EVENT: 6pm 7 May – One of the Obama Administration’s central foreign policy initiatives is what’s called the “Pivot to Asia”. Simply put, the pivot is meant to be a strategic “re-balancing” of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia. But what does that really mean, and is it really happening?
This is a vital question for Australia, as this weekend the Gillard government publishes its latest defence white paper, which will make it clear that the strategic relationship with the United States remains at the heart of foreign policy.
On Monday we will have heard the forthright views of one of Europe’s foremost ministers, Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister (and former defence minister) on how the EU views Asia and the Asian century.
By coincidence – but with perfect timing – on Tuesday May 7 we will get an authoritative US view on the realities of the “pivot to Asia”, which include of course, considerable defence cooperation with Australia, withdrawal from Afghanistan, major security concerns in the Indian Ocean and the South and East China seas, and attempts to improve relationships with China.
And, of course, the role of the United States in the complex regional architecture.
Atlantic magazine recently described the pivot as a “win-win” for Washington. “For Washington, improving relations with established markets like Tokyo and Seoul and emerging ones like Jakarta and Manila presents tremendous opportunity, while for these countries the American presence acts as a check against growing Chinese power.”
But during his confirmation hearings in January, US Secretary John Kerry famously expressed ambivalence about the pivot to Asia, leading some to speculate that he might wish to “unpivot” back to Europe and the Middle East. So is the pivot real? What is the role of the US in the Asian century?
AIIA NSW is proud to present Bates Gill, who recently took over as chief executive of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
Professor Gill is a distinguished American who has viewed the world through various prisms. Prior to his Sydney appointment six months ago, he was director of the renownedStockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Last month, he was awarded one of the highest honours Sweden can give a foreigner, the Swedish Insignia of Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star.
The award, a chivalric order bestowed by King Carl XVI Gustaf, recognizes Professor Gill’s distinguished service to Sweden during his five years heading the institute.
He previously led major Asia- and China-related research programs at public policy think tanks in Washington, DC (Brookings Institution and Center for Strategic and International Studies) and in Monterey, California (Monterey Institute of International Studies). He has also served as a consultant to US companies, foundations, and government agencies, especially with regard to their policies in Asia, and has worked for lengthy periods in France, Switzerland, Sweden, and China.
Entry fee: AIIA NSW members: $15.00; Senioir/student members: $10.00
Visitors: $25.00; Student visitors: $15.00