Southern California Public Radio interviews John Ciorciari on Obama's Asia visit

November 19, 2012

Southern California Public Radio interviewed John Ciorciari about the political context and motivations behind President Obama's five-day trip to Asia. The visit is part of a U.S. pivot to Asia that began when Obama first took office, Ciorciari explained.

"President Obama ... sees this as a foreign policy legacy for his administration. It speaks to the big role that the U.S. sees for itself in Asia, which is to be there for the long term."

The new emphasis on Asia has largely to do with China's role in the region, Ciorciari added.

"Throughout the region, you have small countries that have relatively robust ties to China, but as small powers, they don't want to be too beholden to their great neighbor to the north," Ciorciari said. "The president's trip, I think, is a very conscious attempt to take advantage of that opportunity to build its relationships."

"If the U.S. wants to compete with China effectively for ideological and strategic influence in Southeast Asia, it has to do what the U.S. does best, which is to provide a model that the populations and the progressive elements in those countries can latch onto," Ciorciari added. "So, as those countries develop, economically and politically, their inclination will be to promote the interests and also the values that they share with the U.S."