“The shape of the global economy, the advance of democracy and human rights, and our hopes for a 21st century less bloody than the 20th century all hinge to a large degree on what happens in the Asia-Pacific region," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “Today, no totalitarian empire threatens the world. But new actors are wielding increasing influence in international affairs. ... As a result, the post-war architecture is in need of some renovation.”
In the years that followed World War II, the United States and its partners constructed a new international order – an architecture of institutions, norms, and alliances that delivered peace and prosperity across the Free World. Increasing economic integration raised standards of living, as fundamental freedoms became enshrined in international law, and democracy took root and thrived.
But emerging regions, especially the Asia Pacific, are becoming key drivers of global politics and economics. Amidst all the changes, two constants remain. “First, a just, open, and sustainable international order is still required to promote global peace and prosperity,” Secretary Clinton said. “And second, while the geometry of global power may have changed, American leadership is as essential as ever.”
The Asia-Pacific region, from the Indian Ocean to the western shores of the Americas, is home to half the world’s population, several of America’s most trusted allies, emerging economic powers like China, India, and Indonesia, and many of the world’s most dynamic trade and energy routes.
“Our aim is to build mature and effective institutions that can mobilize common action and settle disputes peacefully, to work toward rules and norms that help manage relations between peoples, markets, and nations, and establish security arrangements that provide stability and build trust,” Secretary Clinton said.
“But there are principles that are universal and that must be defended: fundamental freedoms and human dignity; an open, free, transparent, and fair economic system; the peaceful resolution of disputes; and respect for the territorial integrity of states,” Secretary Clinton concluded.
“These are norms that benefit everyone and that help all people and nations live and trade in peace. The international system based on these principles helped fuel, not foil, the rise of China and other emerging powers such as India and Indonesia.”