Newly re-elected United States President Barack Obama is due for a visit to Southeast Asia at its most momentous and contentious juncture in contemporary times.
By happenstance and design, Mr Obama will leave tense and probably inconclusive negotiations over America's "fiscal cliff" with congressional leaders in favour of a presidential shuttle between Thailand and Myanmar to culminate with the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cambodia. By not postponing "cliff" talks until after the EAS, Mr Obama has irked critics and even supporters for leaving a hung jury and potential fiscal dire straits until his return, as tax hikes and budget cuts may become automatic, not a good start at home for his second term.
Such deep-seated and politically polarised domestic problems impinge on America's role in Asia and beyond.
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