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Politics

What any US president needs to know about Asia policy

History shows that America's regional ties can shape or disrupt world order

| North America
The cost of basing U.S. forces in Asia, such as those shown here in Japan, is lower than maintaining them stateside because Asian allies pay a significant share of the burden.

During the U.S. presidential campaign in 2008, an overzealous staffer purloined a list of Barack Obama's Asia policy advisers and delivered it to the campaign team for Senator John McCain. Presented with the list, a senior McCain adviser wryly observed that, if President Obama's Asia team was exchanged for McCain's Asia advisers, the policy papers would be identical.

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