Congress Urged to Increase Focus on Asia
Byline: Richard Halloran, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Congressional Research Service has waved a red flag in front of the new Congress, warning that America risks costly conflicts if it does not pay closer attention to the rise of China and other troubles in Asia.
A preoccupation with Iraq and the Middle East means the United States "is not sufficiently focused on the Asia-Pacific at a critical point in the evolution of what may prove to be a new era," says the report from the CRS, an arm of the Library of Congress.
The report says a failure to attend to a less than peaceful rise of China, tensions over Taiwan, and conflict on the Korean Peninsula "has the potential to embroil the United States in a large-scale war that could be very costly in terms of lives, wealth, power, and prestige."
Moreover, terrorist groups in Southeast and South Asia are "a key source of instability, a threat to U.S. forces and interests, and could serve as a catalyst for inter-state conflict," the document says.
The CRS, which describes itself as "the public policy research arm of the United States Congress," provides nonpartisan research and analysis on critical issues and works primarily for members of Congress and their staffs.
Its report echoes comments made last summer in a seminar at the East-West Center, a research and educational institute in Honolulu, where Asians and Americans alike criticized the Bush administration for neglecting Asia.
James Kelly, the assistant secretary who headed the East Asia division of the State Department during President Bush's first term, said: "There is an insufficient realization that Asia has become the center of gravity," meaning the focal point of political, economic and military power. "Policy and strategy toward East Asia," he said, "are not easy to discern."
Similarly, Stephen Bosworth, a former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines and South Korea, said that by 2009 when the next president takes office, power in Asia "will have shifted while we were not paying attention. …