The foreign trips of American presidents often serve as defining moments for their administrations.
And now is a particularly telling time for President Donald Trump to visit Asia-Pacific. As he tours Southeast and Northeast Asia, with stops in traditional US allies Japan, South Korea and the Philippines as well as sometime rivals China and Vietnam, it is high time for him to articulate a clear US strategy for engaging the region.
The trip, Trump’s second major foray abroad, after his visit in early summer to the Middle East and Europe, comes at a critical historic juncture. The region is grappling with a host of unsettling potential security flashpoints, ranging from North Korea’s nuclear programmeto maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas. Get his strategy wrong and there is the potential for conflict in the world’s economically most dynamic – but politically, diplomatically and militarily most fragile – region.