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Almost Quiet on the Asia-Pacific Front: An Assessment of Asia-Pacific Responses to U.S. Security Policies

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Special assessment rept.

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U.S. relations with the Asia-Pacific region are mostly cooperative. Many of the policy and perceptual gaps between the U.S. and the region during the early months of the Bush administration have narrowed. New gaps between the U.S. and the region are likely to prove either ephemeral or bridgeable. Bilateral relations between the U.S. and regional countries have improved. Regional fundamentals such as the balance of power continue to favor the United States. U.S. relations with the Asia-Pacific region are stable primarily because conditions there make the U.S. a vital partner. The U.S. is regarded as key to both ensuring regional security and facilitating nation and state-building efforts. Rather than only resist U.S. initiatives, therefore, Asia-Pacific countries have accommodated the policy recalibrations outlined in the QDR and NSS, even at times borrowing elements for their own ends. Certain close friends have nonetheless sought to nudge the U.S. towards modifying its policies. The general effect of the war on terrorism on U.S. relations with the Asia-Pacific has been to ease difficulties in key bilateral relationships, create more robust relations with certain countries, and consolidate ties with long-standing friends and allies. Despite differences, opportunism and pragmatism have outweighed rhetoric in shaping Asia-Pacific reactions to and participation in the war on terrorism. Ultimately, U.S. policy towards Iraq is not a tipping point for U.S. relations with the Asia-Pacific though there are near-term fallouts in the form of anti- American protests. The North Korea situation poses a more serious challenge, but Asia-Pacific countries appreciate that North Koreas behavior is the source of tensions, rely on the U.S. to take the lead and therefore argue for bilateral U.S.-DPRK talks, and are generally willing to be supportive of the United States.

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  • Government and Political Science

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