President Obama and China’s former President Hu Jintao.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Foreign Policy in Focus.
On the next day after President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union (SOTU) 2014, which did not mention anything about the tension in East Asia, not even the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Tokyo-based The Diplomat published an article to ask whether Obama “has abandoned the Pivot to Asia”1:
… he couldn’t make room for even a sentence in his speech … his neglect of these issues … brings the rebalance to Asia into question.2
While the disappointment and frustration within the hawkish camp are understandable, Obama’s silence on East Asia as well as two exact same headlines with respect to the SOTU in Army Times and Navy Times — “Obama emphasizes diplomacy to strengthen security” — indicate that the incumbent master of the White House has made a wise move to prevent a disastrous “clash of civilizations.”3 In his renowned 1997 book of the same name, Samuel P. Huntington sees the states in “the West” as a civilization group sharing among themselves such core values as democracy, pluralism, individualism, rule of law and Christianity; some other civilizations, such as the Muslim and the Chinese, however, do not appreciate these values and tend to resist them.4