Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin struck all the right notes in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend. Addressing Asia’s premier security conference, Mr. Austin assured the audience that America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific is “the core organizing principle of American national-security policy.” It is “our priority theater of operations,” “the heart of American grand strategy” and “our center of strategic gravity,” he said.
After defining the depth of America’s interest in the region and calling out problematic Chinese behavior, Mr. Austin went on to reassure the audience about American intentions. “We do not seek confrontation or conflict. We do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs.”
Like Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s China policy speech last month, this was a speech calculated to win hearts and minds in the Indo-Pacific and stands as a lucid exposition of a remarkably stable bipartisan consensus about the goals of American foreign policy. Yet a week of meetings with officials and civil-society leaders in Jakarta left me feeling that many of the people we most need to reach are beginning to tune the Americans out.
Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal