Finally, the traditional sources of America's global leadership are in need of renewal, a task for all of us. Now the cottage industry of Cassandras and declinists have dramatically overstated this case. But it is true that the reservoirs of goodwill that we built up around the world during the 20th century will not, cannot last forever. New generations of young people do not remember GIs liberating their countries or American development assistance changing the face of their economies or literally saving generations from hunger and disease. They are more connected and engaged with the wider world than their parents and grandparents could have ever imagined, but they face mounting social and economic challenges and are not automatically pro-American.
So, how should we - how should America lead in this changing world? As we look ahead to the next four years and the years beyond, what should top our agenda? Well, one thing I've learned and that you've been discussing all day is that the best-laid plans are quickly turned on their heads by the rush of events. And certainly the first job of our nation's policymakers in the years ahead will be to get the big crises right, whether that's Iran, North Korea, or some unexpected threat. But we cannot allow the in-box to overwhelm us. There also has to be room to think out of the box. We have to deal with the urgent, the important, and the long term all at once.
Now I mentioned five significant ways in which the international landscape is shifting, so let me offer five big-ticket agenda items that we absolutely have to get right as well. This starts with following through on what is often called our pivot to the Asia Pacific, the most dynamic region in our rapidly changing world.
Much of the attention so far has been on America's increasing military engagement. But it's important that we also emphasize the other elements of our strategy. In a speech in Singapore last week, I laid out America's expanding economic leadership in the region, from new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership to stepped-up efforts on behalf of American businesses. The President's visits to Burma and the East Asia Summit highlighted the democratic values and diplomatic engagement that power the pivot.
None of this is about containment. It's all aimed at advancing a rules-based order in the Asia Pacific that will drive peace and prosperity for decades to come. And by the way, that's why we need to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty as soon as possible, something that Senator Warner has been leading us on. Over the next four years, the region will be watching to see whether America will make the diplomatic, military, and economic investments to lock in this strategy. That is exactly what we need to do.
Now, when we talk about a pivot, we have to be mindful about both ends of the equation. The end of the war in Iraq and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan do create an opportunity to increase our engagement in Asia. But this does not mean we are abandoning our traditional allies in other parts of the world or taking our eye off the ball when it comes to fighting terrorism and finishing the job in Afghanistan.
Bin Ladin is dead and the core of al-Qaida's leadership has been decimated. But the threat from its affiliates in places like Yemen and North Africa is still very real. So in the years ahead, we need to accelerate an integrated counterterrorism program that uses all our tools - civilian as well as military, multilateral as well as unilateral - to go after terrorist finances, recruitment, and safe havens; in effect, to marry up with the extraordinary work that Admiral McRaven leads on behalf of our special forces.
In Afghanistan, as we transition full responsibility for security to the Afghan Government in 2014, we also need to focus on helping the Afghans crack down on corruption, move toward economic self-sufficiency, elect their new leadership in 2014, advance a peace and reconciliation process, and pursue a regional framework, hopefully with Pakistan as a constructive partner.
And in Europe, we need to continue modernizing NATO for the demands of today's global landscape, including unconventional threats like cyber warfare, and we need to stand by the EU as it meets its economic challenge in the Eurozone. Because as we move to seize the opportunities of the 21st century, including in the Asia Pacific, we need our traditional partners of first resort right by our side. I spoke about this earlier today at the Brookings Institution. So let me just add this: America is not pivoting from Europe to Asia; we are pivoting with Europe to Asia. We have deepened and intensified our dialogue and collaboration with Europe about how to work together in the Asia Pacific to our mutual benefit.
Now the second item on the agenda is closely related to the first. We need to successfully manage our relationships with emerging powers like China and India. Navigating the U.S.-China relationship is uniquely important but also uniquely challenging, because, as I have said on many occasions, and as I have heard Chinese leaders quote my words back to me, we are trying to write a new answer to the old question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet. No one should have any illusions that this will be smooth or easy. But there is reason to hope that over the coming years we can, in fact, chart a path that avoids conflict and builds on the areas where our interests align.