When President Barack Obama met with the leaders of 10 South East Asia countries this week in California, the leaders likely used the summit to send a message to the president through private conversations. Our friends worry that protracted conflict in the Middle East, combined with economic challenges and political gridlock at home, have left America unable to fulfill its role as a counterweight to a rising China.
When I was the ambassador to Singapore from 2010 to 2013, I worked every day to address such questions. Critics often argued that the much-discussed pivot to Asia was mostly empty rhetoric. But I always had an effective answer for these concerns: I pointed to our increased presence in the region.
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