he said, steep budget cuts and withdrawal of troops increase their anxiety that US staying power is limited.
Rep. Forbes emphasized several ways the US can reinvigorate alliances and maintain US interests in the region, which include encouraging Congress to examine how sequestration will diminish US capabilities in comparison to the growing capabilities of competitors, clarifying the purpose of the AirSea Battle military strategy, discussing the positive and negative aspects of the Sino-American relationship, and promoting South Korean and Chinese engagement with North Korea.
Rep. Forbes concluded the conversation by highlighting the importance of maintaining US global projection capabilities, stressing that the US is the world's backstop for preserving shipping lanes, data channels, and overall stability.
Despite White House assurances to the contrary, the rhetoric of the Asia pivot is increasingly overshadowed by grim budgetary realities in Washington. Looming sequestration cuts over the next decade have already forced the Obama administration to scale back its economic, diplomatic, and military investments in the Asia-Pacific, exacerbating fears of disrupted trade and rising tensions in the region.
Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) is spearheading a bipartisan House Armed Services Committee effort to educate congressional members and the public about the important shifting security dynamics in the region and to identify resource and readiness shortfalls. Join us at AEI to hear Rep. Forbes elaborate on the congressional responsibility to define a US role in Asia that convinces US allies that the pivot is more than empty sloganeering.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Michael Auslin, AEI
Michael Auslin, AEI
Randy Forbes, US House of Representatives (R-VA)
Audience Question-and-Answer Session
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Michael Auslin is AEI's director of Japan Studies. He was an associate professor of history and senior research fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University before joining AEI. A frequent commentator in US and foreign media, Auslin is also a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. His writings on Asia and Japan include the book “Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of U.S.-Japan Relations” (Harvard University Press, 2011) and the report “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons: Toward a Regional Strategy” (AEI Press, 2010). He has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, and a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Scholar.
Randy Forbes (R-VA) has served on the House Armed Services Committee for the past 11 years and is currently chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. As chairman, he is responsible for the research, development, acquisition, and sustainment of Navy and Marine Corps programs, as well as the Air Force's bomber and tanker fleets. He served as chairman and ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee from 2009 to 2012. A nationally recognized champion of America’s active-duty warfighters and veterans, Rep. Forbes is one of the few individuals to receive the highest civilian honors from both the Army and the Navy. He is also a leading voice in calling attention to the complex challenges associated with China’s rise. In 2005, Rep. Forbes founded the Congressional China Caucus to help educate members and staff about the military and economic elements of the US-China relationship. He is a frequent commentator on Asia-Pacific security issues and is working to promote a comprehensive strategic framework to protect American interests and allies in the Asia-Pacific in light of Chinese military modernization and US defense cuts.