Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 09:40 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 09:40 | SYDNEY

US taking regional architecture seriously


Malcolm Cook

3 February 2011 08:55

The US has often been criticised in Asia for not taking regional architecture seriously enough — strangely, some even argue that this implies the US does not take Asia seriously.

Comments yesterday by a top Pentagon official suggest that, when it comes to the ADMM-8 (ASEAN Defence Ministers plus those of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the US), which first met in October last year, this is not the case. Actually, very much the opposite:

Robert Scher, the top Pentagon official handling Southeast Asia, said that the Hanoi meeting "fills a critical gap" as the region needs more communication on security issues along with "candid discussion where we may disagree."

"We really need to capitalize on the momentum generated following the successful inaugural" meeting, Scher, a deputy assistant secretary of defence, said at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

"We should also look and consider whether or not we want to have these ministerials on more than a once-every-three-year basis," he said.

The ADMM agreed at its first meeting to only meet once every three years, and shied away from tackling any tricky issues, instead focusing on issues of common interest. Not too much ambition there. Clearly, the US is hoping for more regular meetings and for this new forum of regional defence ministers to move beyond issues they can all agree on. Fingers crossed.