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The US and ASEM: Why The Hegemon Didn't Bark

Davis B. Bobrow

CSGR Working Paper No. 17/98

November 1998



Relationships with the United States and American policy preferences have been important to the Asian and European members of ASEM in its establishment and activities. Yet US policy, business, and media elites have paid little public attention to ASEM. The puzzle is why not. Explanations of inattentiveness or foresight about Asia’s economic difficulties are unpersuasive. Instead, American ‘silence’ fits with a reasoned understanding among internationally oriented policy and business leaders that ASEM has and will pose little in the way of difficulties for their preferences about Asia and the EU for security, civil society, and economic matters. Indeed, the maneuverings in and around ASEM about those three policy areas have been and are likely to continue to be of some modest help to American internationalists. Their domestic persuasiveness benefits from ASEM developments which bolster actions they desire, and reduce pressure for policy positions they wish to avoid or believe are unlikely to gain approval in the American political economy.


Keywords: ASEM, Asia, Europe, hegemony, US.