White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Sunday that President Obama will make his trip to Asia starting on 6 October, though there was a hint of equivocation: 'So we have this trip scheduled and we intend to take it. We’ll see, obviously, what happens as the week unfolds.'
Politico has a run-down of Obama's itinerary. His trip begins in Bali for APEC and bilateral meetings with President SBY (a location which will provide some challenging visuals for the White House team, with lots of opportunities to show the president in a tropical paradise while his nation's government is in crisis mode), on to Brunei for the US-ASEAN summit and the East Asia Summit, then Malaysia and the Philippines for bilaterals.
The Washington Post's Max Fisher says it looks increasingly likely that Obama won't make the trip, but he should:
...what the United States is doing in Southeast Asia, or at least seeking to do there, is really important in a way that this latest D.C. political drama just isn't. The American goal with Obama's trip and over the last few years, not explicit but quite clear, is to organize the region under U.S. leadership, as a counterbalance to China in its own backyard. Southeast Asian economies are rapidly growing; trade through regional seas is becoming a crux of the global economy. Both China and the U.S. are pressing for influence there. The stakes in the shutdown are real, both politically and for the many actual Americans who will be directly affected. But the stakes of American outreach in Asia are continental and generational in scope...
...There's a secondary reason to go to Asia in the event of a shutdown: to reassure the world that the United States is still a viable world leader and is not in the process of eating itself alive. There's a growing sense abroad, in foreign capitals and outside of them, that the American system is increasingly broken and self-destructive. By standing up the leaders of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, not to mention all the other heads of state attending the various Asian summits he'd be skipping, Obama would send the message that America's political brokenness is starting to undermine its foreign policy. That would be particularly counterproductive, given that this trip is supposed to be all about sending the opposite message: that the U.S. is still powerful and is committed to Asia for the long haul. That's a message Beijing would notice as well.
Photo by Flickr user kingair42.