Washington in 2010—one year into the Obama Administration, still mired in the fall-out of the global financial crisis and troubled by Afghanistan and Iraq—didn’t provide fallow ground for new commitments in the Asia–Pacific. A new posture in Asia had its supporters and its sceptics.
In DC, the Administration subjected me to a hostile full-court press. On the Asian Community initiative, the White House was convinced we were talking above ourselves. Our Asian friends derided the idea and our place to raise it. We pushed back. We were aware of the problems. The Americans needed to understand that a key part of our motivation was to find a structure that would embed them in the region’s politics and economy. It was about them, not us. If not the Community, then the US should seek membership of the East Asian Summit. Australian government pressure for US engagement became relentless from that point.