Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


US Must Send Right Signals at Pacific Islands Forum

State Department Must Send Right Signals at Pacific Islands Forum
Eddie Walsh

Is the United States upping its diplomatic engagement in the Pacific? One would think given rumors that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering heading to the Cook Islands for next month's Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). The problem: Her attendance could send the wrong message to regional partners; thereby undermining U.S. influence in the Pacific.

Last year, the United States sent its largest and highest-level delegation ever to the PIF. This strong showing was seen by many as an indicator of a larger and more substantive shift in U.S. regional engagement. Unfortunately, this shift (like the larger Asian pivot) has yet to materialize - leading some regional diplomats to question the U.S. approach.

The U.S. can ill-afford to repeat these mistakes. The Pacific Islands countries sit at the geopolitical crossroads of the Asia-Pacific century. China and other Asian powers will capitalize on further American missteps; eroding the power and influence of the U.S. and its allies in the process.

If the U.S. intends to lead in the Pacific, there is no question that Secretary Clinton should head the U.S. delegation. However, she cannot do so empty-handed. The U.S. Government must recognize that the size of its diplomatic contingents provide little more than talking points at Beltway think tanks. What the region is really looking for the U.S. to back its diplomatic posturing with serious on-the-ground investments.

The problem for the State Department is how to muster the political and financial resources necessary to make such investments in an election year marred by escalating conflict in the Middle East and global economic uncertainty. U.S diplomats must also overcome an entrenched American mindset that takes for granted Western power and influence in the Pacific - a remnant of the Cold War where the region was seen as a strategic backwater. Neither will be easy.

If the State Department cannot overcome these challenges and match regional expectations, the U.S. should not send Secretary Clinton to Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

Eddie Walsh is an accredited foreign correspondent. He currently serves as a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS. He also writes extensively and speaks regularly on Asia-Pacific Affairs. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

David Swanson: Torture Is Mainstream Now

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president. And it's not hard to see why that would be the case. More>>

Uri Avnery: In One Word: Poof!

Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Poverty Incentive: Making The Poor Carry The Refugee Can

The poorer you are, the more likely you need to shoulder more. This axiomatic rule of social intercourse, engagement and daily living is simple and brutal enough: the poor shall hold, conserve, preserve. More>>

Nureddin Sabir: BBC Misreports John Kerry On Talks Failure

For once, US Secretary of State John Kerry was not mincing his words when he blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians. But you would not have known this if you were following the story from the BBC News website. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Narendra Modi, And The Elections In India

On the upside, the gigantic election process that began yesterday in India is the largest exercise in democracy on the planet. Reportedly, a staggering five million people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the election process. The likely outcome is not quite so welcome... More>>

ALSO:

Ramzy Baroud: Kerry’s Looming Deadline And The Peace Process Industry

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. More>>

Harvey Wasserman: Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem. The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor ... More>>

Shobha Shukla: Rise In Global Health Financing, But Funding Priorities Shift

A new research done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), at the University of Washington, indicates that globally the total development assistance for health (DAH) hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013 (a year-over-year ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news