Yoichi Kato, fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies
David Steinberg, director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University
Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, professor of history, Georgetown University
Michael Swaine, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Marvin Ott, professor of national security policy, National War College
Robert M. Hathaway, director, Asia Program, Wilson Center

President Bush's planned trip to East Asia later this month constitutes a welcome recognition of the reality that despite Washington's recent preoccupation with Afghanistan and the war against terrorism, the United States continues to have vital interests in East Asia as well.

In an effort to encourage informed discussion about U.S. policy in Asia ahead of the president's trip, the Wilson Center's Asia Program joined with The Smithsonian Associates on February 1, 2002, to host a half-day seminar on American national security policy in Asia in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on Washington and New York.

While the war on terrorism has dramatically shifted U.S. priorities in recent months, virtually all of Washington's pre-September 11th agenda for Asia remains. Among these priorities are strengthening U.S. alliances in the region, managing China's emergence as a major regional and perhaps global power, ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean peninsula, assisting Indonesia in its transition from authoritarian, one-party rule to a multi-party pluralistic democracy, and helping the countries of the region promote economic recovery and accelerate economic reform.

The seminar featured presentations by leading Washington experts on Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. One of the themes linking these presentations was that a year after George Bush's inauguration, U.S. policy toward East and Southeast Asia remains a work in progress. President Bush's State of the Union address last week, with its designation of North Korea as one of three countries constituting an "axis of evil," should be seen in that light. Rather than representing the final word on the Bush policy toward North Korea, this vivid characterization reflects an on-going struggle within the administration over the direction and purposes of U.S. policy in Asia.