Obama’s Asia Problem

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from TIME Magazine,

Chaos in the Middle East and the U.S. government shutdown imperil Obama’s foreign policy plans.

He was supposed to be on the island paradise of Bali, rubbing elbows with Asian heads of state and showing China that America is serious about being a Pacific power. Instead, on Oct. 8, Barack Obama was in the White House’s cramped briefing room, embarrassed and apologetic. Managing the shutdown of the U.S. government had forced Obama to scratch his long-planned trip to a pair of Asian summits that he’d been touting as critical venues for a display of renewed American leadership in the region. Now he was telling reporters at a White House press conference that his grounding was a setback for the country. “It creates a sense of concern on the part of other leaders,” Obama said. “It’s almost like me not showing up for my own party.”

Obama’s planned six-day trip to the region was a chance to convince doubters with one of Obama’s most valuable commodities: face time. In the end, though, his aides concluded that the President simply couldn’t afford to be 10,000 miles from Washington at events like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit while the Tea Party had the U.S. government on lockdown. Once again, Asia would have to wait.

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