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US-Asia Security Initiative to address geopolitical challenges


In Sasebo, Japan, members from the maritime forces of India, Japan and the United States observe a trilateral naval field exercise in July 2014.
Photo credit: 
Flickr/U.S. Pacific Fleet

Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) is launching a U.S.-Asia Security Initiative spearheaded by a former top American diplomat to deepen dialogue on contemporary Asia-Pacific security issues and to further bridge American and Asian academics, government officials and industry leaders.

A new and uncertain multipolar system is emerging in Asia. The United States is and will remain a global power, but it is evident the post-Cold War international order is increasingly under strain. There is a pressing need for research about how developments in the Asia-Pacific region impact U.S. interests, and what the optimal strategies are to respond. Led by Karl Eikenberry, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011, the initiative will look beyond simplistic notions of nations engaging harmoniously or competing against each other and explore a range of policy options.

Combining expertise from across Stanford University, the initiative will gather faculty and researchers from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and take place under the auspices of Shorenstein APARC, a center focused on interdisciplinary research on contemporary issues of international cooperation, governance and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Eikenberry, an Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow at Shorenstein APARC, retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant general after 35 years of service before taking the role as ambassador. At Stanford, he has returned to an early and longstanding interest in Asia, contributing to an urgent discussion about how the United States should respond regionally and globally to an increasingly strong China. The initiative is founded on the premise that there is a role for an institution that not only fosters groundbreaking research, but also serves to convene academic and governmental expertise from across the Asia-Pacific region in a dialogue aiming to inform policy and strategy.

“As China rises and Japan seeks a greater defense role in Asia, a number of questions are raised over the United States’ role in the region. This creates a great impetus for stakeholders to gather and develop an understanding of today’s perplexing security issues,” Eikenberry said.

“It’s an honor to lead this Stanford initiative and make possible opportunities for students, scholars, peers and leaders across the world.”

Before arriving at Stanford, Eikenberry’s Asia-related postings included assistant army, and later, defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy Beijing, operational assignments in the Republic of Korea and Hawaii, Director for Strategic Plans and Policy at U.S. Pacific Command, Senior Country Director for China at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and two senior command tours in Afghanistan. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, holds master’s degrees from Harvard University and Stanford University, and has an advanced degree in Chinese history from Nanjing University.

The three-year initiative will build synergies with existing activities at Stanford, drawing scholars, government officials and industry leaders to engage at conferences and public seminars on important U.S.-Asia security themes. Understanding that inquiry is enlivened through interdisciplinary dialogue, participants will share best practices across multiple fields including diplomacy, military strategy and environmental risk.

“I can’t think of a better person to drive this initiative – Karl has a profound understanding of the economic, diplomatic and military complexities in the region. I have every confidence that it will develop into a robust, established project under his leadership,” said Gi-Wook Shin, director of Shorenstein APARC.

Launching July 1, 2015, the initiative aims to bolster local, national and global networks through several foundational components, including a core working group of experts from Stanford and peer institutions to provide new perspectives on U.S. policies in Asia; educational opportunities for Stanford students; and public programs that will bring intellectual and strategic leaders to Stanford to enrich the conversation on Asia-Pacific security.

The initiative seeks to operate as a focal point for academic scholarship on the west coast of the United States and offer practical steps that stakeholders can take to strengthen the security architecture and U.S. alliance commitments in the region. Outcomes from the initiative’s activities will include publications and policy reports, many of which will be offered open access online.

“As the Asia-Pacific region continues to rise, we see new threats but also greater opportunity to work together,” said Michael McFaul, director of FSI. “Stanford and FSI excel in offering practical solutions to policy challenges and can play a role in identifying strategies aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region.”


Initiative inquires: Charlotte Lee, Shorenstein APARC,, (650) 725-6445

Media inquires: Lisa Griswold, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Shorenstein APARC,, (650) 736-0656