In the wake of his successful reelection campaign, President Obama embarked on his trip to South East Asia to attend the Summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations held in Cambodia. Along the way, he visited Thailand, an important ally of the US and also became the first American president in history to visit Myanmar and Cambodia.
The Obama Administration has stated that a return to Asia would be the focus of its foreign policy for some time now. Most world media covering Obama's visit to South East Asia believe that this visit is a significant component of the Obama administration's foreign policy. A Washington Post commentary openly suggested that the objective of Obama's trip was to check China's growing influence in that part of the world.
For the past 60 years, the US has had a very troubled history in Asia and South East Asia. It started in supporting the unpopular nationalist government in the Chinese Civil War. After investing billions of dollars in the unpopular Jiang Family Regime, US foreign policy in China failed miserably when Jiang was kicked out of mainland China in 1949. In order to save its face and to provide a lifeline for the Jiang regime, the US involved itself in the Korean civil war and backed the unpopular and losing South Korean Regime under the mantle of the United Nations.
As the US-led UN forces crossed the 38th parallel and approached the Chinese border, the Chinese Government was forced to send volunteers to Korea in an effort to protect the integrity of its border. Outgunned, the Chinese volunteers, in collaboration with North Korean forces, pushed the US-led UN forces back to the 38th parallel where the civil war started, and forced the US to sign a cease fire. As a matter of fact, the cease fire still stands today in Korea, where the US still maintains close to one hundred military bases.
The US refused to learn its lesson from the Korean War, and soon got itself involved in the internal affairs of Vietnam. It first supported the French in its mission to reclaim its former colony after WWII. When the French were defeated by the North Vietnamese, the Americans took over where the French left off.
Starting from 1954, the US involvement in Vietnam gradually escalated, from sending military advisors to de facto war after falsely claiming that North Vietnam fired at American gunboats in 1964. The US dropped more bombs in Vietnam than all the warring parties combined during WWII, and after spending hundreds of billions of dollars and incurring hundreds of thousands casualties, it still could not have its way in Vietnam. In the end, the US had to leave Vietnam in disgrace and dishonor in 1975.
The US floundered in Asia in the past because of a combination of arrogance toward and ignorance of Asia and Asian people. At the time, it was overconfident from its victory in WWII, and its superpower position in the world with 75 percent of the world's gold, and 50 percent of world GDP.
The opinions expressed here do not represent the views of the China Daily website