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Obama's Asia trip sign of US role uncertainty

Business Times - 10 Nov 2009


Obama's Asia trip sign of US role uncertainty

It's part of effort to counter impression from Bush days that US is retreating from region

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ONE of the complaints made by officials and pundits across the Pacific, and especially in South-east Asia, during the eight years that ex-president George W Bush was in charge of US foreign policy was that Washington wasn't paying enough attention to the strategic and economic changes that were taking place in East Asia - in particular, to the dramatic rise in Chinese influence in the region.

Indeed, American diplomatic and military energy since the attacks of 9/11 were directed at winning the campaign against terrorism pursued in the so-called Greater Middle East that included the two long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The perception among many East Asians has been that the US was 'underinvolved' in their region during the Bush administration, according …