The ‘Pivot’ Has Run Out of Puff

Vice President Joe Biden’s Asia trip isn’t enough to revive Obama’s Asia emphasis.

Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smile together during a joint press conference following their meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

Vice President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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President Obama's challenge is not analogous to that facing President Roosevelt. China's foreign policy is in no way expansionist; a prosperous and strong China is in the world's interest.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Still, there is much at stake. Unless the United States reaffirms its presence in the Pacific, the region faces strategic imbalances and the prospect of dangerous rivalries. Washington should seek to cooperate with Beijing, but also renew America's presence in Asia and maintain a balance of forces in the region at a time when there is uncertainty about China's future behavior.

This will require the sustained attention of the whole administration, however – not just that of Joe Biden, welcome though he is in our part of the world. If Barack Obama wishes to achieve his declared ambition of being "the Pacific president," he needs to show the Pacific countries that America is here to stay.

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