President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Asia has been described as a triumph by some observers as well as by the administration itself. On the trip, which included meetings with Chinese and Myanmar leaders and appearances at two Asian regional organizations, the White House announced a new climate agreement with Beijing that would commit both countries to meeting targets for cutting their carbon emissions. It also announced other supposed breakthroughs. The United States and China agreed to a new system of notifying each other of military movements in the region and agreed to cut tariffs on other IT equipment. Obama also declared that the Pacific nations were getting close to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The reality is harsher. Many of the supposed breakthroughs won in Asia will be impossible for Obama to implement. And the administration’s attempts to turn U.S. policy toward Asia, a strategy known as “the pivot,” or the “rebalance to Asia,” has actually made the economic and political situation in East Asia worse.
For more on my analysis of the president’s Asia trip and his Asia policy, see my latest piece at Business Week.