US strategy in Asia-Pacific: A Msian forecast (Part 1)

The Asia-Pacific region is where the immediate zone of Malaysia's security and stability is located. It is also an area where the United States has been strategically engaged with increasing width and depth since the end of the Pacific War in 1945.

It still stations some 100,000 troops in the region, mainly in Japan and South Korea, although there is informed speculation that the force level may be cut down and positioning decentralised - as a result of the policy of 'force transformation' and 'Revolution in Military Affairs'.

The US also maintains bilateral security and defence alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia. It has had a traditional and visibly close security and defence relationship with Malaysia , Singapore, Pakistan and New Zealand.

By virtue of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US also underwrites the island's security by empowering it towards self-defence.

So, a pertinent and pressing question at this point in time is what the re-election of George W Bush as US president and the increasing Republican grip on the Congress will mean to the Asia-Pacific region.

Malaysiakini recently interviewed Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Professor Lee Poh Ping via email on the subject.

Lee is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies and was previously a professor of economics at Universiti Malaya.

He has written extensively on East Asian political economy and foreign relations and contributes to news columns. Most recently, he has been researching Southeast Asia's relations with Japan.

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