Professor Sheldon Simon Examines the Obama Administration’s “rebalance” to Asia

Professor Sheldon Simon published an article on the Obama Administration’s “rebalance” to Asia in the September 2013 issue of Comparative Connections: A Triannual E-Journal on East Asia Bilateral Relations published by Pacific Forum, a unit of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in which he examines the Philippines under President Benigno Aquino III has linked its military modernization and overall external defense to the US rebalance. Washington has raised its annual military assistance by two-thirds to $50 million and is providing surplus military equipment. To further cement the relationship, Philippine and US defense officials announced that the two countries would negotiate a new “framework agreement” under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty providing for greater access by US forces to Philippine bases and the positioning of equipment at these facilities. Washington is also stepping up participation in ASEAN-based security organizations, sending forces in June to an 18-nation ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus exercise covering military medicine and humanitarian assistance in Brunei. A July visit to Washington by Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang resulted in a US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, actually seen as a step below the Strategic Partnerships Hanoi has negotiated with several other countries. Myanmar’s president came to Washington in May, the first visit by the country’s head of state since 1966. An economic agreement was the chief deliverable. While President Obama praised Myanmar’s democratic progress, he also expressed concern about increased sectarian violence that the government seems unable (or unwilling) to bring under control.

Prof. Sheldon Simon also, at the invitation of the US embassy in Japan, was part of a week-long traveling roundtable in June to discuss “The US-Japan Security Treaty and the South China Sea Conflicts.”