U.S. Won’t Become Isolationist, Gates Tells Worried Asian Leaders

The New York Times
By Thom Shanker
June 3, 2011

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pledged Saturday that the United States would sustain its military presence and diplomatic involvement in Asia, as he sought to calm regional worries about the potential for a new isolationism brought on by fiscal difficulties at home.

In a speech before an audience of Asian defense ministers and military commanders, which included a high-ranking delegation from China, Mr. Gates declared that Washington would not step back from its responsibilities to defend allies, counterbalance regional threats and assist in humanitarian disasters.

He acknowledged the grim economic and political realities facing the American government, saying that “fighting two protracted and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has strained the U.S. military’s ground forces, and worn out the patience and appetite of the American public for similar interventions in the future.” …

He stressed the unwavering commitment to allies like Japan and South Korea, which are closest to the North Korean threat, and he promised that the Defense Department was enhancing the American presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. …

Read in full: www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/world/asia/04gates.html?_r=1