Sixth, make an honest assessment of how much cooperation the US can really expect from the Chinese in international hotspots. Protracted negotiations with the Chinese over any number of issues, but particularly North Korea and Iran, are not worth the sacrifice of other interests. They run interference in the UN Security Council for both regimes and others besides, more than they contribute to solutions.
US allies in Asia and friends who depend on them have long wrung their hands at the prospect of US withdrawal. At no time since the administration of former US president Jimmy Carter, however, has their concern looked more plausible. Countries in the region are in the early stages of planning against that eventuality. They need reassurance. All the trips to the region and speeches in the world, however helpful to the cause, will not fill the gap alone.
The region wants a “resident” US. It wants a strong US. It is even good for the Chinese themselves, because it precludes some of the most aggressive scenarios in their own development. The Obama administration needs to consider the full range of policy decisions and diplomacy in this light. The future of US alliances and, by extension, US long-term security, depends on it.
Walter Lohman is director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.